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HOME > Biographical > A Book About Myself > CHAPTER LXXVI
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 And then after a little while, being assigned to do routine work in connection with the East Twenty-seventh Street police station, Bellevue Hospital, and the New York Charities Department, which included branches that looked after the poor-farm, the morgue, an insane or two, a workhouse and what not else, I was called upon daily to face as disagreeable and depressing a series of scenes as it is possible for a human being to witness and which quite finished me. I was compelled to inquire of fat, red-faced , and door-keepers who in police stations and hospital registry rooms what was new, and, by being as and agreeable as possible and so earning their favor, to get an occasional tip as to the most unimportant of . Had I been in a different mental state the thickness and incommunicability of some of these individuals would not have been proof against my arts. I could have devised or manufactured something.  
But as it was the nature of this world me so that I could not have written anything very much worth while if I had wanted to. There was the morgue, for instance—that horrible place! Daily from the ever-flowing waters about New York there were recaptured or washed up in all stages and degrees of the flotsam and jetsam of the great city, its offal, its victims—its what? I came here often (it stood at the foot of East Twenty-sixth Street near Bellevue Hospital) and invariably I found the same old brown-denimed caretaker in charge, a creature so thick and so and so mentally generally that it was all I could do to extract a of recognition out of him. Yet, if handed a cigar occasionally or a bag of tobacco, he would trouble to get out of his chair and let you look over a book or containing the roughly down police descriptions, all done in an amazing , of the height, weight, color of clothes if any, of hair and eyes where these were still distinguishable, probable length of time in water, contents of pockets, or money if any, etc., which same were to be in connection with any mystery or of a person. And there was always some one “turning up missing.” And I noticed, with considerable cynicism, that rarely if ever was there any money or jewelry reported as found by the police. That would be too much to expect.
Being further persuaded via blandishments or tips of one kind and another, this caretaker would lead the way to a shelf of drawers reaching from the floor to the chest-height of a man or higher and running about two sides of the room, and opening those containing the latest arrivals, supposing you were interested to look, would allow you to gaze upon the last of that strange chemical formula which once functioned as a human being here on earth. The faces! The decay! The clothing! I stared in sad horror and promised myself that I would never again look, but duty to the paper compelled me so to do again and again.
And then there was Bellevue itself, that gray-black collection of brick and stone with connecting bridges of iron, which faced, in winter time at least, the gray, icy waters of the East River. I have never been able to forget it, so drear and was it all. The hobbling ghouls of caretakers in their brown cotton suits to be seen wandering here and there or over stoves; the large number of half-well charity patients idling about in gray-green , their faces sunken and pinched, their hair poorly combed! And the chipper and yet often coarse and vulgar and always overbearing young doctors and nurses and paid attendants generally! One need but remember that it was the of the most period of Tammany Hall’s shameless political control of New York, Mr. Croker being still in charge. Quite all of those old buildings have since been replaced and surrounded by a tall iron fence and bordered with an attractive lawn. In those days it was a little different: there was the hospital proper, with its various , its hospital for the criminal or insane, or both, the morgue and a world of smaller pavilions stretching along the riverfront and connected by walks or covered hallways or iron bridges, but lacking the dignity and care of the later structures. There was, too, the dark which attends any badly or managed institution, that something which as a cloud over all. And Bellevue at that time had that air and that psychology. It more of a jail and a poor-house combined than of a hospital, and so it was, I think. At that time it was a world of medical and political and social , a kind of human hell or sty. Those poor fish who live in comfortable and protected homes and find their little theories and religious beliefs ready-made for them in some overawing church or social atmosphere, should be permitted to take an occasional peep into a world such as this was then. At this very time there was an and an exposure on in connection with this institution, which had revealed not only the murder of helpless patients but the usual graft in connection with food, drugs, clothing, etc., furnished to the patients called charity. officials and medics and of nurses and attendants , of course. The number of “drunks” and or complaining or troublesome patients doped or beaten or thrown out and even killed, and the number and quality of operations conducted by incompetent or indifferent surgeons, was known and shown to be large. One need only return to the of that date to come upon the truth of this.
But the place was so huge and crowded that it was like a city in itself. For one thing, it was a dumping-ground for all the offal gathered by the police and the charity departments, to say nothing of being a realm of “soft snaps” for political of all kinds. On such days as relatives and friends of charity patients or those detained by the police were permitted to call, the permit room fairly with people who were pushed and shunted here and there like cattle, and always like slaves. I myself, visiting as a stranger subsequently, was often so treated. “Who? What’s his name? What? Whendee come? When? Talk a little louder, can’t you? Whatsy matter with your tongue? Over there! Over there! Out that door there!” So we came, our little cards, and passed in or out.
And the wretched creatures who were “cured” or written down well enough to walk, and so, before a serious illness had been properly treated and because they were not able to pay, were shunted out into the world of the well and the strong with whom they were supposed to compete once more and make their way. I used to see them coming and going and have talked to scores, men and women who had never had a dollar above their needs and who, once illness overtook............
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