The Girl in Building C: The True Story of a Teenage Tuberculosis Patient

The Girl in Building C: The True Story of a Teenage Tuberculosis Patient

by Mary Krugerud

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In October 1943, sixteen-year-old Marilyn Barnes was told that her recent bout of pneumonia was in fact tuberculosis. She entered Ah-gwah-ching State Sanatorium at Walker, Minnesota, for what she thought would be a short stay. In January, her tuberculosis spread, and she nearly died. Her recovery required many months of bed rest and medical care.

Marilyn loved to write, and the story of her three-year residency at the sanatorium is preserved in hundreds of letters that she mailed back home to her parents, who could visit her only occasionally and whom she missed terribly. The letters functioned as a diary in which Marilyn articulately and candidly recorded her reactions to roommates, medical treatments, Native American nurses, and boredom. She also offers readers the singular perspective of a bed-bound teenager, gossiping about boys, requesting pretty new pajamas, and enjoying Friday evening popcorn parties with other patients.

Selections from this cache of letters are woven into an informative narrative that explores the practices and culture of a midcentury tuberculosis sanatorium and fills in long-forgotten details gleaned from recent conversations with Marilyn, who "graduated" from the sanatorium and went on to lead a full, productive life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681340968
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Publication date: 09/01/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 529,014
File size: 9 MB

About the Author

An independent researcher and historian, Mary Krugerud is the author of Interrupted Lives: The History of Tuberculosis in Minnesota and Glen Lake Sanatorium. She discovered Marilyn's letters during a project funded by an MNHS Legacy Research Fellowship. Mary lives in Hutchinson.

Table of Contents

Introduction 3

1 Arrival, October 1943: Tell all my friends to write 7

2 Adjustment: Anxious as ever to get out of this place 17

3 Holidays 1943: Didn't seem like Christmas without you folks 28

4 A New Year and a Health Crisis: Today I have fluid drained, but it won't be bad 40

5 Roommates: I'm getting so lonesome 48

6 Settling In: Now I have some hope 58

7 Spring 1944: Haven't done much hut sleep 66

8 First Summer at the San: Gee, whiz, the days go fast 77

9 Romance: I have reasons to be happy 86

10 Second Year Begins: You know Hike to laugh & have fun 95

11 Holidays 1944: Gee, but I feel wonderful these days! 105

12 Sorrows and Shortages: An awful lot of living to do when I get home 113

13 Summertime 1945: Oh, how I wish I could be outside! 126

14 Privileges and Lessons: It seems just natural to be walking 140

15 Changes: Everything was in such a dither 151

16 Surgery and Recovery: Please don't worry now 162

17 Roommates, Romance Repeat: You never know what's going to happen in this place 175

18 Progress and Sadness: It's hard to be patient 188

19 Looking Toward Home: It was the most perfect day 203

Epilogue 211

Acknowledgments 213

Notes 215

Index 217

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