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1970-1972 WALKING THE FREEDOM TRAIL IN BOSTON

Freedom_Trail_path

FREEDOM TRAIL

For me walking is the greatest way to get to know and love Boston. There are many stories that highlight Boston’s history, architecture and culture especially the Freedom Trail, today I am going from the Boston Common to Faneuil Hall, which reflects the time when Boston was first settled to now, creating quirky streets and mixed architectures expanding almost 400 years. I will learn about important Bostonian events and their work to gain independence from Great Britain, giving me a sense of what has come before my time.

The Freedom Trail is made up of red paint, red granite stone and mostly a red brick path through downtown Boston. I find simple ground markers explaining events, graveyards, notable churches and other buildings along the way. The trail was originally conceived by a local journalist who since 1951 had promoted the idea of a pedestrian trail to link together important local landmarks. In 1953, there were 40,000 people annually walking the path.

THE OLD ELM TREE

THE OLD ELM TREE

I start my walk at 630 Washington Street and on the building is a tablet marking the spot of a famous elm tree bearing the image of a beautiful elm with the inscription “Sons of Liberty, 1766”. At that time this was the neighborhood of the elms. I cross the street and find a small bronze plaque placed in the sidewalk which reads: “Sons of Liberty 1766; Independence of the Country 1776.”

This is where the first public show of defiance against the British Crown was on 8/14/1765 when an American colonist crowd gathered under a large elm tree that stood at the corner of Essex Street and Washington Street, originally called Orange Street a block away from the Boston Common, in the days before the American Revolution and became a rallying point for growing resistance. They were protesting their hatred of the Stamp Act of 1765 in which the British required all legal documents, permits, commercial contracts, newspapers, pamphlets, and playing cards in the colonies to carry a tax stamp. This was perceived by colonists as censorship or a “knowledge tax” on their rights to write and read freely.

The Patriots, later calling themselves the Sons of Liberty, hung an effigy in the branches of the tree, of Andrew Oliver who had been chosen by King George III to impose the tax. Also hung in the tree was a British cavalry jackboot, and inside was a grinning devil-like doll holding a scroll marked “Stamp Act”. This started the resistance that lead to the American Revolutionary War 10 years later at which time a sign stating “Tree of Liberty” was nailed to the trunk of the tree, the tree dates from 1646 to 1775, it lived for 129 years.

In the years leading up to the war the British used the Liberty Tree as an object of ridicule: British soldiers tarred and feathered a man forcing him to march in front of the tree; during the siege of Boston some Loyalists cut the tree down in an act of spite and used it for firewood this enraged the colonists more. As resistance to the British grew a Liberty Tree Flag was flown to symbolize the spirit of liberty and was a common sight during the battles of the revolution. The militia trained here near the tree.

I walk a block into the Boston Common known by the locals as “the Common” which is a central public park, dating back to 1634, making it the oldest city park in the United States. The 50 acres of land is bounded by Tremont Street, Park Street, Beacon Street, Charles Street and Boylston Street. It is part of the Emerald Necklace of parks and parkways that extend from the common south to Franklin Park in Roxbury covering 7 miles by foot which is a great way to get in touch with nature while in the city.

The Common was owned by one of the first European settlers in Boston who sold it to the Puritan founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Park status happened between 1830 and in 1836 it was fully enclosed by an ornamental iron fence. It had five perimeter malls or recreational promenades, the first being Tremont Mall in 1728. In 1913 prehistoric sites were discovered indicating Native American presence in the area as far back as 8,500 years ago.

The Common has been used for a variety of purposes. During the 1630s it was used by many affluent families as a cow pasture, but they overgrazed, so in 1646 the number of cows was limited, then in 1830 cows were formally banned. Before the American Revolution it was used as a camp by the British until they left it for the Battle of Lexington and Concord. It was also used for public hanging until 1817; in 1660 a woman was hung there by Puritans for preaching Quakerism; and in 1656 a woman was executed on charges of witchcraft. Most were hung from a large oak tree which was replaced with gallows in 1769. On 5/19/1713 two hundred citizens rioted in the Common in response to a food shortage, later they attacked the ships and warehouses of a wealthy merchant who was exporting grain for higher profits and the lieutenant governor was shot during the riot.

The common has recently been used for formal and informal gatherings: speeches by famous people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II; concerts like Judy Garland in 1967; protests in early 1965 when one hundred people gathered to protest the Vietnam War, in 1969 around 100,000 people were protesting that same war; besides softball games, and ice skating on Frog Pond.

Central Burying Ground

CENTRAL BURYING GORUND

As I walk along the Boylston Street side of the Common I come to The Central Burying Ground. Buried here are artists, composers, America’s first poets, Boston Tea party participants, revolutionary war fighters, British soldiers who died during the occupation of the city in 1775-1776 from disease, and the Bunker Hill wounded who died from infection. This is a great cemetery to do tombstone rubbings. I walk along the Common turning left onto Tremont Street.

parkstchurch

PARK STREET CHURCH

As I come to the corner of Tremont Street and Park Street my eyes are drawn to the steeple rising up 217 feet which remains a landmark visible from several of Boston’s neighborhoods. The Park Street Church was founded by twenty-six locals, former members of the Old South Meeting House who wanted a church with orthodox Trinitarian theology. It was founded on 2/ 27/1809, the cornerstone was laid on 5/1/1809, construction was completed at year’s end, and the first worship service was on 1/10/1810. It became known as “Brimstone Corner” because of the storage of gunpowder during the War of 1812 and the missionary preaching style.

GRANARY BURIAL GROUND

GRANARY BURIAL GROUND

The Park Street Church is also the former site of the Granary building and adjacent to it is the Granary Burying Ground/Old Granary Cemetery on Tremont Street which was given this name in 1737; before that it was called the South Burying Ground and was needed to meet the city’s growing population. Founded in 1660 it is the city’s third-oldest cemetery. It contains 2,345 gravestones and many unmarked graves thus there could 5,000 people buried here.

A BOSTON MASSACRE GRAVE

A BOSTON MASSACRE GRAVE

I travel back in time to the 1860s and visualize the Egyptian revival iron gate and fence along Tremont Street, I walk under the shaded entrance created by a row of eleven large European elms called Paddock’s Mall”, planted a hundred years ago that now are ten feet in circumference, as I look across the grounds covered with trees planted thirty years ago, I see a small forest in the city. The first thing I come across is the ashes of the American casualties in the Boston Massacre on 3/5/1770. The grave markers were placed in a straight line during the 1800s to conform to nineteenth century style and to make it easier for the groundskeeper. I gravitate to the granite obelisk erected in 1827, which came from the Bunker Hill Monument quarry, and replace the original dilapidated Franklin family gravestones; this is where Benjamin Franklin parents are buried. Near the monument is the oldest memorial for John Wakefield who died in 1667 at the age of 52. I find tombs which are near the back of the property and in 1717 the town enlarged the Burying Ground and in 1720 there were 15 tombs added and assigned to families in the city. I find many famous Revolutionary War patriots, Declaration of Independence signers, Paul Revere and Boston Massacre victims. I wake from my revelry to see what is left of this historic area that tells a story of a time long passed. Another just place for tombstone rubbings.

KINGS CHAPEL BURYING GROUND

KINGS CHAPEL BURYING GROUND

I continue down to 58 Tremont Street where it crosses School Street and stop outside the historic King’s Chapel Burying Ground. This is the first and oldest cemetery in the city, founded in 1630 and was the only burial site till 1660. Around 1686 King James II appointed royal governor over the colonies of Massachusetts ordered the building of the wooden chapel, to be erected on the old burying ground, over strong objectives from the Puritans. It was located on public burying ground because no resident would sell land for a non-Puritan Church. The original wooden King’s Chapel was built in 1688 and was the first Anglican Church in New England.

