Saturday, December 19, 2009

Good Ol' Fashioned Birthday

Some people like to go to a nice restaurant and maybe see a movie for their birthday. I like all of that, too, don't get me wrong, but I had been dying to see the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joe, Missouri for a very long time and that is how I celebrated my 40th with Jason and Brendan. The State psychiatric hospital was founded in 1874 and the museum houses some "oddities" such as this artistic display of over 900 items, mainly metallic, found in the stomach of one patient.

Here is the list of contents that the patient managed to swallow.

In the 19th and well into the 20th century, treatment methods were often cruel and unusual by today's standards. Patients were put in a warm bath via this hydrotherapy tub. I mentioned to Jason that a nice warm bath sounded good to me, but he did point out that it didn't look like this bath was designed for a spa setting.

This "fever box" contained dozens of bulbs and was designed to get hot enough to kill the syphilis virus.

Electro shock therapy machine.

Reminds me of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, of course. (One of the best movies of all time if you ask me).

What makes these displays even more interesting is their use of old store mannequins. This one looks unusually relaxed. Alongside this display was information about coma therapy; they would use insulin to induce comas in patients and give them a shot of glucose to bring them back. WOW.

If you click to enlarge, you can see the pills that are entitled, "Modern Tranquilizers" and the nasty looking clubs used back in the day for a similar purpose.

Restraint made right at the hospital in the sewing room. Not only did patients sew, they farmed the fields and tended the livestock used to support the facility. Amazing.

More restraints.

I thought this antique glass urinal was interesting.

At one time, all medical needs including surgeries, dental and eye care, were performed in the hospital. Now those services are contracted out to community providers.

Tranquilizer chair often used to restrain patients for activities such as blood letting.

Blood letting equipment.

They used boxes such as these to restrain patients. The hospital provides information about the history of the treatment of the mentally ill, I don't know that equipment such as this was used in St. Joe.

They had these weird dioramas of various treatments.

This piece of "art therapy" was stitched by a schizophrenic patient.

One patient was caught slipping a piece of paper into the back of a TV and when the electrician was called and opened up the back, hundreds of notes poured out that the patient had been inserting for quite some time.

One patient thought if he saved enough empty cigarette packs, the tobacco company would provide a new wheelchair for his ward.

And alongside the Glore Museum was a Native American history and African American museum. The items they displayed were impressive including these pipe stems and pipe bag, items very central to Native American life.


There's a lot of interesting history in St. Joe.

We went to the house where Jesse James was shot.

The hole to the right of Jason was once thought to be left after the bullet that killed him exited Jesse's head. Some historical accounts dispute this as it is thought that there was no exit wound. The hole is now huge because over the years, people have taken pieces of the wall around the original hole. There are also gouges in the floor where blood stains were chipped out and stolen by people. On a side note, the wallpaper in this house was fabulous (not original, I am sure).

And right across from Jesse James' house was a junky antique mall that I could have spent a couple more hours in than I was able. I did find two treasures, including this chalk kewpie. The booth looked like it belonged on an episode of Hoarders. I had to call someone who worked there to extract this from a case.

I bought the kewpie above in Kansas City a year or two ago and paid three times more than I paid for the one today, so I felt like I had struck gold!

I also found this little wooden chippy table that will be perfect next to the French settee I'd like to have for my living room. I can't wait to get back to St. Joe. They have a wild west museum I'd like to see and I didn't spend nearly enough time in the antique mall. What a great birthday!


vintagesue said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! i love that you spent your birthday at a creepy and interesting museum!!!! i love the tv with the paper in it and the pink doily under it. even during times of mental challenge, there is still time to decorate.
i love to go into antique booths that look like a hoarders episode. that is where all the good stuff is!!!! like that blue table. it's awesome!!
take care....enjoy your birthday.

dawn said...

Now you have *TWO* creepy, armless kewpies?? LOL, ahhh only you. :D

Beth Leintz said...

Oh my gosh- the Glore Museum is fascinating and scary at the same time. I had to smile when I read your comment about the wallpaper in Jesse James' house- that's the kind of thing I notice, too.

When I was looking at the picture of the doctors cabinet and the anatomy drawing from the Glore Museum I was thinking- I'd love to have something like that for the next antique show.