Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with James Parton, May 25, 1979

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Meeting Brooke Alexander and learning about the Frontier Nursing Service

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Parton can you tell me about your earliest recollections of the FNS and how you became involved with--

Segment Synopsis: Parton describes meeting Brooke Alexander, first cousin once removed of Mary Breckinridge and his friend since their childhoods in New York, and becoming involved with the Frontier Nursing Service through him. Parton also discusses a New York Times article with 8 pages of photographs depicting the work of the Frontier Nursing Service.

Keywords: "New York Times"; Brooke Alexander; Couriers; Gender; Hazard (Ky.); Horses; Hospitals; Hyden (Ky.); Mary Breckinridge; Schools; Transportation; Wendover (Ky.)

Subjects: Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Frontier Nursing Service, inc.--History.

00:02:47 - Going to Wendover, conditions in Leslie County, and delivering babies

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Partial Transcript: So the next summer which, you, you say the hospital was dedicated in nineteen?

Segment Synopsis: Parton estimates how young he was when he first went to Wendover, Kentucky and the struggles of riding 22 miles through the mountains, streams, and quicksands to Wendover with Brooke Alexander. Parton describes the layout of Wendover and satellite nursing posts in Leslie County in 1929-1930, relations with the local population, and assisting in delivering a baby in the mother's home.

Keywords: Accent; Appalachian Mountains; Babies; Brooke Alexander; Couriers; Creeks; Delivery; Gender; Hazard (Ky.); Home; Horses; Hospitals; Houses; Joe Carter; Language; Leslie County (Ky.); Leslie County in the 1920s; Local people; Medicine; Midwives; Mountaineers; Nurses; Outposts; Posts; Roads; Rural medicine; Trains; Transportation; Water; Wendover (Ky.)

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Economic conditions; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Frontier Nursing Service, inc.--History; Kentucky--environmental conditions; Medicine, Rural

GPS: Wendover (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.1275, -83.365278
00:10:58 - Emergency courier run to retrieve rattlesnake serum / horses at Wendover

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Partial Transcript: On other occasions, uh, uh, we'd be sent--I remember once, uh, uh, we had a telephone...

Segment Synopsis: Parton describes an emergency call to retrieve serum for treating a man's rattlesnake bite at a hospital that had none and making the trip galloping on horseback. Parton also discusses the chores he and his friend Brooke Alexander had to perform to care for the horses, the names of the horses at Wendover, Kentucky, Mary Breckinridge on her horse "Teddy", and an accident that resulted in the attempted rescue and ultimate death of a horse.

Keywords: Appalachian Mountains; Brooke Alexander; Care; Communications; Creeks; Duties; Horses; Local people; Maps; Mary Breckinridge; Medical care; Medicine; Mountaineers; Mountains; Nurses; Outposts; Pastures; Posts; Rattlesnakes; Rivers; Roads; Skills; Telephones; Transportation; Trees

Subjects: Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.--History; Horses--Care; Horses--Care--History; Horses--Handling; Horses--Transportation; Medicine, Rural; Medicine--History; Transportation--Kentucky--History

GPS: Hyden (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.163333, -83.375
00:17:08 - Clifton Rodes Breckinridge, life at Wendover, and swimming in Appalachia

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Partial Transcript: Living at Wendover I think that first summer was Mrs. Breckinridge's uncle or father.

Segment Synopsis: Parton discusses his memory of Mary Breckinridge's father Clifton Rodes Breckinridge and some jobs he did or people he knew at Wendover, Kentucky. Parton recollects one incident when local boys harassed him and the other couriers while swimming, how the local boys could not swim, and witnessing a baptism in a creek. Parton also discusses how the region has changed in regards to a new highway and increased littering or advertising flyers on trees.

Keywords: Baptisms; Betty Lester; Brooke Alexander; Clifton Rodes Breckinridge; Creeks; Duties; Environment; Food; Houses; Hyden (Ky.); Local people; Mail; Mary Breckinridge; Mountaineers; Post masters; Post offices; Poverty; Religion; Roads; Social activities; Social life and customs; Swimming; TIME Magazine; Wendover (Ky.)

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Economic conditions; Appalachian Region--Religion; Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.--History; Kentucky--environmental conditions

00:22:20 - Recollections of Mary Breckinridge, relations with the local people, and daily life at the FNS

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Partial Transcript: We, uh--the various posts we would make the circuit every now and then.

