Section 1: The importance of his experiences at Morningside for better understanding the world of mental illness, and assessment of the quality of patient care and patient satisfaction.
Section 2: Alaskan patients being returned to Alaska when Morningside was shutting down, and his suspicions about some of the treatments utilized at the hospital.
KAREN BREWSTER: So we just finished that you retired in 1995 --
CHARLES KURTZ: Uh-hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- from the liquor board. Really, Morningside, in a way, was a very short portion of your life and career.
CHARLES KURTZ: I was just working there to get myself through college, mostly; and the first time, of course, was just a summer high school job, so... KAREN BREWSTER: But do you feel that that experience has meant something?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yes, absolutely. It was a great experience. I -- it's one of those things that people don't often get a chance to do something like that, I don't think, so...
There -- you know, there's so many -- so many ideas and wrongheadedness about what mental illness is like, and it's -- it's -- I think everybody ought to have an opportunity to get to see the reality of it. So... KAREN BREWSTER: Did -- did it influence your decision to go into social work?
CHARLES KURTZ: No. I don't think so. I already -- well, maybe in a -- in a way. I actually went into social work mainly because there was a -- I needed a job fast. And -- and after I started doing it, I kind of -- I found myself kind of drawn to it, I enjoyed the work, and so -- but I don't -- maybe Morningside had some bit of influence, but probably not too much. KAREN BREWSTER: And then your mother, you said she enjoyed her years working at Morningside?
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah, I think so. Although she was -- she had -- she had a few physical problems, it was a very physical job, you know, you're wheeling around big pans of stuff, and so -- but yes, she liked the patients and she liked the people she worked with. Generally speaking. I'm sure there were times when that wasn't the case, like in any job. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I wondered if she came home with stories about -- talk about what happened at work that day?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, I'm sure she did, but I -- you know, nothing dramatic, nothing -- I don't remember a lot of drama about the stories, but mostly just day-to-day stuff. KAREN BREWSTER: It sounds like from what you're talking, too, it was a mellow -- you know, a relatively kind of mellow place, which to me seems counterintuitive to what one might stereotypically associate with a mental hospital.
CHARLES KURTZ: That's -- I think that's probably true, yeah. It was a mellow place, and -- and, I mean, I guess you -- I guess you'd have to ask the patients, but I -- I think most of the patients had -- outside of being torn out of their home and sent thousands of miles away, I -- I don't -- I don't recall anybody trying to leave the place. I mean, like that. KAREN BREWSTER: So you got a sense from the patients that they were comfortable there?
CHARLES KURTZ: I -- you've got to -- you know, outside of the fact that -- that they were living in a -- they had no privacy living in these wards, and -- which I guess I'm putting myself inside their head, I would not have liked that part of it. But, on the other hand, I think that they were -- that they would have felt that they were treated well and fairly, and that -- and probably a lot of them felt that they were getting some help there. I'm just, I guess, inferring that from being around them, so... I don't remember ever having those kind of discussions with the patients about -- not too much anyway. Section 2:
KAREN BREWSTER: And eventually, all the Alaska patients, I believe, were returned to Alaska, or a large -- they were sort of a --
CHARLES KURTZ: You know, I'm not really sure how that happened, when they -- when they lost the contract with Alaska, whether they -- they sent everybody home or whether they released -- I'm sure they must have released some people here because there were probably people who were ready for release about that time. But I just -- I really don't know. I just -- by that time, I was off in my own -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. You weren't working there anymore.
CHARLES KURTZ: Doing something else. I had another job and a young family, and so I probably wasn't paying much attention to that, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: You weren't big -- that's what I was learning, that happened after you had stopped working.
CHARLES KURTZ: It happened after I stopped working there. And -- and it hap -- after my mother retired, actually, she retired in mid 1965, and -- and I think that -- that there were still Alaskan patients there then. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Are there other things that you remember from working there that we haven't talked about that you had in mind when you wrote us on the blog?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, no, I think I've kind of hit the -- the high spots and the low spots, the things that I didn't really care for, the things that I -- that I remember in a positive light, so I think I've pretty well covered it. KAREN BREWSTER: We also would like to hit the low spots, too. It doesn't all have to be --
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- you know, as far as the low spots for me, I think, were these -- these suspect treatments where they were use -- where I think they were using -- using under the rubric of "treatment" where they were actually just controlling patients, and I was suspicious of that at the time. And on the other hand, it -- I guess from their point of view, it was a way to keep the place open and keep the locks off the doors and try to keep everybody happy. And well, I think, looking back, it was a very progressive -- very progressive place, I think. And, I mean, maybe people disagree with me, but that was my impression, it still is. KAREN BREWSTER: All right. Well, thank you very much. Actually, I don't know, how did you find the blog?
