May 19, 2009

In the midst of a waning pandemic

I was born in 1954, more than a decade before a cure for tuberculosis would be found. But its spread was already on the decline in the robust post-War economy that provided better nutrition and housing for most.
My father was a tuberculosis specialist since World War II, when he treated the displaced persons who found themselves in the British zone of Germany. He was a British Red Cross doctor.
After being chief resident at Seaview Hospital in Staten Island, NY, he came to Ohio to be a doctor at Molly Stark hospital and tuberculosis controller for Stark County. He skin tested at schools for TB exposure and we sat by the radio to see if levies to support the hospital would pass.
My playmates were children recovering from TB and no longer communicable. Usually, they were black and poor. I grew up without prejudice as dad took me to Mexican migrant worker camps, also looking for TB.
Molly Stark mirrored the tuberculosis sanatoriums built by the WPA in the depression. Now, Molly Stark is about to become a park in the great Canton OH Stark County Parks system.
The hospital was bordered by a small forest that produced three or four varieties of edible mushrooms and on its edge was a small cemetery whose grave stones were turning to sqand back then, nearly 50 years ago. The campus had a steam boiler that heated all the structures, and ran the steam pipes to them in tunnels, tunnels that I could bicycle on rainy days.
What once was the children hospital, and later residences for a couple doctors, was eventually turned over to Civil Defense. The Nurses Home, where I practiced my piano lessons, became home to the Stark County Board of Education, whose offices I visited coming to and from the piano. Any wonder why I was good at being an edudation reporter later in life?
So here is a link to the wreckage of my past. I hope you find it interesting.


AHealey said...

Hi Zina - I have only recently discovered your blog, but I really enjoy reading it. What an interesting childhood you had! Keep up the writin, it is much appreciated.


Nancy said...

I'm looking at the hospital photos now and I find them fascinating and also very sad. I hate to see beautiful buildings laying in ruins. Like many other sanatoriums, schools, and mental hospitals from that era, they had beautiful architecture and some really neat features, like those tunnels and hidden passageways. I work at a state prison that formerly was a mental hospital, and I know well all those steam tunnels and below-ground rooms. It's sad to attend meetings in our formerly grand auditorium that once functioned as a theater, movie house and concert hall.

Some of the stone carvings, arches and balconies at the Stark Hospital remind me of the old ruins of the Yucatecan haciendas.