Pinky Pie

Cherry Ames, Great Nurses & Me

Posted on: April 9, 2010

Cherry Ames, a tribute to nurses & Me

“It is every girl’s ambition at one time or another to wear the crisp uniform of a nurse. The many opportunities for service, for adventure, for romance make a nurses’ career a glamorous one. Certainly, girls everywhere loved to read stories in which a nurse in the heroine. At least a million girls already know and admire Cherry Ames, and have laughed over her pranks and thrilled over her gay adventures and wept over her problems.” – from Cherry Ames: Boarding School Nurse

I must have been the exception, as I never wanted to wear the “crisp uniform of a nurse.” Frankly, it’s those body functions that discouraged me.

But nurses are heroines in my book. I have great respect for nurses who cared for me during my treatment for breast cancer and for all those who have cared for me throughout my life and for my family. You are smart, considerate, thorough and compassionate. And I appreciate your laughing at my jokes.

Thank you for what you do.

I did read a couple Cherry Ames books as a little girl. Think Nancy Drew in that crisp, white uniform.

They were among the “Juvenile Series Books” for girls that also included:

Beverly Gray (1934–1955), Connie Blair (1948–1956), Dana Girls (1934–1979) ,  Ginny Gordon (1948–1956), Judy Bolton (1932–1967), Kay Tracey (1934–1942), Nancy Drew (original series, 1930–1979), Penny Parker (1939–1947), Sue Barton (1936–1952), Trixie Belden (1948–1986) and Vicki Barr (1947–1967).

Cherry Ames must have been a malcontent and a wanderer. During her career from 1943 to 1968 she served as: Cherry Ames: Student Nurse, Senior Nurse, Army Nurse, Flight Nurse, Private Duty Nurse, Visiting Nurse, Cruise Nurse, At Spencer, Night Supervisor, Mountaineer Nurse, Clinic Nurse, Dude Ranch Nurse, Rest Home Nurse, Country Doctor’s Nurse, Boarding School Nurse, Department Store Nurse, Camp Nurse, At Hilton Hospital, Rural Nurse, Staff Nurse, Companion Nurse and Jungle Nurse.

Everywhere she went, there were mysteries and the last two books in the 27-book series are named by those puzzling situations: Cherry Ames: The Mystery in the Doctor’s Office” and Cherry Ames: Ski Nurse Mystery. Also for sale was the Cherry Ames Game and a home nursing handbook.

You will note there was no Cherry Ames: Cancer Nurse.

Do I smell a sequel?

Cherry never married but had occasional boy friends. She did “hop around” quite a bit. She was born in Hilton, Illinois, homage to the hometown of the first author, Helen Wells. (Seven books in the middle were written by another writer before Wells returned.)

In 1944, Cherry joined the Army to serve our troops during World War II, even rising to the role chief nurse in the Pacific theater. After the war, Cherry moved to Greenwich Village in New York. Perhaps that’s where that great adventure was.

In a 2006 article in the New York Times, Michelle Slatalla wrote about her daughters’ interest in the books.

“Why would I even want my daughter to read books about Cherry, a product of an era when the words ‘female’ and ‘exciting career’ were mutually exclusive for the majority of American women?” Slatalla asked herself in “Cherry Ames, My Daughter Will See You Now.”

The answer, she learned from Harriet Springer, editor of a new publication of the series, who said, “She was modern. She taught you that you could do anything. She was smart, and she was courageous, and she had a dedication to her calling. She would never, ever leave the side of her patients, even in a bombing raid.”

Or as Wells wrote in Boarding School Nurse: “She was glad that she was a nurse because nursing, in its many branches, provided an Open sesame to new and exciting experiences – and because more importantly, a nurse can help to alleviate human suffering.”

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