CHARLES KURTZ: You know, it was one of those -- one of those -- the Internet, you know.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
CHARLES KURTZ: You're always looking, so...
Well, I just -- I did a search for Morningside Hospital once, and I think the only thing I turned up was the -- was a piece of Congressional testimony about this.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. CHARLES KURTZ: And then years later probably I tried it again, and I found the -- the blog that you mentioned. But I don't know what that's called.
KAREN BREWSTER: The Morningside blog.
CHARLES KURTZ: Morningside blog, yeah. And I found that and so I -- I was curious, and so I wrote my little e-mail. And again, I think that -- I'm really glad to see that people are interested in this place, and I hope that -- it's too bad that this didn't start about 20 -- 20 years ago when a lot of these people were still alive, particularly the patients, because, of course, you'd get probably a lot different story from -- from the patients than you're getting from me.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. CHARLES KURTZ: And it's -- it's too bad that -- but I'll bet there's still some around.
KAREN BREWSTER: May be.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And when did your mother pass away?
CHARLES KURTZ: '90 -- about the time I retired, about '95. She was 95 years old.
KAREN BREWSTER: Good for her.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah. I've got good genes.
KAREN BREWSTER: Good genes. All right. Well, thank you very much.
CHARLES KURTZ: Okay.
KAREN BREWSTER: I'm going to turn this off now.
Charles Kurtz was interviewed by Karen Brewster on November 1, 2010 at his home in Portland, Oregon on a grey and blustery November afternoon. His mother, Tina Kurtz, worked as a cook at Morningside Hospital in the 1950s and 1960s, and he worked there first as a kitchen helper when he was a teenager and later as a psychiatric aide in the early 1960s. In this interview, Charles talks about how Morningside Hospital functioned, what it was like to work there, who some of the other staff members were, and how staff and residents related to each other. He also discusses the types of treatments used, and provides his assessment of the quality and type of care provided to Morningside residents.
Part two of this interview.
Click to section:
Section 1: His personal background and growing up on farms and rural living.
Section 2: His mother working as a cook at Morningside in the 1950s and 1960s.
Section 3: His mother having patients or former patients stay at the family home, and the turnover of patients in residence at Morningside Hospital.
Section 4: Working in the kitchen at Morningside Hospital starting when he was in high school, and how patients also worked in the kitchen.
Section 5: The dining rooms and meals served at Morningside Hospital, and his work as a psychiatric aide on the night shift.
Section 6: Types of treatments used on patients, including medication, insulin shock therapy and electro-shock therapy.
Section 7: The use of medication to treat patients and the type of training he received to work as a psychiatric aide on the men's ward.
Section 8: What Morningside Hospital was like as a place to work, and how some of the psychiatric aides had worked at other psychiatric hospitals around the country.
Section 9: Tells a story about a particular incident where one patient attacked another and having to physically intervene to separate them.
Section 10: How staff members got along with each other, an incident of a murder suicide between Morningside employees, and working the nightshift with other people on the ward.
Section 11: Working with the psychiatrists on staff, and having limited contact as a nightshift worker.
Section 12: Henry Coe and management of Morningside Hospital, and how the staff communicated with patients who did not speak English, such as the Native Alaskans.
Section 13: Alaska patients coming to Morningside and learning about their backgrounds, and the congressional investigation of Morningside.
Section 14: Being one of the youngest psychiatric aides at Morningside, and the work he went on to do after leaving Morningside.
KAREN BREWSTER: This is Karen Brewster. And today is November 1st, 2010, and I'm here in Portland, Oregon, interviewing Charles Kurtz for the Mental Health Trust history project.
Thank you for letting me come visit you today.
CHARLES KURTZ: You're welcome.
KAREN BREWSTER: And we will be talking about Morningside Hospital, but just to get things going, if you would tell us a little bit about yourself and when and where you were born. CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I was born in Idaho. My parents traveled around a little bit until we settled in Oregon when I was about 11 years old. I've lived here in Oregon ever since, and in Portland since I was about a -- a senior in high school.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what kind of work did your father do? CHARLES KURTZ: Well, my stepfather was a carpenter, and that's one of the reasons we moved around. It was during the -- during the Second World War and right after the war, and work wasn't always available, so we traveled quite a lot.
KAREN BREWSTER: And your mother, what did she do, work? CHARLES KURTZ: Well, my mother was a cook, and that was her lifelong profession; and that's how I became acquainted with Morningside Hospital, my mother started working there in about 1950, she took a job as a -- as a cook at Morningside Hospital.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you have siblings?