KINGS CHAPEL

KINGS CHAPEL

I stand in front of the stone building, that was construction around the wooden one starting in 1749 and completed in 1754, and the wooden structure was taken apart and removed through the windows of this building. During the American Revolution it was vacated by the Loyalists who escaped to Canada and was called the “Stone Chapel” and was reopened in 1782 when they returned. The bell was hung in 1772, cast in England; it cracked in 1814, and was recast and re-hung by Paul Revere. It is the largest bell cast by the Revere foundry and the last one by Paul Revere. It is ringing now announcing services.

As I wander inside my eyes are drawn to the wooden columns with Corinthian capitals that were hand carved in 1758. The wooden box pews were originally owned by paying family members who decorated. Today it’s the beautiful wood that stands out in their uniform appearance that dates back to the 1920s. The European organ is decorated with miters and carvings from the Bridge Organ of 1756 and was built in 1964. It is the sixth organ built in the church and the first one was in 1723.

OLD CITY HALL

OLD CITY HALL

I walk down to 45 School Street and stand in from of the courtyard and my eyes are drawn to the 8 foot bronze statue of Benjamin Franklin. It stands in front of Boston’s elaborate French Empire style building. Near the stature of its most famous dropout is a plaque on the sidewalk in front of Old City Hall, marking the former location of the Boston Latin School. The Boston Latin School was the first public Schoolhouse, the oldest existing School in the United States, founded in 1635, in operation from 1704 to 1748 and on the same street until 1844, and now operates at another location. It educated the sons of the Boston Elite, and its curriculum followed the 18th century Latin School movement where the classics were the basis of an educated mind with the mandatory four years of Latin. It educated American founders like Samuel Adams and John Hancock, and produced four Harvard Presidents, four Massachusetts governors and five signers of the Declaration of Independence. It was an all male school until 1972 when they admitted its first co-educational classes.

On this site of the former Latin School I stand in front of the Old City Hall completed in 1865 and in use till 1969. It symbolizes a cosmopolitan spirit of Victorian Boston, an example of French Second Empire Style with its copper mansard roof, now a faded blue-green. It was one of the first buildings in the French Second Empire style to be built in the United States and after its completion the style was used extensively elsewhere in Boston and the United States and is now one of the remaining few. The first building here was the Suffolk County Courthouse erected in 1810 and converted to Boston’s second city hall in 1841, which was replaced by the current building twenty-four years later. Thirty-eight mayors have served their terms of office at this site over a period of 128 years. In 1969 City Hall moved and this old City Hall was converted to serve other functions, which is an early example of adaptive reuse. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1970; it now houses a number of businesses, organizations and restaurants.

OLD CORNER BOOKSTORE

OLD CORNER BOOKSTORE

I proceed down School Street to Washington Street and stop in front of the historic old Corner Bookstore in the center of Boston. The former building burned down in the great Boston Fire of 1711 and was the home of Anne Hutchinson who was expelled from Massachusetts in 1638 for heresy and she went to Rhode Island. A new building, the one I am standing in front of, was constructed in 1712. The upper floors were the living space and the first floor was the apothecary shop for the many generations of pharmacists who used it.

It was first used as a bookstore in 1828; the first floor of the building was renovated with the addition of projecting small-paned windows. In the 19th Century it was one of the most important publishing companies in the United States. From 1832 to 1865 the Old Corner Bookstore became a meeting place for authors: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. Other parts of the building were rented out and sublet to other businesses. It has houses many booksellers and publishing houses throughout its history.

OLD SOUTH MEETINGHOUSE

OLD SOUTH MEETINGHOUSE

I walk down to 310 Washington Street and stop in front of the Old South Meeting House, a National Historic Landmark, my eyes move up towards the sky following its 183 foot steeple which was completed in 1729. It is situated in the Downtown Crossing area and gained fame as the organizing place for the Boston Tea Party on 12/16/1773 that is when 5,000 colonists gathered in the largest building at the time, debating British taxation then headed for the harbor. After the Boston Massacre there was a yearly anniversary meetings held here until 1775 with speakers like John Hancock. The British occupied the meeting house because it symbolized the Revolutionary cause; they gutted the building, filled it with dirt and used the interior for horse riding practice, trying to destroy it besides stealing many of items they found there.

During the Great Boston Fire of 1872 it was saved by the timely arrival of a Portsmouth, New Hampshire fire engine. For nearly three centuries it has been an important gathering place. It is famous for protest meetings before the American Revolution, and was called a mouth-house as it served as a platform for the free expression of ideas. People continue to gather for discussions and to act on important issues. It is the second oldest establishment in existent in the United States and contains a museum which houses vital heritage, history, and the stories of famous men and women.

THE OLD STATEHOUSE

THE OLD STATEHOUSE

I continue walking on Washington Street to where it intersects with State Street and eye the historic Government building called the Old Massachusetts State House. I am fascinated by the gilded unicorn and lion on its gables the symbols of English domination which were removed after the Revolution and later replaced by replicas.  In 1657 the first building built here was a wooden Town House with a ground floor open to merchants until it was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1711. Two years later in 1713 the first bricks were laid for the Massachusetts colonial government’s new offices. It is the oldest surviving building in Boston and was the state legislature seat until 1798.

THE OLD STATEHOUSE

THE OLD STATEHOUSE

This building occupied the city’s most prominent intersection which is now called State Street and led all the way to Long Wharf, while Washington Street crossed here and use to be the only street connecting Boston to the mainland. The governors would stand on the balcony looking toward Long Warf. People and businesses settled around the building while famous scenes of the Revolution unfolded here. In 1798 the new State house opened on top of Beacon Hill while this building passed on to other uses, presently a museum, and in 1881 was protected by The Bostonian Society.

BOSTON MASSACRE SITE

BOSTON MASSACRE SITE

I cross the street to the sidewalk and in the middle of the square is a cobblestone circle marker where the Boston Massacre took place in front of the Old State House. On 3/5/1770 The Boston Massacre was a street fight, called the Incident on King Street by the British, which took place when British Army soldiers killed five civilian men and injured six others. In 1768 British troops were stationed, to protect and support the crown-appointed colonial officials attempting to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislature, in Boston the capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. There was ongoing tension between the population and the soldiers, a mob of fifty citizens formed around a British sentry, verbally abusing and harassing the soldier who was joined by eight additional soldiers then the crowd got increasingly agitated and threw snowballs, stones and sticks at them. The soldiers without orders fired into the crowd, instantly killing three people and wounding two others who later died from their wounds. The crowd dispersed when the Acting Governor promised an inquiry, which prompted the withdrawal of the troops to a harbor island. Eight soldiers, one officer and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder. The soldiers were defended By John Adams, a future President, six were acquitted while two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences which was just a branding on their hand. This incident resulted in reports, depictions, a colored engraving by Paul Revere and much propaganda about the event used to increasing the tension throughout the Thirteen Colonies and is viewed as a foreshadowing the outbreak the American Revolutionary War five years later.

