Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered

60. Leona Irene Kinley

From: MaryLe' Connolly Smith
Subject: Cresson!

Hello Chuck
My Mom, Leona Irene Kinley (or Kuehnle), was born on January 2, 1908 in Mt. Washington, PA.  She was at Cresson San in the 1920's!  I will have to find out what years.  I just remember hearing about this as a little girl, something about sleeping outside on the screened porches in the freezing weather and being covered in heavy blankets.  I was very young and then my Mom died, not of TB, when I was 8 years old in 1956.  So I really wouldn't have much to add to your endeavor.  I simply found it wonderful, though, to read about this, given the fact that my Mom was there at one time! 
I'm told that my mom had bronchitis as a very young child & suffered from it all of her life.  That is why she was sent to Cresson, I'm told.  Apparently they treated all lung diseases?  Or maybe they weren't sure if she had TB or not, so sent her there?  Everyone is dead who would know except one aunt who was very young at the time when my Mom was at Cresson so she wouldn't know either.  You know how medicine wasn't too 'advanced' in the early 20th century.  I was told the story that when my Mom went to get married in 1931, she went to a doctor who assured her that she did not have TB, so who knows?

I have an old snapshot that I'm almost certain were taken at Cresson, but not positive. My Mom is in a playground and there are buildings in the background.   I think one of my aunts told me this years ago, but being young, I didn't pay too much attention then.  Wish I had!  Of course back in those days, people rarely wrote on the back of pix to identify.  I do have a snapshot of my Mom on which it is written on the back.  It says it was taken before she went to the 'San.'  But of course it was taken at their house on Mt. Washington. 

I do remember that I was told by my Mom when I was very young that she had long 'banana curls' but had to get them cut off at Cresson for some reason.  And in the pix which says on the back that it was before she left for the 'San', she does have long banana curls.  In the pix taken on the playground, her hair is cropped short.  And there is another snapshot in a neighborhood, maybe back in Pittsburgh, but not sure on that.  On the back it says something about Leona looking good and it being taken while she was in the 'San', maybe written by my grandma?  And then something my Mom wrote on the back and it sounds like she is not at home where the pix was taken.  

Also, in the early '50's my Mom spent time, maybe a year, at Leech Farm in Pittsburgh.  This time, according to my brother who told me recently, she did, indeed, have TB.  He said my Dad was so upset and didn't know what to do.  Somehow, someone pulled strings and he got her into Leech Farm.  They gave her the new, experimental drug, Terramycin.  My brother is 15 years older than I so he remembers, very well, going there to visit her and how happy she was that she was gaining weight.  And that she was finally declared cured. 
I was about 3 when she went there.  I remember her being gone and coming home to visit every-so-often.  My brother and Dad went to visit her, but I wasn't allowed to so I had to stay with babysitters.  I remember when she was home that my Dad had to scald the dishes every night with boiling water, after washing them.  My Mom had to get chest X-rays periodically, and I did too.  I don't remember having any lung problems until whooping cough when I was 7 and bronchitis as I was older.
I do remember my Mom always having to sleep propped up, coughing up sputum a lot and always having Kleenex on her nightstand and a paper bag in which to throw the used tissues.  She took Elixer cough medicine, & lozenges throat discs, I think they were called.  They were very strong and I didn't like them.  They were little flat things, the size of a nickel.  My Mom was always sickly from as far back as I can remember.  She couldn't even bend over to the use a dustpan, so I always held it for her.  She couldn't do much at all and spent a lot of time either resting or in bed.  She was always very frail, and always coughing, from my earliest memories.

Well, I just wanted to touch base with someone who has actual memories of Cresson, even though 30 or so years later since my Mom was there.  I look forward to reading the stories, etc. on your website.  I Googled it right away & found your site.



3. A photo taken in about 1921 at Mt. Washington, Pa. before Leona went to the san. The woman on the left is Leona's older sister Marion who was about 19. Next is Leona in the white dress and long banana curls at age 13. In the background is Leona's younger brother Billy at age 5.

5.  This photo has a note on the back which reads, "This was while Leona was home. Doesn't she look good?" It may have been taken when Leona was home on leave from the san.

4.  Leona at the Children's Playground at the san. Her long banana curls have been cut short for an easier to tend hairdo. Behind her is the Men's West Wing Ward building.