Norwalk Hospital Seeks Memories, Memorabilia

No one alive today remembers a time without Norwalk Hospital.

Founded 125 years ago, it’s been an integral part of the birth, life and death of countless area residents.

Norwalk Hospital then …

Now — in honor of its quasquicentennial — the hospital hopes people remember what it’s meant to them.

They invite community members, staff and retirees to share memories and photos of Norwalk Hospital over the years. They’ll be displayed on its website, and posted on social media. Click here to complete the form.

They’re also gathering historical items — memorabilia, photos, newspaper clippings, etc. — for display in the hospital archives. Email maura.romaine@wchn.org for more information.

Be creative! Though I’m sure they’re not looking for your old hospital bracelet.

Or your tonsils or appendix.

… and now.

8 responses to “Norwalk Hospital Seeks Memories, Memorabilia

  1. Jack Backiel

    My sister-in-law worked at Norwalk Hospital for 42 years, and retired about five years ago. I’ll pass this posting along to her. Also, in Dan’s posting, he made history. This is the first time he came up with a word that has 17 letters!

    • I had to look it up.

    • Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

      and it has two “Q’s”. Probably a good one to know if you play scrabble.
      On a serious note I have some newspaper articles about Norwalk Hospital and memories to share. I will do both later.

  2. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I was born in Norwalk Hospital in 1952 (there’s a brass plaque in the lobby to prove it) I had my tonsils out when I was nine. I had my appendix out when I was twelve. My single Mom paid cash both times. Nothing against Norwalk Hospital but I’d like to see someone try that today.

  3. Linda (Pomerantz) Novis

    Agree with Eric,here- In December,1960,my dad (Frank Pomerantz) had major heart attack at 37.(He then a 3-pack a day smoker, working in ad agencies,NYC) At that time, as many other hospitals, they kept people in bed for weeks after heart attacks;my dad stayed in Norwalk Hospital until April,1961, when he finally came home.
    Dad always spoke highly of Norwalk Hospital (and of his (amazing)
    Dr.Thomas Bucky,of Weston, whom -after Dad first came out of surgery- then
    ‘ordered’ Dad ‘
    quit smoking or else ‘look for another dr.’.
    Dad then quit cold-turkey with the cigarettes!-he then lived another 50 wonderful years..:-)

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      The two surgeries I had would probably be forced to outpatient procedures today and the cost would be astronomic.We may have the best healthcare system in the world but no one can afford it because its become a cash cow for Insurance companies, drug companies and lawyers. As always, we pay for it.

  4. Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

    I tried to post on the Norwalk Hospital site but because it was a very old yellowed Newspaper article with out a picture it just did not show well enough. So, in case someone from the hospital is monitoring or interested I’ll share a brief version here.
    In 1960 Gertrude Hotchkiss Heyn was living in Owenoke. In fact she had lived there for many years although. She traveled to Europe every year visiting Germany, her husband’s original home. In 1960, while on vacation there she died. I have two clippings from unknown newspapers about her donation to the Norwalk Hospital. The first is dated October 6, 1960 and reads: “Conn. Hospital Willed Conditional 2 Million”
    Special to World-Telegram and Sun.
    Westport , Conn., Oct. 6,-”
    “Norwalk Hospital today was named beneficiary in a $2 million estate on condition it does not become involved in socialized medicine.”
    “The stipulation is contained in the will of the late Mrs. Gertrude Hotchkiss Heyn, filed in probate court. Mrs. Heyn died last August.”
    “The will says the hospital must not be ” controlled wholly or in part by the state or federal government in pursuant of a general scheme of socialized medicine or socialized hospital service.” Should the hospital fail to abide by the terms, the money is to go to an institution for the blind.”

    I also have a copy of another newspaper article. It is not dated and the name of newspaper has not been preserved. The headline:
    “Norwalk Hospital to Benefit From Westport Woman’s Estate.”
    “The Norwalk Hospital has been bequeathed 44 percent of a remainder interest , in various trusts, created by the will of Mrs. Gertrude Hotchkiss Heyn of Owenoke park, Westport, who died Aug. 19. The estate is reported to be in the millions of dollars.”
    The article goes on to name other beneficiaries of her will. Because the last line reads: “Mrs. Heyn was the widow of Roman Heyn, an executive of the Hotchkiss Company here.” I suspect that it was published in the Norwalk Hour.
    The article incorrectly reports that Mrs. Heyn lived in Europe. I know that to be incorrect as she was a friend of my Grandmothers and I personally knew her and visited in her Owenoke home when I was young. She did however die in Europe.

    While I am taking up so much space here I’ll include my memory of accompanying my mother to the hospital to volunteer by rolling bandages.
    I don’t remember the year but most likely it was before 1955. I was in Bedford Jr. High and had attended Bedford Elementary. While I was with my mother Lucy Bedford Cunningham was volunteering at the hospital and stopped by. I was so impressed to meet, in my young eyes, the person my school was named after. Mrs. Cunningham was so kind to everyone thanking them for their volunteer efforts.

  5. Bonnie Bradley

    Memories of Norwalk Hospital – the Sixties.

    I gave birth to three babies, in 1961, 1965, 1969, in Norwalk Hospital.

    There was no opportunity to visit the hospital, nor any information from anyone on what to expect when I gave birth – except that when we arrived at the hospital my husband was to drop me off at the Emergency entrance and that, no, under no circumstances could he come into the hospital with me. “Go home and wait” they said.

    I was taken to a small dark room with raw cement walls and one tiny window, told that the bathroom was at the end of a long hallway – more unpainted cement walls. After a cursory examination I was supsequently left entirely alone for hours in this dark room, with a perfunctory look-in by a nurse occasionally. I was not offered so much as a glass of water. I saw the first cockroaches in my life in the bathroom.

    At each of the three births my newborn baby was held up in front of me to see and then taken immediately to the nursery. I never got to touch or bond to my baby, skin to skin. After delivery I was taken to my room. I was told that my doctor had telephoned my husband to give him the news.

    In those days mother and baby stayed in the hospital for five days. The babies stayed in the nursery and the mother in her room. The baby was brought to the mother a couple of times during the day to be bottle fed. When I wanted to breast feed my baby (unheard of in the day!) it caused a commotion, especially with the nurses. They were strongly opposed – obviously because these were “their” babies for the five days of our confinement. When they brought my baby to me the first time the nurse said, with a sneer, “Are you the one who is nursing?” (The cultural term then.) She dropped the baby in my lap and walked out. I was persona non grata from then on. Luckily, my baby and I knew just what to do. 😌

    But, sadly, this complete absence of care and compassion, the lack of physical bonding and inability to hold and be with any of my babies for the first precious hours of our life marked us all…
    Yes, I know everything is different now, better, but where was the simple humanity then?