FANEUIL HALL

FANEUIL HALL

I head down State Street towards the waterfront and Government Center to the Marketplace. I love the Faneuil Hall Building which has been a marketplace and meeting hall since 1742. Many speeches encouraging independence from Great Britain were given here by such greats as Samuel Adams and James Otis, so it is sometimes referred to as “the Cradle of Liberty” and is now a part of the Boston National Historic Park and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

HAYMARKET SQUARE

HAYMARKET SQUARE

The story goes that for many years there were discussions about erecting a public market house in Boston and in 1740 Peter Faneuil offered to build it as a gift to the town. It was built in the style of an English country market with an open ground floor as the market and an assembly room upstairs. There is a grasshopper weather vane on top which is a well known symbol of Boston, knowledge of it was used as a “shibboleth” during the Revolution, suspected spies would be asked to identify the object on top of the hall, if right they were free, if not they were convicted as British spies. The hall was destroyed by fire in 1761 leaving only the brick walls standing so it was rebuilt in 1762. In 1775 when the British occupied Boston they used it for a theater.

In 1805 Faneuil Hall was: doubled in height and width, added a third floor, four new bays were added to the three already there, the open arcades were enclosed, and the cupola was moved to the opposite end of the building, Doric brick pilasters were applied to the lower two floors, Ionic pilasters on the third floor, and galleries were built around the assembly hall. In 1898-1899 it was entirely rebuilt of noncombustible materials.

 

QUINCY MARKET

QUINCY MARKET

I walk east and behind the Hall to Historic Quincy Market which was constructed in 1824-1826. The Market is two stories, 535 feet long and covering 27,000 square miles of land. Since Boston had a tendency for territorial growth by landfill, part of the harbor was filled in with dirt to provide the plot of land for the market along with six new city streets. The exterior is largely traditional New England granite, red brick interior walls and is the first large scale granite and glass in post-and-beam construction. The interior has innovative cast iron columns and iron tension rods. The east and west facades have a strong Roman style, strong triangular pediments and Doric columns, where as the sides of the hall are more American modern with rows of rectangular windows. The shape is a long rectangle creating a long hallway down the center. On the roof are eight evenly spaced chimneys with a copper-based dome in the center that covers an open two story common seating area and the major side entrances.

The Market is named in honor of the Mayor who organized its building without any tax or debt. It was built as an indoor pavilion for vendor stalls because in 1822 Boston had incorporated as a city and its commercial demand grew beyond the capacity of Faneuil Hall. The Market was largely used for produce and foodstuff with various grocers selling eggs, cheese and bread lining its inside walls with some butchering work done on site. Outside there were street vendors against its walls and in its plazas, I see some of the old signs hanging in the upstairs seating hall. There are still vendors on the outside walls selling trinkets, gifts and curios and the south side is under a glass with a few restaurants enclosed in it.

The main building has evolved from groceries to food stall, fast food and restaurants. The second floor is conventional retail space while the basement is occupied by bars and restaurants. Flanking the main building in the marketplace are two equally long buildings called the North Market and South Market with more restaurants, specialty shops and offices. Two further concave market buildings enclose a circular plaza at the market’s west end. The open space at both the east and west ends of the marketplace are a common venue for street performers and venders where a large circular crowd of people will gather around to check out what is going on. Well I am going to stop here to shop and eat. I will write you soon describing the rest of my walk on the Freedom trail into the North End and down to the Harbor.

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1970-1972 EXCURSIONS TO CAMBRIDGE

 

Cambridge across the Charles River

Cambridge across the Charles River

 

Let’s go to Cambridge, named after the University Of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town’s founders who were the 700 original Puritan colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed in reforming the Church of England because it was corrupt. Cambridge is home to two of the world’s most prominent universities, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reflecting the value placed on education. Originally the city was called ‘Newe Towne’ in 1632, it was safely up river from Boston Harbor, and had its own healing spring. It is one of the most populated cities in the state and is on the ‘other side’ of the Charles River.

 

Harvard Square

Harvard Square

To get to Cambridge I ride on the Red Line Subway; “America’s First Subway” known by locals as “The T” which “is as Boston as the Boston Tea Party”! I get off at the northern terminus of the red line called the Harvard Square stop which is also a major transfer station between subway, trackless trolley and buses. Parking is hard to come by and street traffic if often heavy so subway is faster and easier. There is a tunnel adjacent to the subway tunnel that was originally built for streetcars till 1958, now it’s used by trackless trolleys and buses serving the north and west areas. The tunnel prevents bus traffic from crossing The Square and interfering with automobiles and safer covered access between subways and buses.

 

Harvard Square

Harvard Square

 

I find myself in the hustle and bustle of the red brick walkways of Harvard Square, feeling the buzz of “The Square” with street entertainers, musicians and chess matches in action. Harvard Square is the historic center of Cambridge which is a large triangular area, at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street andJohn F. Kennedy Street. As the historic heart of Harvard University it is the commercial center for Harvard students, as well as residents in the surrounding areas. In an extended sense the name “Harvard Square” also refers to the entire neighborhood surrounding the intersection for several blocks in each direction.

 

Harvard Square in Cambridge

Harvard Square in Cambridge

 

On Saturdays I love hanging out on Harvard Square to enjoy a meal, check out one of its many entertainment spots, but mostly in order to stick to my budget I peruse the quaint shops and the Harvard Bookstore.

Harvard Bookstore

Harvard Bookstore

 

I travel north to the nearby Cambridge Common on Massachusetts Avenue, a 16 acre park with a playground, baseball field and a number of monuments. This is where George Washington gathered his troops during the Revolutionary War which now is honored by a trio of bronze cannons. There is also a Civil War Memorial with a statue of Abraham Lincoln under it and a soldier on top. I walk under all the beautiful trees covering the common going west to Garden Street.

 

cannons

cannons

 

 

 

Civil War Memorial

Civil War Memorial

 

 

Walking south on Garden Street I come upon Radcliffe Yard and Radcliffe College awomen’s liberal arts college, and the coordinate college for Harvard University. It was founded by woman for women in 1879, since women were not allowed into Harvard. It is a part of the Seven Sister Colleges in New England that were started and supported by women. Harvard-Radcliffe diplomas began in 1963.As I stand here I am appalled that the best schools in the country are for men only and women are still 2nd class citizens.

 

Radcliffe Yard

Radcliffe Yard

I continue walking south on Garden Street towards the “Old Burial Place/Old Burial Ground“which is on the corner where Massachusetts Avenue crosses Garden Street. Taking a quote from the Cambridge Historical Commission:

“The first cemetery in “Newtowne” was “without the Common Pales” on the south side of Brattle Street, probably between present Ash Street and Longfellow Park. Being outside the perimeter fence, it was not safe from wild animals, and was discontinued before the West End fields were opened for settlement in 1634. No trace of this cemetery has been found.”

 

Christ Church

First I come across the Christ Church at Zero Garden Street which was constructed in 1760 establishing both the line of Garden Street and the western boundary of the colonial cemetery.

 

The Old Burying Ground which was established inside the pales before 1635 originally only covered about an acre but it doubled as more of the common was enclosed. It was the only cemetery in Cambridge for nearly two hundred years so it received a cross section of the people who had lived there, from the poor to the rich Harvard presidents. This is a great place to do stone rubbings on paper.

 

In the early years burial spaces did not have permanent headstones so it contains many more remains than the 1,218 marked graves. The slate headstones have scalloped shoulders, one is dated 1653 even though headstones were not used till the 1670s so it must have been added later. I find death’s-heads or winged skull of medieval origin which was a non-religious symbol used on the oldest headstones in the late 16th through the late 17th century. I come across winged cherubs on other headstones which show up mid 17th to early 18th century from the Renaissance period which are the most striking with interesting epitaphs and details. The third type is the willow and the urn from neoclassic period that showed up in the mid 18th and early 19th century.

