Historic Saranac Lake held two TB Patient Reunions, August 20-22, 1987 and September 13-15, 1990.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 17, 1987
Former TB patients, doctors gather for reunion this week
By CHRIS MELE
SARANAC LAKE Some 180 former tuberculosis patients who came to Saranac Lake decades ago seeking "the cure" will gather here this week seeking bonds to their past.
Former TB patients, doctors, nurses and workers at area sanatoriums are expected to flock here as part of a three-day reunion that begins Thursday.
The event, which has been organized by Historic Saranac Lake, a local historic preservation group, will bring together people from as far away as Michigan, Ohio, California and Colorado, organizers say.
"They're coming from all over the place," said Mary Hotaling, executive director of Historic Saranac Lake. Hotaling and a group of event organizers are busy with last-minute preparations for the gathering, which is being billed as a "celebration of renewed health and longevity."
Former patients have sent organizers envelopes filled with memorabilia, postcards, old black and white photos and papers — including menus and annual reports — from the bygone era. Reunion participants will be easily identified by wearing green buttons depicting a cure chair and the words, "H.S.L. TB Reunion."
Former patients can swap old stories and new addresses at a welcoming tea party Thursday at the Saranac Lake Free Library. The initial gathering is being billed as "a time to gather to renew old friendships and make new ones." Those attending will likely recall the cure cottages along "Hemorrhage Hill" Helen Hill - which earned its nickname from the symptoms of the debilitating respiratory disease.
Old films from the Stonywold Sanatorium and other local sights will be screened Thursday night. The rest of the TB reunion schedule is filled with tours of former sanatoriums like the one at Ray Brook, which is now the site of the Adirondack Correctional Facility.
Participants will also tour Trudeau Institute, hear a talk from the head of the U.S. Tuberculosis Panel about the status of TB in the world today, and attend an ecumenical church service on Saturday. Capping the three days of activities will be a dinner dance at the Hotel Saranac Saturday night
Local merchants are also getting involved in the festivities by displaying various exhibits, some of which will include the silver, leather and jewelry crafts made in workshops at the many sanatoriums.
Hotaling noted that one of the most exciting activities scheduled is what she calls "storytelling." She hopes to preserve an oral history of the patients' recollections on cassette tapes to be filed in a library collection. "This is our chance to talk to people from this extinct culture, in a way," Hotaling noted.
For more than 70 years, TB sufferers flocked to Saranac Lake for its fresh mountain air, scenic surroundings and research conducted by Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, a pioneer TB scientist.
The idea for a reunion came from Ed Worthington, a former TB patient and Saranac Lake resident.
"My dad one day was lamenting how one year he saw this guy and how one year he sees this guy, (former patients), but how they never see each other and wouldn't it be fun to have a reunion?" recalled Worthington's daughter, Janet Worthington Dudones, reunion chairperson.
Although there was no list of former patients, Historic Saranac Lake officials relied on local residents to send out word about the reunion through a network of Christmas cards.
"It was like a giant chain letter," Dudones said, referring to how one person would contact another and then another.
The response has been good so far, organizers said, with as many as 200 people expected to attend. The Hotel Saranac will serve as reunion headquarters.
Reunion officials stress that in order to participate in most of the reunion activities, interested persons must be formally registered.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 19, 1987
They came for 'the cure'...but stayed in Saranac Lake after recovering from TB
By CHRIS MELE
SARANAC LAKE — When Ann Flynn left her New York City home in 1945 to come to Saranac Lake to cure her tuberculosis, her visit was supposed to be for "only a summer."
Forty-two years later, Flynn is still here. "They said they would send me up here for a summer and its been a long summer," joked the former TB patient turned permanent Saranac Lake resident.
Flynn, like many other TB patients who came to Saranac Lake seeking "the cure," decided to settle here after she recovered.
Some patients planted their roots here because they married and started a family. Others found jobs. Some simply fell in love with the scenic, quiet surroundings that brought them here in the first place.
Many patients settled in Saranac Lake after spending as much as 10 years or more curing. Most were afflicted with TB when they were in their early 20s or 30s, so by the time they recovered, they were approaching an age where they were looking for permanent jobs and homes.
For Harriet Lupino, the TB diagnosis meant she would have to temporarily abandon her plans to pursue a career in nursing. Lupino, who was 22 years old when she was stricken, had just finished her training as a registered nurse and was preparing to enroll at Syracuse University.
"I was just accepted to Syracuse University. What a slap in the face to know I had TB," she recalled.
