Previously in Reg and Catherine’s story…
With an unconventional first meeting – a job interview for a resident position at the Crown Street Women’s Hospital – the then Dr Catherine Nicholson and Dr Reginald Hamlin were destined for an unconventional love story.
Upon accepting the resident job, Catherine’s mother had asked Reg, Crown Street’s medical superintendent, to take good care of Catherine while she worked at the hospital. Reg had assured, with a wry chuckle, that she would be in safe hands.
A working woman
When Catherine joined Crown Street, she was the only female resident at the hospital. In her autobiography, ‘The Hospital By the River’ written with John Little, Catherine recalls the experience: “being a woman among so many men, I was made a fuss of and enjoyed a lively social life. I received one proposal of marriage, which I did not consider seriously. Later, more women joined the staff so I was not so special.”
After working side by side with Reg for a year, Catherine realised she was attracted to him – and that the feeling was mutual. Even though Reg was older than her, age was not significant factor for Catherine.
Their courtship was defined by the need for discretion, best described by Catherine herself:
“At first we were discreet. I would walk down Crown Street towards the city, and Reg would follow a few minutes later and pick me up in a taxi. We would sometimes have dinner at Ushers Hotel or go to a film. If we had a day off together on the weekend, we might go surfing at Cronulla or Manly.
There was an intercom system in the hospital where the wards would communicate with Reg’s living quarters without going through the switchboard. If I was on night duty we would sometimes use this to speak to each other. Once when I was expecting his call, I answered the phone, “Hello, Darling.” It wasn’t Reg but one of the medical staff enquiring about a patient. Despite our precautions it wasn’t long before everyone was aware of our courtship.
After we had been seeing each other for about six months, I went to his office to discuss a patient. I was standing on the other side of his desk when he came round and put his arm around me. He kissed me and said he loved me. I was quite overcome and said that I loved him too.”
Partners in every sense
Catherine and Reg’s story is one defined by their love for one another and their passion to help the most vulnerable women. For Catherine, their personal and professional lives coalesced easily: “being married changed nothing… we still worked as hard as ever, only now we were a team in more than just a professional sense.”