CHARLES KURTZ: I do, yes, I have a brother and sister, both deceased, and an older brother who lives in San Diego. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. And so what was your childhood like? What was that like growing up around here in Portland?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- I had spent most of my younger life living in the country on farms in Nevada, we -- we lived for two or three years on a -- on a farm out in the middle of the desert with no electricity, no running water. Pretty -- pretty bare life, and essentially self-supporting on a farm. And later moved, when we first moved to Oregon, when I was in about the fifth grade, we moved to a little town called Canby about 30 miles south of Portland, and lived on a farm there. Beautiful place, wonderful country and great place for a kid to grow up. I -- I certainly learned a lot about -- about the country through those -- through those experiences. I'm very comfortable out in the woods and as a result of that. Section 2:
KAREN BREWSTER: So tell me about your mom's working at Morningside.
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, she started working at Morningside when we were living in Estacada, it's a little town, again, outside of Portland, just east of Portland. And times were a little bit tough for the family, and so she got this job, and actually lived at -- she stayed at Morningside and the family continued to live in Estacada. And my stepfather was a carpenter and -- and many -- many of the employees at Morningside actually lived there. They had -- they had apartments for many of the folks who worked there. And that made -- that made it a little bit difficult for the family, but jobs were hard to come by, and so it worked out all right. KAREN BREWSTER: So did she come home to visit? Or would you --
CHARLES KURTZ: She would come home on weekends, or probably not weekends, whatever her days off were, which weren't always weekends. And hours were long in those days, it was before the 40-hour work week, so -- so it was a little unpredictable when she was able to get time off. So... KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And then did you as a family go visit her every week?
CHARLES KURTZ: From time to time, sure, yes. I -- I can recall visiting her when she was there.
KAREN BREWSTER: So what were your first impressions? Can you remember what the place looked like?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, it was a -- it was a beautiful area. It was -- the entrance was essentially a park, it was grass and wooded and big trees and it really didn't look like a hospital. The buildings were set back off -- off of Stark Street, the main road where its front entrance was. And I -- probably most people driving by had -- really wouldn't know that this was a psychiatric hospital unless they were, you know, familiar with it. It also had -- it -- Morningside had its own farm. And they raised much of the -- much of the vegetables that they ate were raised there. They also had a prize-winning dairy herd, Holstein dairy herd, so all of their dairy products, they -- they came right from their farm. Raised hogs, so some of the -- some of the other, you know, meat that they ate all came from there. And so that was kind of what the place looked like. If you -- if you were driving down another street, 92nd or Division, one of the streets surrounding it, it looked like a nice well-kept truck farm, a very beautiful place. Well -- well kept.
KAREN BREWSTER: And how long did your mother work there?
CHARLES KURTZ: She worked there until she retired in about 1960. She retired in 1965. And the hospital was still open when she retired, but it didn't -- it wasn't open much longer after that. KAREN BREWSTER: Did she talk about what it was like to work there?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah, sure.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did she share stories with you there?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah. She enjoyed -- she liked working there. She -- I think she enjoyed the patients. Many of the patients, of course, worked in the -- in the kitchen and in the dining room, and she got to know those folks quite well. In fact, she often, after -- in later years when we moved to -- when she bought a house in Portland, she would bring patients home with her on weekends to give them an opportunity to get out of the place. So -- and she was very comfortable, very familiar with the place, liked it a lot. I think she always enjoyed working there. KAREN BREWSTER: Did she talk about patients from Alaska being there?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah. We all knew that that's what it -- I mean, essentially, we -- I just thought of it as the Alaska state mental hospital. I mean, there -- even when I worked there last in the early '60s, virtually everybody there was from Alaska. There were -- they were starting to take a few private patients then, but essentially everybody -- all -- everybody was from Alaska. Section 3:
KAREN BREWSTER: You said your mom brought patients home. Was that typical of the employees, they would do that?
CHARLES KURTZ: I don't know if it was typical of other employees. I know that she -- she liked these folks, and it was an opportunity for -- usually they had no family nearby, or any other -- no visitors, so it was just a way to give them a break, I guess, give them a chance to see something besides the hospital.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
CHARLES KURTZ: So... KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember any of those people?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, I do, yeah. I have a picture of one of the young women that she -- she brought. I was trying to remember her name. I unfortunately couldn't. If I saw -- if I -- I think if I saw a list of the -- I believe I did at one time, there was a roster that I've looked at on -- on your website, had a list of patients from the mid '50s, I think, and I recognized many of the names on there. And I probably, if this young woman, if I saw her name, I'd probably recognize that, too, but I don't remember it offhand.
