By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Pauline Garlen is one of those folks who didn’t start out in the South, but is forever glad she finally got here and lived the majority of her life here. She was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, January 28, 1936, right in the middle of the Great Depression, and her father worked in the coal mines. As was often the case in those days, everyone in the family did what they could to contribute to help the family, and Pauline worked at the local “5&10.” Yes, for those of you who might wonder why in the world they were called that, it really was true that there were many, many things you could purchase for a nickel or a dime. And, Pauline would like you to know that there was a time that she seriously considered becoming a nun!
However, when Pauline was around 20, she met and married Johnny Lee Garlen, on the 28th of May, 1956. Johnny was from here, and here is where they lived. They had two children, John Edward and Kathleen Romane, and they found a way to make it work. “I was Catholic,” she told me, “and Johnny wasn’t.” Johnny’s mom taught Pauline how to pick cotton, as well as a number of other things, and they were happy.
Much later in life she worked for several years for Dr. Nauman Quereshi here in Athens, and he encouraged her to go to nursing school. She went to Calhoun, got her degree, and credits Dr. Q for encouraging her to become all she could.
Pauline has several favorites, and one of them was to bake and decorate chocolate chip cakes. That began back when she lived up North, and her reputation grew as someone who could make la pièce de résistance when it came to some child’s birthday.
Her favorite food to eat? Fried chicken.
Her favorite color? Red
Her favorite actor? Clark Gable
Her favorite actress? Betty Grable. We talked about the fact that Miss Grable’s legs were insured for nearly a million dollars “back in the day,” or so the story goes.
Her favorite movie? Gone With The Wind
Her favorite book besides the Bible? Not surprisingly, Gone With The Wind
Her favorite President? JFK. We also talked about the day he died and what an impact it had on us both.
Biggest change in her lifetime? “Moms going to work. When I was young, no one worked outside the home if they were married or had kids.”
As far as Limestone Health is concerned, Pauline could not stop talking about how impressed she has been as a rehab patient. “”It’s a beautiful place,” she said, and she especially loves the arts and crafts projects. Ladies from Hospice come and teach crafts in their spare time, and she has completed several drawing and painting projects. She also said she’s getting real “good at cards.”
Pauline has a number of staff members of whom she is quite fond, and one of her favorites is Kanisha, who works in Activities.
We closed our time with a hug, and I asked her what she would want young people to glean from her life. She thought for awhile and said, “Follow your heart.” Lovely advice from a lovely woman.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner