GRACE M. ROOD STORIES My Life at Pine Mountain Settlement School

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Series 14: MEDICAL
Grace M. Rood, Nurse, 1936-1962
Grace Margaret Rood (1897-1988)
My Life at Pine Mountain Settlement School

Grace M. Rood Album II. Grace Rood with “Tomorrow’s Children” – two infants in box. [rood_145.jpg]

TAGS:  Grace Rood. Nurse, nurse training,  Pine Mountain Settlement School Hospital, community nursing, vocational education, community nursing, medical advice, nurse training, epidemics, child-birth, health economics, children’s health, cooperative medicine,

GRACE M. ROOD 1936-1988 Stories

The following is a collection of stories remembered by Grace Rood from her life . They were gathered in a collection shared with Pine Mountain following her death in 1988.

The collection is here transcribed by her sister and shared with the School where Grace spent most of her life-time in service to the School and the communities of the Pine Mountain valley and hollows.

(Written in 1955 by Grace M. Rood)

Tired of working in a large New England City with the visiting Nurse Association, I was searching for something new, different, exciting, unique. All these I found in much, much more in my 17 years at Pine Mountain Settlement School in the mountains of Kentucky working. in its little infirmary in the neighboring one room schools, In the homes, scattered up and down the creeks., riding first on horseback and then driving a four–wheel-drive Jeep. 

I was scheduled to begin work January 1937, and was starting to pack when I received a phone call. the present nurse had broken her ankle, Could I arrange to come on December 21st?,” as there are three women she had expected to deliver in their homes before January 1st.” I was taken aghast as I had never delivered any babies by myself.” In fact, in India was “on call” only for difficult cases, and the remembrance of these did not lighten my fears. This midwifery had never been mentioned; I thought that the frontier nurses would be available for these. I immediately phoned back my situation, but was assured that the former lady nurse had managed, and a doctor was available for emergencies, so I agreed to come. 

I was literally “ broke” and had to borrow money to buy my ticket, so I went by day coach. All the trains were full, taking students home for Christmas vacation, But I finally found a place. We were one hour late in getting into Cincinnati, so I missed my connection to Putney. There were only two trains a day, So I spent 12 uncomfortable hours in the station. the bench. the benches in the waiting room had dividing sections, so there was no chance to lie down. I was pretty well worn out when I arrived at Putney at 9:00 AM instead of the previous day at 4:00 PM. 

I was all excited to see the new country! Mr Dodd, the principal, was there to greet me and pick up my hand luggage. The school truck would pick up my trunk on the next trip to town for supplies. there was a. good road for a few miles, Then, we turned off onto Laden Trail. Across the mountain. Though I knew I had an experienced driver, I still had to watch the road, narrow and winding, and room only for one car. What to do if we meet a car question? Mr Dodd pointed out little wider places in the road, where a person coming up could wait for a car coming down. Little. day, I imagine that I would be driving a Jeep over a worse roads (If you could call them roads). we reached the top of the mountain and then went down into the valley. After several miles, Mr Dodd pointed out the school campus, a large area where I could see modern buildings instead of small cabins. 

“ We passed through a gate reading “Pine Mountain settlement school”. went up a little hill and stopped outside of a brown stained building nestled among the pine trees, which I was informed was “your place” — the school infirmary.” A line of baby clothes flapping in the breeze informed me that babies were staying here., But I could hardly believe that it was really a hospital until I stepped inside and saw girls bathing babies, giving bed – baths and carrying trays; Two friendly young ladies greeted me and started to show me around. I was very impressed with the warm and cheery atmosphere of this building, heated by a furnace using coal from the school’s coal mines. I discovered a modern bathroom with hot and cold running water, a bathtub in standard toilet facilities. I had never expected to find such luxuries in this isolated mountain valley!  

In those days, Pine Mountain Settlement School was a boarding school for teenage boys and girls of that area whose homes were inaccessible by foot or bus to public high schools. Although due recognition was given to academic… 

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Achievement., our program was designed primarily to prepare young people for useful wives, whatever that might be, college, farm, home, hospital or store. ; We felt that the most important thing in life was learning to live full and useful lives; and so our program was very flexible. 

“When, before I had been many days in the school, a junior asked me? Can I see a woman have a baby?”, I was surprised, but able to say, “Well, we’ll see.” That had been far from any thought of mine, But as the ears went on, almost every girl before she graduated had a chance to help with at least one delivery at the school Infirmary, where we took in a few patients from the community. 

