For me walking is the greatest way to get to know and love Boston. There are many stories that highlight Boston’s history, architecture and culture especially the Freedom Trail, today I am going from the Boston Common to Faneuil Hall, which reflects the time when Boston was first settled to now, creating quirky streets and mixed architectures expanding almost 400 years. I will learn about important Bostonian events and their work to gain independence from Great Britain, giving me a sense of what has come before my time.

The Freedom Trail is made up of red paint, red granite stone and mostly a red brick path through downtown Boston. I find simple ground markers explaining events, graveyards, notable churches and other buildings along the way. The trail was originally conceived by a local journalist who since 1951 had promoted the idea of a pedestrian trail to link together important local landmarks. In 1953, there were 40,000 people annually walking the path.



I start my walk at 630 Washington Street and on the building is a tablet marking the spot of a famous elm tree bearing the image of a beautiful elm with the inscription “Sons of Liberty, 1766”. At that time this was the neighborhood of the elms. I cross the street and find a small bronze plaque placed in the sidewalk which reads: “Sons of Liberty 1766; Independence of the Country 1776.”

This is where the first public show of defiance against the British Crown was on 8/14/1765 when an American colonist crowd gathered under a large elm tree that stood at the corner of Essex Street and Washington Street, originally called Orange Street a block away from the Boston Common, in the days before the American Revolution and became a rallying point for growing resistance. They were protesting their hatred of the Stamp Act of 1765 in which the British required all legal documents, permits, commercial contracts, newspapers, pamphlets, and playing cards in the colonies to carry a tax stamp. This was perceived by colonists as censorship or a “knowledge tax” on their rights to write and read freely.

The Patriots, later calling themselves the Sons of Liberty, hung an effigy in the branches of the tree, of Andrew Oliver who had been chosen by King George III to impose the tax. Also hung in the tree was a British cavalry jackboot, and inside was a grinning devil-like doll holding a scroll marked “Stamp Act”. This started the resistance that lead to the American Revolutionary War 10 years later at which time a sign stating “Tree of Liberty” was nailed to the trunk of the tree, the tree dates from 1646 to 1775, it lived for 129 years.

In the years leading up to the war the British used the Liberty Tree as an object of ridicule: British soldiers tarred and feathered a man forcing him to march in front of the tree; during the siege of Boston some Loyalists cut the tree down in an act of spite and used it for firewood this enraged the colonists more. As resistance to the British grew a Liberty Tree Flag was flown to symbolize the spirit of liberty and was a common sight during the battles of the revolution. The militia trained here near the tree.

I walk a block into the Boston Common known by the locals as “the Common” which is a central public park, dating back to 1634, making it the oldest city park in the United States. The 50 acres of land is bounded by Tremont Street, Park Street, Beacon Street, Charles Street and Boylston Street. It is part of the Emerald Necklace of parks and parkways that extend from the common south to Franklin Park in Roxbury covering 7 miles by foot which is a great way to get in touch with nature while in the city.

The Common was owned by one of the first European settlers in Boston who sold it to the Puritan founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Park status happened between 1830 and in 1836 it was fully enclosed by an ornamental iron fence. It had five perimeter malls or recreational promenades, the first being Tremont Mall in 1728. In 1913 prehistoric sites were discovered indicating Native American presence in the area as far back as 8,500 years ago.

The Common has been used for a variety of purposes. During the 1630s it was used by many affluent families as a cow pasture, but they overgrazed, so in 1646 the number of cows was limited, then in 1830 cows were formally banned. Before the American Revolution it was used as a camp by the British until they left it for the Battle of Lexington and Concord. It was also used for public hanging until 1817; in 1660 a woman was hung there by Puritans for preaching Quakerism; and in 1656 a woman was executed on charges of witchcraft. Most were hung from a large oak tree which was replaced with gallows in 1769. On 5/19/1713 two hundred citizens rioted in the Common in response to a food shortage, later they attacked the ships and warehouses of a wealthy merchant who was exporting grain for higher profits and the lieutenant governor was shot during the riot.

The common has recently been used for formal and informal gatherings: speeches by famous people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II; concerts like Judy Garland in 1967; protests in early 1965 when one hundred people gathered to protest the Vietnam War, in 1969 around 100,000 people were protesting that same war; besides softball games, and ice skating on Frog Pond.

Central Burying Ground


As I walk along the Boylston Street side of the Common I come to The Central Burying Ground. Buried here are artists, composers, America’s first poets, Boston Tea party participants, revolutionary war fighters, British soldiers who died during the occupation of the city in 1775-1776 from disease, and the Bunker Hill wounded who died from infection. This is a great cemetery to do tombstone rubbings. I walk along the Common turning left onto Tremont Street.



As I come to the corner of Tremont Street and Park Street my eyes are drawn to the steeple rising up 217 feet which remains a landmark visible from several of Boston’s neighborhoods. The Park Street Church was founded by twenty-six locals, former members of the Old South Meeting House who wanted a church with orthodox Trinitarian theology. It was founded on 2/ 27/1809, the cornerstone was laid on 5/1/1809, construction was completed at year’s end, and the first worship service was on 1/10/1810. It became known as “Brimstone Corner” because of the storage of gunpowder during the War of 1812 and the missionary preaching style.



The Park Street Church is also the former site of the Granary building and adjacent to it is the Granary Burying Ground/Old Granary Cemetery on Tremont Street which was given this name in 1737; before that it was called the South Burying Ground and was needed to meet the city’s growing population. Founded in 1660 it is the city’s third-oldest cemetery. It contains 2,345 gravestones and many unmarked graves thus there could 5,000 people buried here.



I travel back in time to the 1860s and visualize the Egyptian revival iron gate and fence along Tremont Street, I walk under the shaded entrance created by a row of eleven large European elms called Paddock’s Mall”, planted a hundred years ago that now are ten feet in circumference, as I look across the grounds covered with trees planted thirty years ago, I see a small forest in the city. The first thing I come across is the ashes of the American casualties in the Boston Massacre on 3/5/1770. The grave markers were placed in a straight line during the 1800s to conform to nineteenth century style and to make it easier for the groundskeeper. I gravitate to the granite obelisk erected in 1827, which came from the Bunker Hill Monument quarry, and replace the original dilapidated Franklin family gravestones; this is where Benjamin Franklin parents are buried. Near the monument is the oldest memorial for John Wakefield who died in 1667 at the age of 52. I find tombs which are near the back of the property and in 1717 the town enlarged the Burying Ground and in 1720 there were 15 tombs added and assigned to families in the city. I find many famous Revolutionary War patriots, Declaration of Independence signers, Paul Revere and Boston Massacre victims. I wake from my revelry to see what is left of this historic area that tells a story of a time long passed. Another just place for tombstone rubbings.



I continue down to 58 Tremont Street where it crosses School Street and stop outside the historic King’s Chapel Burying Ground. This is the first and oldest cemetery in the city, founded in 1630 and was the only burial site till 1660. Around 1686 King James II appointed royal governor over the colonies of Massachusetts ordered the building of the wooden chapel, to be erected on the old burying ground, over strong objectives from the Puritans. It was located on public burying ground because no resident would sell land for a non-Puritan Church. The original wooden King’s Chapel was built in 1688 and was the first Anglican Church in New England.



I stand in front of the stone building, that was construction around the wooden one starting in 1749 and completed in 1754, and the wooden structure was taken apart and removed through the windows of this building. During the American Revolution it was vacated by the Loyalists who escaped to Canada and was called the “Stone Chapel” and was reopened in 1782 when they returned. The bell was hung in 1772, cast in England; it cracked in 1814, and was recast and re-hung by Paul Revere. It is the largest bell cast by the Revere foundry and the last one by Paul Revere. It is ringing now announcing services.

As I wander inside my eyes are drawn to the wooden columns with Corinthian capitals that were hand carved in 1758. The wooden box pews were originally owned by paying family members who decorated. Today it’s the beautiful wood that stands out in their uniform appearance that dates back to the 1920s. The European organ is decorated with miters and carvings from the Bridge Organ of 1756 and was built in 1964. It is the sixth organ built in the church and the first one was in 1723.



I walk down to 45 School Street and stand in from of the courtyard and my eyes are drawn to the 8 foot bronze statue of Benjamin Franklin. It stands in front of Boston’s elaborate French Empire style building. Near the stature of its most famous dropout is a plaque on the sidewalk in front of Old City Hall, marking the former location of the Boston Latin School. The Boston Latin School was the first public Schoolhouse, the oldest existing School in the United States, founded in 1635, in operation from 1704 to 1748 and on the same street until 1844, and now operates at another location. It educated the sons of the Boston Elite, and its curriculum followed the 18th century Latin School movement where the classics were the basis of an educated mind with the mandatory four years of Latin. It educated American founders like Samuel Adams and John Hancock, and produced four Harvard Presidents, four Massachusetts governors and five signers of the Declaration of Independence. It was an all male school until 1972 when they admitted its first co-educational classes.

On this site of the former Latin School I stand in front of the Old City Hall completed in 1865 and in use till 1969. It symbolizes a cosmopolitan spirit of Victorian Boston, an example of French Second Empire Style with its copper mansard roof, now a faded blue-green. It was one of the first buildings in the French Second Empire style to be built in the United States and after its completion the style was used extensively elsewhere in Boston and the United States and is now one of the remaining few. The first building here was the Suffolk County Courthouse erected in 1810 and converted to Boston’s second city hall in 1841, which was replaced by the current building twenty-four years later. Thirty-eight mayors have served their terms of office at this site over a period of 128 years. In 1969 City Hall moved and this old City Hall was converted to serve other functions, which is an early example of adaptive reuse. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1970; it now houses a number of businesses, organizations and restaurants.



I proceed down School Street to Washington Street and stop in front of the historic old Corner Bookstore in the center of Boston. The former building burned down in the great Boston Fire of 1711 and was the home of Anne Hutchinson who was expelled from Massachusetts in 1638 for heresy and she went to Rhode Island. A new building, the one I am standing in front of, was constructed in 1712. The upper floors were the living space and the first floor was the apothecary shop for the many generations of pharmacists who used it.

It was first used as a bookstore in 1828; the first floor of the building was renovated with the addition of projecting small-paned windows. In the 19th Century it was one of the most important publishing companies in the United States. From 1832 to 1865 the Old Corner Bookstore became a meeting place for authors: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. Other parts of the building were rented out and sublet to other businesses. It has houses many booksellers and publishing houses throughout its history.



I walk down to 310 Washington Street and stop in front of the Old South Meeting House, a National Historic Landmark, my eyes move up towards the sky following its 183 foot steeple which was completed in 1729. It is situated in the Downtown Crossing area and gained fame as the organizing place for the Boston Tea Party on 12/16/1773 that is when 5,000 colonists gathered in the largest building at the time, debating British taxation then headed for the harbor. After the Boston Massacre there was a yearly anniversary meetings held here until 1775 with speakers like John Hancock. The British occupied the meeting house because it symbolized the Revolutionary cause; they gutted the building, filled it with dirt and used the interior for horse riding practice, trying to destroy it besides stealing many of items they found there.

During the Great Boston Fire of 1872 it was saved by the timely arrival of a Portsmouth, New Hampshire fire engine. For nearly three centuries it has been an important gathering place. It is famous for protest meetings before the American Revolution, and was called a mouth-house as it served as a platform for the free expression of ideas. People continue to gather for discussions and to act on important issues. It is the second oldest establishment in existent in the United States and contains a museum which houses vital heritage, history, and the stories of famous men and women.



I continue walking on Washington Street to where it intersects with State Street and eye the historic Government building called the Old Massachusetts State House. I am fascinated by the gilded unicorn and lion on its gables the symbols of English domination which were removed after the Revolution and later replaced by replicas.  In 1657 the first building built here was a wooden Town House with a ground floor open to merchants until it was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1711. Two years later in 1713 the first bricks were laid for the Massachusetts colonial government’s new offices. It is the oldest surviving building in Boston and was the state legislature seat until 1798.



This building occupied the city’s most prominent intersection which is now called State Street and led all the way to Long Wharf, while Washington Street crossed here and use to be the only street connecting Boston to the mainland. The governors would stand on the balcony looking toward Long Warf. People and businesses settled around the building while famous scenes of the Revolution unfolded here. In 1798 the new State house opened on top of Beacon Hill while this building passed on to other uses, presently a museum, and in 1881 was protected by The Bostonian Society.



I cross the street to the sidewalk and in the middle of the square is a cobblestone circle marker where the Boston Massacre took place in front of the Old State House. On 3/5/1770 The Boston Massacre was a street fight, called the Incident on King Street by the British, which took place when British Army soldiers killed five civilian men and injured six others. In 1768 British troops were stationed, to protect and support the crown-appointed colonial officials attempting to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislature, in Boston the capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. There was ongoing tension between the population and the soldiers, a mob of fifty citizens formed around a British sentry, verbally abusing and harassing the soldier who was joined by eight additional soldiers then the crowd got increasingly agitated and threw snowballs, stones and sticks at them. The soldiers without orders fired into the crowd, instantly killing three people and wounding two others who later died from their wounds. The crowd dispersed when the Acting Governor promised an inquiry, which prompted the withdrawal of the troops to a harbor island. Eight soldiers, one officer and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder. The soldiers were defended By John Adams, a future President, six were acquitted while two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences which was just a branding on their hand. This incident resulted in reports, depictions, a colored engraving by Paul Revere and much propaganda about the event used to increasing the tension throughout the Thirteen Colonies and is viewed as a foreshadowing the outbreak the American Revolutionary War five years later.



