Saturday, March 12, 2011

Working 9-5

March 12 - Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation

Nurse Nellie

Ellen "Nell" (Johnstone) Borgreen graduated from the Columbus Hospital School of Nursing in 1933 at the age of 21. .She worked for two years in the office of Dr. C.H. Peterson, of Great Falls, before marrying Carl Borgreen in 1935. Nell then spent the next 24 years as a wife, mother and homemake. 

When Carl died suddenly and tragically
in 1959 at the age of 53, Nell was forced to return to nursing as a way to support her family. She spent the next many years working at Park Place and Cascade County Convalescent Hospital. 

I remember going to work with Grandma when I was little. I enjoyed the residents, but I remember hating the hospital smell. Grandma always had fun with her patients. She was ballsy and brash and I think they all loved her for it. She always had stories to tell from work. I'll share a couple here.

One day she heard someone talking in the closet. When she opened the door an elderly lady yelled "I'm not done yet!" The poor woman thought she was in confession. How did she get in the closet in the first place? Another resident got tired of listening to her talk and pushed her wheelchair into the closet to "shut her up."

There was one lady who always had to be busy. She constantly needed something to keep her occupied. Grandma got some hand towels from the laundry and asked the lady to please help her fold them. Just as she was folding the last one, Grandma "accidentally" knocked the pile over and she had to start again. The lady happily folded towels all afternoon.

As a single mother, Nell had to deal with latch key children. She had instructed the boys not to watch TV while she was at work. They promised that they wouldn't. But as soon as she got home, she put her hand on top of the TV and felt that it was still warm. Not to be outdone, she took a pair of scissors and cut the "damn cord" off the TV. Well the next day the boys just rewired it, and watched TV all day. I don't remember how this story ended. I was usually too busy laughing at the thought of her cutting the cord and them wiring it back on again.

There are many more Nell stories, but I can't do them justice here. No one can tell them the way she did.


  1. What a wonderful story! I love the photo you have with it too!

  2. What a wonderful lady! I love that photo of her.