I am so fascinated with her story. I think it was the photos of Maude wading through the South Carolina swampland that moved me. I know the Lowcountry back roads and swamps all too well, but I can't even imagine what it was like back in the days when Maude was traveling to see patients on unpaved roads. I really hope that Maude's story is included in the South Carolina Black History Month curriculum in our schools!
Pineville, a historic refuge
In 1981, she was named Outstanding Older South Carolinian by the S.C. Commission on Aging and was also presented the Order of the Palmetto by Governor Richard W. Riley.
Nurse Maude's celebrity status reached national headlines again in 1983 when she was featured on the television program On the Road with Charles Kuralt . She was presented the Alexis de Tocqueville Society Award in 1984 for 60 years of service to her community. Other recipients include Bob Hope, Henry Ford II, Pete Rozell, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and John Glenn.
Honored many times in Berkeley County, Nurse Maude Callen continued to volunteer as manager of the Senior Citizens Nutrition Council in Pineville. She personally delivered meals- on- wheels five days a week until her death in 1990.
Maude Callen was a missionary for healthcare in the rural backwoods of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Her life was dedicated to her patients. She gave the sanctity of life to every child she midwifed and the rewards of good health to every adult she nursed.
Pineville's Maude Callen Health Center closed over 20 years ago. Now, the nearest center is about 30 miles away. Nurse Maude and the services she provided have not been forgotten. Residents of Pineville have formed a board of directors to raise money to reopen the clinic which would serve residents of Pineville, St. Stephen, Russellville, and the surrounding community. The board has been given the deed to the center.
Very few of the residents have a primary doctor, according to Mrs. Mazyck. She says school surveys in the area show most children don't go to the doctor unless they are ill, and when they do, it's most often a trip to the emergency room.
The board needs about $200,000 to begin renovations and about $400,000 total. The board received $25,000 from Berkeley County Council in 2006.
The March/April 2003 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nurse-Midwives honored Maude Callen. It included a poem written by Jeanne Bryner, a nurse who writes extensively about issues in the Appalachians and the Southeast.
For Maude Callen: Nurse Midwife, Pineville, SC, 1951
I speak of a woman, blue black midwife
Of April fog, flood, swamp, and July nights
When Maude Callen's hands layered newsprint
In circles as a weaver works her loom,
Slow, to catch blood, straw, placenta, save sheets.
I sing kitchen lamplight, clean cloths, Lysol,
Cord ties, gloves, gown, and mask; she readies all
For this crowning first mother, purple cries.
I sing of sweat and gush and tear, open thighs
And triangle moons, ringlets, charcoal hair.
I sing sixteen- hour days,Maude's tires bare.
Mud country roads, no man doctor for miles.
I sing transition, collapse of mountains.
Crimson alluvium, the son untangled.
- Jeanne Bryner