I head down State Street towards the waterfront and Government Center to the Marketplace. I love the Faneuil Hall Building which has been a marketplace and meeting hall since 1742. Many speeches encouraging independence from Great Britain were given here by such greats as Samuel Adams and James Otis, so it is sometimes referred to as “the Cradle of Liberty” and is now a part of the Boston National Historic Park and is on the National Register of Historic Places.



The story goes that for many years there were discussions about erecting a public market house in Boston and in 1740 Peter Faneuil offered to build it as a gift to the town. It was built in the style of an English country market with an open ground floor as the market and an assembly room upstairs. There is a grasshopper weather vane on top which is a well known symbol of Boston, knowledge of it was used as a “shibboleth” during the Revolution, suspected spies would be asked to identify the object on top of the hall, if right they were free, if not they were convicted as British spies. The hall was destroyed by fire in 1761 leaving only the brick walls standing so it was rebuilt in 1762. In 1775 when the British occupied Boston they used it for a theater.

In 1805 Faneuil Hall was: doubled in height and width, added a third floor, four new bays were added to the three already there, the open arcades were enclosed, and the cupola was moved to the opposite end of the building, Doric brick pilasters were applied to the lower two floors, Ionic pilasters on the third floor, and galleries were built around the assembly hall. In 1898-1899 it was entirely rebuilt of noncombustible materials.




I walk east and behind the Hall to Historic Quincy Market which was constructed in 1824-1826. The Market is two stories, 535 feet long and covering 27,000 square miles of land. Since Boston had a tendency for territorial growth by landfill, part of the harbor was filled in with dirt to provide the plot of land for the market along with six new city streets. The exterior is largely traditional New England granite, red brick interior walls and is the first large scale granite and glass in post-and-beam construction. The interior has innovative cast iron columns and iron tension rods. The east and west facades have a strong Roman style, strong triangular pediments and Doric columns, where as the sides of the hall are more American modern with rows of rectangular windows. The shape is a long rectangle creating a long hallway down the center. On the roof are eight evenly spaced chimneys with a copper-based dome in the center that covers an open two story common seating area and the major side entrances.

The Market is named in honor of the Mayor who organized its building without any tax or debt. It was built as an indoor pavilion for vendor stalls because in 1822 Boston had incorporated as a city and its commercial demand grew beyond the capacity of Faneuil Hall. The Market was largely used for produce and foodstuff with various grocers selling eggs, cheese and bread lining its inside walls with some butchering work done on site. Outside there were street vendors against its walls and in its plazas, I see some of the old signs hanging in the upstairs seating hall. There are still vendors on the outside walls selling trinkets, gifts and curios and the south side is under a glass with a few restaurants enclosed in it.

The main building has evolved from groceries to food stall, fast food and restaurants. The second floor is conventional retail space while the basement is occupied by bars and restaurants. Flanking the main building in the marketplace are two equally long buildings called the North Market and South Market with more restaurants, specialty shops and offices. Two further concave market buildings enclose a circular plaza at the market’s west end. The open space at both the east and west ends of the marketplace are a common venue for street performers and venders where a large circular crowd of people will gather around to check out what is going on. Well I am going to stop here to shop and eat. I will write you soon describing the rest of my walk on the Freedom trail into the North End and down to the Harbor.




Cambridge across the Charles River

Cambridge across the Charles River


Let’s go to Cambridge, named after the University Of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town’s founders who were the 700 original Puritan colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed in reforming the Church of England because it was corrupt. Cambridge is home to two of the world’s most prominent universities, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reflecting the value placed on education. Originally the city was called ‘Newe Towne’ in 1632, it was safely up river from Boston Harbor, and had its own healing spring. It is one of the most populated cities in the state and is on the ‘other side’ of the Charles River.


Harvard Square

Harvard Square

To get to Cambridge I ride on the Red Line Subway; “America’s First Subway” known by locals as “The T” which “is as Boston as the Boston Tea Party”! I get off at the northern terminus of the red line called the Harvard Square stop which is also a major transfer station between subway, trackless trolley and buses. Parking is hard to come by and street traffic if often heavy so subway is faster and easier. There is a tunnel adjacent to the subway tunnel that was originally built for streetcars till 1958, now it’s used by trackless trolleys and buses serving the north and west areas. The tunnel prevents bus traffic from crossing The Square and interfering with automobiles and safer covered access between subways and buses.


Harvard Square

Harvard Square


I find myself in the hustle and bustle of the red brick walkways of Harvard Square, feeling the buzz of “The Square” with street entertainers, musicians and chess matches in action. Harvard Square is the historic center of Cambridge which is a large triangular area, at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street andJohn F. Kennedy Street. As the historic heart of Harvard University it is the commercial center for Harvard students, as well as residents in the surrounding areas. In an extended sense the name “Harvard Square” also refers to the entire neighborhood surrounding the intersection for several blocks in each direction.


Harvard Square in Cambridge

Harvard Square in Cambridge


On Saturdays I love hanging out on Harvard Square to enjoy a meal, check out one of its many entertainment spots, but mostly in order to stick to my budget I peruse the quaint shops and the Harvard Bookstore.

Harvard Bookstore

Harvard Bookstore


I travel north to the nearby Cambridge Common on Massachusetts Avenue, a 16 acre park with a playground, baseball field and a number of monuments. This is where George Washington gathered his troops during the Revolutionary War which now is honored by a trio of bronze cannons. There is also a Civil War Memorial with a statue of Abraham Lincoln under it and a soldier on top. I walk under all the beautiful trees covering the common going west to Garden Street.







Civil War Memorial

Civil War Memorial



Walking south on Garden Street I come upon Radcliffe Yard and Radcliffe College awomen’s liberal arts college, and the coordinate college for Harvard University. It was founded by woman for women in 1879, since women were not allowed into Harvard. It is a part of the Seven Sister Colleges in New England that were started and supported by women. Harvard-Radcliffe diplomas began in 1963.As I stand here I am appalled that the best schools in the country are for men only and women are still 2nd class citizens.


Radcliffe Yard

Radcliffe Yard

I continue walking south on Garden Street towards the “Old Burial Place/Old Burial Ground“which is on the corner where Massachusetts Avenue crosses Garden Street. Taking a quote from the Cambridge Historical Commission:

“The first cemetery in “Newtowne” was “without the Common Pales” on the south side of Brattle Street, probably between present Ash Street and Longfellow Park. Being outside the perimeter fence, it was not safe from wild animals, and was discontinued before the West End fields were opened for settlement in 1634. No trace of this cemetery has been found.”


Christ Church

First I come across the Christ Church at Zero Garden Street which was constructed in 1760 establishing both the line of Garden Street and the western boundary of the colonial cemetery.


The Old Burying Ground which was established inside the pales before 1635 originally only covered about an acre but it doubled as more of the common was enclosed. It was the only cemetery in Cambridge for nearly two hundred years so it received a cross section of the people who had lived there, from the poor to the rich Harvard presidents. This is a great place to do stone rubbings on paper.


In the early years burial spaces did not have permanent headstones so it contains many more remains than the 1,218 marked graves. The slate headstones have scalloped shoulders, one is dated 1653 even though headstones were not used till the 1670s so it must have been added later. I find death’s-heads or winged skull of medieval origin which was a non-religious symbol used on the oldest headstones in the late 16th through the late 17th century. I come across winged cherubs on other headstones which show up mid 17th to early 18th century from the Renaissance period which are the most striking with interesting epitaphs and details. The third type is the willow and the urn from neoclassic period that showed up in the mid 18th and early 19th century.


The alter stones of the late 18th century wealthy Anglicans and those with social standing, I find among the traditional markers, for the upper-class families were buried in vaults. The most famous and elaborate is the John Vassal tomb which is an extensive subterranean vault containing twenty-five caskets.


First Parish Church

First Parish Church


I continue to head south and come across the First Parish Church, built in 1833 and known for its liberal religious thoughts. I learn that in Cambridge the churches were built after the cemetery where as in many New England towns the burying ground was placed next to the meeting house.


Harvard Yard

Harvard Yard


I decide to head east towards Harvard Yard which is a grassy area of about 25 acres, adjacent to The Square that is Harvard University’s center and its oldest part. On its west is Massachusetts Avenue and Peabody Street, north is Cambridge Street, northeast is Broadway, Quincy Street is east, while Harvard Street and Massachusetts Avenue is south. There are thirteen of the seventeen dormitories there in addition to four libraries, five building of classrooms and academic departments, and the central administrative offices. There are students all over the place congregating in small groups or walking to their next destination.


As I walk south I come to The Old Yard at Johnston Gate which opens onto Massachusetts Avenue where most of the freshman dormitories are; the oldest being Massachusetts Hall constructed in 1720 which makes it one of the two oldest academic buildings in the United States. To be in such an old area with so much history put my family history in perspective giving me a glimpse of the development on my country.


Harvard Square

Harvard Square

In the heart of Harvard Square I walk west to Brattle Street, which exudes an 18th century flavor with its seven historic Colonial mansions, where many Loyalists lived at the time of the American Revolution, so it was called the “King’s Highway” or “Tory Row“. This was an area of great conflict during the Revolution for many mansions were confiscated by George Washington’s army, later some were restored to their former owners if they proved themselves no longer supportive of the king of England. Originally it was a forest path to the Charles River. Now there are many structures from the 19th century and the more recent times, all squished together made of wood, brick, many business awnings and glass reflecting the eclectic life style of present day man.


Samuel Atkins Eliot wrote in 1912 calling the area “not only one of the most beautiful but also one of the most historic streets in America.” “As a fashionable address it is doubtful if any other residential street in this country has enjoyed such long and uninterrupted prestige.” We are talking almost 300 years!


Longfellow's Mansion

Longfellow’s Mansion


I amble down the street and enter Longfellow’s Mansion/House at 105 Brattle Street, the home of the 19th century poet and Abolitionist Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Inside you can see how he lived, surrounded by literature, a massive art collection, amazing photographs, letters and documents preserved as a National Historic Site. In 1775 General George Washington took command of the Continental Army and moved into the empty mansion, living in it for almost a year during the Siege of Boston. Outside there is just less than two acres, located in a built up environment, with a carriage barn and a pergola surrounded by gardens. There is so much history exuding these walls reflecting conflict and war while America was forming its beliefs about freedom.


Washington's Headquarters

Washington’s Headquarters


I saunter down the street to 42 Brattle Street and admire the Brattle House which is of Georgian Architecture and built in 1725 by one of the wealthiest men in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, General-Major William Brattle. In 1774 he and his family fled to Boston when an angry mob surrounded his home. He was able to recover it in 1778 when he showed his support for America’s independence.


Brattle House

Brattle House


As I walk briskly to the subway to get home before dark my head is spinning with all that I have learned today about the making of a great country and the fight for freedom, the freedom that I take for granted. I am thinking there still needs to be more freedom granted to the people of color, those with different sexual preferences than the ‘norm’, and religious freedom, the list goes on. I even apply this concept to myself; to give myself permission to define my own beliefs and morals, rather than just accepting the ones my family instilled in me, to explore those handed and decide which to keep and which to let go of. What does true freedom look and feel like?




I meet P at the bar down the street; he is of average height, somewhat on the thin side with curly light brown hair. We get along well and make an agreement that we do not want a committed relationship, we date for awhile, and then he moves in while we are planning our trip to move to California together.


We got a Great Dane puppy call Jake, whose short hair color is Fawn, that is a yellow gold, with a black mask, black on the eye rims, eyebrows, and on the naturally floppy, triangular ears. Jake is a strong galloping figure, a pretty husky dude: taller than me when he stands with his paws on my shoulders and weighing more than me at 100 to 125 pounds, he grew very fast. Jake’s large and imposing appearance does not reflect his friendly nature; he is a gentle giant, even a scared-y cat at times.


Eventually I get a couch for the living room that gets destroyed by Jake in just one day. He also loves to grab the end of the toilet paper and run through all the rooms with it so I have learned to close the bathroom door when we leave him alone. Jake loves to ride with me in my MG Midget with the top down, he squeezes in behind the seats, and his drooling dripping jaws are so close to my head that when he shakes his head I get a load of saliva right in the face, yucky.





I am learning to be a good listener, reflecting back what’s been said, giving positive feedback, support and encouragement. I have always been a caring person but sometimes I over identify with the patient which doesn’t help them and causes me distress and I become less objective. I am working on balancing caring with compassion without getting lost in another.


We now are detoxing the barbiturate addicts with Valium which proves safer and without the high, thus word has gotten out on the streets and less people want to be treated. Valium also known as Diazepam is a central nervous system depressant called a benzodiazepine, with its low potency, long duration of action and the availability of low-dose tablets make it ideal for gradual dose reduction and the circumvention of withdrawal symptoms. Present thinking is that it isn’t as addictive as barbiturates, only time will tell.