Our school program included two hours of work each day. This gave the student a chance to earn part of his expenses, at the same time offering an opportunity for the teacher to relate classroom study to life experience. 

Cooking, as learned in Home Economics class, was used in our school kitchen. Bed making, as demonstrated in Home Nursing classes, was practiced in our infirmary. The problem of polluted water was made more meaningful, as water samples were taken and sent to our state laboratories for examination. 

My official title was school nurse. My job was to teach classes in Home Nursing and Community Hygiene. I was responsible for the health of over 100 students, along with the faculty and other employees. I had charge of the little seven-bed school infirmary. When I first came, the Infirmary was used almost solely for the six students or faculty members, But, as the nearest hospital was difficult to reach, I began to admit local people. And to encourage the women to come in for their deliveries, instead of having their babies in their mountain cabins. this also gave the girl students a better chance to care for sick people, And to find out if they really wanted to go into nurse training. After doing all the not so pleasant nor easy tasks, they had no illusions of nursing as being romantic! I always tried to teach them that patients are people, “ It would not accept. That woman with the sore leg.” “ she must be “Mrs. Jones,” or “Mrs. Brown,” As the case might be. they know that nursing is hard work, but they have had the joy of seeing a woman who has come in crying in labor, go out smiling with her newborn.” They have helped get some ready for burial, but they have known that we did our best to help. they have asked the “ Why?” To it all, and as far as possible, we have answered. 

All this was very routine. What excited me was another project? I was the community nurse and as such, was in charge of inc        coordinator in a program of community service in the school curriculum. This was new and different. Some of our students spent two days a week actually off the school campus, walking up and down the creeks, visiting in the widely scattered homes. 

This gave to the community services, which students, even with their limited experience and immaturity, could provide under supervision, to the student, it gave practical experience in relating what they learned at school, to home in community life. 

These students acted as scouts for me, going farther than I. am to do. They encouraged women to come to the little infirmary for delivery. They helped in following up on the babies. They had helped deliver at the Infirmary. They counseled the mothers about health problems. In many a lonely mountain home, these visits were eagerly anticipated. 

To the students, it has given a certain poise and self-confidence. It has given them a fuller appreciation of home life. It has given them a new insight into community problems. In several instances, teaching and nursing were chosen as vocations, primarily because of this experience. 

I had a group of six girls. Each morning, they spent their two – hour work. helping at the Infirmary. They did all the serving of meals, dishwashing…… 


…cleaning, bed – baths, both, adult and baby, and also washed out all the baby clothes. They took turns serving the other meals and sleeping at night in the Infirmary to be “on call” to help with emergencies. 

There are times when just a high school girl and I officiated at a delivery. One time, when I suggested a little chloroform, the girl dropped some on the mask, pushed it under my nose to see if it was sufficient, and almost had to do the delivery herself! 

Lela Christian, Nan Milan, Stella Taylor, Nancy Jude. Community Service Workers, c. late 1930s. [duplicates_069.jpg]

We divided our territory, so that each of the girls had her own route. This necessitated walking from six to 10 miles each time, and visiting from six to 10 families. each would start out with her little bag containing a very small. First – aid kit, her lunch, some literature, and whatever supplies she might need for any special project she planned for the day. 

The school bus would pick them up as they returned, and together they would burst in on me at the Infirmary to relate their day’s experiences, Sometimes, very happy over some achievement, sometimes discouraged because folks did not respond to some plan of theirs. 

In the cold weather, grouped on the floor before my little fireplace, drinking hot cocoa or soup, they would tell of their experiences. The following is a very typical day and meeting. 

“Lizzie Ferry Hasn’t got a thing ready for her baby; it’s due most any day. It’s her first period. Her husband hasn’t been working any.? What can we do?” Stella asked. 

Georgia spoke up. “I saw some flannel scraps down in Home Ec [economics] where the girls are making pajamas.? Why not ask Miss Jones for some? Bet she has some baby patterns, too. 

Ruth,” How about a bassinet? Remember that cute one, Mrs. Creech and I made out of a banana carton and some old curtains?” 

That Geneva was thrilled about something. 

“At last, I got John Boggs to promise to let Judy come up here to have her baby. Instead of calling the ‘Granny Woman’. You’d think, with all the hemorrhages and everything, he would have been eager to have her come. Now, since she has had the flu, he’s kind of scared. I told him that he could work out the bill at the school, like you told me; I guess that kind of settled him.”  

