Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered
the following email and material from Jeffrey C in August 2010. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Cresson Sanatorium
My name is Jeffrey and I have been doing some research on my family and came across a letter, sent from
the Pennsylvania State Sanitorium for TB postmarked 1935. The letter was sent to my Great Grandmother by my Uncle Charles
(1916-1975). Unfortunately, I do not know a lot about my Uncle Charles but am including the text of the letter so you
have an idea what I am talking about. I have scanned the letter, so I have his original handwriting, as well as a few
photos I have of him in case you are interested in those as well. If you do not feel I have anything you would like
to add to your site (this does not talk a lot about the place, just his life there as you will see) then please feel free
to ignore this email. It has simply been fascinating to learn about a family member this way and ran across your site
in an attempt to find out what kind of sanitarium he was in and possibly why. You have answered both of those questions
for me and I am grateful.
Chuck Felton Note:
The following is the letter written by Charles Dick in 1935. It appears to be his first letter home since
entering the san as it talks about his initial blood tests, X-ray and other san procedures. It represents an interesting
"slice of life" and a young man's first impressions of the san.
* Transcriber's notes in italics
Sat 10:30 A.M
I haven't much to write about yet because not a whole lot has happened so far. We had a good
supper last night with plenty of it. I had a whole half-plate of macaroni & cheese, two slices of French toast (fried
bread) with syrup, a bowl of corn soup, two slices of bread with about a half-pound of butter, a hunk of cake; coffee &
milk. We don't have to be in bed all of the time. We go about 9:00 P.M.
and have to stay until 6:00 A.M. Breakfast is served about 8:00. After this we have our temperature & pulse
For breakfast this A.M. we had soft-boiled eggs, two slices toast, warm cereal, fruit, (apricots),
coffee or coco, & milk. We get plenty of milk-every meal & at least once & sometimes twice between. I got a blood test in the arm this A.M. & had & ex-ray taken of my chest.
We are allowed to smoke if we go outside. Most of them either smoke or chew.
We have a good radio service here.
On every bed is a head phone & the radio is turned on all the time until 9:00 P.M.
(written in the top margin)
I hope it don't take you more than a week to make this out
Be sure & send one of the papers up here.
Each one has to furnish their own reading, unless you hook someone else’s. Oh
yeah, I got a free bath yesterday. A guy who looks to me like Frankenstein gave it to me. The nurse looked at
my head & said I didn't have anything but dandruff. She looks to be about 90.
I am expecting all of you up next Sunday. Paul has the visiting hours & I'll be looking for you.
Sat P.M. 2:45
through with our rest period.
(written in the top margin) P.S. ask pop how his gophers are coming.
I'll probably write again Mon.
Had to be in bed from 12:45 to 2:30. Aren't allowed to write or talk &
the radio is turned off. Now from 2:30 to 4:00 we must be in bed but can read, write, talk etc. We had baked beans
for dinner with potatoes, applesauce, bread, milk, & tea (circled). Tasted like ?!?X?!.
They have plenty of
air up here. The wind never stops blowing. The windows are open all the time I can look out my window right into
the heart of the mountain. This is all there is because there ain't anymore. Be sure to write & come up Sun.
I just thought
of some more to write. I bought a pack of cigarettes this A.M. Every A.M.
a guy goes through & takes orders for things from the store. You pay for them when you get them. Every P.M. another fellow goes through & gathers up all the letters to be mailed. Each morning
he brings each one their mail. Some service eh?
Sat P.M. 7:00
through with supper & another rest period (6:00 to 7:00). Had a good supper with: Vegetable soup, fried bologna
(about 1 lb.) cold pears,
(written in the top margin) P.S - I bought a thermometer to-day.
Most everyone has their own. Anyone uses the states! Not such a good idea.
corn starch, sliced tomatoes,
cottage cheese, bread, milk, & coffee. What a meal. About 50 kids are having a wiener roast outside. They’re making plenty of racket. Had a thundershower about an hour ago. Sure did put it down.
Give this to Ross & Gladys
& Paul & Jane to read (if they can read it), for I don't have time to write to them.
I wrote to Castles & now
I must write to Herm & Bud.
Well-so long & I'll
see you all next Sun.
Tell Glenn he should be here.
- Charles -
The following details about the life
of Charles Dick were sent to me by his son, Raymond:
Charles Jacob Dick was born April 29,
1916 to Albert V. and Gertrude (Zimmerman) Dick. In
1939 he graduated from Boiling Springs High School, about 6 miles south of Carlisle, PA.
Shortly after, both Charles and his sister Dorothy contracted TB at the same time.
It was suspected that they caught it at a diner from one of the cooks. Charles
entered Cresson san two years later in 1935 at age nineteen and was discharged sometime in 1939. His sister Dorothy did not recover and died of TB.
Following his discharge from Cresson,
Charles married Beulah Donnely on November 11, 1945 at the First Evangelical Church in Carlisle, PA. When they first got married they operated a small grocery store on West Louther Street in Carlisle. Later, Charles worked for the PA Liquor Control Board as a State
Store clerk and manager. He subsequently retired on disability with 30 years of service.
Charles died on October 12, 1974 of congestive heart failure due to emphysema caused by the TB contracted as a teen.
Chuck Felton Note:
In addition to the photos of Charles below, he also appears in photos #12 & 24 on the Eugene Kuhn page.
1. All the children of the Dick Family: (L to R) Paul, Dorothy,
Charles, Glenn and Gladys Dick. Taken about 1930 when Charles was 14.
3. A family visit after Charles was on meals, probably taken during
the same visit as photo #4. L to R is Paul, Gladys, Glenn and Charles. This photo and #4 were
taken near the Power House parking lot which can be seen in the right background in both photos.
5. The san parking lot on the right and the Power House/Laundry, with
its unmistakable huge smokestack, in the background.
7. Charles with
an unidentified friend.
9. Charles all
bundled up against the cold winter weather and leaning on a birdbath. Appears to be taken near the Men's Cottages.
11. Charles married Beulah Donnely at the First
Evangelical Church on North St. in Carlisle, Pa.
Charles at the san in his early 20's. Even in later years he still retained his youghful good looks and all that
hair as the photo at right shows.
2. Charles in the solarium playing with double exposure techniques.
This was shortly after he arrived at the san around 1935.
is dated 24 Apr 1938 and shows L to R:
Ross Lebo (Charles' sister Gladys' husband)
Paul Dick (Charles' older brother)
Dick (Paul's wife)
Carolyn Dick (Paul and Jane's daughter in front)
Charles Dick (in the back)
Glenn Dick (Charles'
Gertrude Dick (Charles' mother)
6. If you look closely a the center of the photo, you can make out
the vague image of a flag. So the building on the left edge is the Admin Building where the flag was flown,
with the West Wing in the background.
8. Charles is
likely standing in front of one of the Men's Cottages. The man in the background is unidentified.
10. His long winter
coat and dress hat make him look much older than his early 20's. Taken beside men's West Wing.
12. Charles, his
mother Gertrude and wife Beulah on their Wedding Day on November 11, 1945.
taken in 1973 at his mother's birthday celebration. Charles was then 57 and his mother 86.
L toR is Charles, Glenn and Paul in back, and his mother Gertrude
and older sister Gladys Lebo in front.