In [nurse] training we were all just a bunch of poor girls, most of us lived out in the country. Five of ‘em had come [to work at Blue Ridge Sanatorium] because they had TB and couldn’t get in anywhere else, and they found out that they could get in at Blue Ridge. So we were just settling in and three of the girls couldn’t get their suitcases unlocked. I’d always been a tomboy and I’d always carried a knife, well sometimes. But, I had a scout knife, and I jimmied all those suitcases. So, that’s where I got the nickname “Tom.” I’ve been Tom ever since.
That day Dr. Apperson examined me, he examined all of us that afternoon. Dr. Apperson found out my name. He said ‘Well, my wife was a Cosby and maybe you all have some kin.’ I thought, my Lord, I been made fun of, the Cosby name all my life, now somebody’s tried to be kin with me. Then I met Miss Zwicker down the hall, and she put her arm around me and said ‘I see that you’ve been a patient at Catawba.’ I told her ‘Yes, I was there but they never found any TB.’
And she said, ‘Well, I’m glad you came here instead of going to Catawba.’ I thought I must have died and gone to heaven; somebody’s trying to make kin with me, and somebody else is glad I got here. So I, in forty-two years I never had any reason to change my mind about Blue Ridge. I was always treated good.”
Edna “Tom” Cosby worked for over forty years as a nurse at the Blue Ridge (VA) Sanatorium starting September 6th, 1940.