certificate of service ©John Gray
What was the final six months like knowing the end was coming?
P- Well it was
pretty surreal. I put so many years in there and knew so many
people. It was odd because you still had to work and function
but you knew it was gone and it was going to close. They talked
about closing the place back when I first started. We’d
always hear rumors about the place closing but they always managed
to keep it open. But that last year was hard because we knew
it was real this time. It was tough working in those conditions
because our crew kept getting smaller and smaller.
How was the transition to Tewksbury?
P- Oh it was tough.
It was very difficult. They weren’t used to all the restrictions
we had. The staff thought we were coming to take their jobs.
There were a lot of hard feelings and we weren’t welcomed
over there at all. They were forced to take us in and they had
no choice. We had to make many changes to their facility and
they weren’t happy about it. It was hard for both sides.
You also have to remember at that time Tewksbury had a very
old school superintendent. He was very head strong and made
it very clear that it was his institution.
Do you stay in touch with any former DSH employees?
I did up until around 18 months ago. I used to hear from several
of them but I haven't in quite some time. I used to hear from
two guys that were my employees that made the transition over
to Tewksbury on a regular basis.
When you hear Danvers State Hospital come up in the news or when someone
mentions it what's the first thing you think of?
P- The friends and the
talent that was up there. Like I mentioned before, the tremendous things
they could do there was simply amazing. Self-sufficient is an understatement.
Is there a particular
experience, memory or story you'll never forget about the hospital?
P- There are way too many
to list here but I'll give you a couple. As far as bad things that I
saw, the kid over at Hogan really sticks out in my mind. I'll never
forget that. But a lot of great things happened. I remember many many
years ago, over at the power plant at the Middleton Colony there was
a large pipe that ran across the top of the near a cupola. We had a
nasty storm and blew the entire thing right off. It was winter and blistering
cold out. We had a crew over there and in two days we had the thing
completely repaired which I thought was just unbelievable.
you remember the blizzard
of 78, most of the state lost power but DSH kept rolling.
I lived at the hospital for 5 days during that storm. I didn't go home.
comes to mind often as well. He'd grab cereal out of the kitchen and
head over to the greenhouse behind the Gables and the wild deer would
come up and eat right out of his hand. I remember Byron came to me when
he knew the hospital was closing and asked for his job back. It was
heartbreaking. When you spend that much time with so many people and
the stories are endless.
good story was when Governor Michael Dukakis came to the hospital to
visit. The fear on his face when he went into a ward was unreal. You
know these politicians think they know about Mental Health until they
see it first hand. Anyway, we had a patient by the name of Rosie that
used to hang on the front steps of the admin. Everyone knew Rosie. She
greeted everyone who came in and she always asked for a cigarette. If
you said no, boy would she give ya hell. She was never physical or anything
but the swearing and yelling was loud. Well she asked Dukakis for a
cigarette and he didn't have one and she let him have it. He was really
taken back by it and didn't know what to do. We all joked about it years