Graduates from Parkview Hospital's school of nursing gather to remember English Hall, Thursday.

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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Dorothy Craig, left, the former director of the school of nursing, and Parkview Health chief nursing executive Judy Boerger sort through the contents of a time capsule that was discovered behind the 1953 cornerstone of English Hall.

Nursing school grads reminisce

English Hall.

Generation upon generation of future nurses passed through its halls during the last several decades.

It was a place for learning, harrowing tests, late-night hazing of the new recruits, the start of lifelong friendships, and maybe even a bit of the risque – like when the supervisor of the school got a call that her students were tanning nude on the roof.

For those who toiled through the three-year program, though, it was far more than a the place that started their careers.

“It was our home for three years,” said Becky (Sheehan) Jurczak, a graduate of the class of 1968 from what was then the Parkview Methodist School of Nursing.

Jurczak was one of more than 100 alumni from the Parkview nursing program’s history who turned out Thursday evening for the unveiling of a time capsule sealed in 1953 in the cornerstone of English Hall.

The celebration also marked the impending demise of the building, which will be razed in the next several weeks to make way for green space as part of Parkview’s ongoing changes at the Randallia campus.

Jurczak and some of her fellow classmates, Cindy (Ramsey) Huckeriede and Emily (Hawkins) Engel, were among those who reminisced about the good times, and not-so-good times during their schooling at Parkview Methodist.

Late-night raids of the new class by the seniors were not uncommon but not necessarily that enjoyable.

Engel recalled how forcefully seniors pulled curlers from the hair of the sleeping newbies.

“The upper class always raided the freshmen,” Huckeriede said.

Another tradition at the school was an ice bath or cold starch bath for any student who got engaged.

But it wasn’t all pranks and torment. It was a school for serious learning about lifesaving skills where future nurses came together and formed lifelong friendships, all for about $2,000 for the three-year program.

“We were all bonded together,” Engel said of her classmates who were in the last class to do a rotation at the state mental health hospital in Logansport.

The skills the three women learned in school carried through their careers.

Engel worked in pediatrics and public health nursing, Jurczak in home care management and Huckeriede as an office nurse and school nurse.

At the helm of their education was a woman who is a legend among former students – Dorothy Craig.

Craig got her start with Parkview in 1964 as an orthopedic nursing teacher and stayed with the company for more than three decades.

“I made a very big deal out of the fact I would only be here one year,” she said Thursday.

Among her responsibilities was keeping tabs on her young female students, many of whom have called in recent weeks to confess their past delinquent behavior, including sneaking in and out of the dorm and hiding liquor.

“You know, I just wasn’t terribly surprised,” Craig joked, adding that she got frequent calls from a patient at Saint Anne Home to let Craig know there were nursing students sunbathing nude on the roof of the building.

Huckeriede was a mix of emotions at the ceremony, those of happiness for reconnecting with classmates and friends and those of sorrow for the demise of a place that helped shape her for three years in the late 1960s.

Craig summed it best: “They can tear the building down. They’ll never tear down our memories and they are precious.”

cmeyers@jg.net

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