Interviewed by Marci Farr
10 August 2010
Oral History Program
Weber State University
10 August 2010
Copyright © 2010 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
The Oral History Program of the Stewart Library was created to preserve the institutional history of Weber
State University and the Davis, Ogden and Weber County communities. By conducting carefully
researched, recorded, and transcribed interviews, the Oral History Program creates archival oral histories
intended for the widest possible use.
Interviews are conducted with the goal of eliciting from each participant a full and accurate account of
events. The interviews are transcribed, edited for accuracy and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewees
(as available), who are encouraged to augment or correct their spoken words. The reviewed and
corrected transcripts are indexed, printed, and bound with photographs and illustrative materials as
available. Archival copies are placed in Special Collections. The Stewart Library also houses the original
recording so researchers can gain a sense of the interviewee's voice and intonations.
The St. Benedict’s School of Nursing was founded in 1947 by the Sisters of Mount Benedict. The school
operated from April 1947 to 1968. Over the forty-one year period, the school had 605 students and 357
graduates. In 1966, the program became the basis for Weber State College’s Practical Nursing Program.
This oral history project was created to capture the memories of the graduates and to add to the history of
nursing education in Ogden. The interviews focus on their training, religion, and experiences working
with doctors, nurses, nuns, and patients at St. Benedict’s Hospital. This project received funding from the
Utah Humanities Council and the Utah Division of State History.
Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews between a
narrator with firsthand knowledge of historically significant events and a well-informed interviewer, with
the goal of preserving substantive additions to the historical record. Because it is primary material, oral
history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete narrative of events. It is a spoken
account. It reflects personal opinion offered by the interviewee in response to questioning, and as such it
is partisan, deeply involved, and irreplaceable.
All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to
the Stewart Library of Weber State University. No part of the manuscript may be
published without the written permission of the University Librarian. Requests for
permission to publish should be addressed to the Administration Office, Stewart
Library, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, 84408. The request should include
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Margaret Huebert, an oral history by Marci
Farr, 10 August 2010, WSU Stewart Library
Oral History Program, Special Collections,
Stewart Library, Weber State University,
Class of 1961
Abstract: This is an oral history interview with Margaret Huebert, conducted by
Marci Farr and Sarah Langsdon, on August 10, 2010. In this interview, Margaret
discusses her recollections and experiences with the St. Benedict’s School of
MF: This is Marci Farr; we are interviewing Margaret Huebert. She graduated in 1961
from St. Benedict’s School of Nursing. Margaret, how are you today?
MH: I’m just great.
MF: Good. Will you just start by telling us a little bit about your early life and your
MH: I was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and I was raised in a small town north of Idaho
Falls called Mud Lake. My father died – he was struck by lightning – when I was
four years old. My father was a farmer, and we moved from this small town into
Idaho Falls. I was the middle child, with brothers on both sides of me. My first
education was at a Catholic school. My secondary education was at a public
school, ninth through twelfth, and then I went down to St. Benedict’s in Ogden.
The reason why I went into nursing – I had four cousins, and whenever we got
together, we always played nursing. We just wanted to take care of people, we
dressed our dolls, we took care of our dolls, and that’s what we did. The four of
us – three became RNs, and one was an LPN. Out of the three that was RNs,
two of them taught at universities, and then there was me, and the other was an
LPN, and she’s still working – in home health and hospice.
I chose St. Benedict’s to go to school because it was the closest Catholic
school to Idaho Falls. Were there assessments that had to be made to go to St.
Benedict’s? I was supposed to send my grades down there, and I did, and
nothing was said about my grades. I went to Idaho Falls to see my mother not
very long ago, and she gave me my report card. I looked at it, and I said, “How in
the world did they ever accept me at St. Benedict’s? My grades were horrible!”
And they never said anything about my grades, and I had to have a physical.
When the doctor got done doing the physical, he said, “Well, you’ve got flat feet!”
My mother was all upset, and she said, “I’ll bet the nuns won’t take you, your feet
are too flat!” But the nuns never once mentioned that I had flat feet. So I made it,
and no one said anything.
MF: That’s good.
MH: Right, it was a good thing.
MF: When you were in high school, did you take any classes that helped with
MH: I had to have Latin, and I had to have algebra and geometry and chemistry. And I
passed them all. Algebra was a struggle, but I passed it. Geometry was not so
hard. Chemistry was good, I enjoyed it a lot. So I guess I made it by the skin of
MF: Well, that’s good.
