Our Stories: 1930's


Mrs. Verna K. Rhodes Taylor, Class of 1932

I am 97 years old, and I currently live in a nursing home in Webster Grove, MO. The one thing I remember about attending Vanderbilt is when we were working in the hospital we had a 30-minute lunch break. I was a smoker then and the only place we could smoke was in our residence hall room. So, during our 30-minute break we would run up the hill to our room, smoke, and then run back down the hill to the hospital.


Mrs. Ann Hughes Looney, Class of 1936

My twin sister, Agnes Looney McGothlin, and I lived about three miles from the Vanderbilt campus, so deciding to attend Vanderbilt was an easy decision. When we entered Vanderbilt School of Nursing, Agnes and I roomed together on the third floor with the bathroom down the hall. In our senior year we moved to the first floor. We shared a double room and our suite-mate was Julia Hereford. We were the only seniors who lived on the first floor. Daily we would get up at 6 a.m. to attend classes. During our junior year we started our clinical rotation in the hospital. After several hours in the hospital, we would come back to our residence hall and study. Our days were long and hard. Shirley Titus was our Dean and we were always a little afraid of her. One weekend Agnes and I went home and brought our white poodle, Bobby, back with us. When we got back to the residence hall Bobby immediately ran to Shirley’s room. Shirley just loved Bobby, and every time he visited he always spent time with Shirley. We then knew Shirley wasn’t so fearful after all. I served as a Tennessee public health nurse for 30 years in Sullivan, Gibson, and Williamson counties. I am 91-years-old and have been retired for 30 years. I have been living in Louisville for the past 16 years.

Mrs. Hattie (Blanche) Swain Yeargen, Class of 1936

I grew up in Anthony, FL, as one of ten children and eight of us received a college degree. My aunt, Ora Pearl Moore, graduated from Vanderbilt nursing school 11 years before I entered the class of 1925. Aunt Ora remained in Nashville after her graduation and served as a public health nurse; she paid my way to attend Vanderbilt. One of my memories about attending Vanderbilt is walking up six flights of stairs to get to my room. After my graduation, I spent 30 years in the nursing profession. I served as an Army-Air Force nurse in Florida where I drove a 400-mile radius in a jeep to provide care on other military bases. Later, I worked in Monroe County (FL) Hospital and as a private nurse. I returned to Anthony, FL where I now call home. I still have my graduation yearbook.

Mrs. Mae Elizabeth Beeler Isaac, Class of 1936

When I was a young girl my mother had a friend named Belle Russell and she was a nurse. I always thought she was so pretty with her red hair in that white uniform with white stockings and shoes. I would say, “When I grow up I want to be a nurse like Belle.” After I graduated high school I applied to the University of Kentucky, University of Michigan and Vanderbilt. I was accepted at all three schools. I chose to attend Vanderbilt because a doctor friend of the family suggested that I go there, because he didn’t think I would like the north. After I graduated I returned to Danville, Kentucky and worked as a nurse in various areas. I retired after 23 years of service with the American Lung Association of Kentucky. My husband and I built the first skilled nursing home to be licensed in Kentucky. I am 90-years-old and living in a nursing home in Danville, KY. Even today I try to help people as much as I can.

Mrs. Ouida McIntyre Tucker, Class of 1936

When I was growing up in a small town in Alabama, I had a friend who came to Vanderbilt to attend medical school. So, I decided I would attend nursing school there. I am a three-year diploma program graduate. The four-year program was implemented during my last year. I had various nursing positions in public health, during the early years of my career. In 1948, I began my career at Vanderbilt Hospital and after 34 years of service I retired in 1981. During my tenure at Vanderbilt Hospital I served in various capacities including acting Director of Nursing. I am almost 90-years-old, and I live on Granny White Pike in Nashville.

Elizabeth Reid Lovell, Class of 1936

My older sister and cousins were nurses and I decided I would become one. My older sister paid for my education at Vanderbilt. Shirley Titus was the dean and I remember she would perform room checks. Dean Titus was very particular about the way we kept our rooms. She was also very stern. During our training we wore green uniforms with white cuffs and an apron and I remember that we would get coal soot all over our uniform and nylons. After our sophomore year we received a black stripe on our nursing caps. I worked in public health for 40 years in the Nashville area. I am 92-years-old and live in Franklin, TN.

Louise Lambert Lefevre Drake, Class of 1936

I was raised in Leesburg, VA, and I decided I wanted to become a nurse after I graduated high school. A doctor friend suggested I attend Vanderbilt School of Nursing because I could receive a degree. I loved my years at Vanderbilt. I have only great memories about my time there. School was never difficult for me, and I found the classes to be very easy. I met my physician husband there and we married as soon as I graduated. I never used my nursing skills after I married except for raising our four children. I am 91-years-old and live in a nursing home in Gastonia, NC and I enjoy the people very much. I believe I have had a great life.


Virginia N. Mitchell Ahrendt Siems (Ginny Siems), Class of 1938

I received a scholarship to support my education at Vanderbilt School of Nursing. Shirley Titus was the Dean, and I can remember that she was very strict, but fair. After graduation I worked as a public health nurse and later trained flight attendants for Pan American World Airways. I am in my 90’s now and live in San Francisco, CA. It’s been a long time since I thought of my nursing years.

Joy Carrier Didcoct, Class of 1938

I grew up in Mortons Gap, KY, and my father died when I was 16. I decided then I wanted to become a nurse. Applicants had to have a high school diploma to be admitted to Vanderbilt. Due to my father’s illness we moved and I had to go to summer school to earn my diploma so I could start classes at the School of Nursing in the fall of 1935. I just loved going to nursing school there. I have so many fond memories. I married a physician and for a short time I worked on ward 4400-B in the hospital. In the 1940’s we moved to Champaign, IL, and I became a homemaker raising my two daughters. I am 89-years- old, and I live in Champaign, IL with my two cats.


Nancy Caroline King Cost, Class of 1939

I entered Vanderbilt School of Nursing in 1936. I was lucky that my parents could afford to send me there. When I began, Shirley Titus was the dean and Dean Ziegler had been appointed dean by the time I graduated. I lived in Mary Kirkland Hall and we attended classes, which were taught by physicians, in the medical school.

We took medical/surgical classes that were taught based on diseases, anatomy and microbiology. We were chaperoned by the nursing faculty when we attended classes in the medical school. The nursing skills classes were taught by the nursing staff in Mary Kirkland Hall. We had a strict curfew of 10 p.m., but based on our grades we could receive a pass to stay out until midnight. We had to write Dean Titus a written request to stay out past curfew.

All social events were chaperoned, and I met my husband at a medical school dance. At that time doctors weren’t allowed to marry until after they graduated. My future husband had a life threatening illness so the medical school dean gave his permission to marry during Christmas of his senior year.

After I graduated, I worked in surgery rather than on a ward at the Vanderbilt Hospital, because I earned $10 per month more. After my husband’s graduation, we returned to his hometown of Hopkinsville, KY. Many years later after my husband’s death, I taught first-year nursing classes at a satellite campus of the University of Kentucky.

Upon my retirement from there, an award was named in my honor. Each year it is presented to an outstanding nursing student, and I attend the graduation ceremony to present the award to the recipient. I currently live in Hopkinsville, KY.