by Michelle Ann Kratts
Lewiston Public Library
The Lewiston Public Library will be hosting a special book signing on Saturday, Sept. 28, at noon, for a new and unique work penned by three local authors. "Have Mercy; a Nursing Memoir," written in a five-year period by Mary Herbst, Maureen Ott and Maureen Weber, chronicles memories of their attendance at the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing (presently Trocaire College in Buffalo) from 1960 to 1963. An interesting time, personally, as well as historically, their schooling coincided with the presidency of John F. Kennedy, the Cuban Missile Crisis, bouffant hairdos and the publication of Betty Friedan's, "The Feminine Mystique."
With the intent to "surprise" the other Mercy graduates with a book of nursing school memories at their 50th nursing reunion in 2013, the women had set out on their mission of "collecting" stories following the 45th reunion. Upon receiving the completed books, the nurses were stunned and absolutely joyful to see that their memories had been transformed into something they could share with the community. There were 66 nursing students in the program when they began their journey on Sept. 9, 1960. Thanks to Mumme, Moe and Mary (the authors' nicknames) the history of their time at Mercy will be immortalized in the pages of this book.
Written with a humorous flair, the book is divided into three main sections, written by each woman, which pivot around several main characters. Based on a program of "absolute authority" the Sisters of Mercy created a rigorous and stressful environment - which they felt would create nurses capable of their duties. Mumme, Moe and Mary often found amusing ways to cope with some difficult situations and much of the book tells of incidents, capers and various bloopers involving their beloved nuns. The book also contains a history of the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing.
All three women held lifetime careers within the nursing field. Mumme (Maureen Ott) worked at a variety of hospital nursing positions, including public health nursing in St. Catharines, Ontario. Mary (Mary Herbst) also worked at a variety of nursing positions, as well as critical care nursing. Moe (Maureen Weber), a Lewiston resident, worked at Mount St. Mary's Hospital, Medical-Surgical floor, and for the Niagara County's Health Department as a public health nurse. They stayed close friends for more than 50 years and continue to meet monthly in sickness and in health.
Most of all the authors feel that their experience at Mercy Hospital School of Nursing exemplifies the importance of women's friendships. As they write in the preface, "...this is a shared story - a story about personal growth, struggles and survival in a new environment and a new career. It is also a story of laughter, foibles, and what it meant to be a student nurse in the 1960s."
The authors are grateful for Bob Giannetti, of Bob's Olde Books in Lewiston, for handling the editing of their work. Once they recover from the costs incurred by self-publication, they hope to raise money from the proceeds of their book to fund scholarships for nurses who attend Trocaire College.
The book will be available for purchase at www.booklogics.com, www.amazon.com, at the Lewiston Public Library during the book signing, and at Bob's Olde Books. The authors are also working on having it available as an e-book in the near future.