MUSCATINE, Iowa–Shortly after Muscatine General Hospital (Now UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Hospital) opened in 1954, a group of doctors’ wives formed the Muscatine General Hospital Auxiliary. The group visited children in the hospital, published a newsletter, and began a scholarship to help nurses pay for their education. Members of the Auxiliary needed to know how to sew in order to make the salmon colored aprons they wore while visiting kids. In 1957, they used their skills as seamstresses to create a new tradition, Pinkie puppets. When children spent time in the hospital, they received hand puppets in the Auxiliary’s signature shade of pink, inspiring the name Pinkie.
Over time, the Muscatine General Hospital Auxiliary transformed into the Trinity Muscatine Friends. The group continues to help hospital staff and patients by awarding scholarships, providing interest free student loans to healthcare professionals through the Health Education Fund, helping departments and clinics with non-budgeted needs, running the information desk and day of surgery lounge, and giving small gifts to hospitalized children and newborn babies.
Wanting to preserve their early history, the Trinity Muscatine Friends got creative about saving one of their Pinkie Puppets. “Just recently River’s Edge Gallery helped us figure out a way to display her, utilizing an actual photograph from scrapbooks kept by Trinity Muscatine Friends historian Diane Wagner,” explained Kris Weis, manager of the Trinity Muscatine Friends’ Window Box gift shop. Using a shadow box, the gallery made an attractive display using an enlargement of a scrapbook photo, an actual Pinkie puppet, and the poem given out along with each puppet, which reads as follows:
Do you know who I am? Come now, can’t you guess?
A wee puppet pal in a Pink Lady Dress.
I’m yours while you’re here, home with you I’ll go,
Like a new sort of playmate, and friend, you know.
I may be quite small to be called a real gal,
So just call me “Pinkie, your hospital Pal!”
Now finished, the Pinkie historical display graces one of the walls in the Window Box gift shop, which Trinity Muscatine Friends volunteers run as one of their major fundraising efforts. July 6, the Window Box reopened to hospital visitors after closing to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in March. Weis hopes that anyone visiting the hospital or clinics will stop in to see it, as well as the variety of snacks and gift items they have available.
Wagner also believes that the new display will generate more interest in the history of the Auxiliary and help turn up more artifacts for the Trinity Muscatine Friends to preserve and possibly display. “One of the original aprons would be nice for our memorabilia,” Weis said. If you have an item to donate or would like to find out more about volunteering with the Trinity Muscatine Friends, you may contact Theresa Fix at [email protected] or 563-264-9201.