Barbiturates are a very popular abused substance, available through prescription or on the streets. Theyare drugs that act as central nervous system depressants, and can therefore produce a wide spectrum of effects, from mild sedation to total anesthesia. It seems that people are trying not to be aware or to feel their feelings by taking these pills.



We see many young men being admitted, in a psychotic state from a bad acid trip, struggling to get their life back together, but their contact with reality has been severely affected. It is interesting how many young people are into this substance that do not have bad experiences and even develop spiritually.Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD semi-synthetic psychedelic drug, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, an altered sense of time and spiritual experiences, as well as for its key role in 1960s counterculture. It is used mainly as a recreational drug, and as an agent in experimental psychedelic therapy research being done at Berkeley University, UCLA and Harvard University.



I have learned a lot from the patients who have crossed my path. I am introduced to the concepts of Western Mysticism and Astral Travel by a very knowledgeable young man; I am fascinated by the topic, being on the path of the seeker. I am open to what others believe and think, without judgment, hungry for other ways of seeing things. Psychiatry does not see this the way I do it is a little more closed minded with a focus on altered states being abnormal brain functioning and psychopathology.


When a patient gets agitated and possible violent, at least 4 staff grab a limb and take the patient down to the floor, speaking calming word: “breathe deeply”, “Take it easy”, and “Calm down”, telling them “we will let you go as soon as you calm down.” We do not have restraints on the unit, and it takes just a few minutes of physical contact to calm the person down, when they say they are OK, we let them up. No staff or patients have ever been injured in this approach. There is not much written about dealing with agitated and hostile behavior.


I had my first experience with a patient faking Grand Mal Seizures, it took the staff a little time to figure it out because it looked like a textbook case, and the patient was very skilled at pretending which he eventually admitted to. When we first choose to ignore the behavior it was very hard to do, because of the urge to protect, but it is in the best interest of the patient. It turned out it helped him to: let go of this way of seeking attention, learning to ask for what he needs, and expressing what is going on with himself. It is always so heartwarming to be with others who are growing and developing new ways of behaving, it is why I enjoy this work. I so believe in others ability to develop healthier behaviors, since I have been able to do so. Besides my father was a wonderful role model who was able to remain loving, positive and motivated through difficult times.



Our Day Care Patients are The Chronically Mentally Ill, recently released from the hospital or the state hospital, as the city works to integrate this population into the community. The state of Massachusetts and many other states in the USA are discharging the Mentally Ill out of the State Hospitals and into the communities, there appear not to be enough programs to help them reintegrate. I see many on the streets unable to cope with “normal life” such as maintaining a place to live.


They come to the unit Monday through Friday and participate fully in the program. It takes a lot of work and motivation on the patient’s part to create a life outside of an institution. They require active assistance in learning basic skills, we take for granted; like financial management, apartment living, interacting with others as equals, shopping, cooking and cleaning. Patients are more successful when they are provided support and encouragement, while pointing out their accomplishments, giving feedback when they have completed tasks and maintain a caring approach.


My last day working at Boston City Hospital Psychiatric Facility in Mattapan is in August. I am Charge Nurse for June and July, which is temporary since I am moving to California, and the charge nurse is resigning. This charge nurse position is harder than at Miriam where I was the only nurse. At Boston City Psychiatric Hospital there are many nurses on the unit that have been my friends and coworkers and we have all been equals. Now I am the boss and need to be fair and equitable and not show favoritism when: making out the work schedule, giving out patient assignments and vacation requests. The staff tries to manipulate me in their favor and since I struggle with being liked it creates a war within and in the end what is right always wins.


It is a hard job to leave because I love the people, the work, and I have learned so much from it all.




I am still in the Psychodrama Group working on my issues with men and my projection of my stuff onto them that I need to work out in order to be able to develop a health relationship. I project my father issues onto the guy I am in a relationship with. In my present relationship we have been clear we are in an open relationship, meaning we can date other people, I am really gun shy since my last two relationships were with cheaters bringing up issues of abandonment, mistrust and anger.


I am suspended from work for 2 weeks, while the patient I had dated previously was re-admitted for detoxification of barbiturates. I realize that I am attracted to men that I perceive need my help, I take on a care-giver role: which is a power position of thinking I am in control and healthier than them; the deeper issue is that I am projecting my father issues on men so I can work them out; it is like reenacting a part of the relationship I had with father, helping him when asked; it is the rescuer myth I am acting out since the age of 4.


There was also a triangular relationship happening between my father, mother and me: I was in charge when Ma went to work; I was sharing my father with my mother; which is reflected and being played out through my relationships with cheating boyfriends for they also have another women in their life. I have so much to process and work through that go back to when I was 4 yrs old and father got polio.





I continue to drink but it has decreased, still using it to medicate myself which I find more acceptable than medications.


Since living in Boston M has turned me onto a variety of music. We go to large dancing bars, where there is a large raised stage for the bands, lots of dancing space for the many patrons, and an abundance of tables for drinks and chairs for coats. At one place the bar is part of the stage and we are enthralled and captivated by the Platters performance, a Rhythm and Blues vocal group, with many top hits that I know the words to. During the holidays it’s a pleasure to hear and see Mannheim Steamroller play wonderful Christmas music like no one else can, sounding like a mini orchestra. There are frequent appearances of the skinny BB King, making his guitar Lucille screech out his soulful bluesy tunes. There are many places to go to listen to free live music; I am going to miss this the most.


We go to concerts at The Boston Fillmore where less know musicians get their start on a small raised stage with lots of floor space, usually packed with people standing all around, most of the time we sit on the floor in front of the stage. We are enthralled by the outlandish performances and phenomenal music played by these off the wall rock and roll artists: Black Sabbath, Joe Crocker, J. Geils Band, Alice Cooper, Eric Clapton, and Elton John. They all have a look of their own, not afraid to be who they see themselves as, putting themselves out there, without being concerned with what others may think, just trusting in their dream. I love the high pitches sounds that can come from guitars and nothing can beat a good piano player.


At the Boston Garden, where the top names in the music industry appear to large crowds, we are far from the stage, in a large auditorium, watching mind blowing rock and rollers like: sexy Jimmy Page and Robert Plant singing and playing guitar in the group called Led Zeppelin; the amazing Ian Anderson swinging his long bushy hair all around while playing the flute standing on one leg, in the band called Jethro Thull; and Jefferson Airplane with Gracie Slick swirling all around the stage, is a sight to behold; Edgar Winter is an albino who writes, sings and plays keyboard, sax and drums in the White Trash Group, we get up close and personal because he walks by us.  I know all the words to these musicians compositions, it radiates through my being, experiencing a myriad of feelings, issues and solutions to problems.


At the local small bar venues, there is an intimate feeling because Jazz is less popular than other forms of music; there is a lot to be said about the Jazz experience. We sit along the stage, at a small table; I amerce my five senses in the musician on stage, taking it all in, while M does fantastic charcoal drawing of the musician. The cover is a one drink minimum for 5 dollars, and we enjoy amazing musicians such as: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Muddy Waters, and BB King. Listening to this type of music requires training my ears to appreciate sounds that are put together in unusual arrangements and letting go of what I think music is suppose to sound like.


At Carroll O’Connor’s bar we go to a luscious Sunday Brunch while listening and dancing to the Big Band Sounds which are still going strong, even though they are not on the radio any longer. It is such a body/mind rush to hear a variety of well played musical instruments creating amazing arrangements that bring me through a plethora of feelings. We see such greats as: Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich and Count Basie, playing outdoors in good weather, otherwise we are inside in tight quarters where there is no room to dance but the sounds fills you up.



My mother, Bill and my 3 youngest sisters have moved to North Carolina this year. P and I drive down there in my MG Midget and I am shocked when my mother insists we sleep in her bed. I have never discussed sex with my mother or anything intimate for that matter. I say goodbye to my family because I won’t be seeing them again before leaving for California.



I sell my MG midget and buy a large Buick station wagon with fake wood on the outside and the back opens out like a door, to the left. We purchase camping equipment. I give my furniture away to my sister, give my long black fake fur coat with hood and favorite picture to M, and stuff all my clothes into a new black footlocker and off we go.


I really enjoyed the 2 years I was in Boston; the daytime walks and the musical nightlife were exhilarating and mind expanding. Psychiatric nursing was educational while introducing me to myself through therapy. I am ready to move on to a warmer, sunnier climate.



leather skirt and coat I had made for me.



In September, M and I decide to move out and get our own apartments, leaving this one to the guys. I find a place in the Brighton/ Alston area which is a neighborhood of single and multifamily homes and not as densely populated as the apartment area.

Walking in the front door, you see the fair size bedroom straight ahead with one window and a door for privacy. From the entrance to the right around a tight corner small hallway you enter the large square living room with two windows flooding the area with light.

When you continue to head toward the back of the apartment you go through a small narrow square hall with a small bathroom on the right that has just enough space for the tub on the right, the toilet in the center and the sink against the left wall with mirror and cupboard.

The kitchen is the last room straight back. In the kitchen I have a table and chairs I brought from the apartment. This place is more open, less walls and lets in more light; the buildings are not as tall or as close together compared to where I moved from creating a feeling of privacy.

My mother and Bill help me paint my new place white, which is what is allowed by the landlord. I really appreciate all the help they give me, getting my place done quicker than if I had of done it on my own. I have lots of years of experience in painting and wall paperhanging with my mother; she is superb with wallpaper, the old fashion way, with that clumpy glue for she doesn’t like the paper with the glue on it.


I go antiquing on the weekends from Massachusetts to RI looking for good inexpensive deals. I find an antique brass bed for $35, because the brass footboard is cut off, I polish it to a bright shine. I purchase a red satin bedspread to place on the bed. I love getting up on cold mornings and standing on the red mohair rug with its long plush fake fur fibers that I have placed on the floor.

I bought three antique wooden furnishings that took lots of hard work to remove the paint, stripping them down to the wood then applying the stain, doing it all right in the empty living room. I discover that my purchases are well worth the money I invested: there is a red mahogany dresser with a matching mirror; a walnut armoire with a door that opens exposing four lingerie draws that pull out while the lower third has 2 large drawers on the bottom; and then a walnut smokers table that is carved and has inlaid work on it.



My apartment is right down the street from a bar. My daily routine for this year involves: getting up 5am to get ready for work; taking the crowded subway trains for an hour like sardines in a can; working the day shift from 7am to 3:30 pm; getting back on the rocking shaking trains back home; eating a cheap dinner; napping till 9 pm; walking down the block to the local bar; dancing and drinking till 3 am; stumbling home; then going to bed while the room whirls around me.

Sometimes I wake up puking whatever fruit I ate in the mixed drinks, I love Maraschino cherries. Once I vomit up liquor, I become nauseated just smelling it thus I’m no longer able to drink it. The next night I start with something new, I have not tried before, making it my drink till I get sick on it, and that’s my pattern throughout the year. I average 4 drinks a night and usually only buy the first one. I spend the night on the dance floor moving my body to whatever music the live band is playing.

On the weekends M and I go bar hopping around Boston where there is amazing live music like The Platters, Mannheim Steamroller, and BB King. I spend many hours drinking and dancing, using alcohol to deal with my social anxiety, to takes away my many inhibitions, and to self medicate to deal with my long standing anxiety and depression. I find myself in some tight spots; gun held to my head for example, but my guardian angel seems to be protecting me and I always arrive safely home.



With a year’s experience under my belt as a psychiatric/mental health nurse and before the next new residents arrive; we decide on the programs we want to do for the year. We are interested, in sharing our assessments with the patients, while researching their ability to deal with the information. Thus every morning we have the patients read their previous day chart notes and encourage them to write an honest note underneath it, it is OK if they disagreed with the staff notes. We then discuss what is written, what healthy behaviors are, the feelings behind the behaviors and the steps to better mental health. In the end some of the individuals do well with the process, some get paranoid while others get agitated, and some are withdrawn and into pleasing so they are hesitant to share their responses.




The therapist in the Psychodrama Group is finished with her year of training us in this approach and some of the members decided to continue this group therapy without a leader. We become a close knit group of women, there are new issues brought up for the first time, for half are gay lesbians who are struggling to come out of the closet and are feeling safe and supported in sharing their secret.


I start working on my issues with my mother; I get in touch with my anger towards my mother for not protecting me and my protecting her. My mother has emotional and mental health issues which results in her exhibiting fugue states and flashbacks; she acted as if she is in a past situation, except she is experiencing it as if it’s happening now, when she is questioned they are memories from the past.


Sometimes on the weekends I drive to RI to visit my family. On one visit I gathered all my sisters and mother around the kitchen table and talked about my shadow experience. I thought I was exposing my sisters to something they were unaware of, and realized I was just bringing it out into the open, for we were all keeping the secret, not wanting to “hang out our dirty laundry for all to see.” I feel very alone.