 

The alter stones of the late 18th century wealthy Anglicans and those with social standing, I find among the traditional markers, for the upper-class families were buried in vaults. The most famous and elaborate is the John Vassal tomb which is an extensive subterranean vault containing twenty-five caskets.

 

First Parish Church

First Parish Church

 

I continue to head south and come across the First Parish Church, built in 1833 and known for its liberal religious thoughts. I learn that in Cambridge the churches were built after the cemetery where as in many New England towns the burying ground was placed next to the meeting house.

 

Harvard Yard

Harvard Yard

 

I decide to head east towards Harvard Yard which is a grassy area of about 25 acres, adjacent to The Square that is Harvard University’s center and its oldest part. On its west is Massachusetts Avenue and Peabody Street, north is Cambridge Street, northeast is Broadway, Quincy Street is east, while Harvard Street and Massachusetts Avenue is south. There are thirteen of the seventeen dormitories there in addition to four libraries, five building of classrooms and academic departments, and the central administrative offices. There are students all over the place congregating in small groups or walking to their next destination.

 

As I walk south I come to The Old Yard at Johnston Gate which opens onto Massachusetts Avenue where most of the freshman dormitories are; the oldest being Massachusetts Hall constructed in 1720 which makes it one of the two oldest academic buildings in the United States. To be in such an old area with so much history put my family history in perspective giving me a glimpse of the development on my country.

 

Harvard Square

Harvard Square

In the heart of Harvard Square I walk west to Brattle Street, which exudes an 18th century flavor with its seven historic Colonial mansions, where many Loyalists lived at the time of the American Revolution, so it was called the “King’s Highway” or “Tory Row“. This was an area of great conflict during the Revolution for many mansions were confiscated by George Washington’s army, later some were restored to their former owners if they proved themselves no longer supportive of the king of England. Originally it was a forest path to the Charles River. Now there are many structures from the 19th century and the more recent times, all squished together made of wood, brick, many business awnings and glass reflecting the eclectic life style of present day man.

 

Samuel Atkins Eliot wrote in 1912 calling the area “not only one of the most beautiful but also one of the most historic streets in America.” “As a fashionable address it is doubtful if any other residential street in this country has enjoyed such long and uninterrupted prestige.” We are talking almost 300 years!

 

Longfellow's Mansion

Longfellow’s Mansion

 

I amble down the street and enter Longfellow’s Mansion/House at 105 Brattle Street, the home of the 19th century poet and Abolitionist Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Inside you can see how he lived, surrounded by literature, a massive art collection, amazing photographs, letters and documents preserved as a National Historic Site. In 1775 General George Washington took command of the Continental Army and moved into the empty mansion, living in it for almost a year during the Siege of Boston. Outside there is just less than two acres, located in a built up environment, with a carriage barn and a pergola surrounded by gardens. There is so much history exuding these walls reflecting conflict and war while America was forming its beliefs about freedom.

 

Washington's Headquarters

Washington’s Headquarters

 

I saunter down the street to 42 Brattle Street and admire the Brattle House which is of Georgian Architecture and built in 1725 by one of the wealthiest men in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, General-Major William Brattle. In 1774 he and his family fled to Boston when an angry mob surrounded his home. He was able to recover it in 1778 when he showed his support for America’s independence.

 

Brattle House

Brattle House

 

As I walk briskly to the subway to get home before dark my head is spinning with all that I have learned today about the making of a great country and the fight for freedom, the freedom that I take for granted. I am thinking there still needs to be more freedom granted to the people of color, those with different sexual preferences than the ‘norm’, and religious freedom, the list goes on. I even apply this concept to myself; to give myself permission to define my own beliefs and morals, rather than just accepting the ones my family instilled in me, to explore those handed and decide which to keep and which to let go of. What does true freedom look and feel like?

1972 BOSTON LIFE/PSYCHIATRIC NURSING

 LIVING SITUATION

 

I meet P at the bar down the street; he is of average height, somewhat on the thin side with curly light brown hair. We get along well and make an agreement that we do not want a committed relationship, we date for awhile, and then he moves in while we are planning our trip to move to California together.

 

We got a Great Dane puppy call Jake, whose short hair color is Fawn, that is a yellow gold, with a black mask, black on the eye rims, eyebrows, and on the naturally floppy, triangular ears. Jake is a strong galloping figure, a pretty husky dude: taller than me when he stands with his paws on my shoulders and weighing more than me at 100 to 125 pounds, he grew very fast. Jake’s large and imposing appearance does not reflect his friendly nature; he is a gentle giant, even a scared-y cat at times.

 

Eventually I get a couch for the living room that gets destroyed by Jake in just one day. He also loves to grab the end of the toilet paper and run through all the rooms with it so I have learned to close the bathroom door when we leave him alone. Jake loves to ride with me in my MG Midget with the top down, he squeezes in behind the seats, and his drooling dripping jaws are so close to my head that when he shakes his head I get a load of saliva right in the face, yucky.

 

 

PSYCHIARIC/MENTAL HEALTH NURSING

 

I am learning to be a good listener, reflecting back what’s been said, giving positive feedback, support and encouragement. I have always been a caring person but sometimes I over identify with the patient which doesn’t help them and causes me distress and I become less objective. I am working on balancing caring with compassion without getting lost in another.

 

We now are detoxing the barbiturate addicts with Valium which proves safer and without the high, thus word has gotten out on the streets and less people want to be treated. Valium also known as Diazepam is a central nervous system depressant called a benzodiazepine, with its low potency, long duration of action and the availability of low-dose tablets make it ideal for gradual dose reduction and the circumvention of withdrawal symptoms. Present thinking is that it isn’t as addictive as barbiturates, only time will tell.

 

Barbiturates are a very popular abused substance, available through prescription or on the streets. Theyare drugs that act as central nervous system depressants, and can therefore produce a wide spectrum of effects, from mild sedation to total anesthesia. It seems that people are trying not to be aware or to feel their feelings by taking these pills.

 

 

We see many young men being admitted, in a psychotic state from a bad acid trip, struggling to get their life back together, but their contact with reality has been severely affected. It is interesting how many young people are into this substance that do not have bad experiences and even develop spiritually.Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD semi-synthetic psychedelic drug, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, an altered sense of time and spiritual experiences, as well as for its key role in 1960s counterculture. It is used mainly as a recreational drug, and as an agent in experimental psychedelic therapy research being done at Berkeley University, UCLA and Harvard University.

 

 

I have learned a lot from the patients who have crossed my path. I am introduced to the concepts of Western Mysticism and Astral Travel by a very knowledgeable young man; I am fascinated by the topic, being on the path of the seeker. I am open to what others believe and think, without judgment, hungry for other ways of seeing things. Psychiatry does not see this the way I do it is a little more closed minded with a focus on altered states being abnormal brain functioning and psychopathology.

 

When a patient gets agitated and possible violent, at least 4 staff grab a limb and take the patient down to the floor, speaking calming word: “breathe deeply”, “Take it easy”, and “Calm down”, telling them “we will let you go as soon as you calm down.” We do not have restraints on the unit, and it takes just a few minutes of physical contact to calm the person down, when they say they are OK, we let them up. No staff or patients have ever been injured in this approach. There is not much written about dealing with agitated and hostile behavior.