MH: I don’t think they really said much about your grades. I was surprised, when I
looked at my grades, because I had a son who is an RN as well now. They really
talked about his grades when he was going to school, but nothing was ever said
about my grades.
MF: Tell us a little bit about your first impressions. Was this your first time away from
MH: Yes, absolutely, and I was so homesick I was actually sick. It was two hundred
miles from Idaho Falls, and of course we didn’t have any cars down there at that
time, nobody had a car. I didn’t have a boyfriend, so we were stuck there. The
nuns tried to entertain us. They’d have picnics and all kinds of parties and things
like that. They did a pretty good job of entertaining us. After we were there for
two or three weeks, I took the bus home. Well, we did all right, you know. It was
just, after a little while you got used to being there. I did appreciate it that the
nuns really did take care of us. We did have a house mother.
MH: We had roommates, and the home was clean and nice. The food was good; they
used to make homemade bread, which was always good.
MF: Who was your roommate in the nurses’ home?
MH: I had a roommate, her last name was Rady. I can’t remember what her first name
was. Vicky Rady, I think it was.
MF: Did you spend all three years together?
MH: No, we didn’t. We spent two years together, and then the last year I was in a
room by myself.
Were the sisters strict? We used to sneak in the back door. We were
supposed to be in by eleven, I think. On Saturday night we had a little bit later
curfew, and we were supposed to go down in the basement and go down
through the tunnels, and we’d kind of sneak down underneath there sometimes
and get away with it. Sometimes we didn’t get away with it, but most times we
did. The sisters were pretty strict about our grades while we were there.
Was there a probationary period while you were in training? Yes, there
was. We had to keep our grades up. The nun that taught us dietary, she was
very strict, and the pharmacy nun was strict as well. Also, when we started to
work on the floor – we were having anatomy and physiology, and that class was
taught right after we worked on the floor - she always gave us a quiz when we
first started class. If we weren’t there for the whole class, for the quiz, we got an
F. So, let me tell you, we were there. If we were supposed to give someone a
bath, that person got a slipshod bath. You knew you had to get it done, so you
got it done.
MF: Did you have classes from Weber?
MH: We did not – we never did. The doctors taught us, and the nuns taught us. They
taught us everything.
MF: That was our question. Because the Dee school had some with Weber, so we
were just wondering about that.
MH: We went to Denver for pediatrics, and we also went to Hasting, Nebraska for our
psychology, and we also had some chronic nursing at the Tuberculosis
Sanitorium. But that wasn’t at Weber.
Who were some of the instructors? Nuns, doctors – we had one doctor, he
taught pulmonary, and that was when cigarettes were first being said as being a
cause for lung cancer. He came in, was teaching about it, and he lit up a
MH: Yeah, right. So you know he didn’t believe in that.
MF: That is crazy.
MH: A lot of my classmates were all from Wyoming. We had one from Ogden, and
there was one – Stella Shortie, she was from the Indian Reservation.
MF: Oh, wow.
MH: She was a beautiful woman, very beautiful. What were some of the rules? Oh,
we had a curfew. We were not allowed to smoke or drink in the dorms, and we
never did. There was enough nuns around there to watch out that we never did
smoke or drink in the dormitory. If we were going to do that sort of thing, we
would always just check out to somebody’s house and stay there overnight.
What did you do to have fun on your night off? Well, sometimes we would
go to downtown to a movie. We’d take the bus. We’d have to go early enough,
because we’d have to take the bus back if we didn’t have a ride. We used to go
down to an ice cream place at the bottom of the hill called Judy’s. We’d go down
there and get ice cream, we’d walk down and walk back. It wasn’t that far.
Were you allowed to get married in training? No. Absolutely not. If you got
into the pregnancy problem, you were out. We did have one girl that got
pregnant, and she left.
When were you first assigned on the floor? I think we were there about
three months when we were first assigned. We went in and gave baths. That was
the first thing we had to do, and by that time they would teach us in the
classroom how to give a shot. First we learned how to give a bath, and how to
give shots and things like that. Then they would take us out on the floor with an
instructor, and then we would give shots, pass medicines with the instructor
standing right there teaching us, watching us how we did it. So we had very good
supervision. We were watched close about how we did it.
MF: When you first started.
