Our Stories: 1960's


Ginger Trundle Manley, VUSN BSN 1966, MSN 1981

When the VUSN Class of 1966 arrived on the Vanderbilt campus in September of 1962, we did not realize that we were becoming a part of history. Up until that point, the nursing students were housed separately from the other women undergraduates, but we were integrated from freshman year forward. I think that experience may have helped forge a bond in our class that has held tightly for 45 years, because most of us have kept in touch over the years at least annually through a newsletter that one of our classmates has faithfully compiled. At almost every reunion there is a need to set up extra tables for the class of '66 because we usually have a strong turnout. We thoroughly enjoy our time together, never tiring of talking about old times and new. We definitely have an "attitude" and we are proud of it. We think we are the most special class to have ever gone through VUSN and we will not be dissuaded from our position.

Our classmates participated fully in campus life-joining sororities and other social groups; running for campus office; acting in plays; becoming campus beauty queens; belonging to Mortar Board; getting pinned, engaged and married-which did result in those classmates having to be re-segregated. At that time Vandy did not want their chaste single women to be corrupted by the likes of a married woman in the dorm.

We absorbed both the arts and sciences in our four years at Vanderbilt and we have gone on to have rich careers. Some have left nursing for other areas which were better suited for them. Some have had strong and at times pioneering careers in nursing.  We are the "awesome" class of '66!

Ellen Eisendrath McGeady, BSN 1966

I don't know if this is a particularly funny memory, but it sure is one that has stayed with me all these years.

Part of the admission criteria to VUSN was the requirement that all incoming students have a valid driver’s license. I had never gotten a license and I didn't know how to drive, but I had kept this a secret from the faculty. When Sally Rhinehart Crowe and I were teamed together for our clinical experience in Public Health, I had to tell her that I didn't drive and I didn't know how I was going to get through the rotation. The Public Health office was located in Murfreesboro and the rotation required that we go out every day to see our clients in their homes. Sally and I eventually devised a system whereby she would see her clients in the morning while I would do my charting from the previous afternoon and then she would drive me to see my clients in the afternoon and she would do her charting. We got away with this and I don't believe that anyone ever found out about it. We thought we were so slick. She and I laugh about it to this day.

I can't separate my experience of Vanderbilt from that of being a nursing student. We in the nursing school tended to be closer than other students because our class was so much smaller than Arts and Sciences. Our class stayed close thanks to Linda Mabry who collected and still collects newsletters from most of us and then sends them to us on-line. Before that, we each were mailed a hard copy to read and absorb.

I am so proud of my classmates and in awe of many of them. They are remarkable women who have done remarkable things in their lives. Some have lived through personal tragedy and adversity with dignity and grace, many have made significant contributions to nursing and/or to their community, and all of them have been personal representatives of Vanderbilt University to the public at large. When you see them at a reunion, they are sassy, funny, and endlessly caring of one another. They listen, they debate, and they continue to be passionate about the world in which they live. They are never complaisant. Their contribution to nursing is as varied as the women themselves, but all are thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate women who have demonstrated that the value of a Vanderbilt education lies in its development of critical thinking skills, the acquisition of knowledge basic to the understanding of cultures, and the pursuit of excellence in all endeavors. Most importantly, Vanderbilt has helped us become better people who have a stake in making the world a better place in which to live and to pass on to  our children.


Karen Fishman, BSN 1968

My Psychiatric Nursing professor was so kind and humane.  Once, I had an evening clinical scheduled on the pediatric psychiatric unit. However, I had an opportunity, a "date", to attend a very nice party in Nashville with a law student I was dating. My professor allowed me to attend the party without penalty. I always remembered that, and tried to be a "kind, humane" instructor myself when my students has special needs or requests.

There I was, a freshman at Vanderbilt School of Nursing, and could not even watch when I received a shot!  What a wonderful four years of learning, growing, maturing, and developing friendships.

My funniest memory is the year I shared a suite in Branscomb Quadrangle with Sally, Chris, and Sunny. Chris returned from a short vacation with a cat, named Andamo (if I remember that correctly.) Of course, pets, especially cats, were forbidden in the dorm. However, since we had a suite which consisted of two dorm rooms connected in the middle by a bathroom, we could easily hide Andamo. Thus, when the housekeeper came in the room, we just cleverly moved Andamo to the other room attached to us. One day, however, we forgot to transfer Andamo to the other room. The housekeeper was dust mopping, when suddenly and unexpectedly, a PAW came out from under the bed, attempting to play with the mop. I thought the housekeeper, and my roommate and I, would have a heart attack!!!!! However, she kept our secret, and Andamo lived happily with us.

A Vanderbilt tradition from my years at VUSN still brings a smile to my face.  Vanderbilt coeds were NOT allowed to wear shorts on campus. If we wanted to walk to the tennis courts, even if the temperature was 80 degrees, we had to wear a raincoat over our outfit. Of course, blue jeans were also considered inappropriate attire for Vandy coeds. Certainly, rules have improved and become more casual for everyone on campus.

The most significant memory, however, is not just a "memory". Our nursing class of 1968 has maintained a newsletter every year that is shared just among ourselves. Near the end of each year, we have compiled our current stories of our lives, and updated our classmates on our births, deaths, marriages, divorces, vacations, disappointments, and health. It has been a valuable and emotionally charged experience. The closeness our small class developed while at Vanderbilt continues to survive. We all still really care about each other.

Obtaining my BSN from Vandy was a major turning point in my life. I later received an MA in Health Facilities Management from Webster College in St.Louis and an MEd in General Counseling from the University of Missouri's, St. Louis. I am 63 years old and still work full time as a nurse in the Sexual Abuse Clinic at a Children's Hospital in St. Louis. For many years I was a nursing instructor, and hopefully treated my students with the respect I learned to appreciate as a student at Vanderbilt. Today, I just can't wait to retire: Every day is one day closer to retirement!