While physicians and surgeons perform the miracles of modern medicine, it is often nurses who are charged with raising the spirits of the infirm on a daily basis. Nurses Carolyn Grant, at left, and Blanche Arnold were apparently willing to go to any length for a chuckle, even if it meant climbing into a bathtub at Bangor's Eastern Maine General Hospital back in 1927. While Arnold had been a registered nurse for a decade when this photograph was taken (most likely by a hospital employee), Grant had passed her examinations just the previous year and was already on her way to becoming a nurse supervisor of the thirty-five-year-old hospital's orthopedic department.Grant probably used this claw-foot tub, installed in 1909 as part of the hospital's new hydro therapeutic system, to soothe her patients' aching muscles and for their regular baths. The smaller tub on the platform at left would have been used for bathing children or infants, with the water controlled by the single gate-valve on its right side. The cast-iron radiator at rear would've helped take the chill out of the room (though the circa-1899 brick building could hardly have been toasty in winter), while the pipe at upper right ensured that the new automatic sprinkler system remained fully charged. Such amenities were the latest developments for a hospital that began in a rented homestead but would eventually become Eastern Maine Medical Center, the largest medical facility in northern and eastern Maine. At the time Grant and Arnold posed for this photograph, the cost per patient day at the Bangor hospital was $4.78, with most patients staying for more than two weeks.
Despite the bit of silliness she's displaying here, Grant, who grew up in nearby Clifton, took her nursing duties very seriously. After marrying a resident doctor and returning with him to Nashua, New Hampshire, she became a nurse at his private practice, attended to the special needs of her own daughter for thirteen years, and served in the Red and White Cross during World War II. Family members say that despite moving across the Piscataqua River, Grant maintained a strong connection to the Pine Tree State until her death three years ago. She shared with her relatives photographs such as this one and stories of her life Down East (not to mention subscriptions to a certain Magazine of Maine). "Anything that had to do with Maine, she was interested in," says her granddaughter, Deborah Blannin.