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Hospital Holds Reunion to Celebrate ‘Birth’ Day

Times Staff Writer

The Hospital of the Good Samaritan celebrated its 100th birthday Sunday with a day of celebration of births.

The downtown hospital, founded in 1885 by an Anglican nun, staged a centennial party and invited as many as could be found of the 60,000 people born at the hospital, drawing hundreds back to the spot where they began life.

The hospital’s security guards were dressed in Gay ‘90s police outfits for the occasion, and three doctors turned up in 1885 costumes. Banjo pickers plunked out old-time tunes. Balloons in blue and white, the hospital’s colors, floated over a parking lot where the party was held.

100 Candles on Cake

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A cake 40 feet long was topped with 100 candles. The candles were blown out by Carolyn Drew Bailey of Newhall, at 85 the oldest of the “babies,” and Tanya Andrews, 13, of Downey, the last baby born in the hospital’s old nursery building, which once stood where the parking lot is now.

Bailey said she heard about the party by coincidence when she telephoned the hospital three weeks ago to inquire about the condition of a friend who was a patient there.

“They never would have found me otherwise,” she said, “because there was no name on my birth certificate when I left here. In fact, there was no name on it for 37 years until I put one on it when the Social Security came in.”

She was officially nameless as a child, she said, because “my mother wanted to name me Eleanor and my father wouldn’t hear of that. He wanted to name me Winifred, but mother said she had a horse named Winifred once and didn’t want a horse’s name for her daughter.”

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Compromised on Carolyn

So they left the certificate blank, she said, “and mother called me Eleanor and father called me Pete or Babe” until she and her family compromised on Carolyn later in life.

Since leaving Good Samaritan as a nameless infant, she said, she was city clerk of Gardena and had one daughter of her own, six grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, three husbands--"and I ain’t available no more.”

Others present included Dr. Marlene Coleman Huss and her twin sister, psychologist Darlene Coleman Duncan. Their father, a physician, “had a hunch we’d be premature,” Darlene Coleman Duncan said, “so he wanted to come here, I was told, because Good Samaritan had the only double incubator. We were the first twins to use it.”

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Biggest, Smallest Babies

Florence Robinson of Torrance represented her daughter Cynthia, who weighed 10 1/2 pounds at birth in 1952, the largest baby ever born in the hospital. Honored as the smallest surviving baby was Victoria Weatherhead, who weighed one pound, 13 ounces at birth.

Patricia O’Neil of Montrose, who was born in Good Samaritan herself and gave birth to more infants there than any other woman--10 of her 11 children--returned and brought seven of them with her.

The party was typical of many such activities--clinics, celebrations, open houses--organized by hospitals in recent years as competition for patients has increased. Hospital administrators said activities connected to childbirth are particularly effective public relations gestures since they reflect a generally happy event, not the suffering or death that many people otherwise associate with hospitals.

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