 

I had my first experience with a patient faking Grand Mal Seizures, it took the staff a little time to figure it out because it looked like a textbook case, and the patient was very skilled at pretending which he eventually admitted to. When we first choose to ignore the behavior it was very hard to do, because of the urge to protect, but it is in the best interest of the patient. It turned out it helped him to: let go of this way of seeking attention, learning to ask for what he needs, and expressing what is going on with himself. It is always so heartwarming to be with others who are growing and developing new ways of behaving, it is why I enjoy this work. I so believe in others ability to develop healthier behaviors, since I have been able to do so. Besides my father was a wonderful role model who was able to remain loving, positive and motivated through difficult times.

 

 

Our Day Care Patients are The Chronically Mentally Ill, recently released from the hospital or the state hospital, as the city works to integrate this population into the community. The state of Massachusetts and many other states in the USA are discharging the Mentally Ill out of the State Hospitals and into the communities, there appear not to be enough programs to help them reintegrate. I see many on the streets unable to cope with “normal life” such as maintaining a place to live.

 

They come to the unit Monday through Friday and participate fully in the program. It takes a lot of work and motivation on the patient’s part to create a life outside of an institution. They require active assistance in learning basic skills, we take for granted; like financial management, apartment living, interacting with others as equals, shopping, cooking and cleaning. Patients are more successful when they are provided support and encouragement, while pointing out their accomplishments, giving feedback when they have completed tasks and maintain a caring approach.

 

My last day working at Boston City Hospital Psychiatric Facility in Mattapan is in August. I am Charge Nurse for June and July, which is temporary since I am moving to California, and the charge nurse is resigning. This charge nurse position is harder than at Miriam where I was the only nurse. At Boston City Psychiatric Hospital there are many nurses on the unit that have been my friends and coworkers and we have all been equals. Now I am the boss and need to be fair and equitable and not show favoritism when: making out the work schedule, giving out patient assignments and vacation requests. The staff tries to manipulate me in their favor and since I struggle with being liked it creates a war within and in the end what is right always wins.

 

It is a hard job to leave because I love the people, the work, and I have learned so much from it all.

 

 

MY MENTAL HEALTH

I am still in the Psychodrama Group working on my issues with men and my projection of my stuff onto them that I need to work out in order to be able to develop a health relationship. I project my father issues onto the guy I am in a relationship with. In my present relationship we have been clear we are in an open relationship, meaning we can date other people, I am really gun shy since my last two relationships were with cheaters bringing up issues of abandonment, mistrust and anger.

 

I am suspended from work for 2 weeks, while the patient I had dated previously was re-admitted for detoxification of barbiturates. I realize that I am attracted to men that I perceive need my help, I take on a care-giver role: which is a power position of thinking I am in control and healthier than them; the deeper issue is that I am projecting my father issues on men so I can work them out; it is like reenacting a part of the relationship I had with father, helping him when asked; it is the rescuer myth I am acting out since the age of 4.

 

There was also a triangular relationship happening between my father, mother and me: I was in charge when Ma went to work; I was sharing my father with my mother; which is reflected and being played out through my relationships with cheating boyfriends for they also have another women in their life. I have so much to process and work through that go back to when I was 4 yrs old and father got polio.

 

 

MY COPING MECHANISMS

 

I continue to drink but it has decreased, still using it to medicate myself which I find more acceptable than medications.

 

Since living in Boston M has turned me onto a variety of music. We go to large dancing bars, where there is a large raised stage for the bands, lots of dancing space for the many patrons, and an abundance of tables for drinks and chairs for coats. At one place the bar is part of the stage and we are enthralled and captivated by the Platters performance, a Rhythm and Blues vocal group, with many top hits that I know the words to. During the holidays it’s a pleasure to hear and see Mannheim Steamroller play wonderful Christmas music like no one else can, sounding like a mini orchestra. There are frequent appearances of the skinny BB King, making his guitar Lucille screech out his soulful bluesy tunes. There are many places to go to listen to free live music; I am going to miss this the most.

 

We go to concerts at The Boston Fillmore where less know musicians get their start on a small raised stage with lots of floor space, usually packed with people standing all around, most of the time we sit on the floor in front of the stage. We are enthralled by the outlandish performances and phenomenal music played by these off the wall rock and roll artists: Black Sabbath, Joe Crocker, J. Geils Band, Alice Cooper, Eric Clapton, and Elton John. They all have a look of their own, not afraid to be who they see themselves as, putting themselves out there, without being concerned with what others may think, just trusting in their dream. I love the high pitches sounds that can come from guitars and nothing can beat a good piano player.

 

At the Boston Garden, where the top names in the music industry appear to large crowds, we are far from the stage, in a large auditorium, watching mind blowing rock and rollers like: sexy Jimmy Page and Robert Plant singing and playing guitar in the group called Led Zeppelin; the amazing Ian Anderson swinging his long bushy hair all around while playing the flute standing on one leg, in the band called Jethro Thull; and Jefferson Airplane with Gracie Slick swirling all around the stage, is a sight to behold; Edgar Winter is an albino who writes, sings and plays keyboard, sax and drums in the White Trash Group, we get up close and personal because he walks by us.  I know all the words to these musicians compositions, it radiates through my being, experiencing a myriad of feelings, issues and solutions to problems.

 

At the local small bar venues, there is an intimate feeling because Jazz is less popular than other forms of music; there is a lot to be said about the Jazz experience. We sit along the stage, at a small table; I amerce my five senses in the musician on stage, taking it all in, while M does fantastic charcoal drawing of the musician. The cover is a one drink minimum for 5 dollars, and we enjoy amazing musicians such as: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Muddy Waters, and BB King. Listening to this type of music requires training my ears to appreciate sounds that are put together in unusual arrangements and letting go of what I think music is suppose to sound like.

 

At Carroll O’Connor’s bar we go to a luscious Sunday Brunch while listening and dancing to the Big Band Sounds which are still going strong, even though they are not on the radio any longer. It is such a body/mind rush to hear a variety of well played musical instruments creating amazing arrangements that bring me through a plethora of feelings. We see such greats as: Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich and Count Basie, playing outdoors in good weather, otherwise we are inside in tight quarters where there is no room to dance but the sounds fills you up.

 

 

My mother, Bill and my 3 youngest sisters have moved to North Carolina this year. P and I drive down there in my MG Midget and I am shocked when my mother insists we sleep in her bed. I have never discussed sex with my mother or anything intimate for that matter. I say goodbye to my family because I won’t be seeing them again before leaving for California.

 

 

I sell my MG midget and buy a large Buick station wagon with fake wood on the outside and the back opens out like a door, to the left. We purchase camping equipment. I give my furniture away to my sister, give my long black fake fur coat with hood and favorite picture to M, and stuff all my clothes into a new black footlocker and off we go.

 

I really enjoyed the 2 years I was in Boston; the daytime walks and the musical nightlife were exhilarating and mind expanding. Psychiatric nursing was educational while introducing me to myself through therapy. I am ready to move on to a warmer, sunnier climate.

1971 BOSTON LIFE/PSYCHIATRIC NURSING

 

leather skirt and coat I had made for me.

 

LIVING SITUATION

In September, M and I decide to move out and get our own apartments, leaving this one to the guys. I find a place in the Brighton/ Alston area which is a neighborhood of single and multifamily homes and not as densely populated as the apartment area.

Walking in the front door, you see the fair size bedroom straight ahead with one window and a door for privacy. From the entrance to the right around a tight corner small hallway you enter the large square living room with two windows flooding the area with light.

When you continue to head toward the back of the apartment you go through a small narrow square hall with a small bathroom on the right that has just enough space for the tub on the right, the toilet in the center and the sink against the left wall with mirror and cupboard.

