Tiny Pineapple

ananas comosus (L.) minimus

Cherry Ames, Boarding School Nurse

by Helen Wells (1955)
Cherry Ames, Boarding School Nurse

Cherry wished the train would go faster. She was still out of breath from running for it. She pressed her cheek against the window to admire the green fields and fertile farms through which the local train poked along. Cherry’s mother, who knew the headmistress of the Jamestown School for Girls from their own school days, had warned her that the school was deep in the country. Fortunately, it was not too far from Hilton, Illinois, which meant that she would be able to spend all school holiday vacations at home.

As the boarding school nurse, she would have full charge of the school infirmary. It would be fun to work with young people and a refreshing change from her last job — an unexpectedly thrilling assignment as nurse to a country doctor — something new, something different. If there was anything Cherry enjoyed, it was meeting new people. She was glad that she was a nurse because nursing, in its many branches, provided an Open sesame to new and exciting experiences — and because more importantly, a nurse can help to alleviate human suffering. She remembered what her twin brother Charlie had said jokingly when he put her on this train in Hilton:

“Don’t set this boarding school on its ear. Wherever you go, twin, you make things happen, but you bring doggoned good nursing too.”

It gave Cherry a good, warm feeling to know that her pilot brother, and her parents, too, were proud of her. They had made that clear during this past week, when they’d had such a satisfying family reunion, in their big, old-fashioned house. The week’s rest had left Cherry’s cheeks glowing rose-red and her black eyes sparkling. Even her jet-black curls shone with extra good health. She felt fully ready to tackle her new job.

Cherry Ames, Chief Nurse

by Helen Wells (1944)
Cherry Ames, Chief Nurse

Cherry Ames stood under a palm tree somewhere in the Pacific, the day after Christmas. The officer who had just helped her off the plane said, “Stay here in the shade. Now if you will please excuse me for a minute — ” and walked away. Cherry watched him go and squinted through the heat haze at the parked Army bomber which had brought her here this afternoon. “Of all places for me to be spending Christmas!” she thought. “I’ve crossed the international date line and lost a day, so I’ll count today Christmas. But of all the un-Christmas-y places! I’ve read about romantic tropic isles, but I never thought I’d get to one this way!”

She pulled down the trim jacket of her nurse’s olive drab uniform, and set the jaunty cap more firmly on her black curls. Cherry’s eyes were black too, large and sparkling, thoughtful but full of fun — brilliant red cheeks and lips and a warmhearted smile lived up to the lively promise of those eyes. She knew perfectly well, of course, that a nurse, and especially an Army nurse, can, in the course of duty, nonchalantly pop up in any corner of the world. “But I wish,” she thought, “that someone would kindly tell me what I’m here for!”

Cherry Ames, Clinic Nurse

by Julie Tatham (1951)
Cherry Ames, Clinic Nurse

Cherry walked slowly through the residential section of her little Illinois home town. It was a hot June morning and she hoped that her stiffly starched white uniform wouldn’t wilt before she reached the clinic. In two more days it would be July and then Charlie would be home, too.

Cherry’s twin brother, who was as blond as she was dark, was a student at State Engineering College. He planned to spend the summer working as counselor at Bluewater Boys’ Camp, thirty miles from Hilton. In Cherry’s handbag was a letter from Charlie saying:

“I’m glad you invested your life savings in that jalopy you call Bouncing Bess, Sis. We’ll need it all during July and August. I’m counting on you to pick me up at camp every Saturday afternoon, and to drive me back every Sunday evening. Can you believe it? Week ends at home together! I’ll probably have college on Friday, the first, but may get away sooner. Depends on final exams. My love to the folks, always including, of course, Dr. Joe and his zany daughter, Midge.”

Bouncing Bess was a battered little red convertible which Cherry had bought recently just so she and Charlie could have fun that summer. their father, who was in the real-estate business, used the family car all day long on summer week ends, driving prospective clients around the countryside.

Cherry pushed her black curls away from her damp forehead and almost wished that she had decided to drive to work instead of walking. But the new Group Medical Practice Clinic was only a few blocks from the Ameses’ little gray house. And Cherry, who had been away from home almost constantly ever since she had left it to enter Spencer Hospital’s Nursing School, was still thrilled by all the familiar sights and sounds and smells.

Cherry Ames, Cruise Nurse

by Helen Wells (1948)
Cherry Ames, Cruise Nurse

Cherry opened one dark-brown eye and closed it again quickly. Shivering, she pulled the covers up until her black curls were hidden beneath the thick, crazy-quilt comforter.

Cherry Ames, Department Store Nurse

by Helen Wells (1956)
Cherry Ames, Department Store Nurse

“This,” said Cherry, “is pretty wonderful!” She beamed at the others around the festive table with its autumn fruits and flowers. Her family beamed back at her. “For once all four Ameses are together, and isn’t it nice?”

“I feel a little selfish, not asking some of the relatives for Thanksgiving dinner,” Mrs. Ames remarked.

“Just us is fine,” said Charlie. “Besides, that leaves us more turkey.”

Mr. Ames, who could carve only when standing up, muttered that it was about times Charlie took over this chore. But when Charlie obligingly stood up to help, their father said, “Never mind, thanks. No chores for either of you kids when you’re only home for the holiday.”

“I won’t make any speeches about what it’s worth to me to be here today,” Cherry said. “Even for a few days’ leave.”

She had flown to Hilton, Illinois, from New York and this evening she would have to fly back again. If her old friend Ann Evans hadn’t had family matters to tend to, she might be able to stay at home longer. On the other hand, if Ann Evans Powell hadn’t needed someone in a hurry to substitute for her, Cherry would never have secured the nursing job in a New York department store, two weeks ago. And it was a fascinating job.