My Aunt Martha Glenn had pizzazz. I'm sure those big, dark eyes gained plenty of notice. My 10th grade English teacher at Bellefonte High School (1965-66) was Betty Jane Lockington, BHS alumna and Penn State grad, Class of 1922. She approached me after class one day and asked if I happened to be related to the Glenn girls from Curtin. Delighted to learn that one of her good high school friends was my aunt, Miss Lockington sighed and said, "Oh, that Martha, she was really something."
Something, indeed. After high school, Aunt Martha attended Jefferson Nursing School in Philadelphia, about fifty years before I entered Jefferson Medical College. Can you imagine a young girl from Curtin getting on the train and ending up in Center City Philadelphia? Even as a guy going to Philadelphia after studying at Penn State, when I first arrived there I was completely out of my element and downright fearful of street crime.
In 1918, Jefferson Nursing School was ranked number one in the first official listing of approved nursing schools in Pennsylvania. It was a tough curriculum, and including classes, laboratories, and clinical practicum, 14-hour days were the norm. Hard work would certainly not have bothered Martha, and she must have had a good record there. She was accepted into nurse-anesthetist training in Cleveland. From there, she headed to the Big Apple, where she spent her entire career and the remainder of her life, the last few months excepted.
At least two of her younger sisters and a niece lived with her in New York for a time while attending Katharine Gibbs Secretarial College. According to Wikipedia, female empowerment was the philosophical underpinning of the school, and in that era, the founder felt that acquiring advanced secretarial skills created a pathway to a career for a young woman. It was quite the place to go.
Family legend has it that New York City has never been the same since the arrival of the girls from Curtin. They all quite enjoyed the social life in the big city -- perhaps most of all Martha, who never married, but enjoyed the attention of more than a few gentlemen. Both visiting sisters found husbands. One went with her man across the Pacific to live in Hong Kong. The other, following a bumpy start, realized the right one for her was a musician. After traveling with a band for a time, he and she settled in Kansas.
Sadly, Martha developed advanced breast cancer in the late 50s. As the end of life approached, she put her affairs in order and returned to her mother's care in Mount Eagle. She died there in June, 1959, one month after another sister had died of melanoma. Rebecca, Jeremiah, Baby Mary Alice, Martha, and Jack are all buried in Eagle Cemetery at Curtin. Helen is buried in Schenck's Cemetery, Howard.
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Jerry is a retired general surgeon and a new Board Member of the Roland Curtin Foundation. He has Curtin roots extending back to 1831, through four previous generations.