I hope I can call you by your
first name since I am 82 years old. This is my story:
My mother died in 1933
from TB. I was one month short of being six years old and my brother was born
just one year earlier. We were regularly tested for TB. When I was eight years old and my brother was three, we had to live with our Aunt Mary. She had us both in the same room and when she brought us meals
she had to boil the dishes and silverware so no one in her family could catch it. The
same thing went for bed clothes. After a year we were taken to Cresson. It was 1936 and I was nine and my brother was 5.
I was put in the main hospital
until I was examined and ready to be moved. I don’t know where my brother
was. I only know that the ward looked like it was a mile long. I was scared to death wondering what was going to happen to me. Well,
the next morning I woke up and was the same person, so I decided it was going to be all right.
About a month later I was sent to Children’s House. It was a beautiful
place. The first floor housed the boys where my brother was and I was on the
Christmas was a very special
time for those of us who couldn’t go home. A huge Christmas tree was in
the center of the building and it was beautiful. We marched to the dining room
where we sang Christmas carols and each child received an onion stocking with an orange in the toe, an apple in the heel and
some hard candy besides. In the winter we went to school in the morning and again
after supper. But in the summer we only went in the morning and after supper
we went to the playground. If there was a movie those who behaved themselves
could go, but of course I didn’t know how to behave. So our Ward Mistress
had me clean her room. She shut me up by telling me I could play with her jewelry.
I loved the tunnel because it
was dark and I could run up it and scream as loud as I could because it echoed. There
was usually a nurse waiting for me when I came back down and she would lecture me in a very nice way. Everyone was treated very well. The food was good and every
Thursday for supper we had pie for desert and Sunday supper ended with ice cream. Who
could ask for anything better?
Mt brother had his tonsils
and adenoids taken out when he was there. I don’t know when he went home
or how he got there; I was just told that he had gone home. I went home in 1939
but I lost all the weight I had gained and was run down, so I had to go back in again in 1940.
Then I was discharged the summer before Pearl Harbor in 1941.
But my experience with
TB wasn’t over though. In 1947 it was discovered that my TB had gone into
my female organs, appendix, part of my bowels and half my pelvic bone. I had
major surgery. I had to keep being tested for a long time. I had a few incidents but they got taken care of. My brother’s
TB went to his eyes and he became blind in one eye. It was called uveitis. He later died from cancer.
Now I’m a healthy old woman
with fond memories of my years at Cresson. The best part of my life is that I
got better and have six great sisters and five great brothers. Fortunately none
of them ever caught TB from my brother and me. I feel my life is a blessing from