[Stanley Meisler's first published article]
It took 22 years, but I finally got up enough nerve to let a pretty nurse, Mary Jane Bishop of Cincinnati, draw one whole pint of dark RED blood from a bulging BLUE vein in my pale WHITE arm.
Officials of the Red Cross and the American Legion trapped me yesterday during the first day of the bloodmobile's current visit to Middletown.
I was snooping around the Legion Home on a routine check of Red Cross business when Mrs. Charles Fay, scheduling chairman, suggested a tour of the bloodmobile operation.
I sensed immediately that all along the line, nurses and volunteers were going to hint strongly that I ought to donate blood.
I couldn't give blood, I told myself, because I had high blood pressure, too much weight, weak knees, rapid pulse, sweating palms, low blood pressure, slow pulse, too little weight, and chicken pox anti-bodies. I was also somewhat frightened.
Then my guide, Mrs. Fay, left, and in her place was Joyce "Boots" Weatherwax, office secretary of American Legion Post 218. She looked like the kind of girl for whom it would be hard to refuse anything.
Volunteers at the desk asked again about that donation.
"I'm from The Journal," I said weakly.
"Don't members of the Journal staff have blood?" someone asked.
I walked quickly out of the room, followed by Boots.
At every station, people asked if I intended to give blood. When told I was from The Journal, they only smiled.
Then Boots said sweetly: "Why don't you give blood yourself? Then you'll really understand the operation."
I started to grab for all my stored up excuses. But they were racing around inside my head, and all I found was a twisting mass of nothing.
"All right," I heard someone say. But I didn't really mean it. I watched myself walk over to a desk and sign a pint of my blood away.
Inwardly I hoped to be rejected. I would then have all the honor of a blood donor and none of the pain that I was certain is in store for anyone who foolishly trades away a pint of his own blood for a cute, red pin.
But two nurses quickly found that temperature, pulse, weight and blood pressure, if not normal, were at least suitable and I was led behind a curtain.
"Don't go away," I said to Boots. She didn't.
I was asked to lie down, and the red-haired Miss Bishop asked if I was allergic to alcohol.
"I don't know," I said, "I never drink."
The nurse rubbed alcohol and iodine on my forearm. I was given a metal bar to squeeze. A bottle was placed nearby, and rubber tubing was wrapped around my arm. I felt a dull pressure, and I waited.
When are they going to take my blood? I wondered.
"Well?" I asked.
"Oh you're doing fine," the nurse said. "The blood's flowing nicely."
Soon red foam hit the top of the bottle, and I was less a pint but plus a Red Cross donor pin.
I was led to the canteen, where I gobbled up some free food and drink. Then I said good-bye.
Later, two gallon-donors spoke to me. Ed Fitzwater, 30, of 19 McKinley St., a worker for Barkelew Electric, said, "I'm proud to give. I'm not only helping others, but I'm helping myself. I spent three years in the South Pacific and we needed blood then; I know we need blood now. And there's no pain. I don't even feel the needle. Do you?"
"No, of course not," I said, veteran-like.
Mrs. William Call, 50, of 411 Moore Street, the other gallon donor, told me, "I feel just fine. There are no ill effects, and there never have been. When you give seven more you'll really have a good feeling."
I guess I will.
And take it from Mr. Fitzwater, Mrs. Call and me, it doesn't hurt a bit. We know. The three of us have already given a total of two gallons and a pint of blood.