This looks like a smile of someone who loves snow, don’t you think? The photo has been labelled Herfila Mendoza @Vincent Hall and the stamp of the Eastman Kodak shows that the snapshot was printed in the “week ending February 11, 1956”. The handwriting of the name is very modern and no-one would have used the “@”-symbol back in the day. So, I was a bit sceptical if this really was the name of the woman in the photograph.
I won’t disappoint you – it was! 😊
Herfila Mendoza was born on January 15, 1915, in the Philippines. She became a registered nurse in her home country and started working in the Manila Sanitorium. In the early 1950s she got the opportunity to come to the United States together with 12 other graduate nurses from the Philippines for post-graduate studies in American hospitals. I found a newspaper clip about this event on page 8 of the Great Falls Tribune, Montana, from April 19, 1954.
And I even found her in one of the photos printed on page 60 of the Great Falls Tribune, from April 4, 1954. The lady on the very left is the Herfila from our photograph!
According to the newspaper mentions and records I have found about Herfila, she decided to stay in the United States permanently, in 1966 she became a US citizen. She worked many years as a nurse, first in Cincinnati, Ohio, and later in Reedley in California.
So according to our timeline, in February 1956 when our photo was printed, Herfila was either still in Great Falls, Montana, or already in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am pretty sure it’s the latter, as there was a Vincent Hall The Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.
And if I’m not mistaken, Herfila’s photo was taken in front of the main entrance of the hospital!
In Reedley, California, she married Ricardo Asuncion, a barber and one of the first Filipino residents of Reedley. The couple was very active and respected in the local Filipino community, raising funds for college scholarships etc.
Herfila passed away on August 11, 1997, in Irvine, California. She had been widowed in September 1986. From the obituary published in her honour in The Fresno Bee of August 14, 1997, she touched so many lives with her generosity and assiduity. And that dashing smile was infectious too!
I have added Herfila’s photo to her FindaGrave page.