I Was A Nurse’s Aide During World War II. My father, Herman H. Buhrer, owned the Live Oak Dairy in south Dallas, but had sold it just before war broke out on December 7, 1941. He and my mother, Julia, then purchased a farm in Richardson and moved there.
I had been living at home, but needed to live in Dallas since I was working at Liberty State Bank. Gasoline was rationed and each person was allowed only three gallons per week; so my only option was to ride the Interurban from Richardson to Dallas each day.
A girlfriend with whom I had gone through high school invited me to move in with her family in the Oak Lawn neighborhood. She also had a sister who lived at home, and the three of us decided to take a Red Cross first aid course so that we could work at the local hospitals after our day jobs.
Time went on and so did the war. My friend and I thought that we might help the war effort more by working as aides at one of the Army hospitals, so we applied for a civil service job sometime during the last part of 1944. Our orders soon came and we reported to the Regional Army Hospital at Camp Maxey in Paris, Texas on Easter Sunday, April 4, 1945.
We were assigned to the nurses’ barracks. There were five aides already working at Regional when we arrived. Our rooms were pretty basic and without any frills—just the bare 2 x 4 studs on the inside with one open-faced closet. The Army supplied us with one bed, one chest of drawers, one chair and one small bedside table for the alarm clock. Our barracks were connected to the hospital via halls and covered ramps.
Our shifts were scheduled the same as the regular nurses. We worked from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. one week and the next week we worked a split shift from 7 to 11 a.m. and then reported back for duty that day from 3 to 7 p.m. The aides didn’t work the night shift and we got to take every other Sunday off. We also got to take the full weekend off once each month.
The nurse’s aides wore striped blue-and-white pinafores with a white blouse, white hose, and white shoes. We were all dressed up. I was assigned to the contagious disease ward. Each ward had a nurse supervisor and one or two male orderlies as well as the aide.
The vast majority of soldiers at this base were from the eastern U.S. and did not like our hot Texas summers, chiggers, or grass-hoppers.
We received our dismissal notice from the War Department on September 25, 1945. The notice stated, “This action is necessary due to reduction in force as ordered by high-er authority.”
Note: Emma Louise Buhrer died, January 13, 2000, shortly after writing this story. She was born July 4, 1917.
By Louise Buhrer for Proud Heritage, Volume III by Dallas County Pioneer Association.