by Douglas Imbrogno, Assistant Lifestyles Editor
People talked, he listened and recorded — and learned.
One woman recounted how she’d come to Charleston to join the nursing staff at St. Francis Hospital in 1951.
“Just a few weeks after she arrived in Charleston, most of the nurses at St. Francis walked out,” Douglas said.
To be specific, 23 white nurses walked out when the hospital refused to fire three recently hired black nurses.
The woman recounted for Douglas how she and other area nurses were quickly recruited hither and yon to “work the floor” when nurses who walked out were fired or quit.
“I grew up in Charleston — this is a story I’d never heard about in my life,” said Douglas, who continued to learn more about the area as he collected more oral histories.
“It was really eye-opening and interesting for me to hear some of these stories,” he said.
Douglas will share excerpts from 29 oral histories collected last June at “Memories of the Valley: FestivALL Oral Histories,” from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the West Virginia State University Economic Development Center, 1506 Kanawha Blvd. West, on Charleston’s West Side.
The compilation of excerpts is 30 minutes long, but will run in a loop during the event on video screens at the EDC, along with snapshots Douglas took of each person he interviewed. Because the histories are on a loop, spectators can show up anytime between 7 and 9 p.m. to hear them, he said.