I was a patient in the Cresson TB Sanatorium from Sept 1934 thru
December 1935 when I was 4 years old. I am now 80 yrs old and my memory is not all it could be. I
do remember being housed in the "Big House" (maybe West Wing) when my mother, Susan Hall, was admitted. It
was her second confinement there. She had been there from the summer of 1929 thru spring of 1931. We were
diagnosed with the disease while living in Greene Co. Pa. My dad was a coal miner. He
was raised in Gallitzin, Pa and my mother was raised in Cresson, Pa. After some time in the main hospital, I was transferred
to Children's House. I remember going thru a tunnel that connected the two buildings. This was done
to prevent moving patients from one building to the other in the open when the weather was bad. It was
scary to me.
I remember we each had our own sputum cups in which we expectorated and they
were checked to determine how we were progressing. They put me in school and I was in the 2nd grade when I was discharged.
The result was I graduated from high school at sixteen. I remember a Mexican boy dying. He
had the bed next to me. While in the Children’s House I had a relapse and had to go back to the "Big
House”. Again, the trip thru the awesome tunnel. I did get back to Children’s
House from which I was discharged and my mother was discharged at the same time. My mother got to visit
Food--I remember getting a hardboiled egg often. I
learned not to like them. We got greens they said were spinach but they weren't. I
love spinach to this day and detest kale and other inedible healthy greens. I learned to run hot water
on a shredded wheat biscuit prior to adding milk. I do that still. The tapioca pudding
was so thick you could push a fork into it and lift the whole pudding out of the bowl. We called it 'frog
Peggy and Virginia Henry from Cresson were in the san at the same time I was. Their
mother and dad were also there. When the Henrys got discharged, they set up a photography business in Cresson.
Peggy was two years ahead of me and Virginia was one year behind me. The State of Pa
gave all students the 'chicken pick test' and mine always turned red which resulted in a chest x-ray. All
they ever found were scars on the lungs. It was not fun being a "lunger". Most
kids got over being afraid to be around me, but parents have long memories of my family history.
We went from
the san to Gallitzin to live with my paternal grandparents in Dec 1935. The summer of 1936 we moved to
Cresson with my maternal grandmother on 315 Sixth Street and there I was raised. I attended St. Francis
Xavier Catholic School and Cresson High School from which I graduated in 1946. I had paper routes for J.
B. MacCardle and worked at Latterner’s store. I knew Mr. & Mrs. Kuhn and Joe Hajdu and they would
ask how my mother and I were doing.
When looking back I feel some of the fear that people had
of TB was replaced by their fear of polio which was a horrific disease for children and there were more local cases of polio
than there were of TB. However, when I turned 17 and said I was going into the Army, my parents were reluctant
to sign the papers, which was required for a 17 year old. They did sign with complete confidence that I
would fail the physical because I was a robust 6 foot tall youth who scaled 128 lbs soaking wet.
Well, I'm still here today. I spent my 18th, 19th, & 20th birthdays in Alaska.
I also spent my 69th birthday up there as well as my wife and I drove up there on the Alcan Highway. My
wife, Lois McGuire, was born and raised in Cresson and is a 1947 graduate of Cresson High School. I'm
still 6' tall but I weigh about 222lbs. I've had many health problems but no recurrence of TB.
I feel my san experience has helped me in many ways. This world is worth living so "RELAX AND ENJOY IT"