I bought a white, convertible MG Midget right before moving to my own place. The salesman spends an hour teaching me how to drive a clutch up and down hills; it takes me a good week to get the feel of it. Usually my car is parked on the street, moving it twice a week for street cleaning. I continue to take the subway to work except in the winter when it isn’t running due to the weather. I have difficulty getting through a snow storm, because the snow get compacted under the low clearance of the vehicle, so I get out and remove it in order to keep going.



One day it feels like I have a flat tire and I am lucky I have AAA, when the guy shows up he states “You are lucky you were not on the freeway or you would have been injured. It is more than a flat tire, your front axle broke.” It cost an arm and a leg to get it fixed. I always take the roads to work because there is less honking, not as much traffic and not as much time idling and now they have proven to be safer.



Once I decide to drive as fast as I can, trying to get it up to ‘95mph on 95 freeway’. As I hit 95 and going downhill, looking in my rear view mirror, I see a cop car’s flashing lights, instead of breaking; I eased up on the gas. I pulled over and he asks “Ms. Powers, do you know how fast you were going?” “No Officer, my Speedometer is broken” (which it was). “Well, Ms. Powers you were going 80 miles per hour. I am going to give you a warning this time, and I do not want to catch you speeding again, you understand?” “Yes, Officer, Thank You!” Boy was that close.



M and I frequently drive around Boston checking out the sights, our first jaunt out we were in the smack dab middle of Harvard Square when the car died, a nice man stopped to help push us out of the traffic and after lifting the hood and trying to start it he said “Lady, you are out of gas.” How embarrassing is that! Gas is 25 cents/gallon, filling my tank for less than three bucks.



M and I go to the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island in my MG Midget in the summer. We park in the parking lot across the street, planning to camp there throughout the concert. The concert is outdoors, a chain link fence has been placed around the hill, to keep people out that have not paid. On Saturday night a crowd develops on the other side of the flimsy barrier, listening for free, but they are not happy with that, they are piling up, with more and more squeezing into the area, pushing on the fencing till it is down, then all hell breaks loose. The song “What the World Needs now is Love” is being sung by Dianne Warwick while we are being evacuated from the fairgrounds, with the police raining tear gas down upon us, tears are pouring down my face while I try to decrease my exposure by breathing through my clothing. The concert ends early and we go back to the car and camp out for the night.

The next morning we wake to the police standing at attention, on the sidewalk across the street, in riot gear, plastic shields and Billy clubs. We are told to leave because the music festival is cancelled chaos brakes out, people are yelling and screaming, one guy tells us “It is best if you leave quickly.” We put our tent away, get into the MG, and while I am trying to drive out of the parking lot the police are upon us, one officer starts banging my car with his Billy Club. We exit swiftly safe and sound.  We paid a lot of money for those weekend tickets and are never refunded for the rest of the week.

Later we find out what has happened. “Early on Saturday evening, crowds of young people occupying the adjacent hill, high on everything from alcohol to acid surrounding the concert site. The police command force was called to clear the area, but they never came. The young people breached the chain link fence during Dionne Warwick’s set.

The stage was soon overflowing with a crowd who tore the lid off the piano, smashed everything in sight, and the police began lobbing tear gas canisters. It was announced that the city had ordered the Festival shut down. Traffic was halted on the bridges allowing only residents and people with legitimate business in.

At 7AM Sunday the police moved into Miantomoni Hill with bull horns telling everyone to put out their fires, fold their tents and leave within 15 minutes. Within an hour the park was cleared, and police moved on to the parking lots and cleared them.

It wasn’t Dionne that sets off the riots. There was a new band called the Allman Brothers a white blues group which was really a pioneering southern rock group, that wasn’t popular and no popular rock groups were hired because “After Woodstock, no one would allow rock festivals”. So in January they were hired and by July they became rock monsters. So the kids descended on Newport and they broke the fences down and the festival was cancelled.”



I have had lots of interesting experiences during 1971 living on my own in Boston, being in therapy working through issues, developing caring skills as a holistic psychiatric nurse and having fun in the first car I ever bought. What more could a girl ask for?




In August we hitchhike to Boston to find an apt to rent. We get the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald newspapers and go looking at places to live. There is this one place we really like; when the black landlord tells us “This is not a safe neighborhood for you girls, I will not rent to you.” We walk out of their thinking it was our choice to make, that maybe he was being too protective, because we did not feel unsafe walking in this neighborhood, but then again it was not dark yet.


We check out a variety of places until we end up down the street from the jazz school. It needs a lot of cleaning, painting and repair work; which we are willing to do; and the landlord is willing to provide the paint and supplies. We are in a red brick building on the top floor paying $75/month, having to carry very heavy furniture up 4 flights of stairs for here is no elevator. Neighbors come by and welcomed us to the community and the building even bringing us food; it is great being surrounded by lots of friendly people.


Our living room windows looked into the apartment about 10 feet away on the other side of a narrow walkway, privacy and space is a luxury in this densely populated city. As you walk in the front door there is a long narrow hall the length of the huge living room and small alcove which is barely big enough for a twin bed, the door way is on the left. My friend’s brother F has a brown Afro; a husky dude who is happy to pay $25 to live in the alcove while he attends the jazz school. Within a short time one of his school buddies has moved into the living room and is sleeping on the couch.


My friend M’s room is on the same side of the building as the living room with a window facing out towards the building next door. M has always been very messy, so she keeps her door closed most of the time. She is of Irish and Italian descent with beautiful red hair worn in an Afro.


The medium size rectangular kitchen is at the end of the hall which consists of wooden counter space with cupboards above and below on the 2 long walls, while the sink is in the center of the counter space on right side, the stove and fridge are along one of the shorter wall near the entrance, and we place a small table with 2 chairs at the window in which minimal light comes through. The first night we walk into the kitchen turning on the light and see hordes of coach roaches running all over the place to escape being seen, this really freaks us out. It looks so nice after being freshly painted white, deceiving ourselves into believing it’s clean. We decide to store all food in glass containers to keep out the roaches. We have a contest at night with a fly swatter; we quietly sneak in, quickly turning on the light and seeing who can kill the most coach roaches. We only use the kitchen to store food and cook in it.


Next to the kitchen, on the right side of the hall, across from M’s room, is the rectangular bathroom; with a large porcelain tub, a small sink and toilet and a window overlooking the courtyard. The Coach roaches are in too but not as many as there are in the kitchen


The entrance to my large room is also on the right side of the hall across from the living room. The window in my room overlooked a square courtyard that is only accessible on the first floor by windows; there is even grass on the ground. Sound traveled and echoed well; like in a tunnel or a canyon in the wilderness, lots of music students live here so all kinds of instrumental noises reverberate as the artists practice their scales throughout the building. I furnish it with a full bed, a bedside table, a LP record player and a chair.


I love buying new LPs that stack up and play throughout the night, I still need a distracting and comforting sound to be able to sleep, in order not to be awakened by sounds in the environment that my brain tries to make sense out of. I am dealing with a trigger that is connected to the Shadow.




In September we start working at Boston City Hospital at the Mattapan Psychiatric Facility located outside of town. There are a few buildings situated on a hill, which are isolated by being outside of town, like many similar structures built at the time. The Psych Building is a two story structure with the Substance Abuse unit upstairs while the psychiatric/mental health patients are on the first floor. The building is rectangular with one hall way and the rooms coming off both sides; there are 2 patients to a room. There is a large Day Room in the center of the hall with a large therapy/meeting room across the way. Next door to Day Room is the Nurses Station which contains the medical records with table and chairs for charting. The medication room door is only accessible from the nursing station. There is a locked box on the wall that houses the controlled substances which we count every shift.


At one point a patient is having frequent seizures even though he is on medication, we start investigating the cause, when we examined the pills which are suppose to be Phenobarbital, and realize they are being replaced by Artane which is used for EPS. A staff nurse must be involved because they are under lock and key and are the only ones with access. Barbiturates are very popular medications being misused and highly addictive.


Phenobarbital is a barbiturate that is the oldest and most widely used anticonvulsant that also has sedative and hypnotic properties. It is use as first-line for partial and generalized tonic–clonic seizures also known as grand mal.


Our emergency response to a generalized tonic-clonic epileptic seizure is simply to prevent the patient from self-injury by moving him or her away from sharp edges, placing something soft beneath the head, and carefully rolling the person onto their side which is the recovery position to avoid asphyxiation, so the tongues does not block the airway. If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, or if the seizures begin coming in ‘waves’ one after the other it is called ”status epilepticus’’ which we treat by administering Valium IV push. We believed a person could swallow their own tongue during a seizure or bite their own tongue, so we placed a padded tongue depressor in the mouth.


After a seizure, it is typical for a person to be exhausted and confused. Often the person is not immediately aware that they have just had a seizure. During this time a staff person stays with the patient – reassuring and comforting them – until they appear to act as they normally would and have returned to their normal level of awareness. Many patients sleep deeply for a few hours after a seizure, and headaches may occur. Those present at the time of a seizure would make a note of how long and how severe the seizure was.


We treat many people with Psychosis, which comes from the Ancient Greek word meaning “psyche”, for mind/soul, and “-osis”, for abnormal condition or derangement which refers to an abnormal condition of the mind, and is a psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a “loss of contact with reality”. People suffering from psychosis are described as psychotic. Psychosis is given to the more severe forms of psychiatric disorder, during which hallucinations and delusions and impaired insight may occur. The term psychosis is very broad and can mean anything from relatively normal aberrant experiences through to the complex and catatonic expressions of schizophrenia. Sometimes we get people off the streets experiencing a bad acid trip that are psychotic. People experiencing psychosis may exhibit personality changes and thought disorder. Depending on its severity, this may be accompanied by unusual or bizarre behavior, as well as difficulty with social interaction and impairment in carrying out daily life activities.


The Antipsychotics, we use to control psychoses such as schizophrenia, include: chlorpromazine also called Thorazine, thioridazine known as Melleril, and haloperidol called Haldol.


The extra pyramidal motor system is a neural network located in the brain that is involved in the coordination of movement. Extra pyramidal symptoms therefore are symptoms that manifest themselves in various movement disorders. The extra pyramidal symptoms, often known as EPS, are a neurological side effect of antipsychotic medication, also known as major tranquilizers.


Extra pyramidal symptoms can begin within a few hours, days or weeks or even years after commencing treatment with an antipsychotic medication. Common signs and symptoms include: Involuntary movements, Tremors and rigidity, Body restlessness, Muscle contractions, Mask like face, Involuntary movement of the eye called oculogyric crisis, Drooling, Shuffling gait, Increased heart rate, Delirium and Symptoms can be very distressing and frightening.


We are Psychiatric Staff Registered Nurses functioning as: Primary Therapist, Group Psychotherapist and Family Therapist. I become a Psycho-dramatist and am a Consultant for the Rehabilitation Unit, to assist non-psychiatric staff in dealing with difficult patients and psychiatric problems.


The nurses supervise the medical workers staff trained in Psychiatric Care. The nurses have clinical supervision with the nursing director. Clinical Case supervision is a hospital Policy for all staff, which is for one hour a week to discuss and get feedback on: patient care, to explore patient transference and staff counter-transference. We do follow up and Home Visits since there is a state policy to integrate the mentally ill into the community. All staff is required to attend a weekly therapy group focused on issues with patients and staff.


I am exposed to new theories and treatment approaches for mental health nursing, learning to work with families from Virginia Satir, and experiencing many great teachers through the connection with Harvard residents. Nurses get to define the program every year before the new residents arrived this has already been done before we started working.


We have an open door policy on this Adult Psychiatric Ward with 20 in-patients; which including 3 barbiturate addicts, alcoholics detoxifying, and 10 Day-Care patients receiving services during business hours. The ward functions on a team approach using the therapeutic community milieu approach to care which is holistically oriented. We have daily community meetings with the patients; to give positive feedback for improvement made; and to discuss issues that have come up; and exploring ways to resolve conflict and encourage growth.


When we first started treating the barbiturate addicts we gave them Pentobarbital, also known as Nembutal 100mg, and the street name is yellow jackets, we administered it every hour till they were feeling elated, we would then total up the dose given, which would be their starting dose, then it was decreased over 7 to 10 days. They literally are “bouncing off the walls” as they stagger from side to side down the hall, their arms out as their hands contact the walls. The major problem we have with this approach is when there is liver involvement, for example: once a patient all of a sudden passed out and required immediate intervention. We detoxify the alcoholics with Librium which mellows out the cravings and delirium Tremors as long as they give a true report of the amount of their alcohol intake.


Our 10 Day Care Patients are on the unit Mondays through Fridays, from 9am to 3pm. All in patients and out patients participated in the program’s activities. During those hours: we played indoor games such as cards and dominoes; outdoor games such as volleyball and baseball. We have individual sessions with all patients, a variety of therapy groups, community meetings and morning meetings to start the day.




I start personal group therapy as a requirement for my job; I co-lead a Psychodrama group with another staff, so we are in a therapy group, which lasts about a year. There is a woman in the group who had recovered from Polio and has a son about my age thus we do a lot of work together, she plays my father while I play myself or she plays herself while I play her son, after awhile it doesn’t really seem to matter for the roles blend because the issues are similar. I work hard on my father issues: feelings of loss, guilt, anger, and abandonment; development tasks of trust and security. It is easier to role play the issues rather than talking about them because I am less guarded.


