Partial Transcript: So tell me about your background. Where did you grow up?
Segment Synopsis: Alice Kanagaki (AK) grew up in Vacaville, California, where her father worked on fruit farms. They moved to the bay area in 1941. Once Pearl Harbor occurred, her and her family were concerned about being sent to Japanese internment camps, so they moved to a town closer to their extended family in the hopes that they could at least be in the camp together. They were sent to a "temporary assembly center" named Turlock in April and stayed for around 3 months. They were then sent to an Arizonan camp named "Butte" and AK took preparatory courses for college before graduating in the camp. After graduation, one of her family members informed her of the nursing program at UW Madison, which entailed a free education.
Keywords: Butte; Cadet Nurse Corp; Japanese Internment Camps; Pearl Harbor; Turlock
Partial Transcript: So when you went into the nursing school, had you had any prior interest in nursing?
Segment Synopsis: AK described the ways in which women were limited in their occupational roles, and were generally encouraged to pursue teaching, nursing, or a secretary. An acquaintance in the camp was a nurse, and AK was inspired by this acquaintance to pursue nursing. She was also motivated by the free education offered by Madison General Hospital.
Partial Transcript: All right. So moving on to your life in Madison. Did you live in the nursing dorms?
Segment Synopsis: She did live in McConnell Hall with girls who were her age and profession. She describes her small class size, and how the intimacy forged strong bonds between the girls. She elaborates how the transition from being a teenager to a young adult was helped by the environment of the dorms. She enjoyed going downtown to the Unions and Lake Mendota, as well as exploring Madison.
Keywords: Friendship; Lake Mendota; McConnell Hall
Partial Transcript: Describe your training at Madison...
Segment Synopsis: She describes her lack of motivation in school prior and during nursing school, so her account of the technical side is limited. She describes the kind and helpful nature of her professors, and the close teacher-student relationships that developed with a small class size. She elaborates on some of the topics covered by professors and guest speakers,She then goes on to describe the nature of "recycling" during wartime, which included syringes, rectal tubes, catheters and other medical supplies being boiled, rinsed in alcohol and then reused on later patients.
Keywords: student-teacher relationships; study habits; wartime
Partial Transcript: Well, married students were not allowed in our school at that time. And of course there were curfews every night...
Segment Synopsis: AK describes her experiences with curfews which were imposed upon the students, where they would need to be back in their dorms by a certain time, and the fact that they were not allowed to go into any bars. The students were also required to have a note to go home, and they were not allowed to leave campus for any other reason. She emphasizes the strictness of the school on the actions and behaviors of the nursing students.
Keywords: curfews; rule breaking
Partial Transcript: The food at Madison General Hospital was the best...
Segment Synopsis: AK discusses how wonderful the food was at the hospital while she was a student. She says they have some of the best chefs and pastry bakers in the country, and jokes that by senior year many of the students had gained at least ten pounds. Even after working at several hospitals in her lifetime she claims the food at Madison General Hospital was incomparably good. She describes the rationing of the era, and how the hospital was allowed to buy extra meat and cheese which benefited the students. She clarifies that the cooks were in the hospitals and not the dormitories.
Keywords: chefs; diets
Partial Transcript: in some of my research that I did just on looking at pictures...
Segment Synopsis: She discusses how much nicer McConnell was than her freshman dorm, Rest Harrow, and how excited she was to be living there. One half of the building was for graduates and the other half was for classes and rooms for student nurses. She emphasizes how beautiful the dormitories were and how convenient it was for the student nurses to live there. She describes how at other hospitals students would live in homes rather than a dorm all together, or that at others the dorms were grim and lonely.
Keywords: Dormatories; McConnell Hall; Rest Harrow
Partial Transcript: did you have much interaction with either physicians or like premed students?
Segment Synopsis: No, only at work did the nursing students interact with the "externs" (pre-med students). AK ties this idea back to the rigidity of the rules within the hospitals in that nurses were to stand back and let doctors enter elevators before themselves in a show of respect. AK described how there was no room for familiarity while she was a student. However in her larger career as a nurse these roles were not so rigid. As a graduate nurse, there was still the same level of respect but the familiarity grew, as well as the implications of romantic relationships.