The kitchen is the last room straight back. In the kitchen I have a table and chairs I brought from the apartment. This place is more open, less walls and lets in more light; the buildings are not as tall or as close together compared to where I moved from creating a feeling of privacy.

My mother and Bill help me paint my new place white, which is what is allowed by the landlord. I really appreciate all the help they give me, getting my place done quicker than if I had of done it on my own. I have lots of years of experience in painting and wall paperhanging with my mother; she is superb with wallpaper, the old fashion way, with that clumpy glue for she doesn’t like the paper with the glue on it.

 

I go antiquing on the weekends from Massachusetts to RI looking for good inexpensive deals. I find an antique brass bed for $35, because the brass footboard is cut off, I polish it to a bright shine. I purchase a red satin bedspread to place on the bed. I love getting up on cold mornings and standing on the red mohair rug with its long plush fake fur fibers that I have placed on the floor.

I bought three antique wooden furnishings that took lots of hard work to remove the paint, stripping them down to the wood then applying the stain, doing it all right in the empty living room. I discover that my purchases are well worth the money I invested: there is a red mahogany dresser with a matching mirror; a walnut armoire with a door that opens exposing four lingerie draws that pull out while the lower third has 2 large drawers on the bottom; and then a walnut smokers table that is carved and has inlaid work on it.

 

MY ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIFE

My apartment is right down the street from a bar. My daily routine for this year involves: getting up 5am to get ready for work; taking the crowded subway trains for an hour like sardines in a can; working the day shift from 7am to 3:30 pm; getting back on the rocking shaking trains back home; eating a cheap dinner; napping till 9 pm; walking down the block to the local bar; dancing and drinking till 3 am; stumbling home; then going to bed while the room whirls around me.

Sometimes I wake up puking whatever fruit I ate in the mixed drinks, I love Maraschino cherries. Once I vomit up liquor, I become nauseated just smelling it thus I’m no longer able to drink it. The next night I start with something new, I have not tried before, making it my drink till I get sick on it, and that’s my pattern throughout the year. I average 4 drinks a night and usually only buy the first one. I spend the night on the dance floor moving my body to whatever music the live band is playing.

On the weekends M and I go bar hopping around Boston where there is amazing live music like The Platters, Mannheim Steamroller, and BB King. I spend many hours drinking and dancing, using alcohol to deal with my social anxiety, to takes away my many inhibitions, and to self medicate to deal with my long standing anxiety and depression. I find myself in some tight spots; gun held to my head for example, but my guardian angel seems to be protecting me and I always arrive safely home.

 

PSYCHIATRIC/MENTAL HEALTH NURSING

With a year’s experience under my belt as a psychiatric/mental health nurse and before the next new residents arrive; we decide on the programs we want to do for the year. We are interested, in sharing our assessments with the patients, while researching their ability to deal with the information. Thus every morning we have the patients read their previous day chart notes and encourage them to write an honest note underneath it, it is OK if they disagreed with the staff notes. We then discuss what is written, what healthy behaviors are, the feelings behind the behaviors and the steps to better mental health. In the end some of the individuals do well with the process, some get paranoid while others get agitated, and some are withdrawn and into pleasing so they are hesitant to share their responses.

 

 

MY MENTAL HEALTH

The therapist in the Psychodrama Group is finished with her year of training us in this approach and some of the members decided to continue this group therapy without a leader. We become a close knit group of women, there are new issues brought up for the first time, for half are gay lesbians who are struggling to come out of the closet and are feeling safe and supported in sharing their secret.

 

I start working on my issues with my mother; I get in touch with my anger towards my mother for not protecting me and my protecting her. My mother has emotional and mental health issues which results in her exhibiting fugue states and flashbacks; she acted as if she is in a past situation, except she is experiencing it as if it’s happening now, when she is questioned they are memories from the past.

 

Sometimes on the weekends I drive to RI to visit my family. On one visit I gathered all my sisters and mother around the kitchen table and talked about my shadow experience. I thought I was exposing my sisters to something they were unaware of, and realized I was just bringing it out into the open, for we were all keeping the secret, not wanting to “hang out our dirty laundry for all to see.” I feel very alone.

 

MY COPING MECHANISMS

I bought a white, convertible MG Midget right before moving to my own place. The salesman spends an hour teaching me how to drive a clutch up and down hills; it takes me a good week to get the feel of it. Usually my car is parked on the street, moving it twice a week for street cleaning. I continue to take the subway to work except in the winter when it isn’t running due to the weather. I have difficulty getting through a snow storm, because the snow get compacted under the low clearance of the vehicle, so I get out and remove it in order to keep going.

 

 

One day it feels like I have a flat tire and I am lucky I have AAA, when the guy shows up he states “You are lucky you were not on the freeway or you would have been injured. It is more than a flat tire, your front axle broke.” It cost an arm and a leg to get it fixed. I always take the roads to work because there is less honking, not as much traffic and not as much time idling and now they have proven to be safer.

 

 

Once I decide to drive as fast as I can, trying to get it up to ‘95mph on 95 freeway’. As I hit 95 and going downhill, looking in my rear view mirror, I see a cop car’s flashing lights, instead of breaking; I eased up on the gas. I pulled over and he asks “Ms. Powers, do you know how fast you were going?” “No Officer, my Speedometer is broken” (which it was). “Well, Ms. Powers you were going 80 miles per hour. I am going to give you a warning this time, and I do not want to catch you speeding again, you understand?” “Yes, Officer, Thank You!” Boy was that close.

 

 

M and I frequently drive around Boston checking out the sights, our first jaunt out we were in the smack dab middle of Harvard Square when the car died, a nice man stopped to help push us out of the traffic and after lifting the hood and trying to start it he said “Lady, you are out of gas.” How embarrassing is that! Gas is 25 cents/gallon, filling my tank for less than three bucks.

 

 

M and I go to the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island in my MG Midget in the summer. We park in the parking lot across the street, planning to camp there throughout the concert. The concert is outdoors, a chain link fence has been placed around the hill, to keep people out that have not paid. On Saturday night a crowd develops on the other side of the flimsy barrier, listening for free, but they are not happy with that, they are piling up, with more and more squeezing into the area, pushing on the fencing till it is down, then all hell breaks loose. The song “What the World Needs now is Love” is being sung by Dianne Warwick while we are being evacuated from the fairgrounds, with the police raining tear gas down upon us, tears are pouring down my face while I try to decrease my exposure by breathing through my clothing. The concert ends early and we go back to the car and camp out for the night.

The next morning we wake to the police standing at attention, on the sidewalk across the street, in riot gear, plastic shields and Billy clubs. We are told to leave because the music festival is cancelled chaos brakes out, people are yelling and screaming, one guy tells us “It is best if you leave quickly.” We put our tent away, get into the MG, and while I am trying to drive out of the parking lot the police are upon us, one officer starts banging my car with his Billy Club. We exit swiftly safe and sound.  We paid a lot of money for those weekend tickets and are never refunded for the rest of the week.

Later we find out what has happened. “Early on Saturday evening, crowds of young people occupying the adjacent hill, high on everything from alcohol to acid surrounding the concert site. The police command force was called to clear the area, but they never came. The young people breached the chain link fence during Dionne Warwick’s set.

The stage was soon overflowing with a crowd who tore the lid off the piano, smashed everything in sight, and the police began lobbing tear gas canisters. It was announced that the city had ordered the Festival shut down. Traffic was halted on the bridges allowing only residents and people with legitimate business in.

