A newly-published book featuring former International Falls and Ranier residents is timely, given the current pandemic.
“Open Window: The Lake Julia TB Sanatorium, a Community Created by Tuberculosis,” by Pat Nelson, features Dr. Mary Ghostley, Art Holmstrom, and Ken Nordstrand, and also mentions doctors Elizabeth and Robert Monahan and Ghostley’s friend, Ernest Oberholtzer.
“This is a timely read because of the current coronavirus-19 pandemic,” Nelson said of the book released March 24 — World TB Day. “Especially since one person in four in the world today is infected with tuberculosis.”
Nelson’s parents, Lee and Ella Hedglin, met while working at the sanatorium, located near Puposky, Minn. Nelson lived on the sanatorium’s dairy farm when she was young.
This book is a reminder of the past and a timely read about a disease that never left.
“Suddenly, our minds are filled with thoughts of pandemics as (COVID-19) causes widespread panic and disruption of schools, businesses, social gatherings, and life as we knew it just days ago,” Nelson said. “Many of us have forgotten about TB, but it is a far-more-prevalent disease, infecting an estimated one person in four in the world.”
The book is the story of the sanatorium’s doctors, patients, employees and neighbors and the tight-knit community created by the tubercle bacillus.
Nelson said the collective biography aims to introduce readers to the community made up of the determined Dr. Ghostley, who, in the early 1900s, some called a witch for studying medicine; dedicated employees like Ella Grande and Lee Hedglin, the author’s parents, who met and fell in love at the San; and valedictorian-hopeful Holmstrom, who worked hard at doing nothing, hoping his treatment would allow him to leave the San and return to school in International Falls for his high school graduation as valedictorian.
The author returned to her childhood home on several occasions to gather information for Open Window through interviews with former patients including Holmstrom and Nordstrand, both from International Falls. She interviewed the doctor’s family, visited the old sanatorium, and conducted fact-finding at Minnesota’s state and local history centers. She said her research has resulted in a book of interest to anyone who likes to read about the history of disease and health care, as well as those family genealogists who would like to learn more about ancestors who suffered from the disease.
About the author
Nelson is a freelance proofreader and editor as well as a former columnist for The Daily News and The Valley Bugler, Longview, Wash. She is the author of “You … the Credit Union Member,” and co-creator of two humorous anthologies for Publishing Syndicate, “Not Your Mother’s Book on Being a Parent,” and “Not Your Mother’s Book on Working for a Living.”
She is a 1965 graduate of R. A. Long High School and a graduate of Lower Columbia College, both in Longview, Wash.
Open Window is available on Amazon.com.