Karen Garloch

Charlotte nursing student’s discovery “blew us away”

Here’s a story from the Carolinas College of Health Sciences that illustrates that classic tendency of ours to hold on to things, just in case.

It starts in the mid-1960s when Susan Stricker became the first director of a new program in radiologic technology at Charlotte Memorial Hospital (now Carolinas Medical Center).

The X-ray field was relatively new, and Stricker, charged with building a library, ordered a textbook called “Manual of Roentgenological Technique.” It was written by Dr. Leroy Sante, who in 1928 founded the radiology department at the University of St. Louis.

In 1996, Stricker’s program became part of Carolinas College of Health Sciences, and students had access to a larger medical library operated by the Area Health Education Center. AHEC didn’t want the Sante book, so Stricker and her colleagues stored it with other rarely used items in a backroom cabinet.

There they stayed until 2002. That’s when Joe Bowers, a senior administrator with Carolinas HealthCare System, made a donation to the radiologic technology program. It was a Crook’s Tube, a glass bulb with tubes that had once been used to deliver X-rays. He had rescued it years earlier from the attic of a Chicago hospital.

College President Ellen Sheppard loved the gift. “It’s a very odd-looking piece of equipment,” she said. “No wonder those early practitioners died of cancer. They were delivering X-rays in clear glass.”

She displayed the Crook’s Tube in the lobby of the Rankin Education Building, on Blythe Boulevard near CMC. To prop up the device in the display case, Sheppard grabbed some old books from the long-forgotten stash.

Another 12 years passed. One day earlier this year, Ray Lupse, 24, a nursing student from Gastonia, was taking a break between classes when he glanced at the volumes and noticed a familiar name.

“You know those books out there under the Crook’s Tube?” Lupse told the dean. “I think my great-grandfather wrote one of them.”

As a child, Lupse had heard his mother talk about Leroy Sante, her famous grandfather, and had seen his textbook among her things. Lupse had even inherited the easel desk where Sante did his writing.

Sheppard and her colleagues at Carolinas College were amazed that a student from Gastonia would find his great-grandfather’s groundbreaking textbook on display at their small nursing school in Charlotte.

“I am sure thousands of students have walked by that cabinet and never looked in it,” Sheppard said. “This just blew us away.”