Ella Thompson.

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The Happy Sunshine School

Sunshine, Fresh Air, Rest and Nutritious Food Are
Nature's Healing Agents






Principal of the first Special Fresh Air School for Tubercular Children in Indiana from
October, 1914, to June, 1916.


MacDonald Bros., Publishers

This book has been read and passed on by the Health Department
of the United States Government at Washington, D. C, and also by Dr. J. N.
Hurty, State Health Commissioner of Indiana.

Copyright, 1920, including translation.


535 East Drive, Woodruff Place,

Indianapolis, Ind.


DEC I8J920








The Out Door School has passed the experimental stage
and we know It is not a "fleeting fad." It is here to stay on
its merits. Among those who early saw and felt and thor-
oughly believed in the virtue and potentialities of the Out
Door School was Miss Ella Thompson. She entered the work
with intelligent enthusiasm. Her yearly experiences in con-
ducting her Out Door School have increased her enthusiasm
and brought to her greater comprehension of the work, and
also greater efficiency in it.

Now, she offers to us this little book which I feel certain
will be gratefully received. It opens with an interesting
short story, which is followed by the school diary of a
bright little pupil who feels, if she does not understand, the
joy and refreshment to be secured from living in sunshine,
from breathing plenty of pure air, eating plain food with a
clean mouth and communing with nature.

It is pleasant to read this little unpretentious book
which so successfully presents the essence and spirit of the
Out Door School.

J. N. HURTY, M. D.,
State Health Commissioner of Indiana.


Anna was in the kitchen getting supper. Mother was on the front porch
entertaining a church caller. Father was in the garden hoeing the radishes.

Cheerful voices sounded from the front porch. The clicking hoe had an
industrious sound. Chirping birds gathered crumbs from the window sill.
Old Tige, the cat, lay snoozing on the back porch and Anna'a dishes clat-
tered musically as she walked briskly about the kitchen; while the fox
terrier pup entertained himself by tearing up and down the yard. Alto-
gether, there was a sweet home influence surrounding this pretty little

Anna was fifteen and neat. Her kitchen was spotlessly clean. The
blue and white linoleum seemed to match her big blue checked apron. A
snowy cap kept stray curls from flying; but her pink cheeks blossomed out

"I believe I shall have baked apples for supper," she thought to herself
as she took down a dish of the rosy fruit from a shelf in the cupboard.
"With my pot of baked beans and big dish of macaroni and cheese, baked
apples will taste fine. Milk cocoa will be good, too."

She washed the apples and was carefully liftiing out the cores with a
shining knife when she heard a step on the porch and a cheery voice called,
"Well, Anna, what are you going to have good for supper? I'm hungry."
"Hungry?" inquired Anna. "That's not surprising. Whoever ucard of a
boy who wasn't hungry? Yes, I am going to have a good supper. You
better stay." "I believe I shall," answered Sam. "It smells good in here."

He lifted his head high and sniffed the air appreciatingly. "Bet I can
guess what you are going to have for supper." "Well, just guess, if guessing
will satisfy your appetite," replied Anna. But about that time Sam spied
the cooky jar and helped himself to a cooky for each hand, eating alter-
nately from each. "Well, you take the cake," observed Anna as sue watched
her serve-self visitor.

She had finished coring her apples and had placed them in a pan with
a little water. She put sugar and a lump of butter into each hole where
the core had been. She pushed the pan into the oven and closed the door.
Then she turned to see what jolly Sam was doing. He had finished his
cookies and had become quiet. She thought he looked troubled, but she did
not tell him so.

Soon he began, "Anna, mother had a sad telephone call this afternoon.
The doctor says that my cousin, Bertha, is about to go into tuberculosis.
Do you know what that means?" "Do I know what that means?" exclaimed
Anna. "Well, I think I surely do! Didn't the girl next door to us over on
Bog street start to have that very same thing? Her folks were scared to
pieces. Well, you ought to see her now. She is the biggest, fattest, roly-
poliest girl you ever saw." "Well, what did she do?" breathlessly inquired

"Why, she went to Fresh Air School. She learned to breathe deeply.
At night she slept with her windows open. She drank plenty of milk."

