Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered


Snail Mail:  825 Lake Park Drive   Lakehills, TX  78063
Phone:  (830) 751-2312
Hi and welcome to my website.  My name is Chuck Felton and I'm currently retired and living in Lakehills, TX.  But when I was seventeen and a senior at Towanda Valley High School in Towanda, Pa I contracted tuberculosis and spent sixteen months in a state TB sanatoruim.  You might be asking yourself, "What's a state TB sanatorium?"  Exactly!  All of them were closed by the mid-60's.  That's one of the reasons I am documenting this event, to give people some idea of what the experience was like back in the "old days", way back in 1955 (the Fabulous 50's.)  That's me standing outside in the Pennsylvania snow with the hospital building behind me.  I was 6' 3" and about 185 pounds.
I know I'm not the only TB survivor who was at Cresson and I'm hoping that other patients who were at the sanatorium will see this site and get in touch with me to share their memories and photos.  I also want to leave a record for my children Debbie and Dave who came along later and have no real feel for what my experience was like.

Background :  I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1938 to Philip and Esther Felton.  My dad worked as a welder at the Todd Shipyard during the Second World War.  When the war ended in 1945 and all the war production workers were laid off, my dad decided to move our family to his home town of Towanda, Pa, a small town of 3000 people situated on the  banks of the Susquehanna River.  There were 5 of us:  my mom and dad, older sister Barb, younger brother Tom and me.

In 1954 I started my senior year at Towanda High and was voted in as class president.  After graduation I planned to go to college, probably Penn State because of the lower tuition costs.  So everything was humming right along.  But in January 1955 I caught a bad cold which lingered for a long time and left me feeling run down and tired.  I finally was feeling so bad that I went to the doctor who, just as a precaution, took a chest xray. 

That's when it hit the fan!  He took one look at the xray and got in touch with my folks.  He told them he couldn't see my left lung at all and half of my right lung was missing.  He said it was definitely TB and they should be prepared for the worst which wouldn't be long in coming.  I was not told  the doctors prognosis but only that I had TB and would have to spend some time at a sanatorium recovering.  Fortunately, the TB I had contracted was called "surface infiltration" meaning it was on the outside surface of my lungs and had not eaten into the tissue.  I obviously survived and made a full recovery as I am writing this in 2009!
The whole sanatorium eposide was surreal in many ways for a 17 year old and probably changed me in ways that I'm not even aware of today.  The initial 
pages of this website give a fairly detailed account of my experiences at the san.  The remaining pages include info sent to me by other former sanatorium patients and staff, photos of the grounds and buildings, historical data, email contacts and links to other Cresson Sanatorium data of interest on the internet.