Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium

Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium, Rocking Dog

Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium

When my siblings and I were growing up we were always aware that our dad Doug did not ever want to lick someone else’s ice cream or to share a glass. He couldn’t abide spitting and couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to sip wine from the Communion Cup!

He later told us that prior to his birth, his mother Emily had been in a sanitorium at the age of 21 for the treatment of TB. She in fact had to have part of a lung removed. TB Bacilli are passed through sputum, and thus a sneeze, a cough or dribble could pass the infection on. This therefore was the reason why Doug didn’t want to share food or spit on the rugby field!

Emily’s illness can be dated by some postcards which have survived a century. These postcards were sent from her sister Susan, serving as a nurse in France and her brothers Colin, David and Walter who were serving in France and the Middle East. The postcards include images of a mosque in Cairo, a Bedouin lady, pansies, the Dead Sea and interiors of French churches. There are also autographed photographic postcards of the brothers in various uniforms. From the postcards I can certainly deduce that Susan had a very sweet tooth as two of her cards mention a parcel of sweets not having arrived and then another saying thank you for a parcel, “You evidently anticipated my wishes, for when I wrote three days ago I asked for sweets”. Brother Walter who was a sergeant major sent one card from Blackpool where he was convalescing for a war injury, a postcard from one hospital to another!

Emily’s treatment in 1915-1916 would have consisted of bed rest, a nutritious diet, surgery and possibly Creosote inhalations. Fresh air would have also been prescribed. Many hospitals incorporated new balconies where patients could be wheeled out in their beds. In inclement weather black mackintosh quilts would be provided. I was very envious of a friend who bought a bargainous sun house that swivelled around on a circular track. This was originally from a sanatorium, for the use of TB patients and it allowed the patients to “move” around with the sun.

Treatment of TB even today is very tricky and lengthy. It involves large doses of antibiotics. In 1815 one in four deaths in England was due to TB. Even 100 years later when Emily was being treated, 50% of those who went to a sanatorium, died within five years. There was quite a stigma attached to the disease as it was often linked to overcrowding, malnutrition and poverty. I am unaware of how Emily’s treatment was funded, though the family were reasonably prosperous. These of course were the days before the NHS.

Eventually, Emily did recover and she was advised to move from Edinburgh to somewhere more rural for good country air. Incidentally, Edinburgh was sometimes called Auld Reekie, translated it means Old Smokey! She moved to the border town of Kelso, and there she met John Warrington Scott (my grandfather) who had been invalided out of the Royal Engineers having been gassed in the trenches….. and the rest as we say is history!

Emily and Brother Colin, Rocking Dog

Emily And Brother Colin

Century Old Postcards, Rocking Dog

Century Old Postcards

Handsome Siblings, Rocking Dog

Handsome Siblings

2 Thoughts on “Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium

  1. Chalmers on April 15, 2015 at 4:08 pm said:

    Hi Liz,

    Didn’t know you had WW1 postcards from Susan Cresser and brothers. Would you be able to photograph for me or I can do when we see you later this month.

    I have Susan Cresser’s (Testament) will and other WW1 documents relating to her service as a Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service, together with her resignation letter and medal card indicating that she had received the Victory Medal, the British Medal as given to all that served in WW1 plus the 1914 Star for, I believe, her service during the retreat from Mons.

    Best wishes,

    Chalmers

  2. Pingback: Great Little Exhibition-Parcels Of Comfort - Rocking Dog

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