"Why, that is what the doctor said that Bertha must do — go to Fresh
Air School; but she says she won't do it. She is afraid she will freeze to

"Freeze? That makes me laugh," chuckled Anna. "That's the argu-
ment they all put up. How can they freeze? They have great big woolly
army blanket suits with hoods attached. They pull the suits on over their
own clothes after they get to school. They have big felt boots that go on
over their shoes. They have extra blankets to use if they need them.

"Besides, if Bertha got so cold that exercise and deep breathing didn't


warm her up, the teacher would let her go into a warm room for a little while.
One room always has a hot fire on cold days, but the teacher prefers that
the children warm up by hand clapping and bouncing up and down on
their toes like rubber balls. They have many warming up games, too.
Freeze! I have to laugh again when I think of it. What funny icicles these
girls would be if they did freeze."

"I wish you would talk to Bertha," said Sam. "Maybe you could coax
her to go to the Fresh Air School. Talk to her mother, too, for she is as
much against it as Bertha. Neither the doctor nor the nurse can make
Bertha's mother see the need of Bertha going to a Fresh Air School."

"Well," confided Anna, as she pulled her pan of juicy, sizzling apples out
of the stove and turned it around, "the next time you go to your cousin's
house I'll go with you and we will get Kate to go, too. Kate is the girl I
was telling you about. Between us two we'll just talk a streak and before
we leave we'll have Bertha so worked up about Fresh Air Schools that she
can't wait to get started."

"Let's go in the morning," proposed Sam. "Let's do," agreed Anna as
she tripped lightly to the supper table and laid the knives and forks.

Sam picked up his cap, saying: "Well, I must go home." Anna in-
sisted that he stay for supper; but he thanked her and said, "Not tonight.
Mother will expect me home." He tipped his cap and bade Anna "Goodbye."

As he went through the garden, Anna's father gave him a whole armful
of lettuce and onions. Sam made a picturesque figure as he passed through
the gate — onions, lettuce and boy. He caught sight of Anna's checked
apron in the door as she stood watching him. He waved his cap and then
was lost to view behind the shrubbery. Anna pondered, "Dear me! I do
hope I can coax his cousin to enter that school."

She quickly finished her preparation of supper and called her mother
and father. Her mother's visitor was gone.

"How pretty the table looks!" her mother exclaimed. "Looks good
enough to eat, and let's begin," said her father. Anna just beamed! To
work hard and be appreciated are two of the best things in life even to a

A low, wide, mossy green jar massed with red clover blossoms that
Sam had brought decorated the center of the table. The baked beans had
reached the loveliest brown imaginable and the cheese in the macaroni
looked like nuggets of gold. A marshmallow floated on each cup of cocoa.
The apples tried to match the clover blossoms in color. A burst skin dis-
played red pulp here and there and the pink juice at the base of each apple
looked like melted clovers. Each ball of the luscious fruit rested peacefully
in its little pink lake.

All was quiet. The father returned thanks. Then they ate and chatted

During the meal Anna mentioned Sam's sorrow and of her promise to
visit Bertha. "I am glad to have you go," her mother said. "I hope you
will convince the little girl that it is the very best thing in the world for
her to do — to go to the Fresh Air School."

Early the next morning Sam arrived, all spic and span. His hair was
nicely combed, his clothes carefully brushed and his shoes well polished.
He sat on a bench under a tree, and waited for Anna. She called to him,
"I'll be ready in a moment. I have to brush my teeth first." "Take your
time," Sam replied. "I am watching a little ant carry a big beetle to his
nest." "Well, don't let him overexert himself," answered Anna.

Soon Sam and Anna were wending their way toward Kate's house.
Anna looked fresh and sweet in her crisp white middy. Her face was softly
shaded by a plain broad brimmed hat. You could tell that she had had her
morning bath because her hands and face had that fresh, clean look that
makes you know the body is clean all over. She had a look about her that
made you feel that she had an all over bath every day.

As Sam and Anna walked along they talked of many things, for they


had known each other a long time and had many common interests; but,
most of. all, they talked about Bertha.

When they reached Kate's home she was waiting for them on the porch.
What a pretty spot of color she made against the gray paint of the house.
She had on a pink gingham Norfolk suit and a black wide brimmed hat.
She, too, had the look that she was fresh from her bath. And her finger
nails, you couldn't help noticing how pretty they were. They were so clean
they looked like little pink and white shells.

