I'd have been fine EXCEPT FOR THE BLOOD

When I was around 12 years old I was sick a lot. Throughout the school year. Throughout summer vacation. Nothing serious, just tonsillitis, strep throat, colds. I whiled away my time reading. I was a big Nancy Drew fan, but during this brief period all I wanted to read were books about becoming a nurse.

There were very few career options open to girls back then. There were the standard top three if you weren't going to be a wife and mother. Your choices were teacher, stewardess, and nurse. Sure you could be a librarian, but they were almost always portrayed as uptight women that shushed you for getting out of line. There was no romance in being a librarian (unless you knew Professor Harold Hill). I, on the other hand, figured I'd be a cowgirl or detective...until I fell for the nurse romance propaganda. There were plenty of girl's series books willing to feed this notion. 

I indulged my fantasy of being a young pretty nurse flitting around a hospital hunting for a doctor while healing the sick. Yeah, right. Then I realized blood made me nearly pass out so the whole nurse fantasy went out the window. Good thing. I'd have been a lousy nurse. This also cured me of wanting to be a Candy Striper even though I loved their pink uniforms.

Below are the books that got me through this fascination. Ultimately each of them had formula story lines that tried to convince you that you might start out wanting a career, but what you really wanted was a husband. Seriously, read the cover copy or look at the illustrations and try not to laugh.

Click on any of the images to see them larger.

sue barton student nurse_front_tatteredandlost
sue barton student nurse_back_tatteredandlost
Copyright 1936, 4th Scholastic printing September 1962

sue barton senior nurse_front_tatteredandlost
sue barton senior nurse_back_tatteredandlost
Copyright 1937, 3rd Scholastic printing March 1963.

cherry ames_department store nurse_tatteredandlost
Copyright 1956.

cherry ames_camp nurse_tatteredandlost
Copyright 1957.

cherry ames_back_tatteredandlost

"...and her gay adventures"? Yup, things have changed.

Cherry apparently couldn't make up her mind. "Do I want to be a department store nurse? Nope, let's try cruise nurse. Oh wait, how about flight nurse? Oh no, better yet, island nurse!"

These two Cherry Ames books were given to me by my childhood friend who eventually did go on to become a nurse, and is still a practicing nurse at an elementary school in Washington State.

A series put out by Whitman in 1963 called "Nurses Three" that look just plain weird. 

nurses three_3front.tattereandlost

She looks like an actor in a Spielberg movie that has just seen the glow of an alien spaceship.

nurses three_3back_tatteredandlost

The sequence here is pretty strange. Mad scientist, delivering the goods, and then lets go dancing!

nurses three_2front_tatteredandlost

She looks like she's trying to sell a kachina doll. The new and improved family size. Never judge a book by its cover.

nurses three_2back_tatteredandlost

Ahh, so she was the person to tell Dr. Kildare, "You're gay."

nurses three_1front_tatteredandlost

And this one doesn't look like she's got a thought in her head. Maybe that's because...

nurses three_1back_tatteredandlost

she'd rather be playing tennis, talking to Huck Finn, or listening to Allen Ginsburg read "Howl".

And to close things out here's the last nurse book I ever read. This one was a step away from girl's series and into the world of women's romance books. This one was sexy. And don't ask me what Nurse Fairchild's decision was because I can't remember.

nurse fairchild_front_tatteredandlost
nurse fairchild_back_tatteredandlost
Copyright 1952.

To see more books where the heroine is a nurse check out this website Tiny Pineapple, or this one, Girls Series Books Rediscovered.


  1. Great post here! I was amazed at all the jobs Cherry Ames had (on the reverse of the yellow book above) Jim

  2. Thanks! I thought it pretty funny that a character who was supposed to be a roll model didn't seem capable of sticking with any job for very long. Dear Cherry was all over the place.