Issue 16, Spring-Summer 1957
The picnic was to be held at the hospital farm. The farm was a mile or two from the red brick buildings on the hospital grounds. There was a dairy, and a barn for the cows. And in this barn, in another section, the draft horses were stabled. These horses were driven onto the nearby fields by worker-patients in the regulation denim trousers and corduroy coats. They accepted ten hours of peonage a day and in return received a pack of tobacco now and then, and “ground parole”, the right to wander as they pleased so long as they did not leave the hospital grounds. Below the barn were hen houses, and then there was a large pig stye within a fence of planks. Beyond this was a white three-story house, freshly painted. It was the farm manager’s house, and in it Pickering, the farm manager, lived with Mrs. Pickering, three small children ranging downward in age to the youngest, a child of a few months, and several animals, two dogs, a cat, and a small animal kept in a box-like cage by the eldest son. In front of the house was a huge yard of partly-mown wild grass, where, under the shade trees, this eldest boy’s pony was staked out to graze. It was on this plot of grass that the picnic was to be held.
The arrangement was that each building was to organize its own group. The patients, cleaned up as much as possible, were to be listed and checked out at the door by an attendant. Then a second attendant, in pressed pants, clean shirt and necktie for the occasion, would marshall them into a squad within the high iron fence outside and police them. This would not be a difficult task, for those likely to run away or disgrace themselves were not allowed to go to the picnic.