KAREN BREWSTER: And how long did she stay with you when she came? Just, like, for a weekend or --
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah, just for -- just a weekend, on my mother's days off, she would bring them home. And then one -- one -- when I went into the -- when I was in the service and not living at home, my mother actually -- one of the women who was discharged actually lived with my mother for a while. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know why?
CHARLES KURTZ: My mother liked her and she had no -- no other relatives, and so my mother had -- had an extra room since I was gone, and so she rented her a room. She stayed there for, oh, three or four years, probably. KAREN BREWSTER: So there were patients that got discharged?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah, sure. Yeah. In fact, I think when I -- when I worked there as a psychiatric aide in '61, '62, '3, somewhere around in there, there was a -- there was a turnover on the -- where I worked on the -- mainly on Ward A, which was the -- which was the men's ward, these were -- these were mostly men who had acute psychoses of some type or other, and there was somewhat of a turnover, they'd come and go. Some of them came -- came and went more than once, you know, back and --
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah. CHARLES KURTZ: I remember a couple guys who would leave and we'd see them back again in another few months. So -- so they didn't come -- people didn't come down there and just stay there forever. Actually, I -- of course, I can only really speak for the ward that I worked on.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
CHARLES KURTZ: And over the years, I guess I saw plenty of people who came and went, so... KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. There's the -- in Alaska, there's a bit of a feeling, at least in the earlier time periods of Morningside, that people came here and they never came back home.
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I can understand it, and I'm sure that there were a lot that did. Also, I mean, even on the ward that I worked, there were people who were pretty chronically ill who would never go home, and they had been there for years, so I could understand how that perception would exist. And -- and, of course, there were also -- occasionally I worked on the -- on Ward B, which were adult developmentally disabled men, and I would imagine that most of those were pretty well permanently there. Section 4:
KAREN BREWSTER: Now, what was your mother's name?
CHARLES KURTZ: Her name was Tina Kurtz.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. So it's interesting, that woman you said, you know, went and lived with your mother while you weren't there, that that woman must have been, you know, able to function fine.
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, sure, yeah. Sure. Yeah. Apparently, they -- apparently, whatever her problem was, she was -- was successfully cured --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
CHARLES KURTZ: -- you might say. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. And were you or your mother around when patients started getting returned to Alaska when the hospital was starting to close down?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, my mother was; I wasn't.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-hum.
CHARLES KURTZ: And I -- I don't really remember her talking about that too much, so even although at that time I was still living here in Portland, but I didn't -- I really don't remember her talking about it. I think she was looking forward to retirement, so... KAREN BREWSTER: What I was wondering about, you know, that -- this one young woman, as an example, she lived -- stayed and lived here in Portland with your mom.
CHARLES KURTZ: She was not a young woman.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
CHARLES KURTZ: She was elderly, actually, so...
KAREN BREWSTER: So then what happened to her? You know, did she end up going home to Alaska, or -- CHARLES KURTZ: You know, I am not sure. I think that -- I think she had, at some point, located another relative or a friend and had some other place to go eventually, and I guess I can't be clearer than that. I mean, I wasn't living with my mother at the time, so I...
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Why don't we go back a step and tell me about your experiences working there. You said you first started at Morningside when you were in high school? CHARLES KURTZ: Yes. Actually, I just -- between my junior and senior year of high school, I -- my mother got me a job out there as a kitchen helper. And so I worked in the kitchen for about two months. Toward the end of -- I guess about the second month, one of the relief cooks quit suddenly, and I got drafted into actually being -- being a cook, and that was pretty exciting for me. I was 16 years old, so -- KAREN BREWSTER: Did you know how to cook?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- that -- the little I knew and with my mother's coaching, and everybody pulled together and made sure I was successful. There were, I think, about -- there were, I believe, five stations in the kitchen that my mother, her primarily -- primary job was chef for the employees. There was another chef who -- who worked primarily with the patients, the dining room. And then there was a pastry chef and -- and I don't recall exactly what the duties of the fifth one were, and then the relief cook who took over when -- on these people's days off. So I did each of those jobs from time to time.
KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. CHARLES KURTZ: With -- with a lot of help. People were -- people were really good about that.
KAREN BREWSTER: And so what kind of food was served?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, the food was -- it -- they fed well. I mean, of course, much of it was fresh produce; of course, during the summertime, it was all fresh from their -- from their farm, and fresh dairy products all the time. Patients usually had a different menu or same menu, but different -- it was cooked -- because they cooked it in large quantities, it was usually cooked differently; although, sometimes the meals were all the same, employees and patients were the same, depending on what the menu was. For example, I remember getting up in the morning when I was working on the -- the big range, and I'd have to make pancakes for employees and patients alike, and that was a -- you can imagine the number of pancakes I'd be turning out in the morning. I got pretty good at it, I could whip them right out. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you have a sense of how many patients there were there at that time?
