|Right this way to the swimming pool!|
Some of the initiation shenanigans were a bit shocking and proved to me that estrogen could be just as potent as testosterone when it came to fueling hijinks aimed at demeaning innocent victims. Groups of hospital hardened young women possessed a mystical herd strength fueled by their clinical nursing experiences and were eager to share the misery with novices. Somehow, the girls who were the most faint-hearted became the most aggressive tormentors.
Nursing was emotionally and physically challenging and the initiation was designed to weed out the more faint of heart. Steel plating was a prerequisite for the rigors of vintage hospital nursing.
Many hospital nursing schools in Chicago had beautiful indoor swimming pools. Cook County Hospital had one of the fanciest which resembled a Roman bath complete with marble columns. What a contrast to the stark Nightengale wards packed to the gills with suffering, impoverished patients. Luxury in the midst of poverty always rankled my hackles.
Unbeknownst to probies, our hospital lacked a swimming pool but did have an old fashioned exterior fire escape tube connected to the second floor freshman dormitory on one end and the great outdoors on the other. In the event of a fire, the fleeing victims opened the double doors to the tube and flung themselves into the awaiting platform that quickly transitioned into a steep descent. Gravity did the rest as the victim flew through the tortuous tube at breakneck velocity landing, hopefully, safely on the outside.
Junior and senior students knew how to grease the skids, so to speak, by applying pilfered bone wax to the inclined tube's interior with ABD dressing pads. This made the descent even more terrifying, especially to the unexpecting probies.
The probie trap was baited by covering the EMERGENCY FIRE EXIT sign on the escape tube's entrance with an ordinary sheet and substituting it with a sign clearly stating: SWIMMING POOL OPEN. The deception was further enhanced by soaking a washcloth with Clorox and tossing it just inside the opening to the tortuous tube. The tortuous tube even smelled like a swimming pool.
"O.K. probbies it's time for a group swim," was the battle cry as the doors to the cleverly disguised fire escape were gleefully swung open. As the probies made their sudden descent a satisfying ( at least to the juniors and senior students,) cacophony of shrieks and screams emerged from the tortuous tubes. Any probbie further back in the line up was advised the screams were in good fun and initiatd by the cold water in the pool.