Mr. Felton, I much enjoyed the article you
wrote about sanatoriums, especially about the Cresson sanatorium, which you, of course, have very personal experience with.
In fact, you might have been a patient there when my aunt, Esther Mae Bishop Hanlon, was a registered nurse at the Cresson
"san". She served there in the mid fifties. I read your article in the
Allentown, PA Morning Call newspaper.
Esther Mae (known as "Boodie” or “Bish”)
was the youngest of 11 children, 7 boys, 4 girls, born to Edward and Mae Bishop. My
mother, Irma Bishop ("Hon") Rieg, was the middle child of the 11. They were all born in Cresson and raised in a
house located at 228 Cathedral Avenue in Cresson.
While working at the san as a nurse in the
1950’s Boodie met Lorraine Ott and they became lifetime friends. Ott, as
she was known, was a former TB san patient who stayed on and worked for many years as a telephone operator. Our family
heard some stories about the san and they mostly came from Ott. I believe she was from Slippery Rock in Butler County.
Both of them were very good athletes who
played softball. Bootie played well into her sixties. She was probably the most competitive person I ever met. She
wanted to win and it didn’t matter who she was competing against, whether a grandchild or a fellow adult competitor. She would do anything to win!
Boodie died in 2001 and I believe Ott died
around 2005. I participate in the Pa Hero Walk and I proudly wear Bish’s
pin which says in gold script “Bish”.
My brother Frank ("Ticker") and I were born
in Uniontown, Fayette County. Ticker and I went to an orphanage called Girard College in Philadelphia (actually the country's
oldest orphanage) for boys whose fathers had died. Our dad died from mitral
valve disease when Ticker was 5 and I was 1 1/2. I bring up Girard College (which was actually an orphanage for grades
1-12, not a college as we know them) because your article relating about you being "a year in bed" reminded me of our experience
at Girard. There was a very old doctor on staff in the 1950s and if any boy was suspected of a heart murmur Doc
Bauer would put those boys in our infirmary for one year. We had boys who "disappeared" from our midst for
a year and the reappeared, usually in the grade behind, because I do not think there was much tutoring of the boys while they
spent their year in the infirmary. Anyway, it kind of relates to your experience at the san, other than the big difference
is that our boys were not actively sick and basically were confined to bed for a year. That must have been very trying
for kids under 12 years old.
I would be interested in your blog and whatever
writing you are doing and will do. Did you notice that everybody in our family has nicknames! God bless.
Michael Bishop "Bish" Rieg