Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered
Elwood "Skip" Shrauder
I received the following story and photos from Skip Shrauder of Topsail Beach, NC in September 2010.  His email is
The following is my best recollection of the 15 months spent at the Rockville, Indiana and Cresson, Pa sanatoriums.
In April of 1960 I was working at Eastern Express in Terre Haute, Indiana.  I was 21 at the time and had been transferred there from Harrisburg, Pa.
I came down with what to me was only a spring cold.  It would go away and come back several times but then in the latter part of May, I was in my apartment when I started coughing up blood.  Since I was alone and had no family there, I called Dick Shaul who was m y boss at the time.  He came immediately and took me to the hospital.  The staff apparently had an idea as to what was wrong as they asked Dick to go back and get pajamas and a robe.
I was admitted and immediately put into isolation.  After a few days, I was transferred to the sanatorium in Rockville, Indiana.  Dick came again to my rescue and there we were, in his car with surgical masks on, driving to Rockville.
When I was admitted and shown my bed, an old gentleman named Garney walked up to me and said, "I hate to see a young man like you come in here because you will never get out".  I sure didn't need to hear that and I told him I would be out in a year.
I was so scared that I never thought to ask someone to call my mom and dad back in Pa to let them know.  When mom did not hear from me in a few days, she called Eastern Express and they contacted Dick who in turn called her to let her know where I was.
I was not allowed out of bed unless a staff member put me in a wheelchair so I would not have to walk.  My first night there, Margaret, came by to see if I needed a shot for pain.  I told her I did not want one and that I did not have any pain at all.  She and I became good friends and she would stop by and sit and talk with  me.  I can still picture her in my mind after all these years!
As I got settled in I met other patients and, unlike Cresson, we were allowed to have and wear street clothes. We could walk around the grounds and in my time there only one patient walked away and he was caught and put in one of the three jail cells they had there.  He was only in it for a few days, but he did not try it again.
A friend, Guadalupe Caudillo, and I would go to occupational therapy (OT) and work in ceramics where Mabel, a former patient, was our instructor.  That helped us pass the time and gave us something to do.  I remember we only had to pay for the glazes we used.  The slip, firing, brushes, etc. were paid for by the state.
Meals were very good although every morning there were scrambled eggs for breakfast.  I came to the point where I could no longer eat them.  I was unaware that anyone who did not finish their food was logged on a form that the dietician reviewed.  After a few days, she stopped by my bed and asked me why I was not eating my eggs.  I explained that I could not eat them anymore.  She said I could have them cooked any way I wanted if I would only eat them.  I don't know if I was the only person she did this for or not, but fried eggs were so much better than scrambled!
After a few months my friend Guadalupe "Lupe", a migrant worker, was released for transfer back to his home state of Texas.  He went back to Martindale, Texas and we kept in touch for awhile, but he has passed away.
Rockville was not nearly as large as Cresson so we did not have movies and such other than ceramics.  As I look back on it, weird as it was, we used to use the gurneys from the morgue and have hallway races!
As time went on, I got used to not having family visits as they lived too far away.  My boss would come up to see me and that helped a lot.  Then in one of my letters, I was told my parents, brother and a friend were coming to visit for a few days.  I thought that day would never arrive!  They spent a few days out there with me and I was negative so I was able to get day passes and leave the hospital. 
When they left I wanted so badly to hide in that car and disappear, but I knew that I could not run from what I had.  I would only take it with me.  A few months  later, I was told that my dad had arranged to have me transferred back to Pa to a sanatorium there. 
Arrangements were made with TWA to fly me from Indianapolis to Harrisburg.  Rockville supplied confirmation that I was not a risk and I was headed home on December 4th, which is my birthday.  I was allowed to spend four days with my parents and then they had to take me to Cresson.
When I checked in, they assigned me a bed in a ward and once again I felt the empty feeling of being alone and having to make new friends.
I was only in my bed for a few hours when they came and moved me to a ward with younger patients.  There I met Dan Sexton who was across the wooden partition from me and would become my best friend.
As time went by, May came and I knew I would not make it out in a year as I stated, but my tests were all coming back negative and I knew I only had a few more to go to hit the 12 I needed.
Cresson was beautiful in the winter and we used to sit on our beds and watch the deer and wild animals.  There was an old building across from our ward which had been the school in years gone by.    I often wondered how many kids went through there.  At the time my cousin, who was only 14, was at Mont Alto TB Sanatorium.  She passed away three weeks ago, so we both did very well after our treatments.
The staff at Cresson was wonderful and my doctor, Dr. Han Sho Ma, had a thick accent, but he was very kind and understanding.  I saw his picture on Page 48 of the scrapbook on this website.  Joe Kokal was the Occupational Therapist in leatherwork and gosh knows how many wallets I made.  I still have mine after all these years but it is in no condition to use!
There were a few deaths and no matter how often it happened, you never got used to it.
I was fortunate enough to get a part time job at the post office.  I would stand in the door and wait for the train to go by.  Just like in the old movies, they would hang the mailbag out and a hook would snatch it and they would keep on going!  After the mail was sorted, I would deliver it to the patients.  Male wards were no problem, but when I got to the females, I had to shout "Mailman coming".  My doctor used to see me flying around delivering the mail and told me to slow down and not walk too fast.  I told him if I were going to break down, I didn't want to do it after I got out and had to come back.
About July I was moved from the ward to a cottage!  I knew I would be leaving shortly and going home.  In August, I was discharged and my parents picked me up.  All those who were my friends were still in the hospital and as we pulled away I could see Dan and the rest looking out.  You bet I cried!  They were tears of joy and sadness at the same time.
I'm hoping to see some folks who may remember me or I them, but at my age I am sure they (with the exception of young Dan) are gone now.
This is my recollection and I hope I did not ramble too much.  There is quite a bit more I could have put in, but this was enough and probably too much!  I hope to talk to some of you next year at the reunion.
Skip Shrauder
                                                 1.  Skip Shrauder's High                                                         School graduation photo  


2.  Paul and Dan.  Photos 2, 3 & 4 were taken at Cresson San.

4.   Paul, Skip and Dan.  Skip is dressed in street clothes and was obviously on meals when this photos was taken.
3.  John, Dino and Dan Sexton in the locker/shower  room, the location of many bull sessions. 

5.  The above is a letter from the Superintendent of the Indiana State Sanatorium in Rockville to the Pa. Department of Health in Harrisburg notifying them that Skip would be transferred to the Lawrence F. Flick State Hospital on December 14, 1961.