The children started at once for Bertha's house. They hailed the first
westbound car. Sam helped the girls on the car, swinging himself on
lightly after. They seated themselves by open windows.

It was a long ride. They passed many pleasant homes where clean,
happy children were playing in the yards. They saw lovely-faced mothers
pushing carts that held healthy babies. Once a playful dog rushed from
the sidewalk and raced with the car. He barked wildly, running until he
was tired. Sam tried to scare him away, fearing he might get hurt, but the
dog only ran the faster.

At one corner, an old lady boarded the car with a heavy market basket.
The car was crowded so Sam gave the old lady his seat. She thanked him
and her kind eyes showed that she meant what she said.

They went through a long avenue of over-arching trees. Now and then
a big branch slapped the car. Soon they merged into the business district,
and passed through many squares of tall buildings, impatient autos and
hurrying people.

Beyond this, they again came into a district of homes; but how different
from the homes they had left. Shabby houses, containing broken windows,
some plastered over with paper, crumbling foundations, bare yards of sun-
baked clay, yards grown tall with weeds, dirty, ragged children quarreling
rather than playing with one another — these and many more unpleasant
sights composed the scene.

Tired, cross, flat-chested mothers called in rasping tones to children
and beckoned in quick, nervous, angular movements. The scene was unin-
viting, so the children found their pleasure within. Turning to Kate, Anna
inquired, "Have you ever played 'Up in a Balloon?'" She described the
game, and Sam, pressing the electric button, informed the girls that they
had arrived at Bayou street, remarking also that no game equaled football.
Sam stepped from the car first, just as a big boy should. Then he politely
aided the girls in their descent from the car.

They walked half a square up a side street and stopped in front of a
little brown house that Sam said was Bertha's. Sam became most gay,
turning a few hand springs that rolled him almost to the door, the girls softly
laughing at his antics.

At the door, they were met by Bertha's mother, a sad-faced woman. She
bade them come in. In a gloomy corner sat a thin-faced, glassy-eyed little
girl propped up among pillows. A woman, with tear-stained face, appar-
ently Bertha's aunt, stood near a little table. Bertha's grandmother, sitting
in a big rocking chair, held a patent medicine bottle in her hand and was
reading the label. She cast a troubled glance at the children.

Some of Bertha's soiled handkerchiefs lay carelessly on the floor where
her tired little hands had dropped them. Her baby brother crawled about
grabbing up a handkerchief in his fat little fist. The mother picked him up
and wiped some soot from his cheek with the handkerchief, kissed the
cheek, then pressed her lips long and lovingly on the pouting mouth.

No sunshine entered the room. All the shades were drawn closely.
The air smelled both dusty and mouldy. Apparently the dingy carpet had
just been swept with a dry broom.

All was gloom and despair. It was no place for our three healthy and
well-meaning young friends who were so spirited before.

Sam forgot to introduce the girls, but it mattered not, for Anna handed
a package to Bertha's mother and said, "Here is a bottle of malted milk and
a dozen fresh eggs that mother sent to Bertha." The mother thanked Anna


warmly and bade the children be seated; but Anna said, "Oh, please let us
carry Bertha's chair into the yard under the trees. The air and sunshine
feel so good." The mother protested. "Why, Bertha hasn't been out of the
house for several weeks. We don't allow her out any more."

Anna was not to be daunted; yet she did not wish to seem insistent. She
explained, "You see, Mrs. Saxton, Kate's mother does not allow Kate to
stay in a room where there is not a good circulation of air. Kate has to
stay in the open air and sunshine as much as possible. We can only visit a
short time, and if you will please let us carry Bertha out into the open, we
shall carry her back when our visit is ended."

Mrs. Saxton looked kindly at the beseeching girl, then turned to the
grandmother. "What do you think about it, Grandma?"

"Oh, I guess it won't hurt her if you wrap her up well," returned the
grandmother. So, although the day was pleasant, Bertha was needlessly
bundled into many covers — covers that had not felt new air or sunshine for
many a day.

Sam and Anna carried the chair into the yard, telling Bertha as they
walked along that she was a rich Oriental lady with two attendants to carry
her about. "Here, under this big, shady tree is a fine place," said Sam, and
he and Anna gently placed Bertha's chair in a pleasant spot where the lights
and shades flickered on the ground about her feet.

