head nurse miz liz hart

Nurse CratchitNow I’m an old man and have seen five continents and people of every stripe. By far the meanest woman I ever knew was Head Nurse Miz Liz Hart. Let me explain: when I grew up we had a family doctor, Dr. Hugh McCullough. Dr. Hugh doctored everything from gall bladders to colds to wart removal. You could look at Dr. Hugh and you knew he was a kind, gentle, caring man. Never in a hurry. He always had time – not like today where your GP is allotted 15 minutes to guess what’s wrong with you and write a prescription.

The only hospital in the area was the West Point General Hospital – now just a memory just like Dr. Hugh and Head Nurse Miz Liz Hart.

When I was four and penicillin was the new wonder drug and croton oil was still used, my appendix burst. Mama called Dr. Hugh. He said, “Get him to the hospital as soon as you can I’ll meet you there.” I don’t remember if they had emergency rooms back then.

Dr. Hugh knew my condition was life threatening. Mama was white and daddy drawn up against a wall. They wheeled me into the operating room where it was only me, Dr. Hugh and Miz Liz. They put a mask on my face and dropped ether on it to put me out. When he got through Dr. Hugh told Mama, “Margret, I’ve done all I can all we can do now is pray.”

Needless to say I survived. It was considered a local miracle. It may have even been in the Valley Times News. While I was in the hospital, I was under an oxygen tent and as doped as a race horse. I kept asking Mama to get that orange Popsicle off the ceiling for me. I couldn’t have anything to drink or eat. I could just suck on an ice cube by order of Head Nurse Miz Liz Hart. In my delirium, I first saw Head Nurse Miz Liz Hart as the mean old woman she was.

Each time she would come in to change the bandage I’d put up a ruckus. It wasn’t much of a ruckus seeing as how I’d been near death’s door.

When Dr. Hugh said I could go home it was like Christmas. I sat in Mama’s lap for the next four or five days and then she said we had to go back to the hospital to get your dressing changed. I cried for a long time.

As we arrived Mama had gave me the “don’t you embarrass me” talk. I sucked it up. I was her little man. My fearlessness lasted till we walked into Miz Liz’s office. I knew this was gonna be the worst thing that ever happened. It took two of ’em to get me on a gurney. Mama stroked my hair. It didn’t calm me. I struggled for all I was worth. That was when the meanest woman I ever knew spoke up.

Miz Liz, I would never be that familiar with her to her face, everyone used her title. She wore a crisp starched white uniform, a registered nurses’ cap, had a little silver broach with a pen on a chain and had a memorable smell. She stepped back, put her fist on her hip and glared at me with the evilest of eyes, and shook her scissors that had one flat blade to remove bandages in my face.

I can remember it as if it were yesterday. She looked at me shaking those scissors and said, “David, if you don’t settle down I’m gonna cut your tally whacker off.” She scared me to death. I knew she meant business and I didn’t want to lose my tally whacker. I don’t even know that I knew then what a tally whacker was; I was just four. I froze till she was through.

On the way out Mama said, “Now that wasn’t bad was it?” I was in a daze. I had looked terror in the eye.

Later in life I mentioned this to Mama. She smiled and told me how she loved Miz Liz. Turns out Miz Liz was there when I was born. The first thing she said as Mama cuddled me against her soft breast was, “Margret no wonder you struggled. That little boy has a head as big as a watermelon.”

I know Miz Liz is in Heaven she would have scared the Devil to death.

David Roberts

David Roberts

More than you want to know: I am a senior citizen, quick someone tell me when is graduation, I was too old to be beatnik and too young to be a hippie. You've heard "middle-aged crazy" well I went middle-aged sane.

The first half of my life I was a professional musician. First in the 30th Army band in Munich Germany. I played tuba in the marching band, string bass in the big band and jazz ensemble, the last one paid...more than just the $120 a month the army paid me.

