Thingamajig: Hermann Hospital, 1949

by Alethea Drexler

archives assistant

I spent a good part of this week unscrambling a box of photographs that had gotten caught up in a re-organization project of some sort, ages ago.  Luckily, there weren’t very many pictures involved, although cross-checking them against the card catalog (in two series!) and the online catalog was a bit of a mind-bender.

There weren’t any true thingamajigs involved, but I thought I’d use this week’s post to display some of them, since we do have some interesting and beautiful images in our photo files.

The following are part of P-892, a series of photographs of the grand opening of the Corbin J. and Wilhelmina C. Robertson Pavilion, the new wing of Hermann Hospital, in 1949.

Hermann Hospital re-opening

The couple to our right are Mr. Hugh Roy and Mrs. Lillie Cullen.  The Cullens and the Cullen Foundation were, and are, longtime supporters of the Medical Center.

Note the beautiful mid-century streamline style of the entry.

Once inside, they were probably greeted by a pair of receptionists, who dressed to the nines for the occasion:

Reception desk

Notice they’re handing out cigars.  In a hospital.  My, how times have changed.

A private room seems not to have looked much different then than it does now:

Patient room

The x-ray machine looks like it was designed by Harley Earl:

X-ray machine

The staff dining and conference room:

Staff dining & conference room

The main cafeteria was less home-like, but I the next picture is one of my personal favorites for two reasons.  One is that I am fascinated by how little commercial kitchens have changed: I worked in the dining hall when I was in college and our kitchen installations were virtually identical to these.  This picture was taken sixty years ago.

The second reason is that I think this must be one of the most dramatic and artistic pictures I’ve ever seen of an industrial kitchen.  It looks like a movie still.  Check out that lighting!

Main cafeteria

I thought the next picture was part of the laundry room, but the notation on the back says they’re vegetable cookers.  Wow.  Don’t fall in!

Vegetable cookers

We feared this next picture might  be the morgue, but it’s not.  It’s the autoclave room.  (An autoclave is a machine that uses steam and high pressure to sterilize things.  Some of them are no bigger than household microwave ovens.  These are huge.)

The Great Wall of Autoclaves

Last, but certainly not least, they appear to have spent quite a bit of time in the laundry room.  The laundry facilities were highly mechanized and quite impressive, although I imagine they were also very noisy and rather dangerous, looking at all those rollers and belts.  The following include what I think must be a washer, a folding machine (it’s literally called a Foldmaster), and possibly a presser or wringer.

Washing vat?

The Foldmaster

Presser or wringer

That’s the tip of the iceberg with regards to the photo collection, but I already have ideas for future posts to share more of our images.

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Posted in Images, Thingamajig

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