Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered
Delores Kitchen
I received the following information from Delores Kitchen of Mackeyville, Pa in July 2010. 

Dear Chuck,

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 second floor.

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 God.

Delores Kitchen

Delores Kitchen and her brother Jerry, who was always called Bud.