Before the next trip out., Stella came up with a banana carton she had gotten from the kitchen, a bunch of bright colored flannel scraps from home ec. And some patterns for baby clothes. She also had obtained a diet list to help Lizzie get more milk into her meals.

to Stella’s question,”” How long do you think I should stay at Lizzie’s?” ” I asked, do any of your other families have any special problems this week?”

is the answer was “No” Stella planned to spend her entire time there.” Besides the regular scissors, needles and thread, Stella had found some embroidery thread. “to make things really pretty.” Some old pink polka – dot curtains were added for the Bassinet. Then I added powdered milk and cocoa from our hospital stores to help with the lunch.

A few days later, Lizzie came in for her delivery.: Stella, about the same age as Lizzie, set with her to comfort her and time her pains. Then she helped with the delivery and was the one to clean and dress the baby.

I don’t believe that Stella’s first real hospital delivery gave her more of a thrill. . Stella is one of the girls who went on to study nursing. After having been in the army, serving in an evacuation hospital, she got a postgraduate certificate in operating technique from Johns Hopkins, and later, at Mayo’s Clinic, took up anesthesia. Now she is a Nurse Anesthetist. In a large Cleveland Hospital.

Geneva brought Judy Boggs, the expectant mother, into the infirmary to …..


 Have her baby, she got. permission to bring her in on the school bus, but had a two – mile trip down a little mountain path to meet that. Judy was too weak to walk, So John and Geneva got it all figured out.. an ordinary chair was tied on to a sled, and Judy said on that. a mule was hitched up to the sled, and so they made the trip out. this meant that Geneva got up very early to walk out. Comment in order to get back to the school bus by 8:30 AM. She was afraid, and rightly so, that if she weren’t there to give extra courage, they could back out at the last moment.

Judy waited a few days before delivery. Geneva took an extra day to go out and see how things were., as Judy was worried about the young ones.

Geneva had quite a day! Since Mrs. Boggs had been sick, no washing had been done. A 10 year old boy, the oldest of four, helped haul water up from the creek, chopped wood to put under the tub, which they had placed on some rocks. While Geneva washed the clothes as best she could with the scraps of homemade soap she could find.

” After trying to scrub all those clothes with practically no soap, besides having to carry all the water, i’ll sure never think bad about Judy for having the clothes looking gray and grimy..”

“I sure was glad you gave me that pudding powder. We had the usual beans and potatoes and cornbread for dinner. I learned how to make cornbread without milk or eggs.:! I guess another time I’ll be learning to make it without cornmeal.”

Geneva was right there to help us as Judy delivered her 12 1/2 pound baby girl named Geneva. Geneva saw us jump into action, as the hemorrhaging started. She saw it stop.

The next day, she heard Mrs. Bogs “:, I never felt like this after a baby. I always did waste so much, and now I can sit up and everything. I’m sure glad you made me come.”

Geneva also went into nurses training, received her R. N, and served in the armed forces marrying one of the officers. Now she has a nice home, where she housekeeps for her husband and two little daughters, but stands ready to help as Industrial Nurse at the plant where he works, for vacations and emergencies.

Nan has sent for catalogs and admission blanks to several hospitals before I had come to the school, But after helping with several deliveries and helping dress a bad burn, She decided on school teaching. She didn’t finish her training for that, as a fine young man from Philadelphia came along, and they were married. All her work is not lost, in her care of her home in three boys. They all take an active part in their churches work she. truly knows how to meet people and does her share in civic and social activities.

George’s academic career finished as she married one of our school teachers, and now is the wife. of the principle in a mission school on an Indian reservation and is the mother of two. She’s a source of pride and joy to us.

Ruth was another of the girls who planned on nurses training, but being the oldest of six children, she felt that her family needed what money she could make right then, and ended up getting married. But even before then, even before she graduated from high school, She had a real opportunity to use her nurses aid experience in helping her own mother.

One day, Ruth came back two weeks late from a Christmas vacation, sporting a $20 watch since her father was so very poor, I could not understand how that could be.”. I asked one of her friends, how come a man can buy his daughter a $20 watch when he can’t afford to spend a penny on her schooling.?”

“Oh” the girl replied. ” It wasn’t the father gave her the money, but. the doctor. ? hasn’t she told you about it yet? She soon will.”