She moved to Saranac Lake in 1946 and cured at the Ray Brook Sanitarium for about four years. After finishing her "cure," Lupino married a former TB patient and they decided to live in Saranac Lake.
"We liked the air and the slow pace," she said, recalling how she never thought when she got here that she would remain. "I was in love. I didn't have any desire to leave. There were strings here for me, my husband. If it hadn't been for him, I would have gone back to Syracuse."
For some, like Elise Chapin, running a business with a husband and becoming involved in community activities were reasons for staying.
Chapin came here to cure in 1935 when she was 20 years old. She was working for a gas and electric company in Baltimore, Md., when she discovered that she had TB.
"It was kind of a relief not to get up and go to work in the morning and be too tired to go out and have fun. It was a feeling of relief to know I wouldn't have to catch any trains for a while," she recalled.
After she recovered from TB, she got married in 1942 to Mott Chapin. The couple opened a pottery store, called "The Pot Shop," on Main Street in 1950 that remained there for about 10 years.
Why did she decide to stay in the same place where she been spent her youthful years curing, instead of leaving it behind and starting anew?
"Saranac Lake is like a magnet," she replied. "People who have lived here and left have come back.
"You have no desire to leave here and start over. When it came down to where would you like to spend your life, it stands to reason that this is where our life had been. The associations you make when you're young and doing vital things are more important than when you get older and do comparatively superficial things."
Arthur Wareham also settled here after he became involved in several community projects, including designing the current Trudeau Institute building.
Wareham, an architect, came to Saranac Lake in January 1944 after he contracted TB while working in South America. He tried to enlist in the U.S. Army, but was rejected when he was diagnosed as having TB.
While he cured at the Agnew Cottage on Shepard Avenue — breathing in the cool mountain air and getting lots of rest, as the doctors ordered — he spent his time studying for his state architect's certification. When he was no longer studying, he was working on architectural designs of local
projects. After he recovered from his TB, he became partners with local architect William Distin.
"I had been doing enough architecture. I liked living here and I liked the work. I made good friends here, I had no desire to go back," Wareham said.
The sense of community that flourished among fellow TB sufferers was another reason for staying in Saranac Lake, according to Ann Flynn.
"One reason a lot of us stayed here was because people up here know us and they know what we are capable of," said Flynn, who settled here after she got married and starting working at the Will Rogers Sanatorium.
Flynn noted that the doctors here are familiar with each patient's case history and that the medical files are here. She also noted there would be noticeable drawbacks to leaving Saranac Lake.
"If I went back to New York City, do you think I could walk up a set of subway stairs? No way," Flynn said.
"They know us here. We'd be afraid to leave," she states. "It's like a crutch. We feel more secure here. The security means a lot."
Former TB patients, doctors and nurses will gather here this week for a massive reunion that starts Thursday.
100 return for Saranac Lake TB reunion
By HELEN McLEOD Copy Desk Chief and MARK KURTZ Photographer
SARANAC LAKE — Many of the young people who came to Saranac Lake to take the cure for tuberculosis would end up returning for the TB reunion with half a century of memories in their satchels.
Ed Worthington came from Stroudsburg. Pa. to cure in Saranac Lake, where he met his wife, Juanita Haymen, a nurse from Nova Scotia. They were married in 1935 and stayed on in Saranac Lake where Juanita worked for Dr. Warren Woodruff and Ed sold maintenance supplies for golf courses.
Marjorie Keirstead Hart came from northern Maine to Saranac Lake to cure, and she also stayed on to work as a nurse for Dr. Woodruff. Marjorie and Juanita became the best of friends, and stayed in touch over the years until Juanita's death, a year or so ago.
Friday, Worthington, now 80 and a resident of Petrova Avenue in Saranac Lake, and Hart, now 75 and a resident of Tilton, N.H., sat on the steps of Inslee Cottage at the former Trudeau Sanatorium, where Marjorie cured 35 years ago.
They looked at old photo-graphs. including one of Mar-jorie, taken in the exact same spot. Inslee is now a business office, part of American Management Association.
Hart, a registered nurse, was found to have TB in 1941. when she was enlisting in the Army. She was treated in Boston for a while, then had one lung removed. She arrived in Saranac Lake on April 1, 1946, with her remaining lung badly infected. Like many who had TB, she fully believed she was coming there to die.
Instead, she got better, and started work again in September 1947. Besides working for Dr. Woodruff, she also worked in the Santanoni Cottage, which she described as "like being a social director. Every day we had social hour at 5 p.m." She lived on and off in Saranac Lake until 1978, when she moved to New Hampshire.
