Monday, January 9, 2017

The Scottish Cripple, Grandma, Her Gumdrop Shamrock, The Feminist, J. R. and the Charitable Young Women of Detroit

Detroit Free Press, March 17, 1929
I don't know who Helen C. Bower was but she obviously wrote a feminist column for the Free Press. In her March 17, 1929 writing she mentions an elderly Scottish friend at the institution that she gifted a pot with a gumdrop shamrock inside of it. That woman passed it along to a feeble-minded Irish lady who loved the thing so much that she called it her baby. A housekeeper accidentally knocked it off the woman's bedside table and Grandma was inconsolable and howled like a baby until a suitable replacement was secured.

The Scottish woman was a bit more stoic. She had intolerable pain in her legs from arthritis and needed a frame upon her knees and legs to avoid contact with the bed lest she aggravate the malady further. Despite her ailment the woman remained cheerful, mentally active and ever-graceful.

But human she was and sometimes slipped into morose thoughts of her own mortality, planning out her funeral from the death gown to the notice in the paper. Such is the human spirit to fall into bouts of depression.

Luckily, the kindness of charitable persons, especially some young women benefactors of the old Scottish lady, who not only cared for her financially before she arrived at Eloise but also during her time there, faithfully visiting once a week despite their busy lives, eased her suffering and gave the woman a better quality of life.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

This Carnival Was Different...It Was For 2,000 Mental Patients

Detroit Free Press, August 10, 1962 (enlarge)
Did you know that Eloise had an annual carnival from the 1950s to at least 1962? You do now. Via the guiding hand of Mrs. Christine Douglas the mental patients at Wayne County General Hospital enjoyed games of Pitch-a-Penny, Pluck-a-Duck and Down-a-Clown along with some raucous accordion music and dancing by the Hejnal Band at the Ninth Annual Carnival. There were even fortune-telling booths where everybody who entered received good news about their future.

The patients devoured 75 pounds of popcorn and 3,500 cups of Coca Cola while winning prizes such as sun glasses, records, ball point pens, cosmetics, perfume, stationary and wallets all donated by local businesses.

The event was both therapy and fun for the patients who Supt. Dr. Samuel D. Jacobson said weren't different than the average citizen in their want for normal things despite their afflictions.

Police and Firemen Help in Eloise Charity Project

Detroit Free Press, February 12, 1939
The collective powers of the Detroit and Highland Park police and fire departments under the direction of Mrs. L. D. Coulter and the Progressive Civic League helped to donate musical instruments, books, movie projectors and films, hand-printing machines, and various games to Eloise in February of 1939.

Surely, some of the instruments found their way to the music therapy program and the books to the popular Eloise library. As for the rest of the items, hopefully they'll find their way to some estate sales and grace my presence with a chance to become their owner.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Colorization of Eloise: David Rubinoff & Homer Phillips Concert at Eloise, 1983


I know nothing about David Rubinoff (violinist) or Homer Phillips but this photograph is of them playing at Eloise on December 23, 1957.


Friday, January 6, 2017

A 'Hospital' as Big as a City

Detroit Free Press, March 15, 1953 (enlarge)
The fact that Eloise had 7,300 more beds than other area hospitals or that interns were turned away in droves while other facilities struggled to fill their quotas didn't belie its enormity. The facility was more or less a small city onto itself. Add to that the staff of 2,300 doctors, nurses, police officers, firemen, janitors, bakers, cooks, farmers and just about any other position you can think up and its population was almost 10,000 in 1953.

While much of the article is a general rehashing of common knowledge about Eloise there are a few details of specification added to its history. The main one that stuck out to me was that they employed a 15 man police force. While security at a hospital is a given I just assumed that the county itself provided officers or that they were security guards. Maybe they were simply county deputies. Whichever way there was also a small jail that consisted of extra hospital rooms that were fitted with bars.

Another notable thing is the auditorium which featured movies twice a week as provided by loans from The Detroit Film Exchange. On Sundays the theater was turned into a church.

On the agricultural side the list of produce farmed included apples, peaches, pears, tomatoes, green and wax beans, red beets and carrots which provided fresh fruits and vegetables as well as canning stock while the greenhouse allowed for cut flowers throughout the hospital.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Killing the Kiser

Detroit Free Press, August 13, 1936
Thomas Stevens killed his brother-in-law William Kiser in 1933 and beat and harassed his sister numerous times. So when he escaped Eloise through a kitchen door the police hunted him but didn't think that he was especially dangerous. So maybe he just hated his family. Regardless, I can find nothing concerning Stevens post asylum break so I'm assuming that he was captured and then he slipped off into obscurity. Which is probably a good thing because that crazy stare and smirk suggests that he was probably a little more than just mentally disturbed. One murder under his belt was proof enough of that.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dr. Gruber Underestimates the Prune

Detroit Free Press, November 23, 1935
While apricots were the delicacy of the day for Eloise patients in 1935 the prune was vying for supremacy as well. So popular were the dried fruits that Supt. Gruber ordered 15,000 pounds that year to feed the nearly 9,500 holiday attendees in the various houses of Eloise. The seven and a half tons of fruit was expected to last a mere three months. No wonder they started farming.