Bertha's aunt and Sam carried out enough chairs for everybody. Then
Sam perched himself on a low bough of the tree and leaned lazily back.
"Makes me think of Penn's Treaty with the Indians," said Sam. "They all
met under a big, spreading tree."

"Well, we are not Indians," Kate reminded him.

"No, you're squaws," laughed Sam. "I'm the big chief," and he broke
off a small branch and decorated his head in the Indian's feather fashion.

"Great things have taken place under big, spreading trees," continued
the historian. "Remember the Washington Elm and the Charter Oak?"

"Well, something will happen under this tree if you don't quit tickling
the back of my neck with that switch," said Anna, as she reached back and
grabbed Sam's switch unexpectedly, almost pulling him out of the tree.

Historical talk came suddenly to an end. Bertha smiled a weak little
smile at the children's gay talk.

"Do you like pictures?" Kate asked Bertha. Kate had brought her
steroscope. She held picture after picture before Bertha's eyes. They
were pictures of life at the Fresh Air School. Most of them were in colors.

One picture showed a quaint little red school house sitting in deep
snow with lovely long icicles fringing its eaves, while happy hooded boys
and girls studied lessons within the open room.

A picture of the children scrubbing their teeth amused Bertha. The
dinner hour in the dining room presented an appetizing picture. Twenty-
five or thirty pictures were shown and each one reminded Kate of incidents
which she told entertainingly.

She was a regular little teacher and everyone was listening eagerly.
Even Grandma put on her specs and peered earnestly at the picture of the
boy who had gained nineteen pounds. "If only our little girl could do that,"
she remarked helplessly. "But she can," said Kate, "and I am going to
show you how."

Time passed rapidly. Sam looked at his watch and announced that it
was time to leave.

"Well," remarked Kate, as she wiped off her steroscope with a little
alcohol, "that was the best school I ever attended. We had lots of fun and
learned our lessons, too. I got fat and made two grades in one term. What
more could you want? Our teacher was kind and granted us much freedom,
but we never took advantage."

"If you like to read, here is something in which you may be interested,"
and Kate took from her satchel a small booklet and handed it to Bertha.
"It is yours to keep," she said. "It is just a little diary that I kept while
.attending the Fresh Air School. Father helped me to write it at the close


of each day. Since I have learned typewriting I have made it into a little
book. Mother says that some day I may have it published, that all sick
little boys and girls everywhere may read it and learn how to get well."

They carried Bertha back into the house, and after promising to visit
her again soon and tell her more of the strange school, they boarded a home
bound car.

On the car Anna said, "Poor girl! Do you think she will ever get well?"

"Of course she will," stoutly proclaimed Kate.

"Why," continued Anna, "she's nothing but bones. Her arms are
smaller above the elbow than below."

"That's nothing," argued Kate. "Mother said my ribs were a regular
nutmeg grater and my backbone was like a picket fence. Do you see any
bones about me now?"

Anna confessed that none were visible.

Many times during the summer the children visited Bertha. She was
always eager to hear Kate tell more of the strange school.

The whole family read the little diary. It had a magic effect. The home
was changed. The dingy carpets were removed. The floors were kept
nicely scrubbed, being made very pure with sal soda water. The windows
were kept open night and day. The shades were drawn very high. Bright
sunshine and fresh air flooded the little house.

The people changed, too. Bertha's chair was always outdoors. There
was always an outdoor spot for every kind of weather. On hot days, she
was under the trees. On rainy days, she was on the porch. A chilly day
found her directly in the sunshine. The sun went through her clothes, and
she felt its pleasant warmth on her body.

Bertha's lungs were filled again and again with good pure air. She
drank bowls of good thick soup, piping hot, and sipped glasses of milk.
Patent medicine was thrown away. Paper handkerchiefs were used and

A snowy cot that Sam and Anna had bought was on the porch where
Bertha slept snugly each night, and rested frequently during the day when
she was too tired to sit up. Everybody looked more hopeful and happy.
Tears were dried and laughter took their place.