In the cure days, treatment was cheap by today's standards. Elizabeth "Betty" Dickens Thompson said that in 1934, curing cost $15 a week, including room and board, meals and medical treatment.
Plattsburgh Press-Republican, September 16, 1990
Former TB patients remember days in Saranac Lake
By JOEL STASHENKO Associated Press Writer
SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. (AP) — The joy of life is what most people recall about the years they battled death in Saranac Lake's tuberculosis sanitariums.
"It was a very hopeful atmosphere, there was very little depression," said George Conklin, 81, of Woodbridge, Conn. His wife, Anne, moved with the couple's two children to Saranac Lake when her husband contracted TB in the U.S. Navy in 1944.
Anne Conklin remembered "lots of parties" in the village that came to be known as the "City of Sick."
"George and I had parties periodically," she said. "We had parties for the people who lived here and parties for the patients. … it was very cheerful."
The Conklins were among about 100 people attending a reunion this weekend of former TB patients who took the open air "cure" for the disease in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Extended exposure to the bracing mountain air and strictly regimented bed rest was thought to arrest the disease, which was bought under control by antibiotics during the early 1950s.
Their memories were mostly fond ones, of nurses and doctors at the famed Trudeau Sanatorium and of the private "cure cottages" throughout Saranac Lake with rambling unheated porches where patients would sit by the hour in the mountain air.
The common goal was to get well. The common enemy was TB, the congestive respiratory disease that attacks the lungs and other organs of the body. So prevalent was the disease in the early decades of this century that it became known as the "White Plague" and, experts say, many of those afflicted with it carried the same stigma that people do now who are suffering acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Indeed, the AIDS crisis is blamed for a resurgence in TB. This summer, experts at an AIDS conference in San Francisco were told that TB has emerged as the world's biggest bacterial killer and that scientists fear the immune system-weakening AIDS will again allow it to become a major health problem, especially in Africa.
Dr. Kenneth Ho, 67, of Syracuse, said doctors played a trick on him and other patients when lung X-rays revealed his TB infection in late 1948.
"You accept the news of the diagnosis: TB. Then comes word of the therapy: a sanitarium," he recalled Friday as he and about three dozen other reunion participants toured the grounds of the former Trudeau Sanatorium, which has been a training center for a corporate management group since the early 1960s.
"The doctors fool you into accepting it. They say, "Well, maybe you'll be there three months,'" he said. "It turns out to be three years. It turns out there are people who've been there five years."
Some patients stayed longer, though usually doctors tried to move them from Trudeau to cure cottages in Saranac Lake to make beds available for newer patients.
Many of the one-time tuberculars said they were too young to be daunted by spending several months or years doing, quite literally, nothing.
The motto of open-air "curing" was, "Never stand when you can sit and never sit you can lie," the one-time patients said.
Edward Burgeni 76, of Greenville, S.C., said Friday that he "worked out all kinds of strategies" to pass his two years of bed rest in Saranac Lake, starting in 1934, without putting too much effort into it. Once, he recalled being chided by a doctor for playing chess with another patient.
"The mental strain was enough to run my temperature up," he said. "Mental energy was just as wearing as physical energy."
Time still had a way of going by, Burgeni said.
"People who were ambulatory would come in, the nurses would come in," he said. "Each thing was an event, a highlight. I would tell you, quite frankly, that time did not wear heavily at all."
Burgeni said many people who survived TB were strengthened emotionally by it. Others turned into what he called "professional invalids."
"Some people used this as a stepping stone in life, as part of a growing experience," he said. "There were some people who found in this life there mother and they were afraid to get well ... They never made the break to get out. Or, if they did, they would return very promptly because the outside world was very frightening."
There were also more curious cases, like that of Tito DeLuzuriaga, 65, of Burlington. Mass., as a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was sent to Trudeau in 1950 after an X-ray revealed a" spot on his lung doctors believed was TB.
"I was on the fencing team at the time and was working my way to the New England championship." he said with a smile and a stab of imaginary epee. Then, kaboom!"
DeLuzuriaga said he considered the news, "just slightly this side of the end of the world."
"In those days it was the image of getting TB and all that. Oh, my God, to be in a place with all those cadaverous-looking types hacking away and gradually being carried out one by one." he said.
DeLuzuriaga found something quite different in Saranac Lake. "It was actually a very happy place and there were lots of fun-type people around." he said. DeLuzuriaga met his future wife during the five months he spent here in 1950.
And the spot on his lung was actually -calcification of some sort and not a TB infection.
"I didn't suffer, I enjoyed." he said.