Sometimes on the weekends I go visit my family in Pawtucket, RI. One weekend Mother and I play with the Ouija Board; it appears to move on its own, picking up speed and darting all over the place very quickly, saying “I am sorry it is not your fault”. I did not know what that meant; tears were running down my checks, because a part of me knew what was being said. My mother starts to tell the story of how “You wanted a bike”, “Your father was working a lot to pay off a hospital bill from my miscarriage”, “You would cry when he would go to work” and “We lied to you, telling you he was going to work to get you a bike, we didn’t think it would become a problem”, “It’s your father who is telling you ‘It is not your fault he got polio.” It was freaky, scary and comforting all at the same time. I realize that my father chose not to get vaccinated or maybe he was just putting it off for a more convenient time and seeing that he was overworked it made him more susceptible to getting polio.


I am still seeing D who has also moved to Boston in a high rise of 15 stories and it is difficult for me to look out the window or even go near it. Being 22 yrs of age I now drink more frequently, to the point of blacking out. I am using alcohol to be more social, it has helped me relax and give myself completely to D so I won’t lose him, besides it decreases my inhibitions which also contribute to other risky behaviors.


My experiences with drugs start. At our first work Christmas party with the psychiatrists and staff, I asked M “What is in the pipe they are passing around the circle.” I am so naive. We have a Christmas decorating party at our place, inviting about 20 people, and placing chairs up against the walls of the living room. Someone passes around a pipe and within a short period of time we are experiencing an inability to control our limbs, come to find out we have been smoking animal tranquilizer called angel dust/PCP, I will never do that again feeling to out of control. The group was so out of it giggling and laughing, we were all connected by a large string of white lights, while we were replacing the burnt out bulbs before placing them on the tree which was set up in the alcove.


I am obsessed with D, one night I realize he is in his apartment with that same girl again! I take Benadryl 50 mg to go to sleep but it has the opposite effect on me getting me so agitated that I go to his place banging on the door but they pretended they are not there. I decided to confront them both, so I sit in the hall waiting for them to come out. I so want the truth to be brought out into the light of day.


In the morning they are surprised to see me; they back up into the room. She has a box of boots in her arms that D bought on one of our shopping trips, I comment asking “Are those the boots we bought for your cousin?” She throws the boots at him. He now has to explain to both of us what is going on. I am so emotionally distraught and want everything out into the open, even if it means more pain and suffering, so I say “I thought we have been planning on getting married?” He responds with “Yes we were, but I love both of you.” I go into shock and disbelief as does she while he talks like a two headed snake. I leave to go home to lick my wounds.


I continue to see him for a short while, as I allow him to seduces me with more lies, but I know I do not want to be with a liar, and that I need to move on. So I act out by dating an x-patient which is inappropriate and doesn’t last long because he becomes an obnoxious substance abuser, besides D finds us together and makes the guy leave. D gets jealous, becoming very controlling, and slapping me across the face. This is the last straw for I refuse to allow myself to be physically abused; later after he leaves I realize that he has stolen my month’s supply of birth control pills. He leaves and refuses to believe it’s over, and when he calls to apologize I refuse to ever see him again. So much drama, anxiety and pain, while I explore why I continue to be attracted to unavailable men, who are unwilling to commit to one person, looking at my relationship history and thinking I must also be projecting my stuff on them. I must not be ready for a committed relationship.




I love walking all over Boston: from my neighborhood to Cambridge, downtown and to all areas of the city. On Saturday afternoon, we Folk Dance on Harvard’s courtyard campus, where they teach a dance, which we do over and over to different songs, I love group dances. I take a silkscreen class in Cambridge to stimulate my creativity, and planning to do it on clothing. We participate in the Anti-Vietnam demonstration near our place; the police are on horseback with riot gear, Billy clubs and dogs chasing us out of the park. “Johnnie Got His Gun” The Movie was briefly at the theater for 2 weeks before it is banned because of its controversial nature.


Weekly we treat ourselves by going out to eat at McDonald’s; coke, fries and cheeseburger for 75 cents. We buy cheap food at the market; lots of chicken pot pies and Kraft macaroni and cheese each costing less than 25 cents, sometimes 5 for a $1 and we really enjoy these meals.


This has been a great year living and experiencing life in Boston Massachusetts, learning and working in Psychiatric Nursing, and looking at and exploring my own Mental Health Issues through a commitment to my own therapy which is the underlying reason that I have found myself here.


East Side

My friend and I hitchhike, with our thumbs out, on the 95 freeway going into Boston Massachusetts to find work. We obtained a job interview at Boston City Hospital Psychiatric/Mental Health Facility, contemplating working with substance abuse, while the nursing director tells us “You need psychiatric experience first.” My friend’s frustration is reflected in her response “How can we get experience if no one will hire us?” Thus her open and honest remark gets us the job, which is to begin in September. We decide to live and work on the East Side for the summer, which is our most favorite place where culture, history, and earthly beauty, is surrounded by a college atmosphere that is comfortable while also stimulating on many levels.


The East Side is a combination of neighborhoods in Providence, Rhode Island on the famous eastern part of the city. It officially comprises the neighborhoods of Blackstone, Hope (commonly known as Summit), Mount Hope, College Hill (once known as Prospect Hill), Wayland, and Fox Point. The East Side contains numerous parks and green spaces. It is approximately four miles north to south and two miles east to west which is great for my love of walking.


Mostly residential, the East Side is the most affluent partof the city with higher property values, lower unemployment, and higher income levels than the city as a whole. Approximately 20% of the city’s 175,000 people live on the East Side.


Roger Williams founded Providence along College Hill; in 1650 it is the place of the first colonial settlement plots. The East Side contains the oldest section of the city. The Providence Preservation Society and the Rhode Island Historical Society have preserved numerous historic buildings in this area. As you walk the streets you see mental planks on the houses with the dates it was built, symbolizing that the structure is being maintained as it was originally constructed and owners are not allowed to alter it in anyway.


To the west is the Providence River with many bridges leading to Downtown Providence with Interstate 95 separating downtown from the rest Providence. Let’s start our walk in this area at Smith Street, heading south on North Main Street. We come across the Roger Williams National Memorial  situated between North Main Street and Canal Street (along the canal) which was established in 1965 to commemorate his “outstanding contributions to the development of the principles of freedom in this country.”


Roger Williams Memorial Park


The memorial, is a 4.5 acre urban green space located at the foot of College Hill, includes a freshwater spring which was the center of the settlement of Providence Plantations founded by Williams in 1636.  It is on this site that Williams, through word and action, fought for the ideal of religious freedom.


As we continue south on North Main Street we arrive at The First Baptist Church in America which is the oldest Baptist church in the United States, founded by Roger Williams in 1638. He called the city “Providence” because he believed that God had cared for him. This colony was a “shelter for persons distressed of conscience.” Providence had soul liberty and the founding principles of the separation of church and state, which were so powerful that subsequent settlers in Rhode Island adopted them. All the other colonies had established churches and religious requirements.


First Baptist Church


We walk a short distance, turning left on Meeting Street; we go a block up the hill to Benefit Street, where we find The Marine Armory, built in 1839 and was in service during the American Civil War by the Rhode Island Militia. Also known as the State Arsenal and called the Benefit Street Arsenal is a historic site at 176 Benefit Street.


Prospect Park


We continue heading east up Meeting Street, we go 2 more block up the hill turning left onto Congdon Street and continue down the block. We are now at Prospect Terrace Park also located in the College Hill neighborhood, founded in 1867, which overlooks the city’s downtown area. Our eyes are drawn to a 35-foot white stone statue of Roger Williams gazing over the city, built in the late 1930s on his burial site, commemorates his founding of the state of Rhode Island and his promotion for religious freedom. His remains are buried in the tomb beneath his statue. Here is where the flashing lanterns were placed, during the revolutionary war, warning the citizens that “The British are coming”. I love the view from the here, overlooking Providence and have spent lots of time here while in nursing school, where everyone hangs out day and night for the city lights are something to behold, especially the brightly lighted state house.



Prospect park


We return back to Meeting Street turning right, the way we came, going 2 blocks down the hill, turning left onto Benefit Street. Benefit Street may be only a mile long, but it is considered the most historic street in the city of Providence. Its construction began back in 1765, and it has undergone innumerable changes since then. It remains, however, culturally, architecturally, and historically rich today. There are many cobble stone streets in this area.


Historic Benefit Street


Let us continue our stroll south on Benefit Street for 2 more blocks until we come to Waterman Street. As we look east up the steep hill we can see many of the Rhode Island School of Design‘s buildings that are along the slope of College Hill, and most of the Brown University‘s facilities, include the Main Green, the Rockefeller Library, the Pembroke Campus, and the School of Medicine. Instead we will check out The RISD Museum located on the corner of Waterman and Benefit Street. I often visit the basement; I love Rodin’s white marble sculpture of the hand of god holding the world which is also a man and woman entwined.




Brown’s Clock Tower


Going another 2 blocks we find ourselves standing in front of The Providence Athenaeum, the fourth oldest library in America. It is well knows that it is here where Edgar Allan Poe and Sarah Helen Whitman hung out during their stormy romance. Whitman was considered one of the “best female poets of America” who lived down the street from the library and had special privileges there for almost 75 years.




In the spirit of freedom, which the area was known for, was “The Scruples shelf” containing books “Banned in Boston” which was originally stored in a drawer the staff called “the sewer,” that kept authors such as D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and others, safely out of the view of young innocent eyes. The practice of hiding the books started in 1922 and continued until 1971 when the Board of Directors voted that it be “scrupulously and without fanfare desegregated and redistributed.”


Continuing south for 4 large city blocks we come to The John Brown House Museum, the first mansion built in Providence, on the corner of Benefit and Power Street where famous people such as John Quincy Adamsand George Washington had tea. Home of the wealthy merchant John Brown (1736–1803), a china trader, slave trader, Federalist, owned distilleries and his family financed the establishment of Brown University. He was the planner and leader on the attack of the Gaspee in 1772.


John Brown House Museum


We continue walking south on Benefit Street, to Wickenden Street which goes in an east/west direction and named after the original plot owner, (like other East Side streets e.g. Arnold, Williams, Angell, Waterman) we walk all the way to Gano Street turning left and heading North to East Manning Street where we live in Fox Point.



Benefit Street


If we were to continue to walk north on Gano Street we’d find ourselves at the top of College Hill at Waterman Street or Angell Street which go west/east directions, we usually turn left heading west to Thayer Street where the Brown University Bookstore is located and the notable Avon Cinema which dates back to the early twentieth century. Numerous cafes, restaurants, and shops are located along Thayer Street, adjoining Brown University at Veteran’s Gate, and along Wickenden Street, South Water Street. Both streets are home to numerous small and independent shops. I frequent the area, eating bagel and cream cheese or a hot fudge Sunday at the little quaint Bob’s Big Boy and love buying clothes at India Emporium.




To the north, the East Side is bordered by Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The most scenic route to there from our place is Blackstone Boulevard where there are huge expensive houses with large yards, being one of the most affluent white neighborhoods in the city with a median family income nearly four times that of the city.


Blackstone Boulevard Park is a green space between northbound and southbound lanes of Blackstone Boulevard. It consists of 19.3 acres with 7.8 being parkland and a 1.7-mile path, right in the center surrounded by forest of old beautiful trees, for jogging and walking. Blackstone Park is at the end of Waterman Street in Wayland which is a 40-acre city park with 2,400 feet of shore frontage on the Seekonk River.


To the East, the East Side is separated from East Providence by the Seekonk River. It runs all the way from Fox Point up behind Butler Hospital. We are surrounded by water everywhere we turn that is why Rhode Island is called the Ocean State.


We applied to work at the famous Butler Hospital, located off Blackstone Boulevard, which is Rhode Island’s only private mental health hospital. Founded in 1844, the hospital offers psychiatric and substance-abuse treatment programs. We are not offered jobs, they express strong beliefs about patients’ rights and nurses responsibility to protect patients from abuse, stating “You did not report and expose the conditions that are going on at Howard State Hospital”, we explained that our school’s nursing director warned us that we would be kicked out if we intervened in any way.


I know on an ethical level they are right, that to take on the system no matter the consequences is the right thing to do. I lacked the courage and fearlessness to follow through due to my own needs being more important. I understand my response of not taking action is related to my own abuse issues and keeping quiet about it, in addition to being the oldest child in my family and conditioned to keep secrets, the same pattern was repeated and reinforced with my Nursing Director so in order to accomplish my RN goal I bit my tongue and let the behavior continue. We leave Butler and head west to Miriam Hospital where we are hired for the night shift.


To the south, the East Side abuts Narragansett Bay, which is formed by the confluence of the Seekonk and Providence Rivers. This is where Roger Williams landed after crossing the Seekonk River and is marked by a small park called Roger William’s Landing. Also we have India Point Park, the largest park in the area, is located along the northernmost shore of Narragansett Bay. It is the only large expanse of Bay-side shoreline in Providence reserved for public use. Interstate 195 separates the park from the rest of Fox Point. We can easily walk to these areas to enjoy a beach like atmosphere close to home for we do not have a vehicle to drive to the beautiful distant beaches of Rhode Island.


