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November 18 , 2010

Tales from Kentucky Nurses


From frontier times to the present day, Kentucky nurses have served with intelligence and energy, always ensuring that their patients received the best available care. Noted folklorist and oral historian William Lynwood Montell collects nearly two hundred stories from these hard-working men and women in Tales from Kentucky Nurses. From humorous anecdotes to spine-chilling coincidences, tragic circumstances, and heartwarming encounters, the tales in this lively volume are recorded exactly as they were told to Montell.

Covering medical practice in the state from the early twentieth century through contemporary times, the episodes related in Tales from Kentucky Nurses reveal the significance of the nursing profession to the Bluegrass state's local life and culture. They include funny tales – such as the story of an injured stripper who swore her pole had been sabotaged and an anecdote about a surgeon racing between hospitals who paid his speeding ticket twice, knowing he would have to hurry the other way in a few hours. Montell also presents moving stories like the recollections of a nurse who helped a frail cancer patient achieve his last wish of being baptized.

This valuable collection also features anecdotes from the famous Frontier Nursing Service, which provided essential care to families in remote areas of the state and whose leader, Mary Breckinridge, is remembered fondly for her wit and kindness. In addition, Montell's interviewees share ghost stories and describe folk remedies like the practice of placing an axe under a woman's pillow during labor to cut the pain. These firsthand accounts not only pay homage to an underappreciated profession but also preserve important aspects of Kentucky's history not likely to be recorded elsewhere.

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