Autobiographical Essays

Beate Caspari-Rosen, MD (1910 - 1995)

The Good Old Times

I moved into Whitney Center more than eleven years ago. At that time all apartments were occupied and there was a waiting list of two to three years before one could get an apartment. How young we all were! The average age of the occupants was 76 years, and, I am told, now it is 87. When I moved to Whitney Center there was a director and an assistant director. Nowadays we have a staff of many people, a real bureaucracy. The office door were always open and we were welcome to discuss our problems at any time and receive advice. Today the resident is sent from one official to another without ever getting a satisfactory or useful answer. If help was needed in an apartment, such as hanging a picture or curtains someone was readily available. The nurse Kathy O’Connor would not only take blood pressure but also listen to medical questions and give advice. She would visit in you in your apartment when you felt ill without being asked; she would also  show and sell apartments. The CONFERENCE ROOM just had some tables and chairs in it where a jig-saw puzzle was spread out on a table and residents could freely access the room, sit down for a while, alone or with partner, and put part of the puzzle together or just relax and pass the time.

Whitney Center had a garden area and initially it was difficult to get a garden plot to grow flowers or vegetables. But in time I did obtain one. Most of the residents could still bend a knee easily and I always had my own home-grown flowers in my apartment, but after a year I had to give the plot up since I was traveling too frequently and could not care for the garden as regularly as before.

In the summer I travel in Europe with my cousin [Betti Ostrowski Alexander] and from January to March in California with my family. In between I visit friends in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York or host visitors here.

As my heart problems worsened [Beate had angina, heart attacks and surgery, and so forth] I had to give up most of my more taxing activities. When I did not feel well in the evening I could spend the night in the hospital unit and return to my apartment in the morning. This “luxury” has disappeared. The one I person who was missed at that time was Mrs. Sheppard, who like a good shepherd, now watches over the entertainment of her flock, and sees to it that we do not sink into depressive loneliness. As we have aged our activities have changed.  More than ten years ago most of us were able to attend lectures at Yale, visit museums, theaters, and movies without help. What would one do without Mrs. Sheppard now? I think that on the whole we should be happy to be living at Whitney Center, though many things could be improved. But sometimes I remember, through rose-tinted glasses, how enjoyable it was once upon a time.


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