India Point Park


We live on East Manning Street in Fox Point, on the top floor of a double-decker; our landlord is an elderly Portuguese couple who live downstairs on the first floor. The old man with his quaint European attitudes is always instructing us on what is “Proper behavior for young women”, telling us “It doesn’t not look good that you had different guys over”, “You each need to pick just one young man each” while we explain they are just friends, we have invited over for a home cooked meal. The place is furnished with nice antique furniture, which is ideal for us at this time. The wooden structure is well built, with beautiful wood staircase and floors that are well maintained. We feel like we are living in the lap of luxury with our rent being $100/month.


In July, after we pass our State Board Exams, we are hired for the summer, despite the fact we are moving to Boston, by Miriam Hospital a private, non-profit hospital located along 164 Summit Avenue in the Hope (Summit) area which is part of the East Side.



Its history started in 1902, when a handful of women raise the down payment on “a place to care for the indigent sick of the Jewish faith.” To fulfill their dream, 450 people joined their cause, going door to door, they raised $80,000. As a result of their efforts, the first Miriam Hospital was founded by local Jewish organizations and opened in 1926 with 63 beds and 14 bassinets. A year later, another $82,000 was raised to help defray the “burdens of caring for charity patients.” The Hospital and the Jewish community formed a relationship that has endured for generations. After the war years, $1.3 million was raised for a new 150-bed Miriam Hospital which opened on Summit Avenue in 1952.


We ride the bus, for approximately 3 miles to our job, at 10:30 pm Monday through Thursday evenings. We call in sick on Fridays, because we figure that our income with the night shift differential, is equal to what we would make working 5 day shifts a week, they are so happy with us they do not complain about it.  In September when we resign, they give us each a beautiful letter of recommendation, thanking us for the great care we gave, and letting us know that we could return at any time.


My friend is Night Charge Nurse on The 70 bed Medical floor. Our job descriptions are similar we just work on different floors. I am the only Registered Nurse on the floor; my title is Night Charge Nurse on a 70 bed Surgical Unit, with 4 staff member who I assign patient care to and supervise. This is a very challenging job that I have been well trained for. My responsibilities include: hanging bags of Intravenous Fluids with Medication Piggybacks, administering all medications, ministering post-op care and managing emergencies such as surgery sites opening up and having to rush them back to surgery.


There is no time to sit down and comfort distressed patients, especially those in pain. I become skilled at short brief kind words that reflect my caring attitude, combined with the technical comfort measures available, so that medication is not my only intervention, making my the relief of the patient suffering my prime concern.


I struggle internally knowing more is needed and facing the reality of the situation. This reinforced my desire to do psychiatric nursing because my heartstrings are always being pulled on. When I assess and find a nursing intervention with a time restraint that is preventing me from following through, I feel sad. This is known as culture shock which all nursing students experience when entering the profession and learn what the real life situation is like. I make $977 working there for the summer. The first thing I purchased is a singer portable sewing machine: to continue developing seamstress sewing skills and for my creative endeavors towards designing my hippie style wardrobe.


I loved living and working on the East Side, where we have spent a great memorable summer hanging out, nursing in the real world, and weekends hitch hiking to Boston. I always enjoy walking around on the East Side even in the rain enjoying the muscle burn up its hilly terrain. The beautiful cobblestone roads make great music that bounces of the brick structures that line the streets, making it a truly pedestrian community.







Popular music enters an era of “all hits”, as numerous artists release recordings, beginning in the 1950s, as 45-rpm “singles” (with another on the flip side), and radio stations tended to play only the most popular of the wide variety of records being made. Also, bands tended to record only the best of their songs as a chance to become a hit record. The taste of the American listeners expanded from the folksinger, doo-wop and saxophone sounds of the 1950s to the Motown sound, folk rock and the British Invasion. The Los Angeles and San Francisco Sound began in this period with many popular bands coming out of LA and the Haight-Ashbury district, well known for its hippie culture. The rise of the counterculture movement, particularly among the youth, created a market for rock, soul, pop, reggae and blues music.


Bob Dylan an American singer-songwriter, musician and artist, is an influential figure in popular music and culture. His work from the 1960s is when he is an informal chronicler and a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest. A number of Dylan’s early songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’“, became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. Leaving his initial base in the culture of folk music behind, Dylan’s six-minute single “Like a Rolling Stone” has been described as radically altering the parameters of popular music and is a top-five hit on both sides of the Atlantic during the summer of 1965. He goes electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and his recordings employing electric instruments attracted denunciation and criticism from others in the folk movement. Dylan’s lyrics incorporated a variety of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences; defying existing pop music conventions and appealing hugely to the burgeoning counterculture. His albums Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited usher in album focused rock and the “folk rock” genre. I first hear about him in High school and when in nursing school most kids with guitars, playing in the parks on the Eastside are imitating him.


Lesley Gore, at the age of 17 hits Number one with “It’s My Party” and in 1964 I play it at my 16th birthday party; and another one of her hits is Number 2 “You Don’t Own Me” which I loved to sing when it comes on the radio for I do not want to be owned and to own myself is the goal.


The Beatles are an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. Their first single, “Love Me Do“, is a hit in late 1962, which has all us kids, singing and dancing to it, it’s so contagious. They are called the British Invasion, when they arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport on 7 February 1964. They hit Number one with “I Wanna Hold Your Hand“, it has a great positive beat that is wonderful to dance to, holding hands with friends has me feeling connected and there is nothing like holding hands with someone of the opposite sex to excite my energy. All their music is amazing, innovative and widely influential, albums like Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), The Beatles (1968), and Abbey Road (1969), are an embodiment of the ideals shared by the era’s sociocultural revolutions while utilizing several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways. I learn all the words and hammer them out with feeling, really getting into their music.


The Supremes, an American female singing group and the premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s, repertoire included doo-wop, pop, soul, Broadway show tunes, psychedelic soul, and disco while scoring twelve number one hit singles between 1964 and 1969, beginning with “Where Did Our Love Go”. In 1966, The Supremes A’ Go-Go was the first album by a female group to reach the top position of the Billboard in the United States.  I was so jazzed when I saw them in concert, girls all over just love imitating the movements that go with the word they sing, including me.


The Kinks are an English rock band who first came to prominence with the release of their first hit single “You Really Got Me” in late 1964, and became an international hit; it is regarded as the first hard rock hit which was the best song to do the jerk to. “You got me so I don’t know what I’m doing…” that statement describes the feeling of being obsessed with someone which interferes with thinking, feeling and sensing and we all experience that at some point in our lives, don’t we? The group released a string of singles and LPs, and their music is influenced by a wide range of genres, including rhythm and blues, British music hall, folk and country. I am learning to appreciate and enjoy all types of music.


John Coltrane is an American jazz saxophonist and composer, into bebop, helping to pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of free jazz. He organized recording sessions, appeared as a sideman on many other albums, notably with trumpeter Miles Davis, and his music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. He releases A Love Supreme in late 1964, considered among the most acclaimed jazz albums of the era, he was one of the many jazz musicians I got to see live for free when I moved to Boston in 1970. My friend turned me onto Jazz when we moved to Boston expanding my music education and bring out a way to experience depth of feeling through music.


The Grateful Dead an American rock band was formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California paving the way and giving birth to Acid rock. The band is known for its unique and eclectic style, which fuses elements of: rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelic, and live performances of long musical improvisation. These various influences made the Grateful Dead “the pioneering Godfathers of jamming”. The fans of the Grateful Dead, are known as “Deadheads”.


The Rolling Stones an English rock band formed in London in 1962 and consist of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richard (guitar, vocals), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums), they have a huge #1 hit with their song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in the summer of 1965. I belted out this song with great feeling, I identify it with my life which has more meaning than just a sexual focus, and being a virgin it gives me insight into how guys experience me in a relationship. These guys are sexy and put great feeling into their music, I love it all.


Simon and Garfunkel an American music duo rose to fame in 1965, on the hit single “The Sound of Silence“. Their biggest hits – including “I Am a Rock” (1965), “Homeward Bound” (1965), “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” (1966), “A Hazy Shade of Winter” (1966), “Mrs. Robinson” (1968), “Bridge over Troubled Water” (1969), “The Boxer” (1969), and “Cecilia” (1969). I love their vocal harmonies and became one of their followers right from the start, in nursing school my friends and I sing many of their songs together as we walk arm in arm or holding hands as we leave the hospital and head to downtown providence. Simon and Garfunkel release the single Mrs. Robinson in 1968 featured in the film The Graduate which makes quite a stir about older women going after younger men.


In February 1966, Nancy Sinatra’s song “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” became very popular. Now here is a song I really get into physically by pounding my feet on the ground while singing “These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do, and one of these days these boots are going to walk all over you…start walking”.


Jefferson Airplane an American rock band formed in San Francisco in 1965. A pioneer of the psychedelic rock movement, Jefferson Airplane was the first band from the San Francisco scene to achieve mainstream success. The band performs at the three most famous American rock festivals of the 1960s—Monterey (1967), Woodstock (1969) and Altamont (1969)—as well as headlining the first Isle of Wight Festival. Their 1967 record Surrealistic Pillow is regarded as one of the key recordings of the so-called Summer of Love and brought the group international recognition; two chart hits from the album, are “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit“. I love Gracie, her voice her music, and the way she moves. I buy all their albums, dancing in my room, loving to imitate her twirling around in circles while screaming out the words. I have the White Rabbit poster in my room at nursing school.


The Velvet Underground with Lou Reed release their influential self-titled debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico in 1967, which is recorded in 1966 during Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable multimedia event tour and focuses on controversial subject matter expressed in many of their songs including: drug abuse, prostitution, sadism, masochism and sexual deviancy. I get this album and listened to it frequently, the cover has a banana sticker that peels off and I am trying to understand the extreme behavior of others of my generation, almost studying them.


The Doors release their self-titled debut album The Doors in January 1967. Vocalist Jim Morrison is very controversial and extremely charismatic. My sister and I purchased this album together and play it on our little phonographic machine in our room, love the lyrics. “Break on through to the other side” and “Light my Fire” are my favorites.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience release two successful albums during 1967 Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold as Love that has innovate guitar, trio and recording techniques. The Jimi Hendrix Experience released the double LP Electric Ladyland in 1968 that furthered the guitar and studio innovations of his previous two albums. With the band, Hendrix recorded his five hit singles “Hey Joe“, “Purple Haze“, “The Wind Cries Mary“, “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” and “All Along the Watchtower“. Hendrix is mind boggling to watch how he combined lead and rhythm guitar duties into one, while also making use of guitar effects such as feedback, and later the wah-wah pedal, to an extent that has never been heard before and when he uses his teeth on the strings it sends shivers through me.


The Moody Blues release the album Days of Future Passed in November 1967, a great album that sounds like an orchestra. With my favorites being “Tuesday Afternoon”, and “The Night: Nights in White Satin”, this music seems to elevate me as if I am in the clouds flying high with spirit.


R & B legend Otis Redding an American soul singer-songwriter with a great open-throated singing voice thus is a major figures in soul music and rhythm and blues (R&B). After appearing at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, he writes and recorded “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” which become number-one on the charts after his death in a plane crash.


The Bee Gees release their international debut album Bee Gees 1st in July 1967 which contains “To Love Somebody” a soulful ballad sung by Barry, “New York Mining Disaster 1941“, “Massachusetts“, and “World“. The sound of the album Horizontal has a more “rock” sound than their previous release, though ballads like “And the Sun Will Shine” and “Really and Sincerely” were also prominent.  Two more singles followed in early 1968, the ballad “Words” and the double A-sided single “Jumbo” b/w “The Singer Sang His Song”. “Jumbo“. Further Bee Gees chart singles followed: “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You“, and “I Started a Joke”. I find their music very catchy and love story telling.


The Yardbirds are an English rock band that has a string of hits in the mid 1960s, including “For Your Love“, “Over Under Sideways Down” and “Heart Full of Soul“. The group has three amazing rock guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. A blues-based band that broadens its range into pop and rock, the Yardbirds had a hand in many electric guitar innovations of the mid-1960s, such as feedback, “fuzz-tone” distortion and improved amplification. After the Yardbirds breaks up in 1968, their lead guitarist Jimmy Page founds what become Led Zeppelin, with Robert Plant; and, releases their debut album Led Zeppelin. I go crazy when I see Jimmy Page and Robert Plant singing on stage at The Boston Garden.


Big Brother and the Holding Company, with Janis Joplin as lead singer, is an American rock band that forms in San Francisco in 1965 as part of the psychedelic music scene and becomes an overnight sensation after their performance at Monterey Pop in 1967 and release their second album Cheap Thrills in 1968 which reaches number one. I buy this album when in Boston it gets stacked on my record player during the night with the rest of my favorites; I imitate her by learning to drink straight whiskey thinking it’s cool.


