WOMEN and THEIR WORK

CANADIAN NURSE GIVES TO NEW YORK ITS FIRST CHEMICAL AND SCIENTIFIC LAUNDRY

Nurse Isobel Lount Evens of Toronto Heads American Nursing Services and Organizations and Also Runs a Laundry Which Has Proven a Big Business Success

URSULA SALTON September 15 1923
WOMEN and THEIR WORK

CANADIAN NURSE GIVES TO NEW YORK ITS FIRST CHEMICAL AND SCIENTIFIC LAUNDRY

Nurse Isobel Lount Evens of Toronto Heads American Nursing Services and Organizations and Also Runs a Laundry Which Has Proven a Big Business Success

URSULA SALTON September 15 1923

CANADIAN NURSE GIVES TO NEW YORK ITS FIRST CHEMICAL AND SCIENTIFIC LAUNDRY

Nurse Isobel Lount Evens of Toronto Heads American Nursing Services and Organizations and Also Runs a Laundry Which Has Proven a Big Business Success

WOMEN and THEIR WORK

URSULA SALTON

WITH a limited capital of $500, an unlimited amount of pluck, ambition and intiative, Miss Isobel

Lount Evens, a Canadian, born and educated in Toronto, proved to New York that a woman could do What men had, until then, failed to do. In the face of the derision of her friends, the unpleasant resentment of other women and

Miss Evens left Toronto for New York with the definite intention of seeking a business and professional career. She was alone and knew absolutely no one in the city. Today she has proved herself a success and has become one of the best known of the many Canadian women who have made good in New York, both in her profession and as a business woman.

“I left Toronto, with regret,” said Miss Evens,

I “but I left it because I knew that if I tried to work among my friends my obligations to them would cut I too deeply into the time I I should give to it, if I were to attain success.” This remark, spoken in a quick, definite manner, in a soft, well-modulated voice that somehow indicated a certain self-assurance,describes Miss Evens well, for she is just that kind of a person —one who is calculating today just what will concern her five years hence.

Starting out her career across the border as a student nurse in St. Luke’s Hospital, New York, she let no opportunity escape to increase her knowledge along other lines and she never lost sight of the fact that all she was learning as a nurse could well be put to use in some independent

the scorn of many business men, she organized and successfully operated New York’s first chemical and scientific laundry.

business that would open wider and even more interesting fields. _ And then one day, as she was sterilizing medical bandages, the idea came to her that she would like to give New York its first scientific and chemical laundry. She spoke of it to her friends who laughed at her, and warned her that such an undertaking could not be successful, unless it was attempted under male supervision. The heavy machinery, then in use in all laundries, they told her, was much too heavy for a woman to handle. Miss Evens did not argue but she kept her firm belief that most current ideas in laundry work were wrong and watched her opportunity to right them. She saw that the old “rub and scrub” system only wore out the things sent to be laundered and that the newly-installed machines tore and wrenched everything. Her idea was to develop a purely chemical process which would remove all foreign matter from the cloth texture. With this idea lodged firmly in her mind she continued her training as a nurse, waiting for the day when she could earn enough to start a fund for the laundry she proposed to introduce.

On completing her course at St. Luke’s, she spent the next few years as a nurse. Then she went to the head of the Teachers’ College, Columbia University, and told her ideas. At that time both the head of the Teachers’ College and the professor in charge of the Department of Household Economics were Canadian women. They encouraged Miss Evens and she was entered as a student of chemistry and science. Here she learned all about cloth textures and scientific ways of removing ink spots, paint, glue and food stains. While Miss Evens was still studying, and hoping to put her ideas into practice, some enterprising reporter heard of her ambition and realizing that the idea of a chemical laundry being organized and run by a woman was a brand new idea and a good story, he published an account of what she was about to do. Other metropolitan papers took it up and Miss Evens and her new chemical process were made famous.

