The Light In the Window by June Goulding

The Light In the Window by June Goulding

Author:June Goulding [June Goulding]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Ebury Publishing



THE DAYS OF January flew and already there was a great stretch in the evenings. There were several girls admitted and delivered and I was getting more and more used to the routine. At this stage, I was buying ten Players each time I went into the city. There were two girls who used to call to my sitting-room on their way to bed when they saw the light on. They knew that Sister was safely over in the convent and Colette was busy downstairs with the mothers and the babies in the night nursery.

They smoked their cigarette down to the butt and after they had gone I used to open the sitting-room window to dispel the smoke. This was their only chance of a normal conversation since their incarceration in the Home.

One morning, when all the babies were bathed and Sister and I were in the office, an ambulance arrived with a mother and a premature baby boy of four and a half pounds. The mother had stitches on her scalp – about sixteen in all – right across the top of her head which had been shaved.

Sister had a copy of the daily paper, which reported that a woman had been attacked in her hair-dressing salon in Tuckey Street a few nights previously.

She survived and gave birth in the South Infirmary and then was transferred with her tiny son to the Home.

This was Maureen. She was twenty-seven years old and an epileptic. After this assault her fits became more prevalent and prolonged. She was in an awful state of shock and humiliation and cried continuously. I had the most tremendous pity for her as the daily papers were full of the sordid details in 1952.

Maureen’s baby son was very underweight and was the only newborn baby that was bottle-fed. Whether this was due to the traumatic circumstances of his birth and the fact that his mother had been beaten unconscious, I will never know. Sister told me to bottle-feed Baby Gerard every three hours. Maureen, who had lost a lot of blood before she had been found, had gone into shock and could not bear to even look at the baby.

All the local newspapers were giving the Tuckey Street case a lot of coverage. It was common knowledge around the city that the mother and child were in the Home. After Maureen had been there for ten days, she was visited by the doctor attached to the Home. I only saw him once going into the mother’s ward and Sister was with him. He stood at the door and Sister nodded toward the bed where Maureen was. She was lying down, very pale and fragile-looking. The doctor turned on his heel and I was horrified to hear him say to Sister, “She is a whore.”

I do not think I had ever heard that word before. I certainly had never heard a doctor calling any of his patients such a thing. I do not think that Maureen heard him.


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