Coming to America 3


Hang Around Fort Smith A While
We nurses could only do so much sunbathing and drinking without ending up looking like leather bags with bloodshot eyes so, on occasion we would ‘soak in’ the local culture.

Fort Smith was known for Judge Parker “The Hanging Judge”. Over the years, Judge Parker sentenced 160 men to death by hanging. The slogan, “Hang Around Fort Smith A While” was actually posted on billboards, T-shirts and mugs as part of the city’s ad campaign. Eww. Points of interest in Ft. Smith included The Courthouse and Gallows where there was room for three hangings to occur simultaneously. Nice. Another claim to fame was the fact that Belle Starr a notorious outlaw and sometime 'madam' owned a house of ill repute located on the train line conveniently very near to The Ft. Smith Train Depot. Reportedly, Jesse James and his gang frequented it regularly.The military base of Fort Chaffee also called Fort Smith home and was where a young Elvis Presley was inducted into the Army and recieved his military haircut.

So much for the culture and history of Fort Smith.

Elvis' haircut at Ft. Chaffee and the outlaw, Belle Starr

Alrighty then, back to drinking at the pool.

Sparks Regional Medical Center, was wonderful. We were given positions in the areas that interested us most and were oriented thoroughly. I was on a Telemetry floor and was caring for heart patients. One morning, during my orientation my preceptor (trainer) asked me to administer a mouthwash of hydrogen peroxide and water to a little old lady. She was unsure as to why this had to be done but that it was ordered none-the-less. When I explained to the patient that she was to swish the liquid around in her mouth and then spit it out, she did as I had instructed. When I saw what she had spat out – I panicked. The little lady was African-American and the contents in the basin were black! Did she have a tumor? Was the inside of her mouth sloughing off? I thought she looked OK - but at this rate, I just knew it was only a matter of time. I raced back to the nurse’s station with basin in hand showing the sludge to anyone who would look... my preceptor gently put her arm around me and sweetly said, “Honey, have you never seen snuff before?” Seen it? I had never even heard of it.

Ground Snuff Tobacco

My real education had begun.

My Arkansas nursing colleagues were so incredibly helpful and kind. They demonstrated as much care and compassion towards me as they did their patients. I thank them for being such incredible role models and setting a high standard for me during a very impressionable period of my life.  Part 4: Moving On

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