Realizing, suddenly, that all New York was talking about her and the marvelous things she was going to do with her new ideas about laundry, she seized the

In a few months her laundry was the established success that it is today, but in spite of that fact her way was fraught with many difficulties.

Washes Clothes for the Judge

laundry, she seized the opportunity, though she was far from ready to do so. Before she could get ready clothing and other soiled or stained articles began to arrive from those who were anxious to try her new method. This was her chance, but how to take it? She had no machinery, no chemicals—nothing but her own quick wits. She lost no time in using them. She hired ten women, rented an old house and washed the clothes by the old, ordinary method in the one bath-tub which the house boasted. She impressed upon her employees that they must turn out the best washed clothes, the whitest and the cleanest that they had done. They did and after the laundry went back to the owners Miss Evens was literally swamped with orders from their friends—all anxious to have their clothes washed by the wonderful new chemical process that turned them out so fresh and snowy. But the next few days saw Miss Evens ready for them and the second batch received the promised treatment and it was not long before her small staff of ten had to be increased to seventy-five.

ONE of her first predicaments arose out of a dispute with one of her employees which led them into court. A heated argument look place between her counsel and the judge. The judge openly favored the prosecuting lawyer and leaning over to Miss Evens he said with annoyance: “You are only a woman. How can you expect to know anything about running a laundry? That’s a man’s job.”

At this point in proceedings the case was postponed. In the interval, until the case was brought up again, Miss Evens, by dint of much man oeuvering, managed to secure the judge’s laundry and when he asked her again in court to prove that she knew her business, she produced a neat bundle and unwrapping it brought sundry pieces of tfie judge’s wearing apparel before his gaze, and asked him if he were satisfied with the way they were washed.

She won the oase.

Miss Evens was frequently called in by women’s organizations to select laundry equipment for them. On one occasion she listened to a machinery representative address a women’s club on laundry equipment. He tried to convince his hearers that the type of machinery which he represented was the only reliable type on the market. He stated costs and methods and finally led most of the members to believe that there was nothing about the laundry business that he did not know. When he had finished Miss Evens rose to her feet and in a few short words, punctuated with statistics and scientific facts, proved that he knew nothing about the business at all and forced him to seek cover. The result was that the club purchased an entirely different set of equipment for a great deal less money and future graft was eliminated.

Laundry a Side Issue

IN SPITE of the fact that Miss Evens I owns and operates one of the most efficient and up-to-date laundries in the city of New York, she does not devote all her energies to it, for matters pertaining to the nursing profession are very near to her heart at all times. She is Director of the Medical and Nursing Service of the Metropolitan Committee for Disaster Relief, and in event of flood, fire, explosion or shipwreck she organizes medical expeditions of relief and sends them to the stricken area. This area covers all of New York and runs for seventy-five miles north through the manufacturing towns of the Hudson. She is president, too, of the New York County Nurses’ Association which has a membership role of four thousand nurses and thirty-nine subsidiary alumnae associations. She is vice-president of the Canadian Women’s Business and Professional Club and heads the New York County Chapter of the American Red Cross and within this association manages a .Bureau of Nursing Service, which she sponsored and organized during the first years of the war.

Speaking of the progress of Canadian nurses in New York, Miss Evens declares that the record they have made in that city is a great tribute to the home land. The four biggest hospitals in Manhattan are supervised by Canadian women. The Jersey City Hospital has also a Canadian supervisor. At St. Luke’s, where Miss Evens trained, there was a Canadian supervisor, Mrs. Lilly Quintard, who afterwards won fame in organizing American Hospitals in Cuba immediately after the Spanish-American war.

Miss Evens, whose grandfather was the first, white child born in Muddy York, many years before it became Toronto, bas a distant claim on American ancestry. Her people settled in Maine in prerevolutionary days and when war broke out they remained true to the Mother Country and were forced to flee to Canada with other U.E. Loyalists. Miss Evens is the first of the family to return to the U.S., though she says she has not gone to stay and expects to return to Canada.