Ordway Elf Brings Holiday Cheer, Reflects on Time at Gillette

Posted On: Dec 19, 2012

With snow on the ground and holiday jingles in the air, everyone’s in a festive mood here at Gillette this week. So are our friends at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, who today surprised patients with Elf Kits hand-delivered by a real-life Ordway “Elf,” Carol Peterson.

The visit to Gillette was especially meaningful for Peterson, a longtime Ordway usher. She worked at a Nurse Aide at Gillette decades ago, and found the experience to be among the most moving of her life. We asked Peterson to reminisce about her time at Gillette in the early 1960s, when the hospital was located on the shores of St. Paul’s Lake Phalen.

Tell us more about your job:
I worked the 3:00 – 11:00 PM shift. The most rewarding times were drying the children’s little tears, getting them all dressed up for the Friday Night Movie (a favorite tradition!) and tucking them into bed at night, listening to them chatter before they fell asleep.  The sweet stories are flooding my mind this very minute.

Why was working at Gillette such a memorable life experience?
The staff was fantastic – most of the staff nurses were former WWII Army nurses. The nurses were totally dedicated to helping these children.  The children gave back much more love than I ever gave to them, and I loved them all so very much.  I enjoyed caring for the children, tending to their needs, and getting to know their personalities.

What is your favorite memory of Gillette?
I have many favorite memories! One little boy, who had surgery often to fix his webbed fingers and toes, would greet me every day when I came to work. About ten years ago, I saw him at the Minnesota State Fair, working as a stable lad for one of the best horse stables in the area. I was so proud to see him!

What led you to the Ordway?
I began working at The Ordway in 2002 as an usher, and now I also work in ticket services. It’s a super place to work and share live music and dance with people of all ages.