Sharing Our Story: Grandpa Good’s Notes on Starting School Health…

Sharing Our Story

by Susan Rogers

Since we are asking you to share your story for how or why you got into school nursing we thought we would share ours. Luckily my grandfather put it on paper and we’d like to share his story with you. Especially since we are celebrating 60 years.

In order for parts of this story to make sense you will need a little background. The real beginning of our story goes back to the Good-Lite Company. My grandfather was Carleton Good and his father was Dr. Robert Good (founder of the Good-Lite Company). As an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon and an ophthalmologist, Dr. Good had one of the best practices on the west side of Chicago.

While working for his father, my grandfather had the vision to start a medical supply company focused on selling to schools. Here are some highlights from his memoir…

“During the depression, yes I was making the Good-Lite headlights in the basement on Thatcher Avenue. V. Mueller of the American Hospital Supply had an exclusive. They used to order 24 lights at a time. When we made the Good-Lite eye chart, they were not interested in selling charts, so I cancelled the exclusive and opened up sales to all surgical dealers. I called on dealers and went to the surgical supply dealerships.

I moved out of my basement in River Forest and moved into a four-car garage in Oak Park, in a residential area. After several years, I was forced to leave and rented one-half of a 25-foot store, in Forest Park on Madison Street, for $100 a month.

My father lost a fortune in real estate. He purchased second mortgages on over 45 buildings, which he let go. I salvaged about five houses where I refinanced and offered fifty cents on the dollar for the first mortgages. I was getting about $35.00 a month rental. carleton_letter3

In the early 40s, I was selling real estate for F.C. Pilgrim and Company. Mr. Pilgrim was never happy about me working two jobs, his office and Good-Lite. He said I should work selling real estate for Marquardt Reality. He knew I was working two jobs. My Good-Lite was across the street from his real estate office. I am now selling real estate on 100 percent commission.

In the meantime, Good-Lite was doing better so I hired, part time, Bill Smith, a Maywood fireman, to help in the back room. The eye charts, however, were not selling. So, I told Bill one day, put on your best clothes and try to sell those charts to schools. They were not approved by the National Society for Prevention of Blindness. Bill took off in his old battered and rusty Ford station wagon and sold all the North Shore suburbs. When the nurses saw his old battered car, they felt sorry for him, and he said to them that he needed a sale. Later, nurses wanted scales, band-aids, etc. and this is where it all started. We put out a small catalog and started School Health Supply.”


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