MH: The capping ceremony – we had uniforms which we wore, and it seems like it
was at a church that we had the capping ceremony. It’s also at a church where
the graduation was held, and we all wore the same uniform, long-sleeved
How long were you assigned to each floor? After we had all gone through
the part where we learned how to do shots and the beginning of nursing, we
were assigned each floor for three months. And that was after we got our caps.
Then we went on rotations, and we were assigned there for three months. Then
the floor supervisor kind of watched out for us.
MF: So did you have different shifts?
MH: Yes. Then we started having different shifts, and we worked nights and
everything. The whole thing. They assigned us – we were like one of the staff by
MH: Also, we would do everything, anything that had to be done. We’d get people
ready for surgery; by then we were working in surgery.
MF: So did you get paid at all?
MH: No, no pay.
MF: So it was just your training.
MH: Sometimes if we needed money, then we put our name on a list, and then we’d
work on our days off. We got paid then, and I think we got paid nurse’s aides
wages, was what it was.
MH: I remember one – the next question is, “Tell us about some of the patients you
cared for.” When I first got into nurses’ training, I started working on the floor, and
I was assigned to a diabetic. He was a new diabetic, so I had an instructor with
me, and I was teaching him how to give his own shots. I don’t remember that part
of him. So I was teaching, and I was learning, and I was supposed to be teaching
him, and learning how to do that sort of thing. Then when I was a senior, I
happened to have that same patient again. And that time, he had not been taking
care of himself diabetic-wise. And he was in diabetic coma, and I thought to
myself, this is a good teaching experience for me, because he was not doing
what he should be doing, and he was really in bad shape. So I thought, yeah,
you know, buddy, you didn’t do what you were supposed to be doing, good thing
I was doing what I was supposed to be doing!
MH: Now, were there any traditions at St. Benedict’s? Yes, there were. When we
were freshmen – or one time during our training, we all had a big party with a
boys’ school, a men’s school. We had that every fall, and it was part of the
holidays. So the boys come over to St. Benedict’s, and we had a dinner and a
dance. It was a nice time. We all had dates – the boys came over, and we dated
MF: Was this group from Ogden, do you know?
MH: Yes, they were. Another thing we had – we used to sing for the doctors, they had
some kind of a medical meeting, and students used to sing at this medical
meeting. Those two I remember. And we always had a picnic up at Weber
Canyon. We always would go up there and have a picnic, and the nuns would
MF: That’s good. Do you remember what your tuition costs were for the three years?
MH: No, I don’t remember. I did pay for them myself. In those days they didn’t have
student grants or anything like that. It was all out-of-pocket.
MF: What do you think was your greatest challenge being a nurse when you were in
MH: My greatest challenge. I do believe that it was learning to be self-reliant. Learning
to apply the things which we learned in class, and using them to take care of
MF: That would be hard. Because I think as far as like the confidence, trying to make
sure you knew what you were doing.
MH: And taking it to the next level – learning it in the classroom and then applying it
when you got down on the floor. Another thing that I did, and I remember doing
this at the time, and I thought afterwards, when I got – this is when I was working
nights – we used to take charge at night, when I was a student.
MH: One time, this is when we had a psych ward down in the basement of the
hospital. We would go down there, just before we left in the morning, and start
insulin therapy on these patients. They used that instead of using shock therapy.
At the time I thought, so we start the IV insulin on these people, I was a student. I
didn’t know beans from buckshot about stuff like that. And then we would get it
started, and I suppose a night aide – I don’t even remember who took over after
we would leave – then we would go back upstairs and circulate on the other
floors, give report on whatever floor we were working on, and leave this patient
with this IV insulin going.
MF: Wow. That is scary. Oh my goodness.
MH: Wow is right. After I graduated from nurses’ training and was working in – I
suppose when I got working in psych – I thought, what in the world were we
MF: That is scary. It could have gone wrong so many ways.
MH: So many ways, and who would have been responsible for it but the dumb
student? I didn’t even – you know. I’ll bet no one else – I don’t know who would
have thought about that? I never thought about it until I was working at Hastings,
and it dawned on me, wow, that was stupid.
MF: That is crazy.
MH: But you know, they told you to go down and do it, you did it.
MF: You did it, exactly, you didn’t disobey. Where was your nursing home located?
Was it behind the hospital?
MH: Yes it was. Right. Up on the hill.
MF: You mentioned graduation was at a church.
MH: It was at a church – I think it must have been at the cathedral downtown.
