Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered
Joseph Marhefka 1

Hi Chuck,

 My name is Marlene (Marhefka) Truscello.  I'm from Johnstown, Pa.  I was very excited to read the article in our Tribune Democrat on Sunday, Sept. 6th about the TB center!!  You see, I'm not a former patient or a staff member, but my father was a patient from June 7, 1962 to January 8, 1963.  I was only 8 years old at the time but I do remember him being gone and my mom going to see him on Sundays when my aunt and uncle could take her.  I was never allowed to go.  I can remember typing a paper my dad would read to me so I could practice typing (or so he told me!!) after he came back home.  Years later, I realized that it was a journal that he kept while he was in the center!  I still have that journal, however it was never finished being typed, but the last papers are in his own handwriting.  There are 37 typed sheets and 8 sheets, front and back, in his handwriting.




My dad, Joseph Marhefka, passed away on May 15, 2000.  I read the journal again after he passed, and never got it back out again until I read the article on Sunday.   But to read his version of the place, reminds me of a prison!  He tells of all the tests he had that came back negative, yet he couldn't leave. They took out part of his lung, yet they said it was a scar from when he had scarlet fever at a young age, that showed up and not TB!   But he was there for seven months and one day!


He mentions some names that I thought may be familiar to you.  Another patient Bob Calhoun, Frontz, and a black man last name Lamb;  a nurse or aide named Anna May Wilson; Dr. M, Dr. Mattes (maybe the same one), Richard Spriggs the barber, Bill Krutch (patient), Eddie (a male nurse), Harry Grandy and John Lentorski,(both patients) just to name a few.  Please let me know if you know any of them.


I didn't mention a gentleman that my dad became pretty good friends with named Joe Bukovac who was also from Johnstown and lived not too far from us.  I think they got together pretty often after they were both back home.  I remember seeing him a few times.  


My dad also made hats on a round wood loom with nails.  I could give you one of them if you don't already have one. He showed me how to make placemats on a mesh with holes and yarn. Unfortunately, I don't have any of these.  I know he also made a wallet for my mother and a type of belt made from leather pieces that were looped together. 


I'm happy to hear that you are one of the ones that made it out of there.  And I hope you are doing well now!  My e-mail address is


Thank you,



1.  Joe resting in his corner bed in the ward.  Each ward patient had a bed, night stand and chair.  It was all we  needed.
3.  Enjoying a nice warm day outdoors.  Joe is standing behind the bench and appears to be wearing sun glasses.   Joe Bukovec is sitting on the left.
5.  Joe is in the middle in this photo and also in #6..
7.  Joe is on the right.
9.  Joe, on the right, and a friend enjoying a cigarette break.  Smoking was permitted indoors in the locker room and  outdoors on the porch and grounds.  
2.  Joe feeding a squirrel.  The squirrels were fed so often by the patients that they became very tame, more like pets.
4.  A group photo on the large outdoor porch.  Joe is on the far left.
6.  Patients were encouraged to spend time in the sun, which was thought to improve the immune system.
8.  Joe is standing on the left.  That might be Dick Spriggs, the san barber, sitting on the left in street clothes.
10.  Joe showed his daughter Marlene how to make placemats using a plastic mesh with holes.  The holes were filled in with yarn and the edges were tied in knots with a fringed finish.