09 April 2017

Paying my respects in Pineville, SC

Maude Callen Clinic, Pineville, SC 
In December of 1951, W. Eugene Smith published a twelve page spread photo essay on the work of a nurse midwife in rural South Carolina named Maude E. Callen. The striking black and white photos showing her caring for laboring women and newborns in homes in Berkeley County caught attention and brought letters and donations from around the country. 
After the piece was published, LIFE subscribers from all over the country sent donations, large and small, to help Mrs. Callen in what one reader called "her magnificent endeavor." Thousands of dollars poured in — sometimes in pennies and nickels, sometimes more — until, as LIFE later reported, she was overwhelmed by the response.Halfway through a recent day's mail, [Mrs. Callen] said to her husband: 'I'm too tired and happy to read more tonight. I just want to sit here and be thankful.'"Eventually, more than $20,000 in donations helped to build a clinic in Pineville, where Mrs. Callen worked until her retirement in 1971.
The clinic is abandoned now but I had been meaning to track it down for some time. We stopped at a near by church and asked for directions. A friendly woman offered to lead the way and waved us into the clinic grounds. She then explained that Maude Callen had given her all her immunizations as a child and she had fond memories of her. Talking to her made the visit even more meaningful. 

I did have the name of the cemetery where she was buried but walked it back and forth without finding her tomb. 


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