Friday, December 25, 2009

Nurse Romance Stories: All True Romance 14 - Go Ask Alice! Even Drug-Addicted Nurses Can Reform!

All True Romance 14 (November 1953, published by Comic Media) is a sought-after issue because of its doubly desirable nurse and marijuana combo story "Dread Past". Young Alice Cagen was led astray by bad association, as "every night, the prim little nurse in the white uniform became transformed into a wild-eyed, frenzied dope addict!", stealing morphine from the hospital to add to the marijuana procured by her dubious boyfriend, Jack Dillon. The story starts near the end, followed by a two-page flashback covering Alice's sordid earlier life, brought about by her finding herself as Jack's anesthetist when he's brought into the hospital bleeding internally after being shot while trying to escape the law.

Alice and Jack end up getting busted along with their dope fiend buddies. While Jack goes down for two years, Alice gets a year and emerges from prison a reformed woman, ready for a fresh start.

Alice moves to a new area and gets work in a hospital experiencing a nursing shortage (certainly true to life there), where she and the doctor in charge soon fall in love with each other, he proposes, and she says "Yes", despite the nagging worry over what he'd say if he knew about her troubled past. Alice gets promoted to anesthetist, and things are going well until the cops bring in the wounded Jack Dillon, and Alice is faced with the possibility that Jack will expose the truth about her, and she'll lose the doctor she's about to marry.

Alice has the power of life and death in her hands as she administers the anesthetic to Jack, and succumbs to the temptation to take the easy way out and give him just a little too much ether and silence him forever. But at the crucial moment her conscience wins out, and she withdraws from her plan to kill Jack only to see him die on the operating table. Feeling intense guilt, Alice runs away, but Dr. Mark Gibson gets to the railroad station just in time to prevent her flight. She comes clean about her past, and about her thoughts of murdering Jack, but Mark explains that Jack was already dying when he came into the hospital, his internal bleeding leading to his final death, nothing to do with ether. Mark absorbs and adjusts to this new information about his fiancee rapidly, and the wedding is still on! It all goes to prove that the reformatory powers of our criminal justice system can even help those weak-willed nurses with their hands in the medicine cabinet, and doctors are above the petty stigmatizing that the rest of us mortals in society sink to when we discover someone has a criminal record.


  1. wOW! Thanks for posting this gem. It blows my mind to see a comic book story of a nurse abusing Morphine and mary-jane,( not to mention contemplating murder ) in the prudish 1950's. Such a story would have been difficult at best to print in the free-wheeling 1970's when society was much more permisive.... paradoxical,.... no?

  2. Mitchell: I see what you mean about the paradox. Remember Stan Lee had to publish the Spider-man drugs issues without Comics Code approval, even though he'd been requested by political authorities to address the drug problem!? It also looks like comics weren't all prudish in the early 50s, hence old Wertham's crusade.