Eventually, most of the really long-running series would seem to run out of ideas for a new installment in the adventures of the titular plucky girl-heroines and, wanting to keep that cash cow producing delicious green paper milk, would turn out a non-fiction volume so readers could model after and improve upon their lives in the manner of their YA favorites.
Starting this week, we’ll look at three non-fiction spin offs of popular series:
Nurse Cherry Ames cheerfully leads readers through various basic first aid techniques, often using anecdotes about her brother Charlie (forever falling out of windows) and her friend Midge (who stands in a sink full of water to change a light bulb, teaching the reader a valuable lesson about not getting electrocuted) (Oh, Midge).
While only about 50 years old, the volume takes us back to simpler, dirtier, more dangerous time. Most maladies are treated with salt water (“infected wounds”, heat exhaustion), baking soda (“severe burns”, drinking sulfuric acid that somebody has stored in a soda bottle in the icebox) or a combination of salt water and baking soda (shock).
It is a world filled with rusty nails, poisonous snakes and unpasteurized milk. Food poisoning is so common that Cherry advises against eating at restaurants altogether, because who knows what you’re going get? Again, Midge does not follow Cherry’s sage advice and has to spend her “Hallowe’en” party in bed because she wolfed down a plate of rotten figs (Oh, Midge…)
There are also five chapters about building a dedicated Sick Room in your home! Learn how to make a bed tray out of a sturdy cardboard box! Advice on selecting appropriate radio programs for the invalid! Instructions on how to make pipe-cleaner dolls that will entertain children for hours! Pages of advice about providing attractive meals!
“How good are you at arranging an attractive tray? For the sick person who never wants to hear of food again, a glass of milk in a ruby-red tumbler and bread-and-butter finger-strips arranged like a lattice may surprise and tempt him into eating.”
Also: “A sweet potato, suspended by toothpicks in a jar of water, makes an attractive sick-room plant.”
Cancel my polio vaccine, I want bed-and-butter finger-strips and a jar full of potato blossoms!
Finally, Cherry addresses your career as a future RN, from the joys of life in the Nursing Students’ Dormitory (“Proms, picnics, sports facilities and the Head Nurse’s teas”!) to all of the exciting positions on Indian Reservations, in public health clinics, department stores, summer camps and traveling positions in “the little-known areas of South America, of Africa, of Alaska!” She also suggests a career in the armed services (remember, she was Lt. Ames during World War II!) for girls who want to travel.
Which is why it is a little disappointing for her to sum up the lessons thusly:
“Any girl can expect to give a great deal of home and health care, and unselfish service, to her family and community during the course of her lifetime. Perhaps that is why there is a saying that nurses- and girls with a knowledge of nursing- make the best wives and mothers and the best homemakers.”
Too late, Nurse Ames! My sense of adventure has already been inflamed! You can’t keep me down on the farm now that I’ve seen the little-known area of Alaska! Now I just have to decide between Island Nurse, Jungle Nurse or Dude Ranch Nurse!
Good Advice: If you see lightning, you should “just lie down in a hollow in the ground”. Just be sure the hollow is not full one of the four kinds of poisonous snakes native to North America!
The Best Thing About This Book: Is clearly the chart in the back that shows you the different schools’ graduate nursing caps…
Next Week: Learning to cook with Nancy Drew for some reason.