At 7AM Sunday the police moved into Miantomoni Hill with bull horns telling everyone to put out their fires, fold their tents and leave within 15 minutes. Within an hour the park was cleared, and police moved on to the parking lots and cleared them.

It wasn’t Dionne that sets off the riots. There was a new band called the Allman Brothers a white blues group which was really a pioneering southern rock group, that wasn’t popular and no popular rock groups were hired because “After Woodstock, no one would allow rock festivals”. So in January they were hired and by July they became rock monsters. So the kids descended on Newport and they broke the fences down and the festival was cancelled.”

 

 

I have had lots of interesting experiences during 1971 living on my own in Boston, being in therapy working through issues, developing caring skills as a holistic psychiatric nurse and having fun in the first car I ever bought. What more could a girl ask for?

1970 LIFE IN BOSTON / A NEWBIE PSYCHIATRIC NURSE

 

LIVING SITUATION

In August we hitchhike to Boston to find an apt to rent. We get the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald newspapers and go looking at places to live. There is this one place we really like; when the black landlord tells us “This is not a safe neighborhood for you girls, I will not rent to you.” We walk out of their thinking it was our choice to make, that maybe he was being too protective, because we did not feel unsafe walking in this neighborhood, but then again it was not dark yet.

 

We check out a variety of places until we end up down the street from the jazz school. It needs a lot of cleaning, painting and repair work; which we are willing to do; and the landlord is willing to provide the paint and supplies. We are in a red brick building on the top floor paying $75/month, having to carry very heavy furniture up 4 flights of stairs for here is no elevator. Neighbors come by and welcomed us to the community and the building even bringing us food; it is great being surrounded by lots of friendly people.

 

Our living room windows looked into the apartment about 10 feet away on the other side of a narrow walkway, privacy and space is a luxury in this densely populated city. As you walk in the front door there is a long narrow hall the length of the huge living room and small alcove which is barely big enough for a twin bed, the door way is on the left. My friend’s brother F has a brown Afro; a husky dude who is happy to pay $25 to live in the alcove while he attends the jazz school. Within a short time one of his school buddies has moved into the living room and is sleeping on the couch.

 

My friend M’s room is on the same side of the building as the living room with a window facing out towards the building next door. M has always been very messy, so she keeps her door closed most of the time. She is of Irish and Italian descent with beautiful red hair worn in an Afro.

 

The medium size rectangular kitchen is at the end of the hall which consists of wooden counter space with cupboards above and below on the 2 long walls, while the sink is in the center of the counter space on right side, the stove and fridge are along one of the shorter wall near the entrance, and we place a small table with 2 chairs at the window in which minimal light comes through. The first night we walk into the kitchen turning on the light and see hordes of coach roaches running all over the place to escape being seen, this really freaks us out. It looks so nice after being freshly painted white, deceiving ourselves into believing it’s clean. We decide to store all food in glass containers to keep out the roaches. We have a contest at night with a fly swatter; we quietly sneak in, quickly turning on the light and seeing who can kill the most coach roaches. We only use the kitchen to store food and cook in it.

 

Next to the kitchen, on the right side of the hall, across from M’s room, is the rectangular bathroom; with a large porcelain tub, a small sink and toilet and a window overlooking the courtyard. The Coach roaches are in too but not as many as there are in the kitchen

 

The entrance to my large room is also on the right side of the hall across from the living room. The window in my room overlooked a square courtyard that is only accessible on the first floor by windows; there is even grass on the ground. Sound traveled and echoed well; like in a tunnel or a canyon in the wilderness, lots of music students live here so all kinds of instrumental noises reverberate as the artists practice their scales throughout the building. I furnish it with a full bed, a bedside table, a LP record player and a chair.

 

I love buying new LPs that stack up and play throughout the night, I still need a distracting and comforting sound to be able to sleep, in order not to be awakened by sounds in the environment that my brain tries to make sense out of. I am dealing with a trigger that is connected to the Shadow.

 

 

PSYCHIATRIC MENTAL HEALTH NURSING

In September we start working at Boston City Hospital at the Mattapan Psychiatric Facility located outside of town. There are a few buildings situated on a hill, which are isolated by being outside of town, like many similar structures built at the time. The Psych Building is a two story structure with the Substance Abuse unit upstairs while the psychiatric/mental health patients are on the first floor. The building is rectangular with one hall way and the rooms coming off both sides; there are 2 patients to a room. There is a large Day Room in the center of the hall with a large therapy/meeting room across the way. Next door to Day Room is the Nurses Station which contains the medical records with table and chairs for charting. The medication room door is only accessible from the nursing station. There is a locked box on the wall that houses the controlled substances which we count every shift.

 

At one point a patient is having frequent seizures even though he is on medication, we start investigating the cause, when we examined the pills which are suppose to be Phenobarbital, and realize they are being replaced by Artane which is used for EPS. A staff nurse must be involved because they are under lock and key and are the only ones with access. Barbiturates are very popular medications being misused and highly addictive.

 

Phenobarbital is a barbiturate that is the oldest and most widely used anticonvulsant that also has sedative and hypnotic properties. It is use as first-line for partial and generalized tonic–clonic seizures also known as grand mal.

 

Our emergency response to a generalized tonic-clonic epileptic seizure is simply to prevent the patient from self-injury by moving him or her away from sharp edges, placing something soft beneath the head, and carefully rolling the person onto their side which is the recovery position to avoid asphyxiation, so the tongues does not block the airway. If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, or if the seizures begin coming in ‘waves’ one after the other it is called ”status epilepticus’’ which we treat by administering Valium IV push. We believed a person could swallow their own tongue during a seizure or bite their own tongue, so we placed a padded tongue depressor in the mouth.

 

After a seizure, it is typical for a person to be exhausted and confused. Often the person is not immediately aware that they have just had a seizure. During this time a staff person stays with the patient – reassuring and comforting them – until they appear to act as they normally would and have returned to their normal level of awareness. Many patients sleep deeply for a few hours after a seizure, and headaches may occur. Those present at the time of a seizure would make a note of how long and how severe the seizure was.

 

We treat many people with Psychosis, which comes from the Ancient Greek word meaning “psyche”, for mind/soul, and “-osis”, for abnormal condition or derangement which refers to an abnormal condition of the mind, and is a psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a “loss of contact with reality”. People suffering from psychosis are described as psychotic. Psychosis is given to the more severe forms of psychiatric disorder, during which hallucinations and delusions and impaired insight may occur. The term psychosis is very broad and can mean anything from relatively normal aberrant experiences through to the complex and catatonic expressions of schizophrenia. Sometimes we get people off the streets experiencing a bad acid trip that are psychotic. People experiencing psychosis may exhibit personality changes and thought disorder. Depending on its severity, this may be accompanied by unusual or bizarre behavior, as well as difficulty with social interaction and impairment in carrying out daily life activities.

 

The Antipsychotics, we use to control psychoses such as schizophrenia, include: chlorpromazine also called Thorazine, thioridazine known as Melleril, and haloperidol called Haldol.

 

The extra pyramidal motor system is a neural network located in the brain that is involved in the coordination of movement. Extra pyramidal symptoms therefore are symptoms that manifest themselves in various movement disorders. The extra pyramidal symptoms, often known as EPS, are a neurological side effect of antipsychotic medication, also known as major tranquilizers.