CHARLES KURTZ: You know, I was thinking about that. I probably at one time knew, but I would -- I can't imagine more than 300. I --
KAREN BREWSTER: That's a lot of pancakes.
CHARLES KURTZ: That's a lot of pancakes, yeah. And of course, patients were -- I guess they called this occupational therapy; actually, it's probably a way of getting cheap labor in one regard, but patients did much of the work in the kitchen. You know, all of the -- you know, besides the technical cooking things. They also worked the -- worked on the farm and -- and so many of them were active and busy a lot. KAREN BREWSTER: What kind of things did they do in the kitchen?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, they -- of course, the -- all of the table setting and the clear -- I can remember that all of the produce that would be brought in from the field would have to be cleaned and sorted, and so that's -- that's mostly the kind of work that they did. Assisting the baker and those kinds of things. KAREN BREWSTER: Dishwashing?
CHARLES KURTZ: Dish -- yeah -- well, they had automatic equipment that did most of the dishwashing, although one of the patients I remember quite well was the -- he worked in the scullery washing all of the big pots and pans and things that couldn't go through the automatic dishwasher. And, of course, serving, and all of those things they did. Section 5:
KAREN BREWSTER: So what -- how was the dining room set up? You just said serving them. Were people served or was there a line they walked through?
CHARLES KURTZ: The -- on the employees's side, they were served. The employees came in and they sort of came in in shifts and had table service. The patients, they went through a line. Unless, of course, they were not capable of doing that, and then they had assistance eating. And I really didn't have much -- since I was mainly in the kitchen, I didn't have much experience in the patients's dining room. And I -- I -- really, I'm not recalling. I know there were people who were certainly not capable of walking through a line, but I'm assuming that they had assistance of some sort, but as I sit here, I'm not remembering exactly how that worked. KAREN BREWSTER: What I find interesting is that the employees and the patients had separate dining rooms.
CHARLES KURTZ: Well --
KAREN BREWSTER: I never would have thought about it. So it's good to know that.
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, the patients, they were a little bit -- part of it was because of the shift work of the employees, they ate at different times. I mean, they had different meal schedules, that the -- the patients always ate at the same time, and that was one of the reasons. And -- but essentially, the menus were always pretty much alike.
KAREN BREWSTER: And was it three meals a day?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah, right.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember some of the menus, some of the things?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, well, let's see. Some of my favorites, I always liked the Swiss steak was one of my -- was one of my mother's specialties. Barbecued ribs, ribs with sauerkraut, stew, soups. Desserts were apple cobblers and coconut cream rolls, jelly rolls, I made all of those kinds of things. Of course, breakfast was -- usually the -- the patients's breakfast would be, just because of the quantities, usually ate things like scrambled eggs, whereas the employees often could have eggs to order because there were fewer of those, so...
And you know, hot cereal for breakfast, pancakes, French toast. All the standard things. Hash-browned potatoes. KAREN BREWSTER: Sounds like good meals.
CHARLES KURTZ: Very good. I -- nobody could complain about the food at that place. Very good food.
KAREN BREWSTER: You mentioned the vegetables. Were they -- did they ever have excess that they sold or it was all just --
CHARLES KURTZ: Maybe. I don't -- I don't really know about that. Probably because they produced there -- they had a huge -- quite a large farm there, so it's possible that they did, I just don't know. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Do you have a sense -- well, that was your summer job in high school?
CHARLES KURTZ: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: And then you worked there again --
CHARLES KURTZ: Years after I -- I went in the service for four years, and when I started college, oh, I -- I guess I was probably in my second year of college. I got married and I needed a job, I couldn't -- I couldn't afford to not work anymore. I used to work part-time now and then, but I -- after I got married, I needed more money, so I got a job working nights out there, psychiatric aide. And about -- I guess it would have been about 1961. I should have been more precise about these dates, but things get a little bit vague in my memory, so -- but I worked strictly nights. I went to work at eleven o'clock at night and got off at 7:00 in the morning.
KAREN BREWSTER: So what were your duties?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, my duties were -- at night primarily were just to deal with any patient issues, if -- if they came up; mostly, they were sleeping. And cleaning, we did -- we did some cleaning at night, in the -- on Ward A, where I primarily worked, patients, they weren't private rooms, but they were about four to a room with -- with day rooms and open areas. And so much of the cleaning was done at night. And that's part of our job, we did some of that, not all of it, but just to keep the place up to date. So that was -- our duties at night were probably just making sure nothing bad happened.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
CHARLES KURTZ: Essentially, being there. So...
