My Non-Job

In the Spring of 1942, I was finishing up my 3rd year of college. Pearl Harbor had taken place; the country was at was; most of the boys I knew were in uniform including my 2 brothers. Several of my friends had left college and had no plans to return.

I was an adequate student, but no scholar and my future dreams included hopes for a husband and children. Most women didn’t hold executive positions then and I had no need for a degree – in fact I felt guilty sitting at a college when so many people were involved in the war effort, so I phoned my mother to state my case. After thanking my parents for all their support etc., I explained that I wanted to quit – to leave college and get a job and do something useful. My mother never flinched – “Well” she said, “You come on home, but you shouldn’t have a job because you don’t need one. Others do, and it would be wrong for you to take one.” “However,” she added, “I have just been put in charge of recruiting Red Cross Nurses’ Aides for the Borough of Brooklyn – you can be my first recruit!” – So – I took the course, donned my uniform, and proudly earned my cap and went to work. I treated my volunteer job as a paid one and went to the hospital 5 full days a week. I tried to do the dirtiest work – like scrubbing bed-pans and my favorite floor, to be sent to, was the neuro-surgical one. The head nurse there was a tyrant, but I held her in great esteem and she taught me much. It was a wonderful, life-changing experience which I relished. After I was married 2 years later, we moved to Connecticut and I continued doing hospital volunteer work when possible for the next 30 years.

P.S. Subsequently, I learned about a new program in New Haven called “Hospice”, and I got involved with that. For my 80th birthday a friend gave a luncheon; each guest was asked to bring a card and a donation to “Jeanie’s favorite charity”. Hospice was delighted and so was I, - a fitting finale to a career for a girl with a non-job.

Jeanie Henry
Southbury, CT

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