children’s story dedicated to my grandchildren)
Midge was only six years old but she looked much younger because she
was small for her age. At birth, she had been named Edna Marie Barton
her tiny size earned her the nickname, “Midge”.
Midge was still too young to quite understand that her mother was really
her Aunt Laura. Midge only remembered her as her mother and she
loved her so very much and had called her “Momma” ever
she had learned to talk.
She had lived with her unmarried aunt since she was just one year old
because her mother, Clara, had died on August 28, 1912,
which was Midge’s first birthday. As a result, Midge’s birthday never seemed
quite as joyous as it should have been with that memory of sorrow that
to linger somewhere in the shadows.
The doctors said that it was typhoid fever that killed Midge’s mother at the
young age of nineteen and as she lay dying her last request was that her
sister, Laura, “Take care of Midge.” Midge’s father traveled in his work
and he thought it best to honor his wife’s request to allow Midge
to live with her aunt who was also a nurse. Midge was very happy
with her aunt who became “Momma” to her.
Being a nurse was a job that was always needed but didn’t always pay very
well so Momma was glad when she was asked to take a nursing position
in a hospital in Woodward, Oklahoma. The hospital was a few miles
from Midge’s grandparents and sometimes Midge would stay with them
in the country. They lived in a little tar-paper shanty that Grandpa
had built when they homesteaded in Oklahoma and he was working hard
to build another room on to it. Midge’s Grandma had twin boys,
James Roy and John Raymond, but Grandma only called them that when
she was upset with them. The rest of the time they were just Roy and
Raymond. The twins were just a few years older than Midge and she thought
it was funny that they were her Uncles because all her other uncles
were grown ups. Grandma had fourteen children in all but two had died
in infancy and then later Midge’s mother, Clara, died.
others were all grown up now except for Roy and Raymond.
Grandma Rosa loved Midge very much. Grandma missed her daughter, Clara,
and so Midge was very precious to her. Midge looked so much
her mother that Grandma would sometimes forget and call her Clara.
Grandma had her hands full because not only did she have the twins
and Midge to look after sometimes but she often had Harold and Glen because
their mother had recently died also. Their father, Frank, was one of
Grandma’s older sons and he worked on the railroad so he was gone a lot.
Grandma and Momma took care of Harold and Glen too when their father
was away working. Although Harold and Glen were older, they were closer
Midge’s age and she thought of them as her brothers.
Momma hated to be away from Midge so much that sometimes she
would take Midge with her to the hospital. She liked to keep Midge nearby
because she loved her so much and also because Midge seemed to
become ill a lot. Momma had a little room at the hospital because it was
too far to travel everyday from home and it wasn’t unusual in those days
for nurses to sometimes stay at the hospital. Midge liked to go with Momma
so she said good-bye to Sassafras, her cat, promising that
would soon be back to pet her.
Midge was a quiet, well-behaved child and soon became a favorite at
the small hospital. She became Momma’s assistant, carrying her supplies
helping to make beds, and everyone would call Midge, “Little Miss
The hospital just had one doctor but there were several nurses. Midge had
been taught to be respectful and to say Sir and Ma’am to her elders.
When she was introduced to the doctor, she wasn’t sure just how to
him since he was a doctor so she simply called him, “Dr. Sir”.
Midge liked living at the hospital but she knew there were rooms where she
was not allowed to go, especially the room with the big white double doors
where they did something called, “surgery”. When Momma was busy
helping in that room or caring for the seriously ill, Midge knew she was to
stay in her Momma’s room or play on the back porch if the weather was nice.
She dared not disobey because she had been told people’s lives depended
on her obedience, so Midge felt very important in following Momma’s
and saw it as part of her duty.
One day Midge was looking at pictures in a book not far from the big white
double doors when she saw a strange man starting to go through those doors.
Midge knew all of the people who were allowed in there and she knew that this
man certainly was not one of them so she summoned all of her courage and
stepped in front of the big white doors. Midge looked up at the tall man and
said, “Sir, you cannot go in there.” The man looked a little stunned at the
small, feisty doorkeeper but then he smiled as he bent down and told her
what a fine job she was doing, then he explained that he was a doctor
from Oklahoma City who had come to help. Although Midge was doubtful
at first, she decided to believe him since the man knew Dr. Sir’s complete
name plus he showed Midge his stethoscope that he carried inside of his
jacket and that seemed to gain her trust. Midge knew that only the doctors
and nurses had stethoscopes. After that, it became a standing joke
among the hospital staff to confirm someone’s skill by ordering them
“Show me your stethoscope”.
© February 2005