100 Years of Compassionate Care: The Resurgence of the Ladies' Auxiliary
1. (Top) Family practice physician Dr. Joseph Gardner (center) and Dr. James Ramser (left), RMH's first orthopedic surgeon, enjoy the company of co-workers and friends in a popular gathering spot, Cheery Corner. 2. Cheery Corner, a snack bar the Auxiliary opened in the mid-1950s and operated by volunteers, was a pleasant, comfortable place for staff and visitors to have coffee, a snack or meal, and conversation. Before Cheery Corner, visitors could not get food or beverages at the hospital.
In 1951, the year before he would leave the hospital, the hospital's first administrator, C. Tiffany Loftus, engaged the support of local ministers in locating women interested in reintroducing the Ladies Auxiliary.
The Auxiliary, formed in 1911 to help raise funds to equip the new hospital, had disbanded in 1934. Loftus saw the Auxiliary members not only as fundraisers, but as â€œGoodwill Ambassadorsâ€ in the community.
By October 1951, 13 enthusiastic women had been recruited. In 1952, the Auxiliary rechartered, and Mrs. Earl H. (Edna) Wetsel was chosen as the first president of the newly invigorated group.
By 1952, the pink ladies, as they were called, were making plans to open a snack bar, â€œCheery Corner,â€ that quickly became an institution at the hospital for staff and visitors alike.21 Located in the hospital basement, Cheery Corner was an informal meeting place where patients, visitors and staff could mingle and talk while enjoying a cup of coffee, a milkshake or a slice of pie.
Author's note: My father, Dr. George M. Nipe Sr., who practiced obstetrics and gynecology at RMH for more than 30 years, often mentioned to me that a variety of medical and non-medical problems, treatment procedures and work place issues were often resolved by doctors and staff over coffee at Cheery Corner.
Before the opening of Cheery Corner, visitors were not served food or drinks in the hospital. The Ladies Auxiliary used the profits from Cheery Corner to purchase needed equipment for the hospital, just as proceeds from RMH Gifts and Floral and various Volunteer Auxiliary fundraisers are used today.
Another Auxiliary project that touched the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of children was the â€œPinkyâ€ puppets, which were sewn by Auxiliary members and community church groups. Pinky puppets were given to every child patient at RMH during the 1950s and 1960s.
Volunteer Ruth Clayman poses with â€œPinkie,â€ a puppet the Auxiliary members and other volunteers in the community made and gave to child patients throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Behind Clayman are some of the â€œcomfort toysâ€ given to child patients in more recent years.
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