© 2023 WVIK
Listen at 90.3 FM and 98.3 FM in the Quad Cities, 95.9 FM in Dubuque, or on the WVIK app!
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Marguerite Brooks

This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

Miss Marguerite Brooks was fortunate to have been seven years old in 1903. Not many Moline doctors nowadays would give a young girl a jar of ether as a gift.

Marguerite had come to Moline Public Hospital to visit her father, August, whose leg had been amputated to help fight a stubborn infection. The doctor who stopped in to check on August was so impressed by the daughter's spirit that he gave a tour of the entire hospital: the crisp, white uniforms of the nurses and doctors hurrying along the hallways, the surgical masks, the rows of rooms, each with its own number. How impressive it all was—a different world.

But the small jar of ether the doctor gave her at the end was the real hit. Marguerite loved the smell.

It was a smell she never forgot. Even though she graduated from high school as an accomplished pianist, organist, and harpist, the hospital sights and smells drew her to the St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago, to Cook County Hospital, and Minneapolis, and eventually, in 1930, back to the Moline Public Hospital she had visited as a child.

She was the right person at the right time. Moline Public needed her quiet solid vision of what the hospital could become. Within three years she was administrator of the entire hospital, in spite of those who felt it was too much of a job for a woman, and others worried about her being a Catholic who would likely put statues in every hallway.

By 1946, Miss Brooks had made Moline Public self-supporting for the first time. She had expanded the school of nursing with programs in X-ray technology and operating room techniques. The hospital grew from a hundred rooms to 275 in sixteen new structures. She added eighteen new departments in the health care field, as well as a trauma center.

Miss Brooks retired in 1977 after 47 years of service to her community. She returned a few years later to help dedicate the Marguerite N. Brooks Learning Resource Center and Laboratory. Aside from Miss Brooks herself, very few of the dignitaries present at the celebration were aware of what an excellent investment a jar of ether had been.

Rock Island Lines is supported by grants from the Illinois Humanities Council, the Illinois Arts Council—a state agency—and by Augustana College, Rock Island.

Beginning 1995, historian and folklorist Dr. Roald Tweet spun his stories of the Mississippi Valley to a devoted audience on WVIK. Dr. Tweet published three books as well as numerous literary articles and recorded segments of "Rock Island Lines." His inspiration was that "kidney-shaped limestone island plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River," a logical site for a storyteller like Dr. Tweet.