MF: Okay. So St. Joseph’s Cathedral? What were your impressions about that day?
MH: I thought it was just wonderful. I had waited for that for a long time.
MF: It was a good reward for all of that effort, huh?
MH: Yes, it was.
MF: So, did you stay at St. Benedict’s after you graduated?
MH: No, I didn’t. I was engaged at the time, and I came back to Idaho Falls, and
worked for about three months, and then I married and I moved to York,
Nebraska, where I live right now, and I’m married to the same person, and I had
MF: And then you continued working while you were in Nebraska?
MH: I started working floor duty, and then worked in a nursing home – while I was in
nursing home, I taught nurses nursing assistant work, then I ended up being
director of nursing. I retired in 2000.
MF: Do you remember anything about your graduation ceremony, what took place?
MH: I remember that the sister that went to school with us was the best nurse that
graduated. I can’t remember what her name was now, but she was the nurse that
did. We all had to have the same uniform, and of course we all got new shoes –
we always had to wear white socks. We had a cape – I still have that cape.
MF: Oh good, I love the capes. They’re so beautiful.
MH: Yes, they were beautiful. I wore it when I first started working, because it was
warmer than my coat.
MF: Yes, they are really warm.
MH: They are warm, yes.
MF: How do you think nursing has changed over the years?
MH: One big change is computers. And when I was working in the nursing home here,
we switched over from all hard copy to computers. It goes so much faster. My
son is a Registered Nurse, and actually, he doesn’t work as a Registered Nurse,
he installs pacemakers. His wife is a Registered Nurse, and she works with
children – she does kidney dialysis.
MF: Oh, okay.
MH: Actually, she does the same thing – everything is computerized. Working with
computers has really made it so much better, because everybody can spend
more time with their patients. They’re more interested in patient care, not so
much that you have to get it down on paper, because with a computer you can sit
down and get it done in no time flat. You don’t have to worry so much about
writing it all down in long hand.
MF: That’s absolutely true. Do you think, though, as far as your training, you were
more hands on?
MF: And with the patients, you had to spend the time, the machine wasn’t there to do
MH: Yes. After I graduated from nurses’ training, I started working at the York hospital
here; my training was excellent. I knew what to do, I knew how to take care of
anyone, any kind of a disease, because I’d rotated through from OB to surgery to
Med/Surg, everything. After I had rotated then, on this rotation, and I came to
work here, I knew every facet of nursing. A young girl came here to work, and
she was actually my age – she had graduated from college as a Registered
Nurse. When she came to work, and she didn’t know how to do anything. She
had never taken blood pressure. She didn’t know how to do anything. I had to
teach her how to do blood pressures. I had to teach her how to give a shot. I had
to teach her everything, because she didn’t know.
MF: Because it was more book learning.
MH: Book learning. She knew everything the book had to teach her, but she didn’t
know how to apply it. So… but she had a college degree, and I didn’t have a
MF: So your training obviously served you very well after graduation.
MH: It served me very well. Much better than hers was, which was kind of a shame.
MF: When you were rotating, what was your favorite floor?
MH: Oh, I loved OB, I liked psych, I liked surgery – I liked surgery real well. The only
thing I can say that I didn’t really like – well, I can’t say that I didn’t like it, but it
wasn’t my favorite, and that’s Med/Surg.
MH: I don’t care much about it, but it’s not something I would – if I had my choices, I
wouldn’t go for it.
MF: That would be hard. Do you remember when you first started, maybe one of your
hardest patients that you had to take care of?
MH: Let’s see – I think the hardest patient to take care of is someone who is very,
very obese. They’re so hard to move around in a bed, and to roll them from side
to side, and to keep them off of their back, because they get bed sores so
quickly. Especially if they’ve had surgery, they don’t want to move, because it
hurts. It is so hard to take care of them.
MF: That would be really hard. Have you stayed in contact with your classmates over
MF: Okay. So, Sarah, did you have anything else? All right.
MH: I’m looking for a picture of myself lately, but I’m having a little trouble finding one.
So if I don’t find one right away, how long do I have to get one down there?
MF: A couple of months.
MH: I’ll have one by that time, I’m sure.
MF: You’ll be absolutely fine.
MH: Okay. I’ll do that.
MF: Well, we appreciate you calling, and we’re grateful to have you be a part of this
project. We appreciate you taking time with us, and I hope you have a great day!
MH: Okay. Thank you.
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