January 10, 1942

Each morning I rushed like the Mad Hatter to the hospital kitchen to cook the cereal and coffee for our breakfast. Each morning I expected to be thrown out, but so far the woman in charge refrained from any violence. But her grumbling and disapproving glances were hard to take so early in the morning.

Belle and Toinette left our mess, but there were still four of us to be fed, and we knew that soon we’d have to make other cooking arrangements.

Our patients at this time had influenza, dengue, and gastro-enteritis. In all my years of nursing, I had thought that gastro-enteritis was a fancy name, put into textbooks to confuse the young nurse.

My mind was quickly changed when I saw how ill and prostrate these patients were. When I succumbed to the disease, not once, but many times, I had a healthy respect for cholera sufferers. Always there was nausea, vomiting, high temperature, and acute diarrhea, which left the patient extremely weak and near collapse.

There was a large tent to the right of the hospital in which fifteen seamen were being treated for venereal disease. As I passed out the sulfa pills, I had many interesting chats with these men about their home states and the countries they had visited.

Mr. Smith, an old-timer from the Philippines and well known throughout the Orient for his fine carnivals, was given permission by the Japanese to set up three of his large carnival tents. One was for the venereals, one for the TB’s and the third for nurses and women who worked in the hospital and kitchen.

When the nurses kept urging me to move into the tent, since there was less congestion than in the buildings, I went to investigate.

As I walked into the tent, the hot breath of air almost knocked me down. It was like standing in front of an open-hearth furnace in one of the steel mills in Pittsburgh. I viewed the thick dust on all the cots, chairs, benches, and tables, and I speculated about living in a tent during the typhoon season.

No, thank you! The Big House was a boiler factory and a madhouse with its congestion, but the walls were thick. Rain and typhoon couldn’t touch me—only bedbugs, lice, scorpions, and disgustingly repulsive flying cockroaches as big as fifty-cent pieces.

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