Back home attending school on the GI Bill at Auburn University studing music composition under John Tamblyn PhD. His piano teacher's piano teacher was Bella Bartok. In my Junior year Summer Qtr, Body Hinton head of the music department called me in and asked if I'd like to go on the road with the Jimmy Dorsey Band. Whoa sez I, my ship has come in I' going into the "big time". Yeah, I said yes. Told my wife this is it darli' next stop New York City. But I picked up the band in Indianapolis, Indiana they were staying at the Hilton yessir’re the big time.

The next morning at check out I met the piano player aka Fice Mook at check out. I asked him doesn’t the band pay for the hotel? He just laughed. I knew I was sold short.

Long story longer: at 35 I was with a band that had signed a record deal with London records, the man who signed us was the same man, Walt McGuire, who had signed the Rolling Stones to their first record deal; our producer was Chips Moman who was responsible for reviving Elvis’s career after the army…. Whoa sez I, my ship has come in I'm going into the "big time." Yeah, I said yes. Told my wife this is it darlin' next stop New York City. We did play NYC, recorded an album and nothing else happened at 40 I realized a life of Sex Drugs, and Rock’n’Roll wouldn’t see me in retirement… so I decided I had to learn how to make a living… more later...

My father said you can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you’ve been and you can’t know yourself with out knowing who you came from…

I am the son of Norwood Roberts son of Philip Roberts the son of William Roberts son of Philip Roberts III son of Philip Roberts II son of Philip Roberts I son of Thomas Roberts. Philip Roberts II fought with General Marion in the War of Independence or Revolutionary War .

My great, great, grandmother was Mary Ann Evans whose mother was Ann H. Macon whose father was Hartwell Macon whose mother was Mary Stephens whose father was William Stephens whose father was Richard Stephens whose father was Richard Stephens whose father was Richard Stephens whose father was Edward, Lord of Eastington, Stephens whose father was Henry Stephens whose father was John Stephens whose father was John Stephens Esq. whose father was Baron John Stephens whose father was Baron Richard Stephens whose father was John Stephens whose father was John Fitz Stephen whose father was Henry Fitz Stephen whose father was Henry Fitz Stephen whose father was John Fitz Stephen whose father was Ralph Fitz Stephen whose father was Ralph Fitz Stephen whose father was Ralph Fitz Stephen whose father was Thomas Fitz Stephen whose father was Airard Fitz Stephen came to England in 1066 from Normandy. Airard Fitz-Stephen who was the captain of the ship Moira, the ship that William the Conqueror took to England for the invasion and the subsequent Battle of Hastings.

  1. My town’s little hospital had the same nurse, her name was Miz Kitty Mae Mosley. Tough as they come and no nonsense.

  2. JL Strickland

    I once read an interview with the famous bordello madam, Xavier Hollander, where Ms. Hollander was asked where she found women mean enough to work in the demanding S & M area of the sex industry.

    According to Ms. Hollander, she had always found the women best suited to whip and verbally abuse men for money were former school teachers, who ran a close second to former nurses.

    I’ve known a few gifted darlings from both vocations that would have fit right in with this line of work. Might as well get paid for what they do for free.

  3. Loved your story which gave my wife and me a good laugh this morning. Since I’m just recovering from my first (and hopefully last) bout with gout, I had better luck with the nurses who attended me a couple of days ago. None of them showed any inclination to stomp on my toe, so there are some kind-hearted ones out there. Keep writing. You’ve got the touch. From one who also has been around the fringes of the music industry. cheers

  4. Eileen Dight

    Nice story. I love your pedigree!

  5. Hi David (and Penny)

    I’m a little late to the game (no surprise there), but this story found me right on time (lunch break on a frustrating night). Thanks for the smile, and the reminder to take a moment to appreciate all the wonderful people who helped turn a young boy with a frail and sickly body into a thirty-something man-child with frail and sickly mind.

    Cheers to you my friend, mentor, and role model

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