 

Extra pyramidal symptoms can begin within a few hours, days or weeks or even years after commencing treatment with an antipsychotic medication. Common signs and symptoms include: Involuntary movements, Tremors and rigidity, Body restlessness, Muscle contractions, Mask like face, Involuntary movement of the eye called oculogyric crisis, Drooling, Shuffling gait, Increased heart rate, Delirium and Symptoms can be very distressing and frightening.

 

We are Psychiatric Staff Registered Nurses functioning as: Primary Therapist, Group Psychotherapist and Family Therapist. I become a Psycho-dramatist and am a Consultant for the Rehabilitation Unit, to assist non-psychiatric staff in dealing with difficult patients and psychiatric problems.

 

The nurses supervise the medical workers staff trained in Psychiatric Care. The nurses have clinical supervision with the nursing director. Clinical Case supervision is a hospital Policy for all staff, which is for one hour a week to discuss and get feedback on: patient care, to explore patient transference and staff counter-transference. We do follow up and Home Visits since there is a state policy to integrate the mentally ill into the community. All staff is required to attend a weekly therapy group focused on issues with patients and staff.

 

I am exposed to new theories and treatment approaches for mental health nursing, learning to work with families from Virginia Satir, and experiencing many great teachers through the connection with Harvard residents. Nurses get to define the program every year before the new residents arrived this has already been done before we started working.

 

We have an open door policy on this Adult Psychiatric Ward with 20 in-patients; which including 3 barbiturate addicts, alcoholics detoxifying, and 10 Day-Care patients receiving services during business hours. The ward functions on a team approach using the therapeutic community milieu approach to care which is holistically oriented. We have daily community meetings with the patients; to give positive feedback for improvement made; and to discuss issues that have come up; and exploring ways to resolve conflict and encourage growth.

 

When we first started treating the barbiturate addicts we gave them Pentobarbital, also known as Nembutal 100mg, and the street name is yellow jackets, we administered it every hour till they were feeling elated, we would then total up the dose given, which would be their starting dose, then it was decreased over 7 to 10 days. They literally are “bouncing off the walls” as they stagger from side to side down the hall, their arms out as their hands contact the walls. The major problem we have with this approach is when there is liver involvement, for example: once a patient all of a sudden passed out and required immediate intervention. We detoxify the alcoholics with Librium which mellows out the cravings and delirium Tremors as long as they give a true report of the amount of their alcohol intake.

 

Our 10 Day Care Patients are on the unit Mondays through Fridays, from 9am to 3pm. All in patients and out patients participated in the program’s activities. During those hours: we played indoor games such as cards and dominoes; outdoor games such as volleyball and baseball. We have individual sessions with all patients, a variety of therapy groups, community meetings and morning meetings to start the day.

 

 

MY MENTAL HEALTH

I start personal group therapy as a requirement for my job; I co-lead a Psychodrama group with another staff, so we are in a therapy group, which lasts about a year. There is a woman in the group who had recovered from Polio and has a son about my age thus we do a lot of work together, she plays my father while I play myself or she plays herself while I play her son, after awhile it doesn’t really seem to matter for the roles blend because the issues are similar. I work hard on my father issues: feelings of loss, guilt, anger, and abandonment; development tasks of trust and security. It is easier to role play the issues rather than talking about them because I am less guarded.

 

Sometimes on the weekends I go visit my family in Pawtucket, RI. One weekend Mother and I play with the Ouija Board; it appears to move on its own, picking up speed and darting all over the place very quickly, saying “I am sorry it is not your fault”. I did not know what that meant; tears were running down my checks, because a part of me knew what was being said. My mother starts to tell the story of how “You wanted a bike”, “Your father was working a lot to pay off a hospital bill from my miscarriage”, “You would cry when he would go to work” and “We lied to you, telling you he was going to work to get you a bike, we didn’t think it would become a problem”, “It’s your father who is telling you ‘It is not your fault he got polio.” It was freaky, scary and comforting all at the same time. I realize that my father chose not to get vaccinated or maybe he was just putting it off for a more convenient time and seeing that he was overworked it made him more susceptible to getting polio.

 

I am still seeing D who has also moved to Boston in a high rise of 15 stories and it is difficult for me to look out the window or even go near it. Being 22 yrs of age I now drink more frequently, to the point of blacking out. I am using alcohol to be more social, it has helped me relax and give myself completely to D so I won’t lose him, besides it decreases my inhibitions which also contribute to other risky behaviors.

 

My experiences with drugs start. At our first work Christmas party with the psychiatrists and staff, I asked M “What is in the pipe they are passing around the circle.” I am so naive. We have a Christmas decorating party at our place, inviting about 20 people, and placing chairs up against the walls of the living room. Someone passes around a pipe and within a short period of time we are experiencing an inability to control our limbs, come to find out we have been smoking animal tranquilizer called angel dust/PCP, I will never do that again feeling to out of control. The group was so out of it giggling and laughing, we were all connected by a large string of white lights, while we were replacing the burnt out bulbs before placing them on the tree which was set up in the alcove.

 

I am obsessed with D, one night I realize he is in his apartment with that same girl again! I take Benadryl 50 mg to go to sleep but it has the opposite effect on me getting me so agitated that I go to his place banging on the door but they pretended they are not there. I decided to confront them both, so I sit in the hall waiting for them to come out. I so want the truth to be brought out into the light of day.

 

In the morning they are surprised to see me; they back up into the room. She has a box of boots in her arms that D bought on one of our shopping trips, I comment asking “Are those the boots we bought for your cousin?” She throws the boots at him. He now has to explain to both of us what is going on. I am so emotionally distraught and want everything out into the open, even if it means more pain and suffering, so I say “I thought we have been planning on getting married?” He responds with “Yes we were, but I love both of you.” I go into shock and disbelief as does she while he talks like a two headed snake. I leave to go home to lick my wounds.

 

I continue to see him for a short while, as I allow him to seduces me with more lies, but I know I do not want to be with a liar, and that I need to move on. So I act out by dating an x-patient which is inappropriate and doesn’t last long because he becomes an obnoxious substance abuser, besides D finds us together and makes the guy leave. D gets jealous, becoming very controlling, and slapping me across the face. This is the last straw for I refuse to allow myself to be physically abused; later after he leaves I realize that he has stolen my month’s supply of birth control pills. He leaves and refuses to believe it’s over, and when he calls to apologize I refuse to ever see him again. So much drama, anxiety and pain, while I explore why I continue to be attracted to unavailable men, who are unwilling to commit to one person, looking at my relationship history and thinking I must also be projecting my stuff on them. I must not be ready for a committed relationship.

 

 

MY COPING MECHANISMS

I love walking all over Boston: from my neighborhood to Cambridge, downtown and to all areas of the city. On Saturday afternoon, we Folk Dance on Harvard’s courtyard campus, where they teach a dance, which we do over and over to different songs, I love group dances. I take a silkscreen class in Cambridge to stimulate my creativity, and planning to do it on clothing. We participate in the Anti-Vietnam demonstration near our place; the police are on horseback with riot gear, Billy clubs and dogs chasing us out of the park. “Johnnie Got His Gun” The Movie was briefly at the theater for 2 weeks before it is banned because of its controversial nature.

 

Weekly we treat ourselves by going out to eat at McDonald’s; coke, fries and cheeseburger for 75 cents. We buy cheap food at the market; lots of chicken pot pies and Kraft macaroni and cheese each costing less than 25 cents, sometimes 5 for a $1 and we really enjoy these meals.

 

This has been a great year living and experiencing life in Boston Massachusetts, learning and working in Psychiatric Nursing, and looking at and exploring my own Mental Health Issues through a commitment to my own therapy which is the underlying reason that I have found myself here.