Summer flitted by, caressingly nursing Bertha and gently but slowly
wooing her back to health. Summer merged into golden autumn. One
bright morning, a mischievous little breeze swayed a newly blown morning
glory across Bertha's closed eyelids. She awoke. It was the first day of
school and she was glad.

With her mother's help, she prepared herself neatly for school. Her
heart beat happily, and after her little breakfast of toast and milk and
orange, she went to the strange and wonderful school, of which she had so
often heard — the Fresh Air School.

In due time she waxed fat and grew strong.

Where are you going, my pretty maid?

"I .am going to the Fresh Air School, sir," she said,

Sir, she said.
"I am going to the Fresh Air School, sir," she said.

May I go with you, my pretty maid?

"If the doctors will let you, sir," she said,

Sir, she said.
"If the doctors will let you, sir," she said.

Who are the doctors, my pretty maid?
"Dr. Clay and Dr. Cuer, sir," she said,

Sir, she said.
"Dr. Clay and Dr. Cuer, sir," she said.


What do you do at this strange school, my pretty maid?

"Our lungs we fill with good pure air,

Our stomachs we fill with a good bill of fare,

Our heads we fill with good sound thought,

Then we rest on our cots as long as we ought,

As long as we ought.
Then we rest as long as we ought."

Then I'll go with you, my pretty maid, my pretty maid,

I'll go with you, my pretty maid.

"If the doctors will let you, sir," she said,

Sir, she said.
"If the doctors will let you, sir," she said.


October 12 — Today father took me to a wonderful school. It is the
Open Air School for Tubercular Children and is the first and only one of
the kind in the state.

"We rode far across town and got off at a big iron gate. Its big stone
posts were overgrown with Woodbine Ivy. Tiny clusters of the purple
fruit peeped here and there from under scarlet leaves. Above were the
words, "GateAvay to Opportunity."

We followed neat cement walks nast tall brick buildings that father
said were high schools. At the end of a long winding walk, made shady by
tall, thick lilac bushes, we came to a little well-trodden dirt path that
humbly wound its way up a slight incline to a low red frame building. Father
said, "This is your new school."

It was the opening day. Thin pale-faced boys and girls came from all
parts of the city. They had been examined by two doctors — Dr. Clay,
physical director in our city schools, and Dr. Cuer, president of the Marsh
County Society for the Prevention of Tuberculosis.

Newspaper men took our pictures and gave us a big writeup in the
Altruistic Review.

We expect many more pupils to come. We are going to receive all grades
below high school.

Our teacher is one of the regular grade teachers, and is hired and paid
by the City School Board.

I think I am going to like my new teacher because she seems kind. She
took father and me through the building. We saw the nice big dining room
with long tables covered with white oil cloth.

Across the hall was a clean little kitchen. The great big rest room at
the end of the building had its many windows staring wide open. The teacher
told us that in this rest room we would open up our cots every day and
rest an hour after the noon meal.

The big school room is on the opposite end of the building. It has many
big open windows on two sides. On the third side are very large double
doors that stand wide open. Looking out you can see great stretches of
beautiful wooded ground that contains many acres.

Every pleasant day we are going to take walks, but our rambles will
be short enough so we can get back to our building without being tired.

A sad-faced lady came. She was dressed in black. She had a little
thin-faced girl with her. The lady told the teacher that during the summer
tuberculosis had taken away from her home, her husband and two grown
daughters. She begged that the little girl she brought be saved and made
to grow strong.

That is one kind of child we are taking into our school, a child who
comes from a tubercular home. We also take what is known as incipient
cases of tuberculosis. Father says incipient means that the child is show-


ing the first signs of going into tuberculosis.. We do not take cases of de-
veloped tuberculosis, for that might endanger the rest of us. Children who
already have tuberculosis would have to go to a sanatorium or a hospital.
We want to save the children who are drifting into tuberculosis.

Our school takes another kind of child. It is the 'anemic boy or girl.
Father says an anemic child has very poor blood. Good food, rest and fresh
air will make this child strong again.

Father tells me that this school will bring me red cheeks and make
me fat.

The Marsh County Tuberculosis Society will pay for ovr food and buy
our army blanket suits as well as our big felt boots, our cots and our

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Online LibraryElla ThompsonSaved from tuberculosis; or, The happy sunshine school → online text (page 1 of 7)