. I looked up then to see her standing shyly at the door. At my request, …

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” Come on in and let me see your beautiful watch.,” She came in and sat down.

“That sure is a beautiful watch. Do tell me about it.”

“.” Well, I guess that you know that my father had to write and ask for me to stay longer at home, because my mother was sick.”

“Yes, i That your mother had pneumonia and wondered if the doctor was able to give her penicillin?”

“” Yes, went on Ruth. ” I told the doctor that I never really given any shots, but I had plenty of experience boiling up the things and had even filled the syringes for you..” So he left a bottle of it for me to give to my mother.”

” Did you find it hard?” I asked.

“Yes, I did” replied Ruth. “But I wanted her to get better soon, and I knew that it was the only way. I had seen how quickly the patience, temperatures at the Infirmary went down. We lived so far off the road, The doctor couldn’t get in to give them, so I didn’t have any choice. My father was worried, too, because she was expecting, and her time was getting short.”

” Well, has the baby come yet.?”

“” Why, Yes,. answered Ruth.” That’s how I got my watch.”

“oh, You mean you took care of your mother after the baby came?” I asked.

“No,” Applied, seeming a little puzzle that I should ask the question that way.” ” I took care of my mother when the baby came.”

” You weren’t alone?! I gasped.

“Oh, yes,” She shrugged her shoulders. “Of course, The other young ones were in the next room, but we were very quiet not to wake any of them.”

“‘ You see, Mom woke pap up in the middle of the night, with a ‘Hurry, hurry .’ For the doctor, my times up.’ Pap just pulled on his jeans, jumped on the mule and was off.”

” How long did it take him?”

” Better than a couple of hours, I knew it would. even in daylight, it’s a rugged path, and besides that, I could hear the snow and sleet and the wind whistling. Our nearest. neighbor is a good mile in the other direction, so I knew it just was up to me.

” I could tell by my mother’s face that the pains were getting pretty bad. And close together. I built up the fire in the fireplace, got our best scissors and a piece of tape off one of the babies’ shirts and boiled and boiled them. I got the alcohol and cotton. The doctor had left me for the shots, and so I got her cleaned up. To be awful, quiet, not to wake the other children. soon, the newcomer arrived, and was I ever glad to hear a baby cry! The others started waking up, but I kept them quieted down until I got my mother in her room all cleaned up.

” It was getting daylight by then, so I got the children up and dressed. They were mighty proud of their new brother.. I had them all sitting ’round the table eating their breakfast by the time my father and the doctor got in.

“My father rushed over to see how my mother was and was he surprised when she lifted up the blanket to show him his newest baby!

” The Doctor ate some breakfast, too, before he shewed the children out and examined my mother.’!  ‘I couldn’t have done it better myself.’ He told my father. when my father started to give him his regular delivery fee, he refused it, saying, ‘ give it to the Granny woman.’ Then he grinned and pointed at me.

When my Pap ‘ tried to make him take it, the doctor took it and handed it to me, saying, let the. girl get something she especially wants, to remember the time she delivered her mother.’

” And since I’m aiming to go into nursing, my father got this watch for me, though I don’t think I need anything to help me remember this night.

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And so as I look back on the special project, I am still thrilled.: I think of Stella, giving anesthetics in a big city hospital; ; I think of Geneva, in time of emergency. , I think of nan with her family of boys. ; Active in all sorts of social and civic projects; I think of Georgia with her family on the Indian Reservation, working for others; I think of Ruth, still back in the mountains, never having gone on further to school, but always ready to help her neighbors as she can.

I think of many others who have gone on into nursing and have received their R.N.’s, , Those who are teaching. ‘ of those who are raising families, and I’m more than ever believing that school may be related to life, and high school students may share in”… seeing a woman have a baby.”



GRACE M. ROOD STORIES Life of Amazing Grace
GRACE M. ROOD STORIES My Life at Pine Mountain Settlement School
GRACE M. ROOD STORIES Come To The Mountains
GRACE m. ROOD STORIES Room For Six Strangers
GRACE M. ROOD STORIES Billy and I Go To Asheville For Thanksgiving
GRACE M. ROOD STORIES  ‘Lum And Bertha And Little Joe
GRACE M. ROOD STORIES Harlan County in 1955
GRACE M. ROOD STORIES We Take Teenie To Graduation
GRACE M. ROOD STORIES Marie Pennington
GRACE M. ROOD STORIES Lonnie McQueen’s Memory of Miss Rood