Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered
Emails 4

Shirley Wahl                                    mouse@zbzoom.net

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Henry Schirmacher           Klogger5@aol.com       

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Joyce Byrnes Veckov       joyce1959@atlanticbb.net           

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Nadine Sufczynski             nsufczynski@verizon.net  

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Cheryl Beckwith        beckwith2004@netzero.com             

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Subject: Sojourn At Cresson

Dear Chuck: 

I had just graduated from high school, started a terrific job in Pittsburgh at the railroad station payroll department.  This was a big thing, for I was from a very small town and landing a job in Pittsburgh meant a great deal!  I was only there a very short time, when it was discovered I had contracted TB.  My older sister and father had already spent time in Cresson.  I was also recently engaged to a wonderful pre-med student.  So, as you say, all my "ducks were lined up and in order"!  Then catastrophe, I wasn't quite ready for this.

 

But I was very lucky, mine was in the very early stages.  It seemed like the whole place was full of "old" people.  But I met one very lovely lady who took me under her wing.  I used to cry at night in my bed, during the day in the restroom.  She always seemed to find me and was able to console me that this too shall pass!  I don't believe I will ever forget her, nor do I wish to.  I spent 18 months in Cresson, very difficult, but alas, very necessary.  Thank God there was such a place for "the cure".

 

I also was very fortunate for I had a wonderful fiancÚ.  He was there for me and we have now been married fifty-four years.  We have four children: two are physicians, one a registered nurse and the other a "domesticated engineer"!  We also have thirteen grandchildren.  So, you see, the Good Lord has been very good to me and mine.

 

It is strange how your small article in our local paper brought back such a flood of memories.  My sister and my father are both now gone.  They too were cured in Cresson.  Come to think of it, I had an Uncle who also spent some time there.  Does it have to run in families?  I can remember going to family reunions and having our family sit apart from the rest of the families with our own separate food that no one else wished to share.  This was a very hard time for me (I was still young, my father had contracted TB  while I was still in high school).

 

It still amazes me, though, that TB is treated in the home now.  It still scares me!

 

Sincerely,

Shirley Wahl

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Sent: Apr 19, 2010 
Subject: Searching for someone who may have known my mother

Dear Mr. Felton: Thank you for the caring newspaper article pertaining to the Cresson Sanatorium. Raised in many foster homes from the age of three to age eighteen, I, thereafter, entered the USAF and used my GI Bill to pick up my BA Degree from Penn State University and, later my MS Degree. My question to you and to your readers is this: It was stated to me that my mother had TB at an early age and had to spend time at a large "TB" facility. This may have taken place between the years 1937 and l940. Is there anyone out there who, possibly knew her - if and when she may have attended the Cresson Center? Her name was: SUSAN SCHIRMACHER and she may have been around 21 years of age at that time. Thank you again Mr. Felton for you most caring article.

Henry Schirmacher

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Sent: Apr 19, 2010 
Subject: Cresson TB Sanatorium

Dear Chuck,

I read with interest an article in the Altoona Mirror on Sunday, April 18, 2010.  My father was from Cresson, PA and he had many brothers and sisters and one of his brothers was at the Sanatorium for awhile - I never knew if he had TB or worked there.  Perhaps you remember Walter Byrnes.  I know we only went back in there once.  I had no idea it was such a large complex.     Let me know if you knew my Uncle Walter and if so, what do you remember about him?   I do know that he left this area, married and has three children.  He & his wife divorced but that's about all I know about him.        Joyce Byrnes Veckov

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Sent: Apr 19, 2010 
Subject: Cresson

My mother was in and out of Cresson several times. She was born in 1916 .  Her father had TB when she was born.  He died when she was 9 months old.  Back then they believed that in cases like that she would have TB.  She never said much about Cresson except that she remembered the county nurse would come and get her from school and take her to Cresson where she would stay for short periods of time.  She said when she was in third grade the nurse came and took her to Cresson and they kept her  for 6 months.  They never treated her, just made her live there.  After six months she weighed only 35 lbs.  Her stepdad said if they were not going to treat her he was taking her home.  That if she was going to die she would be with family.  MY mom just died 6 months ago in Oct 2009.  She never had any signs of TB, but because of her history of going to Cresson she could not get life insurance until after 1950.  Then they were only small policies.  My mother’s name was Marie Charlotte Gailbrath at the time she was in Cresson.

Thank you for letting me share this with you and the others.  Nadine Sufczynski

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May 1, 2010 
Subject: Cresson

Hello Charles,
I did some research back in 2007 or so.  I just started again and I was so happy to find you. My mom was in Cresson about the same time you were but of course you would have never met her.  Do you remember black haired women who was visited by a dark haired macho looking guy who would bring her candy such as a giant sugar baby sucked that she broke on the sidewalk and shared with those standing around.  My mom was so giving.
 
Her name was Doris Jean Newell (McFadden).   I am putting together a memorial page for her for Mothers Day.  When she was in Cresson she had been married for a few years and had three babies.  Now that I think of it I may be off a year or two.  She told me of the treatments and other things that I remembered in reading your notes.  I sure hope your still out there.  Please tell me how I can get hooked up with your site and I will give you what I remember of Mom's story.
 
I have a picture of my mom and dad sitting on one of the window sills on one of his Sunday visits.  I will put that on your site.  It is a nice picture.  Thank you for your hard work Sir.

Sincerely,

Cheryl Beckwith 
 
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