Seventy-three-year-old Arlene Gilbert Sarver has a favorite memento: a "receipt and statement" for her 1933 birth at Mount Zion Hospital that was found in her baby book.
"It says Maternity Service - 10 days: $70, Bed #401," said Sarver in a letter she sent to the Auxiliary at UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion notifying the group that she was unable to attend their celebratory event on Dec. 5. "We also traveled across the bridge from the East Bay to give birth to our firstborn at Mount Zion in 1954."
Sarver was among many "babies" that were invited to the first Mount Zion Baby Birthday Bash, sponsored by the auxiliary. The event, the brainchild of Auxiliary President Meridithe Mendelsohn, was intended as a way to welcome people back to the hospital and update them on how it had changed.
Held in the decorated lobby of UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion, more than 55 guests attended the birthday party, enjoying themed cupcakes, and reminiscing about their pasts.
"All of the attendees were extremely proud of their Mount Zion heritage, and glad to connect with us and others who had been born at the hospital," said Mendelsohn. "People feel a strong bond to Mount Zion. Most were not only born there, but continued to come for care for themselves, their families and friends. Mount Zion was a community place, not only a hospital."
Many in attendance came dressed up. "Guests took the occasion very seriously," said Mendelsohn.
Memories of Mount Zion
The oldest female guest was born in 1919, and the oldest male was born in 1920. Garrick Byers, born at Mount Zion Hospital on Dec. 1, 1949, lives in Fresno, but could not attend.
Those attending a recent reunion of babies born at Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco enjoy the celebration.
"My two younger brothers were also born at Mount Zion, in March 1951 and September 1955," he wrote. "In addition, my father worked at the Harold Brunn Institute at Mount Zion from the late '40s to the late '80s."
When guests were asked to tell their Mount Zion story, people were more than happy to share their memories.
One of the guests was a physician whose delivery nurse when he was born turned out to be his stepmother later in life. Another attendee reported that there was an earthquake on the day or so after his birth and his mother was unable to nurse him because she was so worried there would be another 1906 earthquake.
Several families comprising several generations born at the hospital came to the celebration. One person said that his sister's birth that made the front page news because she was born on New Year's Day in San Francisco; another mentioned a four-page spread on his twin sisters' births.
Also present at the party were Art for Recovery Director Cindy Perlis, who related stories of her aunt, who wanted to remember visitors, so she would leave the teacups on the table for days; while Friend-to-Friend shop manager Chris Wilhite spoke about the shop, which has special merchandise for cancer patients.
Sarah Morse, a longtime volunteer and jewelry designer, presented Wilhite with a check for $750 to provide cancer-related items for those who cannot afford them.
"This was such a lovely event," said Mendelsohn. "There were many connections between people that were discovered once they started talking. It was such a positive experience for our guests and the medical center that we are planning on doing this every year."