KAREN BREWSTER: And how many other people were on shift with you?
CHARLES KURTZ: There were two of us on each ward. And they -- this is probably imprecise, but there were two mens ward, Ward A, Ward B. Ward A, as I said, was primarily acute psychotic males; Ward B, developmentally disabled adult males. There was what was called a children's ward. Again, mostly those -- mostly developmentally disabled kids. And there I think were two women's wards also similar to the men's wards. Ward -- Ward C and D, I think. I may not be precise here. And then an infirmary, which where, you know, patients were physically ill, there were -- like a little mini hospital. But occasionally, they also, the -- there were a couple of side rooms there for -- if -- if a patient was really acting out and having a difficult time, often they were put in a side room in the infirmary. KAREN BREWSTER: Like an isolation room? Is that what they were?
CHARLES KURTZ: They were an isolation room. And of course, the -- during my second tour there, of course, this was -- the difference between my first tour and my second tour was Thorazine, you know, psycho -- the drugs. And so now during the time I was there the second, they really prided themselves on having an open hospital. There were no locks, no restraints. And -- and they were able to keep their no-lock policy in those side rooms because they took the door handles off the inside of the doors, so... Section 6:
KAREN BREWSTER: So you mentioned Thorazine. Can you talk about that, how you saw that make a difference?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, just in terms -- you know, I -- at the time, I was going to college, and I was actually majoring in psychology, not because I worked there, because I was kind of interested in it, and I, frankly, had a lot of questions about the use of -- I say Thorazine as a kind of generic term, but there were certainly other drugs that they used, as well. And it was -- it was used often for patient control. I really wondered about that.
I -- on the other hand, it -- you know, it seemed -- it seemed to work in terms of helping people who were often distressed if they didn't have it. So it's hard to know. I'm not an expert on it, but I think I -- I also think -- I think I mentioned maybe in one of my -- one of my e-mails to you about the -- I think probably a -- I think maybe a little bit of a milestone in psychiatric treatment because they were still using insulin shock therapy when I started working there. And I -- I'd like to tell a little story about this, because I -- it's -- I think it's kind of interesting and sad. I had -- I hadn't been working there long when I went back the second time, it's like, and there were two patients that were scheduled for insulin therapy, one on my ward, a young man; and a young woman who I didn't know on the -- on one of the women's ward. And for some reason, I -- I guess I wasn't thinking too much of it at the time, I have my opinions now about it, but this was kind of a big deal. And there was a lot of -- a lot of energy around the fact that these two people were going to have this treatment. And since I worked nights, I really wasn't -- I wasn't plugged in well to the grapevine or what was going on, but I really sensed this. After -- after three or four treatments, the young woman died, and it was quite a -- an event. And I -- looking back on this, I don't think that's the first time that it happened. I think that that's one of the reasons that people were so -- all this energy was around this treatment because I think they'd had bad results from it in the past. Now, the young man was later released, he seemed to... But I just started doing a lot of reading about -- about these kinds of therapies, and I -- that -- that was very disturbing to me. To this day, I think that it was a -- that was sort of the last time they used insulin therapy, shock therapy in that hospital, and I imagine anyplace. I don't think that anybody used it anymore. KAREN BREWSTER: For people who don't know, are you able to describe what that insulin shock treatment was?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, yeah. Let me just -- when -- when this patient died, one of the -- they had a psychiatrist whose name was Thompson, I don't remember his first name, Dr. Thompson, came down and gave us a little talk. And of course, I'd been reading about the therapy before, so this wasn't particularly news to me, but insulin shock therapy was invented by a guy in Germany back in the late 1800s who -- who had -- who concluded that because he -- he had never seen an epileptic who was schizophrenic, he concluded that somehow the convulsions that epileptics have somehow had something to do with the brain circuitry that prevented schizophrenia. That was his theory.
And so he used insulin to create convulsions, people would have insulin reactions, they would go into these terrible convulsions. I never witnessed this, but I've certainly read about it. And where those -- it was convulsions that presumably were the therapeutic process by -- by which this therapy worked.
Electroshock therapy, of course, is a similar -- worked similar, same theory, same idea. Now, it's interesting to know that in my -- I -- I bet you there were at least 10 percent of the schizo -- people diagnosed as schizophrenic -- schizophrenia on my ward were also epileptic, so I don't know how this theory ever held up or why people continued to use this treatment. I've never -- I've never understood, well, electroshock therapy either. I've yet to see a psychiatrist who ordered it who would be willing to lay down and have it done to them, so...
