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Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Creator: Frank L. Wright, Jr. (author)
Date: 1947
Publisher: National Mental Health Foundation, Inc.
Source: Available at selected libraries
Figures From This Artifact: Figure 2  Figure 3  Figure 4  Figure 5  Figure 6  Figure 7  Figure 8  Figure 9  Figure 10  Figure 11  Figure 12  Figure 13  Figure 14  Figure 15  Figure 16  Figure 17

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(Based on reports 681 and 706)


"In some ways it's like a stock-yard -- and other ways, it's not," mused Tex. He was sitting on guard outside the patients' exercise yard, looking through the high, iron fence into the small enclosed area where seven hundred patients obtained their only experience of outdoor life.


A gust of breeze swept across the dry, barren yard and tossed dust in Tex's eyes. It also brought a foul odor from that corner of the yard where patients answered nature's call. Masses of men milled about, walking to and fro in the enclosure; others lay exposed in the hot sun; a few wallowed in the corner of filth and mud; others huddled together under two small shelter porches. A babble of meaningless sounds and an undercurrent of fear and restlessness reached out to Tex. "Yes," he thought, "in some ways it is certainly like a stockyard."


Bit in other ways it wasn't. Tex had never seen a stockyard without a drinking trough. The hospital yard was as devoid of drinking fountains as it was of toilets. And as Tex began to single out individuals and watch them, he found a variety of interest among the mass of men that was lacking in any stockyard.


There at his usual post stood the "preacher," weaving back and forth, gesticulating and clasping hands, holding forth endlessly (in an unintelligible gibberish) to an immense crowd -- which paid no heed. The "athlete" weaved in and out of the crowd, unnoticed, as he did his road work and his shadow boxing. Pacing up and down on the walk, spouting unheeded venom at the President and the nation, was the political blasphemer. A "soldier" trudged wearily round and round the yard with his knapsack (a cleverly folded handkerchief) dangling at his side and his heart set on heroism. The "magician" snatched a rare and beautiful bird out of the air and exhibited it to the unseeing multitude; the "ballet dancer," completing a hesitant pirouette, bowed graciously before an unappreciative audience. The "worshipper" fell on his knees and made the sign of the cross at every turn, and the "evangelist" pushed through the crowd shouting in a sing-song chant, "What you need today is a personal Lord and Savior."


"No," mused Tex, "it's not like a stockyard. I guess it's like nothing else on earth, except ..."


Tex didn't let himself complete the thought. He had been captured in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, and he tried never to let himself think of those long, hard months he had spent in the Nazi prisoners' camp.


(Based on report 1101)


The three years that Mr. and Mrs. Rose had been apart during the war had pretty well messed up their family life. Their home and furnishings had all been sold, and Mr. Rose wasn't sure he could start in earning their living again right away. So it seemed like a good idea when they decided to go out to the state hospital to work for a year or so. Room and board would be provided, and even the small salary of sixty dollars a month would amount to a little something with two of them working. Besides, they'd be lending a hand during the shortage of hospital workers, and they might really enjoy the work.


At the hospital, the Roses talked to Mrs. Kennett, the nursing supervisor, one of the two registered nurses employed by the 1700-patient hospital. Mrs. Kennett seemed pleased at the prospect of getting two new employees. She made it quite clear how badly the hospital needed attendants, and what a big help an intelligent man and woman would be. She indicated that she thought married couples were especially valuable in caring for mental patients. The Roses were quite pleased with the prospect.


Mrs. Kennett took them over to their living quarters. "This is the female disturbed building, and our quarters for married couples are in the attic," said Mrs. Kennett. She led the way through a foul-smelling ward which reminded Mrs. Rose of the lion house at the zoo. "You have to go through this one ward to reach the steps," explained Mrs. Kennett, "but from then on, you go right up to the living quarters."


They went right up. Mr. Rose, who used to do such things in the army to keep his mind occupied, counted the steps -- there were just ninety-two of them. Mrs. Kennett opened the door at the top of the steps, and the Roses stepped into a dingy little hall. There were four straight chairs and a folding card table in the hall. The December, 1941, issue of Screenland and last week's comic strip lay open on the table. Six rooms opened off the hall.


"There are three other married couples living up here, but you can have your choice of room 4 or 5," announced Mrs. Kennett. Each room contained two iron beds, two straight chairs, two dormer windows, one chest of drawers, one rag rug and a bare electric light bulb. One room also had a table which Mr. Rose estimated measured ten inches by two feet. But they chose the other room because its windows' looked out on a cornfield instead of down into the "bull pen" where disturbed female patients paced back and forth all day long.

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