Episode 1: A Siver Family History

Who likes a good daytime soap opera? Well, in honor of National Grandparents Day, which is celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day, I thought I’d share with you an episode from my family’s history General Hospital style. Hang on to your stethoscope, though, because while this installment is relatively scandal-free, there are a few plot twists.

Scene One: Prologue – An operating table near Sidney, New York. Circa 1918.

Leona Luna Siver, née Hutton, a young wife and mother of three, is in the hospital for a simple tonsillectomy. Something goes terribly wrong in this seemingly easy procedure. The doctors do all they can to save her, but – tragically – they fail. (scene cuts to the doctor speaking with the family in the waiting room) Leona’s husband and children are in shock and are stricken from the loss. One of the boys, Robert Hutton Siver, vows to one day become a doctor and help prevent such needless tragedies! (camera close up on Robert’s determined face)


A picture of Johns Hopkins Hospital

Johns Hopkins Hospital, North Broadway, Baltimore, Md. https://digital.lib.ecu.edu/24322

Scene Two: Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore, Maryland. Circa 1930.

(open scene in downtown Baltimore) Sometime later, in the early 1930s, Robert Siver is fulfilling his vow and is studying medicine at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. One day, he pays a social call at the dental office of one of his peers, Dr. Sam Bryan. While there, he is

introduced to a young lady sitting in the dental chair. Her mouth is packed full of gauze, and she can barely say hello! Robert, nonetheless, feels his heart stir.

(change scene to Robert and Sam walking along the street after leaving the dental office) Now it just so happens that Sam previously invited Robert to accompany him and his wife to an upcoming dance. It also just so happens to be that Robert is engaged! But his fiancé is still in upstate New York and can’t make the event. Sam knows that the patient Robert met, Kathryn Moesta, is also engaged and suggests that the two go to the dance together merely as friends. After all, what harm could there be in a platonic night out? (cut to commercial break)

Scene Three: A church in Baltimore. 1936.

(organ music playing) What harm indeed?! Beautiful Kathryn strides down the aisle in an understated yet elegant long-sleeve, floor-length white satin gown with lace trim and full veil. Robert (yes, Robert!) anxiously awaits her at the alter wearing his black waistcoat with wing collar. Turns out, that dance had more impact than either Kathryn or Robert could have imagined! (insert a longing look between the couple)

A picture of Union Memorial Hospital

The Union Memorial Hospital, Baltimore, Md. https://digital.lib.ecu.edu/24330

Scene Four: The Union Memorial Hospital, Baltimore. 1963.

(muffled typewriter clicks are heard) Kathryn sits at the reception desk of her husband’s doctor’s office. In addition to maintaining their home and raising their two daughters, for over 20 years Kathryn has taken care of the administrative needs of Robert’s practice so that he can focus on medicine and research. This includes giving Robert time to make house calls to some of the more rural areas around Baltimore. One such location was Hereford, where he treated Mr. William Johnson, who’s daughter, Ada Barber (née Johnson) works as a nurse also at the Union Memorial Hospital. (wavy fade out)

A picture of Union Memorial Hospital, Johnston Hospital, and Nurse's Home

Union Memorial Hospital, Johnston Hospital, and Nurse’s Home. Baltimore, Md. https://digital.lib.ecu.edu/24329


And thus, this is how Robert, Kathryn, Ada, and Bob (Bob didn’t like going to the doctor, so he stayed away from hospitals) became grandparents. Robert and Kathryn’s daughter is my mother. And Ada and Bob’s son is my father. Unsurprisingly, sticking with the General Hospital theme here, my parents were introduced to each other through the medical connections of my grandparents. Except Bob… he preferred the farm.