Thursday, October 30, 2008
Have you heard of the Willard Suitcase Exhibit? Yesterday as I was writing about Kirkbride Buildings, it occurred to me you might like to see a link to the Willard Suitcase Exhibit. This is an exhibit of materials found in suitcases in the Willard Psychiatric Center in Finger Lakes, New York.
Again, I will let the site speak for itself.
For me this site is truly moving because it reminds me of so many friends I knew who were similar to those whose belongings are displayed here. I never knew my friends' full names, only first names. I had connection with them because I played baseball with them, watched them play in the hospital band, do the farming around the hospital farm, and the like. And, no. I didn't know anyone who thought he was Roy Rogers or anyone named Harry. In fact, I didn't really know patient illnesses at all. I just knew them as people, good people, in a very sad situation.
As I say on my web site, those people changed my life.
The second book in the Roy Rogers series ventures into the Sunrise State Hospital attic. That book is now in the publisher's hands. It is called The Body on the Hospital Landing.
I was never in the attic at the Nevada, Missouri, State Hospital, but I know what it must have been like because I ran onto the link to the Willard Suitcase Exhibit.
If there is anything I hope for you in following this link, it is that you will have a greater understanding of the real situation of so many mentally ill people in the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries in this country.
I also hope you will become a defender of the rights of the mentally ill in today's world. Mentally ill people are often still terribly abused. But my mentally ill friends changed my life. They deserved better than society often gave them back then. And I suspect for many, the same is true today. I hope we can all help the mentally ill come to be more well treated than they often are.
If you would like to respond to this post, please leave a comment or go to my web site where there is an email address. Thanks.