Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography Page: 53
This book is part of the collection entitled: Rescuing Texas History, 2010 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries .
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Dr. Edward Cowles, superintendent of McLean, proved to
be a man of overpowering dignity and presence. He was the
epitome of the great doctor of the old school. Confronted by
this stern pillar of a man I subsided into a state of semi-shock,
and quite forgot to stand up when he came in. But his deep
voice was surprisingly gentle and kind. With remarkable pa-
tience he asked me all sorts of questions, where I came from,
how old I was, how much schooling I had had, whether I
drank, gambled, went with the women. "Stand up, boy," he
ordered. He looked me over as if I were a horse, and then
said: "We'll see. Leave your address at the desk." With that he
turned on his heel, leaving behind him a portentous silence.
Outside, the hollyhocks by the open window swayed in the
Thus simply was the first step taken toward my goal.
Several months passed. Then, out of the blue came the letter
containing instructions to report at McLean Hospital. Without
delay I gave notice, took the train to Waverley, trudged down
Trapelo Road, turned right, and went up the long, long hill.
In these times, patients' fees at McLean began at $12.oo a
week for room and board, exclusive of special treatment and
medications, and ranged up to $200 a week or more in Upham,
where very rich and favored patients lived in suites attended by
special nurses and servants. Today McLean fees begin, I believe,
at about $130 a week. This would suggest how much water has
flowed beneath the bridge since then.
Humane treatment at all times and under whatsoever provo-
cation was the rule at McLean Hospital, at a time when else-
where such hospitals were little less than sties. The use of the
strait jacket was kept at a minimum, manhandling was strictly
prohibited. Student nurses were required to attend many classes
in psychiatric nursing, anatomy, pharmacy, the rudiments of
psychiatry, and so on. Meanwhile, I attended all types of pa-
tients, from the back wards of Bowditch, where many patients
slept on bare mattresses on low cots fastened to the floor, to
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Atkinson, Donald Taylor. Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography, book, 1958; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143566/m1/65/: accessed January 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.