Tales from the Archives: Night Owl Club

If you have never browsed the pages of the Intercom, we highly suggest taking a look. The Intercom was Duke Medicine’s primary news publication from 1953 to 1972. The pages are filled with traditional news stories about new medical innovations, changes in hospital policy, or personnel changes. They also often contain lighthearted stories about unusual happening around the hospital, social clubs, and opportunities for learning

Today we are highlighting another social group at Duke Hospital that caught our eye because of its fun name: the Night Owl Club. A quick search of the name in the digitized issues turns up a large number of articles chronicling the activities of the group, but it first appears in July 1969 with an article announcing its formation (shown on the left):

July 1, 1969 article

“The medical center’s late night nursing staff has organized a new service and social group, the Night Owl Club. The club, now boasting between 60 and 75 members, is properly named, since its entire membership works from 11pm to 7am on the hospital wards. Lawrence Davis, PCA on Minot and president of the organization, explained that its purpose is to be able to do something for individual employees without having to run around the hospital taking up a collection. With monthly dues paid by the members, the club sends flowers or a gift to members who are ill, buys wedding presents for members getting married and marks many other special occasions. Last month, the group held a retirement party for Mrs. Minnie Woods, who was formerly employed in central supply.”
-July 1, 1969 issue of the Intercom


January 7, 1972 articleBased on the number of articles referencing the Night Owl Club in later issues of the Intercom, it is probably safe to say that the club was a success. The very next year in October 1970, the Intercom featured a photograph of an annual picnic in Duke Gardens hosted by the club. Pictured to the right, is a photograph from a 1972 holiday talent show. 

One very popular social event that the club hosted were chartered bus trips to fun places in North Carolina. In August 1974, the club sponsored a trip to Carowinds. Two years later in June 1976, the Night Owl Club sponsored a Kings Dominion Trip for medical center employees and their families or friends. Round trip bus fare was $7 per person and the entrance fee to the amusement park cost $6 for adults and $5 for children. (For comparison- tickets for 2022 are approximately $40.) Finally in the July 15, 1977 issue, there is an article advertising the Night Owl Club’s annual bus trip to White Lake, NC. The club chartered a large coach bus and invited employees to pay $6 a seat for day transportation to the free recreation sites in White Lake.

It wasn’t just picnics, bus trips, and sing-a-longs. The Night Owl Club also seemed to be very devoted to the service aspect of the club. Distributing thanksgiving food baskets was an annual project and there are many examples of this throughout the years of the Intercom.

We encourage you to explore past digitized versions of Intercom and let us know if you find any other fascinating stories.

December 18, 1970 issue     December 10, 1971 issue