Segment Synopsis: Parton talks more about his life as a courier working with Brooke Alexander, including his impressions of Mary Breckinridge, his relationship with the local people, the isolation of the area, and his journey back home to New York.

Keywords: Appearance; Brooke Alexander; Circuit; Clothing; Coal mines and mining; Coal mining; Couriers; Duties; Entertainment; Houses; Joe Carter; Land quality; Local people; Lost; Maps; Marvin Breckinridge Patterson; Mary Breckinridge; Mountaineers; Newspapers; Outposts; Personality; Recreation; Relationships; Social life and customs; Trains; Visitors

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Country life; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.--History; Rural conditions

00:30:04 - Couriers and gender / FNS cruise

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Partial Transcript: But, uh, it was, uh, it was in my memory that those two years as a marvelously rewarding experience.

Segment Synopsis: Parton talks about being one of the few male couriers for the FNS and why female couriers may have worked better for the organization. He talks about the FNS fundraising cruise he helped run.

Keywords: Assistant cruise directors; Brooke Alexander; College; Cruises; Currency; Economy; Female couriers; Fundraising; Generations; Girls; Kingston (Jamaica); Male couriers; Ships

Subjects: Benefactors; Charity; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Fund raising; Philanthropists

00:33:47 - Being on the Frontier Nursing Service board of trustees

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Partial Transcript: And uh, uh, then in nineteen seventy one or two he was already one of the board of governors and I was already at that point living in Chicago...

Segment Synopsis: Parton talks about some of the changes that have occurred in Leslie County over the years. He talks about his experience on the FNS board of trustees and why he resigned. He talks about the leadership of the FNS over the years. He talks about trying to get an article written about the FNS.

[Some minor audio distortion occurs throughout this segment.]

Keywords: Accomplishments; American Heritage Publishing Company; Board members; Books; Brooke Alexander; Changes; Coal mines; Coal veins; Connections; Contact; Cosmopolitan Club; Dr. Beasley; Dr. Halloway; Encyclopedia Britannica; Expansion; Fundraising; Gatherings; Helen Browne ("Brownie"); Highways; Hospitals; Journalism; Kate Ireland; Mary Breckinridge; Meetings; Men; Resignation; University of Kentucky; War; Wendover (Ky.); Women

Subjects: Benefactors; Charity; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Fund raising; Hospitals--Administration; Leslie County (Ky.); Medical centers--Administration; Philanthropists

00:42:49 - Changes at the FNS since Mary Breckinridge's death

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Partial Transcript: Although you haven't had direct contact since Mary Breckinridge's death in 1965, can you see some changes in the FNS?

Segment Synopsis: Parton talks about some of the changes that have occurred at the FNS and in the Leslie County area in general since Mrs. Breckinridge's death, including the influence of television and other media.

[Some minor audio distortion occurs throughout this segment.]

Keywords: Attitudes; Cars; Changes; Diversified; Government programs; Grants; Impersonal; Influence; Inner city; Local people; Media; Television; Young people

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Leslie County (Ky.); Medical care--Appalachian Region; Medical centers--Administration

00:46:53 - FNS funding / gender and the FNS

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Partial Transcript: I frankly haven't kept track of the--or tried to keep track of the, of the budget or the funding.

Segment Synopsis: Parton talks about fundraisers and contributions from various foundations for the FNS as well as other organizations he has been involved with. He talks about women's roles in the FNS as well as in higher education and the business world. He talks about Mrs. Breckinridge's hopes for the FNS committees. The interview concludes abruptly.

[Some minor audio distortion occurs throughout this segment.]

Keywords: Avon (publisher); Board of trustees; Casey Murrow; Co-educational; Committees; Connections; Contributions; Courier conclaves; Couriers; Cruises; Dr. Beasley; Edward Murrow; Foundations; Funding; Fundraisers; Fundraising; Generations; Harvard University; Involvement; Janet Murrow; Leadership; Secondary education; Women; Working together; Young people

Subjects: Benefactors; Charity; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Fund raising; Gender; Hospitals--Administration; Leslie County (Ky.); Medical centers--Administration; Philanthropists; Sex role