Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nurse Romance Stories: True War Romances 6 - "My Forgotten Mistake"

With a cover date of March 1953, Quality Comics True War Romances 6 features a nurse cover story "My Forgotten Mistake."18-year old office worker Lucy is in love with Jack Foster, who seems not to notice her at all. Lucy surmises it must be her girlish appearance. After all, everyone at the office calls her 'Angelface' because of it. So when the office workers decide to throw a party in honor of Jack leaving to join the forces, Lucy decides its time to demonstrate that she's really a woman. She 'tarts' herself up with a revealing dress and is instantly noticed by every male as she walks in. Instead of dancing with Jack, however, she uses the attention given her by Carl when his animal instincts are activated upon the sight of Lucy's shapely form, to make Jack jealous. Due to her inexperience, however, the effect on Jack is not quite what she intended. Jack is quite disgusted by her brazen display, which shatters the image Jack had of Lucy. He had previously been attracted to her, but restrained himself because he knew he would be going into the forces, and didn't want to start something he couldn't follow through with if he was killed in action. Lucy sees the truth too late to prevent Jack leaving with a very revised view of Lucy as a person, one that is no longer desirable. So this is Lucy's mistake, the kind a young person can make and which can potentially ruin what might otherwise have been a wonderful life. In an attempt to move on with her life, Lucy goes back to school and qualifies as a nurse two years later.
Lucy gets a job in an army hospital, where a wounded soldier takes a fancy to her, but Lucy still has no interest in any man except for Jack Foster, who by some cosmic coincidence, turns up as a patient at the very same hospital. However, he no longer recognizes or remembers Lucy, or anything from his past. He's suffering from amnesia as a result of a wound. When the doctor finds out Lucy knows Jack, he assigns her the task of helping him regain his memory, so she takes him to his former workplace. But nothing stirs, except for Lucy's anxiety. Jack finds Lucy attractive, but the irony is, if she succeeds in helping him remember his past, he'll recall his impression of her as a shameless flirt.
Lucy has matured in the two years since she last knew Jack, and also possesses a dedication to her work as a nurse. Her sense of obligation to the well-being of her patient over-rides her desire for Jack not to remember her in a negative light, and so she arranges a re-enactment of that very same office party held before Jack left to go to war. The scheme works, and Lucy exits rather than go through that rejection by Jack all over again. Back at the hospital she thinks she's alone when expressing her anguish out loud, but Jack followed her there after the office gang told him how she sacrificed her chance with him so that he would be well again. Jack realizes what a prize chump he's been and declares his love for Lucy. Thank goodness for that! She's a good person and finally got the break she deserved. She's a good nurse too, and she might not have become one had it not been for that 'mistake' two years earlier. And then she wouldn't have been at the hospital to help Jack regain his memory! Fate seems to have planned it that way!
The image of the nurse here is something good and pure, a step up above the ordinary. Lucy is a version of the self-sacrificing angel, who puts her patient's well-being before her own. She made an innocent mistake as a girl, but did something good to make amends, even though she was not guilty of real wrongdoing. As a nurse, her life was free of reproachful actions - those belonged to her pre-nurse past. Overall a positive image of nurses and of the reformatory and uplifting power of nursing on the individual who becomes a nurse. The story also suggests success in romance associated with becoming a nurse, with the nurse likely to be the object of the romantic attentions of male patients, particularly those in the military. This is the between-the-lines stuff that's not mentioned in the nursing recruitment ads that often accompany nurse romance stories in comics. That suggests to me that the nursing profession was not only paying for their ads to be put in romance comics, but part of the deal was that there was a nice nurse romance story in the book as well, one that said things that the nursing ad couldn't really say directly. I mean, how would it look if the nurse ad said, "Become a nurse and you're sure to get a handsome hunk ask you to marry him!" The romance story can say that in so many words and pictures without stating it directly.


  1. I really enjoyed this post, KB! Do you have any of those nurse ads that were in the issues? I would love to see them!

  2. Jacque: I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I liked the story myself. It was a little different from the usual.

    There was a nurse ad in the next story I looked at - see my next post. I'm including the nurse ads in my study for the book chapter as they form part of the overall image that the comics are presenting of nurses.

    Incidentally, who do you think the artist is on this story? Could it be Ann Brewster? What do you think? I was reading Trina Robbins' book the other day, the page where she shows a selection of women drawn by Ann Brewster all looking the same, and the blond protagonist in this story does look similar.