It is my grandmother’s birthday today. Rose Walker Cooper. She was born on July 25, 1895 and was quite as an unusual lady. She was a nurse who worked at Levi Hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas for many years, and was a private nurse for the private practice of one of the hospital doctors by the time I came along. You can’t tell from the photo, but her hair was so bright red it was nearly orange, and she had skin like alabaster. She was a gentle, quiet woman. Of course, she was so quiet because her husband was a complete and total bully.
I didn’t get to see gammy Rose a lot, the Crazy Bitch had me working from the time I was tiny, putting me on the wildest horses she could find – she came very close to getting her wish and having one of them kill me, but it just never quite worked out that well. Although I got all sorts of broken bones, concussions and once got my right arm torn nearly all the way off (over 600 stitches before the doc stopped counting) and the left side of my head ripped off as well. Glad they found my ear, LOL!!!
I think that is the longest I got to stay with my gammy, as she liked to be called, was after that incident. The yelling I heard was no doubt her trying to get the Crazy Bitch to leave me with her and Arch, but that didn’t happen. I did, however, get to stay a few weeks, which was awesome. She was a sweet woman. She was on duty one night when a Quapaw woman was brought into the hospital. The woman was pregnant with twins and died in childbirth. Gammy Rose decided she wanted those babies, a boy and a girl. The Crazy Bitch was the girl, of course. So her loving husband, Arch, bought them for her. Hey, they were just savages, right? Bought and paid for, and brought them home to her, handed them off, and then went back to work. As the Chief of Police he could do things like that. Especially since he also owned businesses with some of the various mafia bosses who called Hot Springs their home away from home.
I really wish that I had of had the opportunity to take down their stories before they died. They would have been fascinating, I have no doubt. His especially, of course, as he was Chief during the period when Scarface, Lucky Luciano, Al Capone, Bugs Moran and Frank Costello were known to vacation in The Spa City. And from my second-hand stories, gramps was quite happily involved with the whole thing. Well, that and burning down black people’s houses, hanging people under overpasses, and generally terrorizing the populace.
Of course, being a nurse at the ‘swanky’ Levi Hospital during the same time period, I have no doubt Rose had stories of her own to tell. I wonder how many shootouts, bar stabbings and other various and sundry Mafia related wounds she was involved in healing?
A nice woman named Constance Peck sent me information that she found on one of the genealogy websites a few years ago, and I was surprised to learn that gammy Rose was married before. I knew that she married Arch when she was 34 – quite a late marriage at that time. However, Ms. Peck pointed out in her documents that Rose was actually married at 17 to a man named Weekly. And she divorced him! Very scandalous!
Through it all, gammy Rose was the only person to ever show me kindness. And I miss her more than I can say. Happy Birthday, Gammy Rose. I miss you.