Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Johnnie Lee Smith, Nurse and Midwife

Johnnie Lee Smith, midwife, cook, maid, nurse's aide, and wash-woman (as she has described her duties throughout a long association with the Caldwell Clinic and Memorial Hospital).

She retired in 1977, having assisted several doctors and nurses, LPNs, and other midwives. Her career began in 1938 helping Mrs. Henrietta Shambry, a midwife, and waiting for the day she would retire. She eventually did, and Johnnie Lee took over and delivered a total of 527 babies during the years. Her first delivery was a boy, John Macon, and the last was Bronson Channing Miller on August 9, 1977.

The first clinic that Dr. R.B. and others built was near the Baptist Church on West Main street in 1934 and had 8 beds. It eventually got to 20 beds. According to Johnnie Lee, the first baby born at this hospital was Robert Heflin.

The move across the street to the new hospital in 1950 gave the patients 30 beds and eventually 35. The first baby born there was a Wesson.

Johnnie Lee also wrote that the wash-woman duty was that she would wash and clean the surgical packs after each use and get them ready for the next use. They only had 3 packs at first. The work was hard and tedious, but if she had made a patient comfortable for just a little while, she didn't mind the work.

Thanks for your devotion to duty and your passion for helping folks, Mrs. Smith.

I was born at home in 1939 and had Dr. R. B. and Vina Bradley there at my arrival. They ran my daddy off and he went back to work getting the newspaper out that day in May. I have been told that it got so cold the next day they sent for a ton of coal and got the fireplaces going again.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Famous "Hatchery Speech"

Congressman "Private" John Allen Speech before the U.S. House of Representatives February 20, 1901

Many of you gentleman have never been to Tupelo. I hope none of you entertain any idea of dying without going there. I should hate to have it said of any Member of this Congress - for all of whom I have such kindly feeling - that they did not aspire to visit Tupelo before they died. I extend to you all an invitation to come and promise you a royal welcome. Come and go with me on College Hill one evening and see one of our Tupelo sunsets.

Come and see one of our southern, silvery, Tupelo moons! I think it is the only place in the South where we have the same beautiful moons we had before the war. I have often been asked about the size of Tupelo. I confess I have not been able to get the exact figures from the last census. The tabulating machines do not seem to have been able to work it out yet; but I can say, Mr. Chairman, that by sufficiently extending the corporate limits of our town we can accommodate a population larger than the City of London. The truth is that our lands about Tupelo have been so valuable for agriculture purposes that we have not yielded them up for building a city as rapidly as we should have done.

I can say, Mr. Chairman, that while there are larger places than Tupelo, I do not think there is any other place just exactly like it. Tupelo is very near, if not exactly, in the center of the world. The horizon seems about the same distance in every direction. The sun, when going down on regular schedule, comes right over the town, and sometimes gives us a hot time in the old town. It is a great place for the investment of capital, where it will be welcomed and protected. Come early, gentlemen and avoid the rush!

This, Mr. Chairman, is a proposition to establish there a fish hatchery. We have the ideal place for a fish hatchery. Why, sir, fish will travel over land for miles to get into the water we have at Tupelo. Thousands and millions of unborn fish are clamoring to this Congress today for an opportunity to be hatched at the Tupelo hatchery.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I only wish to say in conclusion that if there is a member here who wishes to have his name connected by future generations with that of Judas Iscariot and Benedict Arnold, if he wishes to have himself and his posterity pointed at with scorn, if he desires to be despised by men and shunned by women, let him vote against this amendment and he will secure all this infamous notoriety."

The Hatchery.
Shortly after Congressman Allen gave his plea to Congress, they voted in favor of it, the President signed the bill into law and, in 1904, the hatchery began operations. Almost 100 years later, it is still a productive fish hatchery.