I happened to be going through some old issues of Connecticut Circle, a now-defunct publication, when I came across an article in the March 1938 about the (then) recently opened Seaside Sanatorium.
Of course, a lot of use are familiar with Seaside in its current state — an abandoned and dilapidated mental hospital right on the shore of Long Island Sound — but when it was first built, it was a shining medical facility dedicated to children with tuberculosis. From the pictures (which I scanned from the magazine) and the text below, you will see that modern medicine has come a long way in the past 70 years.
This is the main Maher Infirmary, when it was first opened.
So shiny and bright!
Some excerpts from the article —
Nestled before a background of woods is a rambling, four-story structure with ells coming forward at either end, gables topping the ells and a moderate steeple extending up from the very center of the long, horizontal part of the building. The structure stands almost on the beach, facing the vast stretch of blue water. But neither the architecture nor the beautiful setting will warm you up.
Along the entire front of the building are handsomely designed galleries. On each ell, as it protrudes toward the water is a gallery, all protected by high railings. And upon these galleries are cots. And upon these cots, exposed completely to the howling winds and zero temperature are children. They are lying there or playing on the beds, or walking about the galleries—with no other clothing than loin cloths. That’s when you begin to forget how could you are.
Here 142 children, who have learned to deny the heat and the cold for a common cause—health. They are allowing the sun and the wind and the heat and the cold to mend their bones, which have been violated by tuberculosis. The structure, with its other buildings and beautifully laid out grounds, is Connecticut’s Seaside Sanatorium …
… There is no “grind” at Seaside. Everything is accomplished in the spirit of play. Everyone is laughing. The rooms are painted to illustrate children’s stories. It is a place where snow men are builded by near-naked children in the winter and where houses are erected of pure white sand on the beach in summer. Dr. O’Brien is out there playing with them most of the time. It is a question of good food, air and sunshine, and “let nature take its course.”
One of the marvelous features of the institution is he school system where children lose no time from their studies. They are taught in the snappiest classrooms in the State, with excellent desks, handsomely decorated school rooms, with their walls about all glass and their windows generally thrown open …
… All in all it is an ideal institution, headed by an ideal man, in an ideal location. The results of treatment have proven beyond all expectations. It is said there is only one other institution like it in the country. There couldn’t be a better one—and that is why Connecticut points with pride to her accomplishment in the cure of bone and glandular tuberculosis.
A trip to the institution will have a sobering effect upon a thoughtful person. He is very liable to throw his windows open quite a bit wider on zero nights. He may park his automobile a little farther away from his office the next day and hike the remaining difference. He may visit night clubs less often and leave earlier. He might take his son’s Boy Scout activities or his daughter’s Campfire program more seriously. A visit to the institution is said to be especially good for those 40-year-old waist lines.
Again, modern medicine has come a loooooooong way in a relatively short time. Thank goodness.