Fond memories of almost 50 years at
Gundersen Tweeten Care Center
Facility celebrating 50th anniversary this July!
Wednesday, July 03, 2013 6:14 AM
reminisce of their years there as an employee
In August of 1963, the Tweeten Memorial Hospital and Convalescent Home opened in Spring Grove, and it continues to operate and serve the community today as Gundersen Tweeten Care Center (formerly Tweeten Lutheran Healthcare Center).
Several of the facility's early employees, now reside at the care center and recently shared memories of their time there as employees.
Ione Benson, 17 years
"It is fun to think back about working here," commented Ione Benson who worked as a dietary aide in the kitchen for 17 years. "We always had a good time in the kitchen. There was always something fun going on all the time, and then we had to work like mad in between!"
Betsy Sand, 40 years
"We worked hard, but I liked it. And it seemed that the harder we worked, the more we laughed," added Betsy Sand with a smile, who took her training to becoming a licensed nurse's assistant while she was working.
She spent most of her 40-year-career working at the current facility although she did work four of those years at the old hospital (on South Division Avenue) before the new facility was opened.
"We always got compliments on our work and that always made us smile.
Bernice Myhre, 40 years
"I enjoyed working no matter what I did," said Bernice Myhre about the 40 years that she worked at the facility doing a variety of jobs from working in the lab and x-rays, to sterilizing instruments and utensils, to a nurse's aid, to working in the office and ordering supplies.
"I enjoyed working as a CNA (certified nursing assistance) because people needed me, and I liked that. I also really enjoyed my time with the babies, rocking and feeding them.
"I was always really fussy about washing the instruments; I scrubbed them clean in every little spot because I wanted them clean enough so if they ever had to use them in me I knew they would be safe!"
Thelma Moen, many, many years
Thelma Moen also remarked that she liked her job in housecleaning and laundry where she worked for many years.
"It was never too hot in that room. We usually worked with another person so that made it nice to work there."
Wages were quite different
Wages were much different when these ladies began their jobs than what they are today.
"When I began, I received 50¢ an hour plus a free meal," said Sand. "I didn't mind working some of the major holidays because then we received holiday pay, which was nice."
"I received 60¢ an hour and a free meal when I began, and we, too, took turns working the major holidays," added Benson.
"When I was a nurse's aid, I received 75¢ an hour," recalled Myhre. "When I was in the lab, we were on call and received $1 a day regardless if we worked one hour or eight hours.
"If we got a raise, maybe it was a nickel. I never asked for a raise because I felt that I was there to help people."
Many things changed over years
Many things have changed at the building over the years. The kitchen, however, is still located in the same place in the facility. When Benson was working in the kitchen, she recalled that most everything was made from scratch.
"I did a lot of the prep work for the meals. I peeled a lot of potatoes during my time working. Each day, I would check the menu for the next day to see if I would have to peel potatoes and how many would be needed. At that time, we cooked for both the hospital and the nursing home," she said.
"I remember that we also prepared rutabagas, and that they were so hard to cut, that the cook would cut them with a hammer! Once they were cooked and mashed they were very good.
Medical knowledge increased
"We didn't have many residents eat in the dining room either. I remember taking many, many trays to rooms, now the aids make sure most come out to the dining room to eat."
Medical knowledge has also increased greatly over the years. Myhre recalled that when someone had a broken hip they didn't have surgery, instead sandbags were packed alongside their legs, and it took a long time to heal.
"It took a while until we heard about surgery for hips," she said. "I also saw more requirements for paperwork over the years. We had to start writing everything down that the residents did. And instruments came in pre-sterilized packages."
Uniforms have also changed. "We wore all white - stockings, shoes and clothing - and there were no slacks, only dresses. Now the nurses have nice uniforms with color," commented Sand.
Many memories shared
With the many years of experience at working at the facility also came many memories.
"I always wanted to be a nurse," remarked Sand. "So working as a nurse's assistant was wonderful. My favorite thing to do was to be with the babies, rocking and feeding them in the nursery."
"I walked to work most of the time regardless of the weather," said Benson. "Sometimes, city workers would pick Thelma and I up and give us a ride to work. That was especially nice when the weather was cold and snowy."
Not too often, but sometimes they would stay at work longer due to the snow. Benson remembered staying overnight a couple of times due to the weather and then working the next day.
Myhre also recalled a time when there was a blizzard and she got a ride from a snowplow driver to the end of her driveway, "When I got out (of the vehicle) the snow was so deep to walk through that I almost got stuck!
"I could hardly get my legs out of the snow, but I knew that my youngest child, about eighth grade-aged at the time, was in the house alone so I knew I had to get to her; it was scary."
Working at the facility left an impression on all of them. They all agreed that they loved their jobs and looked forward to going to work each day. They also enjoyed the people they worked with.
Myhre smiled and chuckled when she shared an impression that her job in the lab made on her, "Until this day, I won't drink Mountain Dew because it looks like the specimens we used to collect!"
Family was also important
While working, Ione raised five children with her husband, Alden.
Thelma raised four children and was married to Tilford.
Betsy started working to help provide insurance for her family, which included her husband, Curtis, and their 13 children.
Bernice raised five children with her first husband, Knut, who died young of a brain aneurysm. She remarried and her second husband, Alvin, also unfortunately died young around 50 years of age, only three years after they married.