I just read an interesting novel called The World Beneath by Sue Miller. It’s one of those books set in two time periods, one of the grandmother and the other of the granddaughter. What I found especially interesting about it was the story of the grandmother’s time in a tuberculousis sanatarium as opposed to a sanitarium which is more like a spa. Before the advent of antibiotics the only treatment was isolating the patient in a sanatarium on strict rest, lots of fresh air and good food. In the book, the grandmother is sent to a sanatarium at a young age where she has to rest in bed, day and night, with no talking, reading or activity of any kind for three weeks. Can you imagine that? Eventually, she is allowed up, sits in the sun, eats nutritious meals and gets to know the other patients.
Besides being a good story, why I found this so riviting is that my grandfather was sent to a sanatarium for TB. He was an adult, married with children, and his doctor told him if he didn’t get to a clean, dry climate, he would die. I guess that’s why he didn’t end up in the well known sanatorium in Kentucky where he lived, but in Silver City, New Mexico. I knew this growing up but it wasn’t until a family reunion in Silver City that I learned more of the story. The sanatorium was called Cottage Sans for some reason. I never thought twice about the rather strange name-was Sans short for sanatorium? I always thought it was Cottage Sands instead.
My grandfather was quite the business man and after he moved his family to Silver City, he ended up buying Cottage Sans which was a totally self contained place with its own farm and dairy. It is a housing development now. I don’t know if my grandfather had to spend days or weeks in bed although I suspect so. What is ironic is that years later they discovered a needle in my grandfather’s lung which caused the TB symtoms. How it got there is a mystery. In any case, that’s how my family ended up in the Southwest instead of Kentucky. I was raised in Silver City until we moved in the sixth grade. A cousin told me that my grandfather ran for mayor of Silver city and won on the basis of saying he would close the local house of prostitution if elected. My cousin also said that the story, “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” was based on the same place although it’s not in New Mexico. I’ve never researched it but it sounds good on paper.
(All photos taken in Provence reminding me of clear, pure air.)