The following is an excerpt from Attics and Fifth Wheels, an autobiography by Dr. Percy Octave Chaudron, and the perfect description of his beloved colleague and friend, Ms. Shirley Hamrick.
Miss Shirley N. Hamrick, R.N., is one about whom I find it difficult to enumerate her admirable qualifications.
She is a graduate of The Berry School and of The Harbin Hospital both of Rome, Georgia, and post-graduate of The Cincinnati General Hospital, with special training in laboratory work in our State Department of Public Health.
She served on the Board of Directors of Georgia League of Nursing Education, for many years on Board of Directors of Georgia State Nurses Association, and was for two years it’s President.
She came with Doctor Hall shortly before I did in 1920. Since then, she was for him and has been and still is, for me, our ‘Man Friday.’ She is not only an exceptional nurse and office administrator, but a loyal, true and devoted friend, with all that the name implies. As Superintendent of our hospital and Supervisor of Nurses during its twenty years of operation, she had been first assistant in many operations. Her careful observation and her contribution to the successful management of the hospital and of the financial and account affairs are beyond my ability to properly evaluate.
She has stuck by us professionally and at home and as a most valued friend through thick and thin. We still depend on her more, perhaps, than we realize for her unfailing interest and unusual devotion, manifested in so many ways.
The Polk County Historical Society received a large donation of ephemera from the Shirley Hamrick estate, including many photos, letters, recipes, and newspaper articles. This particular letter stood out as a testament of Dr. Chaudron’s respect and admiration for his head nurse.
Keep. Nice letter from Dr. Chaudron when I resigned from Hall-Chaudron Hosp. because I was so tired. After the long rest I worked with Dr. Chaudron for over 50 years. After the hospital was closed because we could not get nursing help during World War II I worked in the office with Dr. C. – laboratory & X-ray work, kept books, wrote all the checks, etc. and many office patients.
“I was so tired I had resigned and this letter is in answer to mine of resignation.”
Dear Miss Shirley:
I have had nothing since Dr. Hall’s death that shocked me like a thunderbolt from the blue as did your letter. It was not only a surprise, but it has grieved me, and left me with a feeling of emptiness that only the very thing you contemplate could do after an association of eight years. I believe you frank enough to tell me if I am to blame for this apparently hasty decision. Frankly and sincerely, I do not believe that I can continue with the hospital without you—and this is not a formal expression to compliment you—it is simply the truth, based upon my appreciation of your valuable services to the institution and my implicit and profound faith in you as the axis around which this institution has thus far lived and progressed.
I realize that you have been under strain that most people would have crumpled under far before now, but don’t you believe that with a long rest this summer, and with a re-arrangement of our affairs that you would probably be in better mental and physical condition to help me carry on my work, which is apparently nearing the point where we should benefit by it?
Like you, I have been under a terrible mental strain—not entirely in my professional work, but otherwise, and which I felt you could not help me in, which has perhaps made me cross and irritable and perhaps you think beyond endurance, but I think with an entire re-organization of our work, that we may both be happier, and as successful, as such radical changes that you contemplate could realize.
When Georgia and Ruby come back, I would like to try to get along with them and have you go and rest at the coast or in the mountains or where you will for a couple of months, during which time your salary would continue, and perhaps refreshed in mind and rested physically, we may be able to affect an arrangement with these two girls to help us for a year or so, and discontinue the training school entirely, and for good—which, if possible, would please me immensely. I know it is too great a burden for you to continue what is apparently an ungrateful acceptance and appreciation of the valuable work you are doing and trying to do for others.
Please give the matter mature consideration, thinking first of your own present and future happiness and health, then of my absolute dependence upon you and my inability to go on without you; then let me know when we may talk about it.
With renewed assurances of my sincerest appreciation,