Gram Parsons with The Byrds is an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. Initially, they pioneered the musical genre of folk rock, melding the influence of other British bands with contemporary and traditional folk music. I enjoy their blend of clear harmony singing and twelve-string guitar found in their most enduring songs: Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man“, Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There is a Season)”, along with the self-penned originals, “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better“, “Eight Miles High“, “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”, “Ballad of Easy Rider”. I buy this album and quickly learn all the lyrics by heart, identifying with what is being said. They release the LP Sweetheart of the Rodeo in late 1968, forming the basis for country rock.



Sly & the Family Stone, from San Francisco are pivotal in the development of rock, soul, funk, and psychedelic music. Headed by singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone and containing several of his family members and friends, the band is the first major American rock band to have an “integrated, multi-gender” lineup. In late 1968, they released the single hit “Everyday People“, which is a protest against prejudices of all kinds,and popularized the catchphrase “different strokes for different folks.” With its b-side “Sing a Simple Song“. Also in 1968 hit single “Dance to the Music”. In 1969 they release a hit single record “Stand” with “I Want to Take You Higher” on the b side then these songs are put on the album Stand which also contains “You Can Make It If You Try”. They do the Woodstock Music and Art Festival and become a vital counterculture band.A new non-album single, “Hot Fun in the Summertime”, is released the same month and hits number two.


The Who an English rock band release their album Tommy which is a double album telling an interesting story about a “deaf, dumb and blind kid” who becomes the leader of a movement, and the first rock opera. Released in 1969, the album is mostly composed by Pete Townshend. The lyrics tell a great story and there are many symbols I can identify with and use on my path to healing: “I’m free”“See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me.”


The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and others created revolution and evolution themes. The music is like a Dalí painting, with many colors and revolutionary ways.

The Popular culture is the counterculture movement which dominates the second half of the 1960s, its most famous moments being the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967, and the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York in 1969. Psychedelic drugs, especially LSD, are widely used medicinally, spiritually and recreationally throughout the late 1960s, and are popularized by Timothy Leary with his slogan “Turn on, tune in, drop out”. Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters also played a part in the role of “turning heads on”. Psychedelic influences the music, artwork and films of the decade, and a number of prominent musicians died of drug overdoses, there is a growing interest in Eastern religions and philosophy, and many attempts are made to form communes, which varied from supporting free love to religious Puritanism. I visited a commune because I was curious and found it was not how I wanted to live for there was not much privacy which I value above many things and I do not want to be told what to do, especially if it is against my own beliefs and values.


1968 in a dress from India





The 1960s was the decade that started on January 1, 1960, and ended on December 31, 1969. It was the seventh decade of the 20th century. The 1960s term also refers to an era more often called The Sixties, denoting the complex of inter-related cultural and political trends across the globe. In the United States, “the Sixties”, as they are known in popular culture, is a term used by historians, journalists, and other objective academics; in some cases nostalgically to describe the counterculture and social revolution near the end of the decade; and pejoratively to describe the era as one of irresponsible excess and flamboyance. The decade was also labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the fall or relaxation of some social taboos especially relating to sexism and racism that occurred during this time. The 1960s have become synonymous with the new, radical, and subversive events and trends of the period. Some commentators have seen in this era a classical Jungian nightmare cycle, where a rigid culture, unable to contain the demands for greater individual freedom, broke free of the social constraints of the previous age through extreme deviation from the norm. This does not alone however explain the mass nature of the phenomenon. This time period I am between the age of 11 and 22, an adolescent, teenager and young adult, finding myself feeling like I am not like everyone else, that I am a seeker of knowledge, that I do not want to follow the norms placed on women, to think outside the box, to be free to be me despite my fears and anxieties, to go where I want to go, to do what I want to do while accepting the consequences of my behavior.


In the second half of the decade, I was surrounded by young people who began to revolt against the conservative norms of the time, as well as remove themselves from mainstream liberalism, in particular the high level of materialism which was so common during the era. My family has struggled financially and I have felt like a burden on my mother, so I only ask for what I absolutely need and my needs are minimal, the money I received is used on things I valued as important, mostly books, music and nylons. I am a part of a “counterculture” that sparks a social revolution throughout much of the western world. It began in the United States as a reaction against the conservatism and social conformity of the 1950s, and the US government’s extensive military intervention in Vietnam, examining moral and ethical issues that surround me causing suffering and pain. Me and other youth involved in the popular social aspects of the movement are known as hippies. I join groups that create a movement toward liberation in society, including the sexual revolution, questioning authority and government, and demanding more freedoms and rights for women and minorities. The Underground Press, a widespread, eclectic collection of newspapers served as a unifying medium for the counterculture which keeps us informed of what is going on and giving us different perspectives and new way of looking at things- which resonated with me for I am sensitive to the plight of others and wish to lighten their load. The movement is also marked by the first widespread, socially accepted drug use including LSD and marijuana, which I refrained from for fear of losing sight of my goal, but the psychedelic music really gets me to my bones.


 The war in Vietnam would eventually lead to a commitment of over half a million American troops, resulting in over 58,500 American deaths, besides being the first war where many more veterans came back disabled in body and mind, and producing a large-scale antiwar movement in the United States. As late as the end of 1965, few Americans protested the American involvement in Vietnam, but as the war dragged on and the body count continued to climb, civil unrest escalated. The book Johnny Got His Gun: which is an anti-war novel based on World War I, was written in 1938 by American novelist and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and published September 1939 by J. B. Lippincott; it won one of the early National Book Awards: the Most Original Book of 1939; it was reprinted with a foreword containing the Vietnam statistics of deaths and injuries compared to other wars and reflects the horror of war; in 1971 it was made into a film that was so controversial it was banned in Boston after showing for 2 weeks. As a nurse I was extremely aware of the suffering that is created by war and had a dream where I was walking through a battle field of dead baby skeletons, feeling the world’s pain and wanting to be of service in the relief of it, visualizing peace as the answer. Our medical advances were saving more soldiers than in any other time in history, leaving many disabled and or traumatized since they were going directly home from the war rather than to a camp to be reconditioned as in previous wars.


The antiwar movement by the mid-1960s is a broad-based mass movement centered in universities and churches: one kind of protest is called a “sit-in”. Voter age-limits are being challenged by the phrase: “If you’re old enough to die for your country, you’re old enough to vote.” Many of the youth involved in the politics of the movements distanced themselves from the “hippies”.  Students become a powerful and disruptive force and university campuses spark a national debate over the war, especially the well known Kent State Massacre on May 4, 1970. As the movement’s ideals spread beyond college campuses, doubts about the war also begin to appear within the administration itself. A mass movement begins rising in opposition to the Vietnam War, ending in the massive Moratorium protests in 1969 which me and my friends joined in on the Rhode Island State House Lawn, which is a peaceful gathering.


There is a movement of resistance to being drafted for the war, there are many guys I know who claim to be “conscientious objector”, some take off for Canada and are called “draft dodger”. Many of my family and friends become “Vietnam Vets” and when they return home they are treated disrespectfully, unlike any returning vet have been treated in previous wars, there were few parades for their bravery and courage, instead they are treated with contempt by the war protestors and not given the recognition they require for healing. They are made to feel alone and isolated and no one to talk to about their hellish experiences. Being a protestor myself, I respect their choices and honor them for their service to our country, they have sacrificed much. It is the political system that has manipulated the war, the few who are in power, keeping the war going for their own goals, not what is best for humanity and that is where my anger is directed.


I am an integral part of the rise of Feminism in the United States and around the world gaining momentum in the early 1960s. At the time, a woman’s place was generally seen as being in the home, and they were excluded from many jobs and professions’, being a nurse was one of the acceptable routes to education. Commercials often portrayed a woman as being helpless needing a man to survive. In the US, a Presidential Commission on the Status of Women found discrimination against women in the workplace and every other aspect of life, a revelation which launches two decades of prominent women-centered legal reforms such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 which broke down the last remaining legal barriers to women’s personal freedom and professional success. Feminists took to the streets, marching and protesting, writing books and debating to change social and political views that limited women. In 1963, Betty Friedan’s revolutionary book, The Feminine Mystique, the role of women in society, and in public and private life was questioned. By 1966, the movement was beginning to grow in size and power as women’s group spread across the country and Friedan, along with other feminists, founded the National Organization for Women. In 1968, “Women’s Liberation” became a household term as, for the first time; the new women’s movement eclipsed the black civil rights movement when New York Radical Women, led by Robin Morgan, protested the annual Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The movement in Boston has Gloria Steinem leading women in bra burning. I am fighting the barriers against woman in my own personal life, and a symbol of the push for freedom is only wearing a bra when I am doing my clinicals at the hospital otherwise I go braless. I am in an all female field working side by side with strong, educated and skilled women who run hospitals while saving and healing lives.


The Gay rights movement in the United States, in the middle of a social revolution, led the world in LGBT rights in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Inspired by the civil rights movement and the women’s movement, early gay rights pioneers have begun, by the 1960s, to build a movement troll. These groups are rather conservative in their practices, emphasizing that gays were just like straights and deserved full equality but by the very end of the 1960s, the movement’s goals changed and became more radical, demanding a right to be different, and encouraging gay pride. The symbolic birth of the gay rights movement did not come until the decade had almost come to a close. Gays are not allowed by law to congregate. Gay establishments are routinely raided by the police to arrest gay people. On a night in late June 1969, LGBT people resisted, for the first time, a police raid, and rebelled openly in the streets. This uprising called the Stonewall Riots begin a new period of the LGBT rights movement that in the next decade will cause dramatic change both inside the LGBT community and in the mainstream American culture. It was in my first therapy group when I meet some gay women who were professionally and financially successful, strong women who were out spoken and were not afraid to be themselves they are great role models for me when it comes to defining yourself. People have a right to love whom they find themselves drawn to without being told they are ill and need to be reconditioned, love is what humanity is all about.


I find the multitude of discriminations taking place at this time represents an inhuman side to a society that in the 1960s was upheld as a world and industry leader. I am very aware of the issues of civil rights and warfare being major points of reflection of virtue and democracy, what once was viewed as traditional and inconsequential is now becoming the significance in the turning point of a culture. A document known as the Port Huron Statement exemplifies these two conditions perfectly in its first hand depiction, “while these and other problems either directly oppressed us or rankled our consciences and became our own subjective concerns, we began to see complicated and disturbing paradoxes in our surrounding America. The declaration “all men are created equal…” it rings hollow before the facts of Negro life in the South and the big cities of the North. The proclaimed peaceful intentions of the United States contradicted its economic and military investments in the Cold War status quo.” These intolerable issues become too visible to ignore therefore its repercussions are feared greatly; the realization that we as individuals take the responsibility for encounter and resolution in our life issues is an emerging idealism of the 1960s. It seems everywhere I hear hypocrisy, I was first aware of it in the Catholic Church, for morals and virtue are only spoken about and does not come through in action and behavior. The old do as I say not as I do.


When we look at Crime in the 1960s we see a large increase in crime and urban unrest of all types. Between 1960 and 1969 there is a reported increase in incidences of violent crime per 100,000 people in the United States which has nearly doubled. Large riots have broken out in many cities, such as Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, Washington, D.C. and Oakland. The Manson Murders which took place on August 8–10, 1969 is the most famous of crimes at the time. People are feeling disenfranchised and without hope becoming angry and acting it out on the world they think is against them, fighting for their survival.


For the first time in history, a human being sets his foot on the Moon, in the Moon landing of July 1969. Now Humanity see the Earth from a different perspective, we are all on this beautiful blue planet, we are a part of a bigger whole, we each carry a piece of the puzzle, to learn to work together for the highest good for all life on this globe turning and moving in space.






We live in Garry House now, which is the most recently constructed and modern building on campus. There are 3 rooms to a suite and each suite has one bathroom. When you enter the main doors the mailboxes for all the nursing students are hidden behind a partition, we have the same mailbox throughout our training. The front desk is where the housemother is stationed. She is the all seeing eyes of the school: in charge of the intercom which also has a camera so she can see the comings and goings of the students between the hospital and the tunnels leading to the dorms; she has a sign in book for all the student who go out in the evenings and on weekends; she is the one that visitors have first contact with before connecting with the student they are here to visit. The lounge is along the back wall, which has all windows, letting in lots of light and hidden from those entering the building; there are comfy couches and oversize chairs to hang around in, besides a few tables and chairs for games or homework, there is a baby grand piano where Mimi often plays Jimmie Hendrick’s Purple Rain; it is the hub of activities where all the students can hang out together. Curfew for seniors is midnight during the week, and one am on weekends, with the ability to sign out for the whole weekend.



On my 21st birthday Mimi and I walk to the Eastside where I purchase my first cheap bottle of wine. We go to Prospect Park and between the two of us drink it all. We then head over to the Coffee House on Benefit Street where there is a piano and folk music being played by local artists with guitars doing lots of Bob Dylan songs. I do not remember much of what happened that night and in the morning could not remember how we got home. It was the beginning of my relationship with alcohol, at this point I will not let it interfere with my education for I need to reach my goal of graduating and become a nurse. It is at this time when I am diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome through a Sigmoidoscopy, and the doctor tells me they do not know much about the illness and suggests that I learn from my body what it does and does not like to eat. He prescribed Phenobarbital to calm down my nervous system which I refuse to take due to it being a barbiturate and possible addictive for I am aware of an addictive quality I possess.