So I've -- one of my -- one of my jobs, if we had anybody on our ward who was scheduled for ECT, or electroshock therapy, one of my last jobs before I left in the morning would be to take them down to the -- to get ready for their electroshock. They had it first thing in the morning. KAREN BREWSTER: So they were still practicing electroshock --
CHARLES KURTZ: Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- when you were --
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yes, and for years after. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they are still doing it in some places.
KAREN BREWSTER: And did you notice improvement in those patients?
CHARLES KURTZ: Some, yes. And it was used primarily for what we then called manic-depressive cases, which are now I think called bipolar. And people who got into deep depressions, it usually helped them, and -- and they kind of looked forward to it. KAREN BREWSTER: Interesting.
CHARLES KURTZ: But there were also patients when they were very severely depressed that the ECT didn't seem to do any good at all, didn't seem to make a difference. The more depressed they were, the less -- the less effect it had. That was my impression anyway, just my observations. And unfortunately, it also is used from time to time for patient control. People who would get very agitated and were in a very manic state, they often -- and in those cases, I -- my feeling was, is that it was for less -- less therapy, but more just control, just to keep people calmed down. Section 7:
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. We were just talking about some of the treatments. You said Thorazine or similar medications, did you see those being effective for people?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- it made people calm. It -- again, if -- if patients were agitated or -- or were having a difficult time with -- you know, harming themselves or other patients, it would -- it would help. It would, you know, make them more self-reliant. In terms of did it help their disease, you know, I don't know. That's a different question. I have -- I did see patients come in a -- in -- and have a course of drug treatment and then leave and seemingly better. That whether that was the drugs or something else, I -- I'm not -- I can't judge that. KAREN BREWSTER: So on the wards, you -- so you worked on the men's wards and you were men working on the men's wards.
CHARLES KURTZ: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: On the women's wards, were the aides male or female?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, they were female. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you didn't have any training as a psychiatric aide, did you?
CHARLES KURTZ: Just what they gave me there --
KAREN BREWSTER: What kind of aide --
CHARLES KURTZ: -- which was fairly limited. Mainly it was a -- it was probably mostly a session with -- with the head nurse whose name was Lynette McCoy, by the way. I don't know if you have that name in your -- KAREN BREWSTER: I've heard that name, yeah.
CHARLES KURTZ: And -- and mostly her -- her -- her orientation mostly had to do with -- with how you treated patients. She was a strong believer in treating patients well. And -- and that was kind of the -- I guess the core message of all of the training that I got, so... And she was kind of the -- one of the strong leaders of that. People didn't last long if they didn't do that, it was a very important issue for them.
The other training I got was just from the lead aide on the ward who -- who worked days, but would -- and I would stay over an hour in the morning or so and have some, whatever it was that I -- you know, I really don't remember what the training was about. It wasn't very complicated. These weren't -- these weren't really complicated jobs. I mean, we weren't involved in patient treatment ourselves, just patient care.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. But did the daytime aides, do you know what kinds of things they did?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I don't, really. I think they certainly interacted much more with the patients than we did because when I was there, patients were mostly asleep; not always, but mostly. And in the mornings, they were always busy just getting dressed and those kind -- so there really wasn't much interaction. But in the daytime, yes, they had -- there were lots of activities going on, games and lecture. I mean, they always had something going on, but I didn't really have much personal experience with it. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know if any of the other aides were more experienced than you, or were they all like you that they were just kind of there and --
CHARLES KURTZ: You know, actually, there were a lot of aides there who were -- were in the profession, essentially, and had worked in other mental hospitals around the country. And they, in fact, used to talk about this mental hospital and that mental, and they compared them. And they -- and they refer to themselves as bughousers. That was kind of what their -- their slang term for them, you know, these people who kind of worked the circuits.
KAREN BREWSTER: I've never heard that term.
CHARLES KURTZ: Really?
KAREN BREWSTER: What does that refer to?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, it refers to the fact that these were people who -- who worked in psychiatric hospitals. Bug houses. That's what they -- that was a slang term for them in those days, so... Now, I don't think that the -- I don't think this is a term that -- that they used in anything other than a -- I mean, I don't think that they were denigrating mentally ill people, it was just what they thought was an amusing term for themselves.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, mental hospitals have had many slang terms associated with them over the years.
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, they sure have.
KAREN BREWSTER: For sure.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah. Section 8:
KAREN BREWSTER: When you -- when those more professional aides were talking and comparing --
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, when I say "professional," I only say -- I only mean the fact that they were very experienced and had worked in -- in not only Morningside, but other -- other similar hospitals, as well. For example, in the state hospital at Salem, there's one up in Eastern Washington, which I don't remember the name of, and those were the two that they most frequently had worked with, but also Idaho, Col -- I mean, I heard them talking about hospitals all over the country. KAREN BREWSTER: And did you hear them say how they compared Morningside to those other places?
