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Nursing Home Postcards: Waiting For God In Mid-Century America

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What you are about to see are not film sets Stanley Kubrick thought too isolated for The Shining, or David Lynch considered over-egging the eerie for Twin Peaks. These are postcards from North American nursing home in the 1950s and 1960s.

We don’t get to read the messages on the reverse – ‘Wish you were here! (instead of me)’ – but we do wonder at the photographs these homes rejected, pictures the owners and marketeers thought failed to capture the true essence and warmth of the place.

 

Moosehaven

Moosehaven

 

Foothill Acres Nursing Homes, Neshanic, New Jersey, circa 1965 - Advertising Postcard

Foothill Acres Nursing Homes, Neshanic, New Jersey, circa 1965 – Advertising Postcard

 

 

Albright Manor, United Church Senior Citizens' Home,Beamsville, Ontario

Albright Manor, United Church Senior Citizens’ Home,Beamsville, Ontario

Moosehaven

Moosehaven

Shouldice Hospital, Patient's Lounge, Thornhill, Ontario

Shouldice Hospital, Patient’s Lounge, Thornhill, Ontario

Masonic Home, Burlington, New Jersey

Masonic Home, Burlington, New Jersey

Foothill Acres Nursing Homes, Neshanic, New Jersey

Foothill Acres Nursing Homes, Neshanic, New Jersey

Albright Manor, United Church Senior Citizens' Home,Beamsville, Ontario

Albright Manor, United Church Senior Citizens’ Home,Beamsville, Ontario

Shouldice Hospital, Patient's Lounge, Thornhill, Ontario

Shouldice Hospital, Patient’s Lounge, Thornhill, Ontario

Presbyterian House, Retirement Hotel, St. Petersburg, Florida

Presbyterian House, Retirement Hotel, St. Petersburg, Florida

 

Foothill Acres Nursing Homes, Neshanic, New Jersey, circa 1965 - Advertising Postcard Via

Foothill Acres Nursing Homes, Neshanic, New Jersey, circa 1965 – Advertising Postcard Via: Steve Shock’s Flickr

Masonic Home, Burlington, New Jersey

Masonic Home, Burlington, New Jersey

Golden Village, Hemet, California

Golden Village, Hemet, California

 

East Longmeadow Nursing Home East Longmeadow MA Via

East Longmeadow Nursing Home East Longmeadow MA Via William Bird’s Flickr

 

All postcards are from the SwellMap’s Flickr unless otherwise stated.

 

  • The Original Chicken Hawk

    Meh, historical photographs are always a little strange, especially the ones for products and services. What they are generally trying to convey are places that have new furniture, clean floors and spacious common rooms. Not that it’s perfect today, but in an era with little government oversight, nursing homes had truly awful reputations. While we may associate the style with ‘older than dirt’, nearly all of the chairs, sofas, and rooms represented the latest of fashion at the time. If the TV seems like it’s at an odd spot it’s only because it was still a new feature either added or located for the shot or not yet moved to ‘the best spot’ as it would become another decade or more before the TV would be considered ‘first’ when setting up a room.

    • LoggerheadShrike

      It looks to me like the Moosehaven (the one with the TV) was set up to feel like a train station or airport or travel centre – perhaps designed with the idea to make the stay feel more like a vacation.

  • Aquafeline

    I don’t really see these as creepy? Maybe because my house used to look like that? lol.

  • aaspender

    I have made a career in long term care or “nursing homes” and I can tell you the remarkable thing about all of these photos: everyone is high functioning, The resident’s in these photos are ambulatory,independent and dignified. The truth is now a days people are in much worse shape when they arrive having tried every desperate measure they can to eek out a life before seeking care. Very few people ambulate and even in the best places frailness,dependency, loneliness and boredom are the eerie things now Visit your local facility with a hobby of you are passionate about and invite some residents to sit with you for an hour. Walk out a better person. Love and support your elders! Sorry about the soap box. I love these people and these places.
    *The tv is placed in an odd area because it has to be accessible for wheelchairs in real life, furinture is not really used.

  • Jim Dawkins

    I don’t see anything wrong? You think its better today? Its worse especially for those of you who are not saving for retirement or long term health care. These pictures show pretty clean nice facilities. Ahh the ignorance of youth.

  • jc

    Growing up, I never really appreciated the different life my Grandmother (born 1907) experienced until it was too late to ask her about things. Looking at these pictures, can’t help but to think how most of them were born in 1870s – 80s.

  • Darby1V

    the man taking a bath,looks like he is being cooked in a big ole pot.