In March of 1987, Jay told us that his wife worked at the nursing home in Highland. He said they were hiring. I had been looking off and on for a job to help out with finances but I didn't have any experience working outside of the home except that short month I worked at Henry's hamburgers on Lake Avenue when I was 16.I also worked at a restaurant on King hill doing dishes in 1970.The owner made me clean out the refrigerator that had a short in it. Whenever you tried to clean out the bottom of it you got an electrical shock. She complained I wasn't cleaning it one day and I told her it shocks me every time I touched the bottom of it. She got mad and started cleaning it out herself not even flinching when I knew she was getting shocked. She was the one that told me, “Be careful it'll shock you".I pretty much told her what she could do with her refrigerator and her dishes I could never got clean enough for her and quit. Charles had told me he didn't want me to work, back then women stayed home and the men worked. He also told me if I would marry him he'd quit smoking which he did after ten years of marriage. One day cigarettes went up to 62 cents a pack and he didn't have 62 cents. He was a little shaky for a couple of days then he was done and never smoked again.
I went to the nursing home thinking the only thing I was qualified for was doing the laundry or working in the kitchen. Mrs. Fritch was the administrator and said she was going to put me on the floor working as a nurse's aide. I had never been in a nursing home before and was shocked to the core when I found out what goes on there. The other nurses and aides were shocked too when they found out I didn't know anything about getting patients up in the wee hours of the morning and passing trays and feeding people that couldn't feed themselves. They complained right in front of me about how they couldn't believe Mrs. Fritch would hire someone off the street without any experience. They weren't shy about hurting my feelings or the patient's feeling when cooperation was unheard of, whether they, the patients, could help or not. Most of them could have done more for themselves but as a payback for their hatred of being there, they wouldn’t. The place stunk, and so did I when I'd come home in the morning after working all night. My only hope of getting through it all was the promise of going to CNA classes in Atchison, then to CMA classes, then it was off to LPN training , as a nurse.
I was miserable. I’d go to work at eleven o'clock at night and get off at seven in the morning if I could get out on time. Somebody always needed help getting the heavier patients up but we were not allowed to work past the allotted time scheduled. “Sorry, Got to go" was always heard right when you were in a compromising position with a patient. They didn't care if you dropped someone or not it wasn't on them they were off the clock.
I'd come home and stink to high heaven just as Charles was leaving for work. The kids were already off to school. The yellow bus would come and pick them up at the driveway and take them to Highland school. They hated changing schools from Troy. I hated it too because Troy was such a good school. Chuck had made a lot of friends there. He even had a girlfriend on the old bus he used to ride! He was in kindergarten at the time! Jenny was popular in Highland but Chuck missed his old school and wasn't comfortable with the new kids. He did get the lead in the school play playing Joseph in the Christmas play. He had a singing part and would not show us his singing ability at home. He wanted to surprise me at the play. Imagine our surprise when he sang in a booming voice very unlike a first grader. He was so good and not a bit shy! Everyone clapped so loud! We had to buy him a robe for his costume and he had a staff. I don't remember who played Mary.
I thought in the beginning I could come home and sleep until noon and still be able to watch TV and do my housework just like I had before I started working. After a few days I started to wear down. I was a nervous wreck and short tempered. After about two weeks I couldn't take it any more and started to sleep until three pm. It would be no time and it would be ten o’clock. Everyone else would be getting ready for bed and I had to stay up and get ready for work.
One night I begged Charles to let me quit. I sat in the car and cried and cried, I didn't want to go back there and face all those poor people who had no choice but to be there. I started getting better and better at it and the other nurses and aides said I was the best nurse's aide that worked there. I started CNA classes that lasted about a month and a half, got my certificate and then later I started CMA classes, certified med tech, I learned of LPN classes starting in July, of 1988.Mrs. Fritch paid for the CNA classes and the Med Tech classes but the LPN classes I had to get financing from the government. A Pell grant would pay for it and I wouldn't have to pay it back. They allowed us to apply for a student loan as well in case we needed gasoline getting to Atchison etc. That, we had to pay back but we didn't have to pay it back until after we graduated and had a job working as a nurse. I notified the home that I would be quitting to go to nursing school. I wanted to be a nurse, because at the home the nurses sat behind the desk and wrote in the charts and they didn't have to be out on the floor lifting heavy patients and doing dirty laundry or cleaning the patients. They would go into a room and call for an aide to clean up in room so and so. They pushed a medicine cart around and took their time, while we were going crazy trying to get done before the allotted time when we were scheduled to go home.
I got paid one time a month about 400.00 clear. I paid the bills for the whole month with that check and we bought groceries and gasoline and whatever we wanted with Charles' check he got every week. For once we were actually living comfortable.
Stony got out again so I called the man, the horse trader in Highland we bought him from, and he came and got him. I was sad again but I couldn't keep chasing him and putting him back in so that an hour later he'd be out again. Silver would get out too but I wasn't going to sell him like I had Red without Charles' permission.
Jenny would go out and get him and put the bridle and bit in his mouth and jump upon Stony, bareback and ride whenever she felt like it. She would put Chuck on his back and lead him around but every time she would turn a corner he would fall off. Our little cowboy never got the hang of how to ride, and showed absolutely no remorse. He rode his bicycle after a couple weeks after his fall into the dirt and seemed content with that. I’d talked Charles into having a vasectomy after Chuck was born because we thought a boy and a girl was enough. Children were expensive and we didn't have insurance anymore.
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