This year I have met a boy called D at the coffee house that I date. He is thin, medium height, dark hair, brown eyes, wearing a Nero jacket and a scarf around his neck like Mick Jagger. He hangs around with two nice guys and one of his friends, who my friend has a crush on, called A, has an apartment in the Italian part of Providence, where we all spend time together on the weekends. I have seen D with another girl at the park and I am distraught over the situation, I can’t let it go, I am addicted to this relationship even though it’s not healthy for me. One night I am at A’s apartment waiting for D. It is late and we are sharing on a very deep level, A tells me that D is seeing another girl and I am the nicer of the two, my worst fears are confirmed and he comforts me. I am still a virgin at 21 so I figure it is one of the reasons he is going with her, similar to what happened with Joe. We are cuddling in the dark and when D comes around knocking loudly and frantically on all the doors and windows, we huddle quietly and do not answer the door. The next day we tell D that we were sleeping and did not hear him, going on as if nothing has happened.






We do our pediatric 3 month rotation at The Potters Building, which is on Rhode Island Hospital grounds, built in 1941 and started treating its first patients with medical problems in 1945. It is a long rectangular four story red brick building with many rows of windows on all its sides. Working with ill children is a challenge; it is difficult for me, because of my overwhelming feelings of helplessness, when watching little ones suffering, or having to do tests that cause them any pain.

Our Pediatric nurses training and caring for newborns to adolescents, promotes and developed qualities of: compassion, patience, ability to incorporate principles of child development and nursing care into daily practice; critical-thinking, organizational, and communication skills; working effectively on a team with other professionals; being an assertive advocates for patients, patients’ families, and caregivers; focusing on disease prevention, wellness, and educating about a child’s healthcare needs. I am relieved when it’s over, knowing I will not be a pediatric nurse after I graduate, it is to heart retching for me.




As seniors our clinical practice time on the floors is four days a week with one day a week of nursing classes. The rest of our clinical rotations are spent learning leadership skills by being charge nurses on evening & night shifts. The students outnumbered the hired staff. We are paying about $1000/yr for training, meals, room & board. So you can see how the hospital is able to keep down its cost while being the best hospital in R.I.

As a charge nurse in training we are in charge of running and managing a particular department within the hospital. We not only carry out our normal nursing duties of carrying a patient load throughout the shift, we manage the other staff on the floor: supervise the nursing staff, delegating nursing assignments, direct other nurses and staff on patient care, provide guidance and advice, document and evaluate the performance of the staff under our supervision, prepare work schedules, oversee admissions and discharges, monitor and order medicines and supplies, administer medications, arrange for specialist care when needed, assess patient needs, develop care plans, and hold educational and/or training programs.



After completing our training, I feel compete in going to work as a charge nurse. I have learned to balance administrative tasks and clinical care; I have developed good leadership, communication and interpersonal skills, with an ability to motivate and lead nursing staff, which requires an able to work effectively with different personalities; I have obtained the knowledge and experience to answer staff and patient questions on a wide range of topics; I have learned how to prepare reports on patient progress and staff performance through strong written communication skills; I am attentive to detail, with good organizational and analytical skills; I have the ability to quickly and accurately assess patients’ conditions with a caring and sympathetic manner; and an emotional stability that helps me efficiently handle emergencies and remain calm in stressful situations. It amazes me what I have learned through doing, with the support of my peers, and the supervision from my instructors. I have matured in the last 3 years and have grown beyond my wildest dreams developing confidence and courage in the face of the unknown.



At graduation, we participate in a great ceremony and ritual, that has been going on here for about the last 90 years, in this same auditorium where our families are sitting in the dark. We enter carrying a burning candle in a ceramic Aladdin type lamp, a symbol of light, as we slowly walk down the aisle to the stage with silence all around us. We ascend the stairs to the stage, where we receive a black velvet ribbon placed on our white cupcake caps, the school pin is fastened on our white uniform at the neck, and we are handed our diploma, symbolizing our accomplishments of the last 3 years. We stand together as a cohesive group reciting in unison the Florence Nightingale Pledge with great emotion and feeling. Now all we have to do is take the Registered Nurse Licensing Exam and then we will be able to work as RNs.


After the ceremony, to celebrate the beginning of our new life, we go to a fancy restaurant which has set up a large rectangular table we can all sit together at including Mimi, Norma, me and our large families. The 3 of us plan to go to California to live. Earlier in the day my mother informed me that she cannot afford a ticket to California for me as she had promised and instead she gives me luggage. My mother did not allow me to work during nurses training so I do not have the finance to follow through on the plan. My mother suggested I move to Boston instead stating it isn’t as far away. When Mimi’s father hears that I am not going, he tells her she can’t go, the next day he has a psychotic break and is hospitalized at a psychiatric facility. At the dinner her brother’s tongue swells causing him difficulty breathing, a severe allergic reaction to strawberries, so we call 911 and he goes to the ER. Norma has her ticket to California while her mother is diagnosed with depression and is hospitalized at Butler Psychiatric Hospital. It is amazing how and what stressors can affect a family, not realizing it could cause such devastation, at the same time welcoming us to nursing.












At the beginning of our senior year in Nursing, in the summer of 69, we start with our 3 month rotation at Providence Lying in Hospital for obstetrical and gynecological nurses training.


Providence Lying-In Hospital is a historic hospital building, located on 6 1/4 acres off Smith Street, in the Elmhurst section of Providence, situated at the end of a short access road, at 50 Maude Street, which leads directly into the grounds. The 1926 Collegiate Gothic style hospital is a four and a half story, red brick structure trimmed with Indiana limestone and capped by a slate, gable roof. Its most distinctive features are the six story central tower and a series of projecting bays combined with an overall fenestration pattern that provides a pleasing rhythm along the length of the building; allowing for a comfortable interior division of work space and patients’ accommodations while the numerous windows provide ample light and air circulation.


A course of limestone above the first floor level on all elevations is the single horizontal element of the original design and serves as a visual base for the bays and towers that extend upward. The central tower is turreted at each corner with a round cap drawn to a point. The point is extended upward by a wind vane whose decoration is a long, graceful stork in flight with a baby in a blanket suspended from its beak. The portion of the tower above the roof-line includes limestone reliefs of a winged cherub, an angel, and a mother and child. The tower has five bays at each floor. “Providence Lying-In Hospital is inscribed above the second story windows. The main entrance has limestone quoins on both sides and a flat Gothic arch. The door itself is a modern one of aluminum and glass. The window pattern of the main elevation is symmetrical above the second floor, bi-fold type that folds outward as the edges are drawn to the center. Each sash has ten panes. The Father’s waiting room has Gothic detailing and the main waiting area with wood paneling and a marble fireplace with a flat, Gothic arch.


The 1933 nurses’ residence is of similar materials, massive and style as the original hospital building with exception of the windows, which are six over six double hung sashes. The trim detail including the window and door quoins and course at the first story are cast stone rather than limestone. Dormers and pediment bays punctuate the slate roof-line in the manner of the original hospital building. There was an addition added in 1941, an auditorium and facilities for residents that faithfully continue the composition of the original construction.


The two buildings are joined by a two story hyphen, creating a broad “U” form surrounding a circular drive between the buildings. At the rear of the hospital is a two story, smooth faced concrete addition built in 1956. This infill structure joins two short wings extending from the old hospital building. The area surrounding the hospital is a landscape of mature deciduous trees, foundational plantings, and to the west is the large asphalt parking area bordered farther to the west by an undeveloped wooded parcel of land, with open spaces at the western perimeter of the property.


Incorporated in 1884 it is the first to provide on-going obstetrical services in RI and the first to offer specialized nurses’ training and on several occasions was recognized by leading national authorities on maternity care, who lauded it for its contribution to the development of the modern concept of a hospital devoted to healing and teaching- an attitude beyond the earlier notion of hospitals as institutions for the indigent. It pioneered the concept of caring for the emotional as well as the medical needs of its patients. Prior to its opening there was no place in the city where a woman, not living in her own home, could have in any measure proper care at confinement. Patients paid a stipulated price for the privileges afforded them by a well regulated hospital which was an attempt at removing the stigma around entering a hospital. The intent was to provide services for all classes of women, not only the poor, and it was supported by contributions.


In 1888 a training school for nurses was established offering generalized and specialized obstetrical training as well as post-graduate work and the first in RI to do so. In 1892 it established a department for the care of infants with specialized medical needs. The hospital is a manifestation of the social consciousness which was an outgrowth of the great industrial and economic expansion of the nineteenth century. It significant in the development of the modern concept of the hospital as an institution devoted to healing and caring for the sick and as a center for research and teaching.


Previously hospitals were built as “Rigs ward” which was copied extensively throughout the world and was a nightingale ward redesigned for more privacy. The ward plan named after Florence Nightingale provided efficient care of the patients by reducing the number of beds in a ward and locating the nurses’ station centrally within the ward. This structure was designed as a pavilion combining private rooms and a ward, greatly augmenting the proportion of private rooms. No ward was designed to hold more than six beds, this was indicative of the twentieth century trend towards greater privacy. Environment was seen as important including: the contour of the land, the surrounding country, the accessibility for friends to easily get to and from the city by roads and trolley, expressing cheerfulness, inspiring confidence, courage and dignity.

The above information is from The National Registry of Historic Places.


No matter where we are training our curiosity gets the better of us and we investigate our surrounds. We find a built in cabinet and open the large wooden doors and find ourselves looking at many shelves full of 5 gallon glass jars filled with fetuses and dead babies, many grotesque forms all in a row from the ceiling to the floor. We stand frozen in our places, not knowing what to make of the scene in front of us. We quickly close the doors and hurriedly leave the area, fearful of being caught, exposing a shocking secret, about the sorrowful side of birthing a child.

I experience the birth of many beautiful babies as they are welcomed to earth. I feel great sadness with the birth of babies with health issues. I am shocked and dismayed when a baby is born without any cranial bones thus seeing the formation of the brain while the doctor tells the parents the baby was born dead while he throws a drape over the delicate misshapen form, suffocating the new life without any compassion, and writes in the chart that the baby was a “monster”. Most of the babies in the state are born here.


We have our assigned patients who we follow through their pregnancy, labor, delivery and nursery. When they go into labor we are called in no matter what time of day or night it is. There are all varieties of birth from quick and easy to long and hard and many differences in between. The mothers can be screaming out in pain with each contraction, some even swearing at their husbands who are not there with them, while others breathe easily through the process. Our job is to hold their hands as they squeeze them tightly with the pain, instructing them on the proper breathing techniques, counting the minutes between contractions, and encouraging them to push when the time arrives, it’s an intense time.


It is an amazing experience, to watch the baby’s head crown, and be able to catch the small one in our hands. The umbilical cord is cut, the baby is held upside down by the feet and slapped on their tiny bottoms to get them to breathe, while they scream out in shock from being yanked out of the comfortable womb they have spent the last 9 months in. While the doctor is dealing with the placenta a pediatrician has taken the baby over to the side where a sterile field is set up on a table and the baby is suctioned with a bulb syringe to get amniotic fluid out of the mouth and receives a quick physical.


The baby is cleaned up, showed to the mother that it has all its limbs, and then quickly carried out to the viewing room. The baby is brought to the looking glass window for a close up look by the father and other family members present, in the long rectangular room you can see a few rows of clear see through bassinets on wheels, each containing a newborn, all swaddled in soft white cotton, some are quietly sleeping while others are crying to be held and cared for.


The mother is cleaned up then taken to her private room to rest briefly before we begin instructing on baby care. We bring the baby to the mother and teach breast or bottle feeding, caring for the umbilicus, bathing, encouraging bonding and caring for her baby on a regular scheduled time throughout the day/night. The room is large enough for the father and other family members to visit and spend time with the new mother and child.


We spend time in the nurseries where we care for the little ones with love and protection. There are a few of us together caring and playing with the babies when they are not with their mothers, picking them up when they are fussy or crying, it is so much fun and enjoyable interacting with these newborns. When in ICU it is a more intense situation and we are anxious and concerned over the health issues these tiny ones are experiencing, at times feelings of helplessness overwhelm me. I see the need for touch but they are in incubators and have minimal physical interaction because of the physical barriers so we talk to them and rock the machine. We rejoice when the infant is out of danger and is transferred to the nursery.


The issues coming to the forefront is the nurses caught stealing pain medications from the delivery room; there are no laws about controlled substances so record keeping is all based on what has been ordered and received. It creates a major scandal throughout the community. It is no surprise to me for since I have been in nursing school the students have been going to the pharmacy for menstrual cramps and have been given Percocet like they are candy, which seems to be over kill to me. Pain medications are all over the place and easily accessible, I am lucky that I am not tempted by them for it seems easy to become addicted. I am fearful of addiction to medications and any substance that is being sold out on the streets; I remain focused on my nursing studies and not wanting anything that will lead me off my path to my goal. I have received an excellent education in obstetrics and gynecological nursing and feel confident that I could do this work after graduation without too much fear or anxiety.