Keywords: ex-terns; hierarchy; pre-medical students; respect
Partial Transcript: So discuss some of your nursing school cohorts
Segment Synopsis: AK describes how going through nursing school with her classmates was a great bonding experience, and how over the years she has stayed in close communication with her friends through "round robin letters", and throughout their lives were able to keep up with each other's lives. They also had a reunion every five years, and AK attended each reunion she possibly could. Because they were a smaller class and were able to keep in touch, the reunions were even more significant. AK says that her time in nursing school was the best time of her life, even though she and her friends were all very poor. They had a fifteen dollar stipend each month as freshman, twenty dollars as sophomores, and 25 as seniors. In her time, even though the dollar could buy a decent sum of supplies or goods, without any extra money from her already poor family she had to make each dollar stretch to the end. Coming from California, because she grew up with mostly Caucasian friends, going to an all Caucasian school was not foreign to her. Many of her classmates were German or Norwegian, and would bring back different kinds of treats for the other students.
Keywords: friendships; reunions
Partial Transcript: So describe your career as a nurse after nursing school
Segment Synopsis: AK worked as a nurse for thirty-seven years. When she graduated, she was allowed to work in the department they would choose as their specialty. Some were working in the veteran's hospital or in surgery, and she chose labor and maternity. She took an eight month course on obstetrics at a school in Chicago. She is very proud that she trained hard in the six months she was there. She feels she was able to save three or four babies during labor. AK stayed there for several years, and eventually at the recommendation of a friend started working in surgery. After having children of her own, she returned to nursing and worked in the cardiac sector for around fifteen years.
Keywords: cardiac; obstetrics; surgical nursing
Partial Transcript: Are there any memories that stand out to you that you’d like to share
Segment Synopsis: As a nurse you learn who the dependable and skilled doctors are and who are not, so nurses actually have a significant amount of leveraging power against doctors who did not live up to nurses expectations. Nurses observe the doctors closely and recommend the doctors they think are the best.
Keywords: retirement program
Partial Transcript: So is there anything else you would like people in the future to remember about your time in training...
Segment Synopsis: While women have goals of their own, AK would recommend nursing as a career choice because it is satisfying and fulfilling. She is very grateful for the cadet program and the United States government paying for her education. She is also very grateful for the chance to live in McConnell Hall as she made meaningful friendships there.
Keywords: choices; friendships
Partial Transcript: [Starts off in the middle of a sentence in the middle of a story]--when they accepted her, she went to the hospital for an interview
Segment Synopsis: AK explains that she became great friends with the other girls living in Rest Harrow on the 4th floor. AK describes her three years in nursing school as the best years of her life. After she graduated, she went into obstetrics and specialized in it for 12 years. She tells an story in which she noticed a problem with a pregnancy. She then moved back to California and then moved to Hawaii to work for a year. She married and returned to California in obstetrics before she changed to surgery. She then got involved in coronary care which she found both scary and rewarding. She retired at age 63. She also explains that her friends are mainly retired nurses.
Keywords: Rest Harrow; obstetrics
Partial Transcript: And the cadet nurse program, of course
Segment Synopsis: She then talks about the Cadet Nurses Program, a program where the government would pay for 3 years of nursing school in exchange for military service if the war continued. She graduated in 1947 so she didn’t need to serve. They had a reunion of sorts of Cadet Nurses in the late 1980s or early 1990s and many nurses showed up. She shared this idea with other cadet nurses in other parts of the country. She also notes the difference between nurses then and now. AK notes that many of them had brothers in the service. So, it was mostly a conversation about what branch of the service they would join. She explains that they were basically teenagers, so their minds were often elsewhere. Since the war ended, AK remembers some of her peers got married, two went on to the University of Wisconsin to get their degrees and they were all ready to earn some money. But she notes that she wishes she had joined the service because it would have been a good educational and travel experience.
Partial Transcript: But was there anything else that you’d want to mention kind of about your life at school?
Segment Synopsis: AK reiterates that her time at Madison General were the best years of her life. She mentions her Chinese-American friend Fung Wong and how they lived together in Milwaukee and went to Marquette University where working nurses could get their degree. But they only did that for a year, so she moved back to California.
Keywords: Friendships; food
Partial Transcript: Would that have like changed any of your career?
Segment Synopsis: AK explains that it would have been a personal goal and that nurses with degrees did not receive better roles or more pay. She explains that the best way to have done it was going to a 5-year program.
Keywords: hierarchy; personal goal
Partial Transcript: Well, is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Segment Synopsis: AK explains that being a nurse gives good job flexibility. She explains she worked in many states. She also explains that nurses received special respect as well. She also explains that she met wonderful people, doctors, fellow nurses and even patients. She notes that she wishes she could advise the doctors to respect the nurses, because they can make their lives easier.
Keywords: job flexibility; respect