My mother-in-law spent over a year in a sanatorium for Tuberculosis after my husband was born in the 1950s. It seems timely to share an essay he wrote about this experience.
Wayne’s Essay about his Mother’s TB Experience
On my birthday in late March, as the Coronavirus pandemic was being declared, I thought about the year I was born. I suspect that as Mom was recovering from childbirth in the hospital (mothers may have been allowed a week or more hospital stay in those days), she was probably infected with the tuberculosis (TB) bacteria when someone in the hospital sneezed.
TB, which primarily attacked the lungs, reached epidemic proportions in the early half of the 20th century. Communities across America built isolation sanatoriums where TB patients could be isolated and treated. Antibiotics were introduced in the late 40s and 50s that proved effective in most/many cases to treat the disease. Mom had TB and soon after I was born she had to go into the Glen Lake TB sanatorium in Minnetonka, not far from our future home. My Dad took me to my grandparents house in Hatton, North Dakota, where Grandma and my Dad’s younger sisters took care of me. He continued to work in Minneapolis, away from his newborn son and away from his wife. This went on for more than a year.
It is not hard to imagine what a mental and physical hardship this must have posed for my parents. My Dad had also been in World War II, pulled from his family at a young age to face the stress and uncertainties of war. And he and Mom had been born into the Great Depression. They had to face and endure some of the hardest times in our history.
Yet Mom recovered, and went on to have three more children and enjoyed remarkably good health until she passed away at age 93. My parents were able to enjoy many years of raising the family and watching their grandchildren grow.
Thinking about this helps me put some perspective on our current crisis. It will be hard and stressful. For some, it will be far worse than that. But I am confident we will get through it. Our parents and grandparents have showed the way.
2 thoughts on “Quarantine 1950s Style”
Thanks for sharing that inspirational story! It does give me hope, especially the part about your mother-in-law going on to have more children. And that your dad did okay, even being separated from his mom as a baby!
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I think that while my husband was living with his grandma and aunts as an infant he must have gotten a lot of love and attention.
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