Front row: Myrtle Webster; my mother, Ella Hedglin; my father, Lee Hedglin
Back row: Wanda Rice, Emily Stanek, Violet Allen, Adolf Becker
Photo: Ella Hedglin collection
The San was 13 miles from Bemidji, and in its early years, most who worked there could not afford to go to the “big city” often. They usually stayed near Puposky and created a social life there. Nurses and female employees lived in the nurses’ home next to the San, and male employees lived in the San’s basement.
Employees got to know each other, resulting in a lot of marriages. My parents, Lee and Ella Grande Hedglin, met and married while dad was a janitor and mom was a maid in the patient wards and a “tray girl” in the kitchen. My mother’s brother Norman Grande met laundry worker Bernice Bakke while he was hauling cordwood to the San, and they married. Another of Mom’s brothers, Louis Grande, who had taken over the janitor job when my dad transferred to the San Dairy, married Inga Lomen, who was a patient at the San before becoming a nurse. Charles Thoraldson, a former patient who later became a janitor, married Ida (Mac) McDonald, whose previous husband, a patient, had died at the San.
Maids, janitors, and nurses got to know patients because they worked in patients’ rooms. Other employees and folks from the neighboring farms also met and became friends with some of the patients, those who were well enough to leave the Sanatorium grounds and go for walks.
All knew Dr. Mary Ghostley, who, in additon to her San duties, as superintendent, had delivered many of the babies in the area. She often got together with employees and neighbors for picnics. Dr. Mary also invited local friends to her log home, on the San property, for book discussions and other gatherings.
Even Dr. Mary Ghostley’s children, Jim and Cathie, got to know some of the patients who were no longer contagious. Cathie sometimes worked as a waitress in the dining room, where she met young Ken Nordstrand, whose story is in Open Window (chapter 33). Jim Ghostley made friends with teenage patient Art Holmstrom (chapters 22-41) by standing below the window of Art’s second-story ward to visit with him.
Patients, employees, neighbors and doctors were all part of the community formed by this tubercle baccilus.