OCTOBER 3, 1953
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Friday—When we drove up before Georgia Hall in Warm Springs last Wednesday afternoon I found all the patients had been gathered and were waiting to greet me and they were hoping that I would say a few words to them. This I did to the best of my ability, and then we went to see the new building with Mr. Henry Toombs. This is to house the auditorium where plays can be given and where wheel chairs can roll right in and find their place below the seats. Wheel chairs can also roll right on to the stage so that when patients give their Thanksgiving Day show those in wheel chairs will have no difficulty at all in picking up their cue.
There is a very unique kind of decoration at the entrance of this building. It has never been used, to my knowledge at least, before in this country. It is sculpture in brick and on one side there is a figure of Helen Keller and on the other one of my husband.
Underneath the theatre there will be some practice apartments with all the gadgets that could be used by a patient who wanted to run her own house but had to do it from a wheel chair. There will be a kitchen, a bedroom and living room, and, before a girl patient leaves, she will have learned how to work in and care for each of these rooms.
Later I walked over to look at the pool which has now been built on the campus. In the old days all the patients had to be transported by bus to a pool below the hill which had been given by Mr. Edsel Ford.
About half of this old pool was covered over with glass, and here there were exercise tables and patients took their regular daily exercises, in this part of the pool. But when they were through with work, they could swim through to the open air pool and here often visitors were allowed to bathe with the patients. There were wonderful water polo games and all kinds of stunts, and I think psychologically that open air pool had a good effect because, for a little while, the crippled could be on a par with those who had no physical handicaps.
I will have to own, therefore, that the new campus pool which just permits exercises, even though I recognize the advantage of doing away with bus transportation and the danger of catching cold, from my point of view has lost something which had great therapeutic value, not so much for the body as for the soul.
I was told that Warm Springs has had such an influx of people who were very badly hit in both arms and legs that therefore this new pool was all that they could possibly use. But for the other patients I still regret the loss of the old pool. Above all, when I went below the hill and saw that now part of the old pool was being used for staff and visitors, but the land has been filled in and the original springs which were open to the public are no longer there for the public's use, I felt disappointed.
I remember how my husband loved to tell about these springs having been used since the days of the Indians and how peace always reigned around them because they supposedly had healing qualities. I could not help being sad that the public was barred from using something which had such a long and interesting history. Warm Springs has improved enormously, however, as a hospital, and is today a very fine development.