Meeting Nurse Ratched Near Pescadero Creek
Story by Russell Towle
Email Russell ([email protected])
So far as Pescadero, I lived miles on up the creek for about a year, in, I think, 1977-78. I would go down to town once in a while but can’t say I ever became a local. I remember the little roadhouse thing at Gazos. I love the old stage road running along inland through all that area. The widely-spaced old ranches. I have some stories, there was a man in one of those old ranches, thin as a rail and ninety years old, who used to be a State mountain lon trapper/hunter. He had some great stories. Then it so happened that, where I was on Pescadero Creek, well, right across the creek lived a couple, and the woman was a nurse at the psychiatric ward of the Veteran’s Hospital in Palo Alto, and she had been there a long time, and she remembered Kesey, and long story short, she was Big Nurse! One day in 1977 we had a party she attended, she had a glass or three of wine, and totally bent my ear with stories about Kesey at the hospital. She would raise her voice into a kind of shriek to better illustrate how she talked to young Kesey, young Kesey with his little notebook, jotting thingsdown: “Mr. Kesey!!! You may think you are some kind of writer, Mr. Kesey!!! You may think you are some kind of artist, Mr. Kesey!!! But you are an orderly in a psychiatric ward, Mr. Kesey! There is work to do, Mr. Kesey!! Do you see that old man, over there, carrying his laundry? Do you? Help him, Mr. Kesey!! Help him!!”
And more of that ilk.