Did any meetings take place at other Massachusetts State Hospitals
or just DSH?
P-Most meetings took
place at DSH but we had several meetings over at Metropolitan State
Hospital in Waltham, Worcester, Northampton, Bridgewater all over.
I've been to every Massachusetts State Hospital for one reason or
another. When I became the director of transportation that was a big
part of my job was traveling to other hospitals to drop patients off
, pick them up or attend meetings.
many were employed at the hospital when you started?
P-At least 1500 and
the longer you stayed the more people you'd meet and become friends
with. I can't even count the people I know and met through that hospital.
Being in maintenance you got to know everyone on every shift. We'd
stop over at laundry, stop at the morgue, swing by the repair shops
went over and hung out in the kitchen. At Christmas time every ward
and building had their own little party so we'd make our rounds and
visit everyone and you really became close friends with a lot of people.
We had 88 people just in the maintenance department. It was town within
Was Doctor Bonner there when you first started?
P- No. He was before
my time. Eddie Osborne knew him and knew him well. He had a good reputation
and from what I hear was a nice guy.
What are your feelings when you hear the hospital being referred to
as this snake pit and this haunted castle?
P- In all honesty, I
believe that the patient care was better at DSH than some of these
half-way houses that are around today. They had recreation for the
patients, entertainment for the patients, movie theatre, dancing,
arts and crafts. They also had what was called industrial chores and
patients could work in the woodshops, work with leather, make furniture
and the patients loved it. I'm not saying it was perfect because there
was bad staff and bad things did happen but that goes on at every
hospital and at every business you work in. It certainly wasn't a
snake pit. The public wants to believe it was because it has that
mystique and the architecture gives you that impression. I mean there
were dirty wards. That's no secret. We'd refer to C Ward as Shit Ward
because patients wouldn't keep their clothes on and they soil themselves.
They'd hose them down but it's not like what you read in books with
staff blasting them with a fire hose with ice cold water and whipping
them while being hand-cuffed together. That's just absurd. They'd
hose them down to get the feces and urine off of them but it wasn't
abusive. For the most part, the staff loved their patients. They'd
bring them special treats, take them out for rides and take home for
dinner. I had this patient by the name of Byron over in this very
house many times for dinner. Byron worked with me for years and you
get to know these people and care for their well being. We had patients
sobbing in tears when they were closing the hospital. It was their
home and didn't want to leave. Overall, the hospital was a good place
and the staff did an excellent job with what they had.