CHARLES KURTZ: I think most of them liked Morningside a lot, was my impression.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did they comment on how it was in terms of for the patients?
CHARLES KURTZ: You know, I -- they may have, but I, again, I -- as a person working nights, I really didn't have that much contact with them. But one of the -- one of the people that I knew quite well who -- who had worked at several is he was the -- the night watchman, his name was Clyde Johns. His wife, whose first name was Della, I think, she al -- she worked as a psychiatric aide in the women's ward, he worked as a night watchman, and they had been around the country working in -- in other psychiatric hospitals. KAREN BREWSTER: Interesting.
CHARLES KURTZ: And, I guess, now that I think about it, he is the person that I got a lot of information about because he was always chatty and would tell me all these stories. But you know, again, I don't remember anybody really talking about the patient care issue, but one of the things about Morningside I think people liked is it was small and not quite as institutionalized as some of the larger places. I know I visited -- visited the State Hospital at Salem during that time, and I was astounded. I mean, it was a very similar place, but just massive in compare -- I mean, the size, they weren't really comparable. KAREN BREWSTER: So the -- those other aides talked about, in terms of as a staff person, which was a better place to work?
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah, I think that's really what they were -- yeah. It was a more comfortable place to work for them.
KAREN BREWSTER: And how was it for you as a place to work?
CHARLES KURTZ: I was -- it was -- I liked working there. I actually enjoyed my contact with the patients. I enjoyed mostly my contacts with my fellow employees. And -- and I was -- you know, because my mother had worked there for so long, it was a very familiar place to me. I -- you know, I had been visiting there since I was a little kid, so -- well, not a little kid, but 12 or 13 years old, however. So it was very comfortable for me and very familiar, so... Section 9:
KAREN BREWSTER: As you said, you worked nights, so you might not have sense of this, but I'm wondering how the patients got along with each other.
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I don't -- I mean, I think that people got along well. I mean, I don't recall -- although I -- on my own ward, I think probably the biggest -- the biggest -- well, I shouldn't say biggest, but the only times that I ever really had much difficulty with physical violence was a patient being angry at another patient. This would happen once in awhile. But -- but I -- mostly, I think people got along okay, at least nothing I can remember to suggest otherwise.
KAREN BREWSTER: So in that situation you just gave about two patients angry with each other, how did you handle that?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, it depends what the situation was. I mean, I remember once walking into the day room and finding, well, here is a big commotion, and one of the -- we had -- temporarily on our ward, had a older teenager who had been on the children's wards who was -- who -- who got upset at an older patient on our ward and had attacked him and was choking him, and so I just kind of physically pried them apart, and... KAREN BREWSTER: And then how was the patient who was the aggressor, what happened to him?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, we -- we sort of -- we sat him down and got the nurse up and the nurse probably gave him a shot, something to calm him down. That was usually what happened. You always depend on a shot of something, you know, if the patient got out of hand. KAREN BREWSTER: And as an aide, you didn't -- as an aide, you weren't allowed to administer medications?
CHARLES KURTZ: No. No. And we weren't allowed to use restraints; although, in the case I just described, I physically held the kid. I mean, I -- there was nothing I could really do except hold him to keep him from -- and he calmed down pretty fast anyway as soon as he... And there were a couple of other situations like that, and that's the one I think that really stood out because the older guy was getting hurt pretty bad, so...
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know what caused it?
CHARLES KURTZ: I don't, no. It was everybody was getting up, it was one of those times when everybody was getting up and getting dressed, and the shift was changing, and so a lot of -- a lot of stuff was going on, so... The ward was in two -- really two pieces. There was -- one end of the ward was fairly close to where our workstation was where we hung out most of the time, and the other end of the ward was down a long hall and quite a little ways away, so that's where this altercation took place. And so by the time I heard the noise and got down there, it was already underway. So -- but I don't know what started it. KAREN BREWSTER: So how many patients were in that ward?
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, I -- maybe 60. I -- probably not that many. I -- I'm sure I knew. I used to, every morning, would have to go down the list and talk about each patient, you know, so -- but I -- maybe 60. 50, 60, somewhere around there.
KAREN BREWSTER: That's a big ward. CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah, I think it was the biggest ward in the hospital. Well, actually, Ward B might have been a little -- Ward B was a little bit different because it was laid out in kind of dormitory style, or barracks style, there were no -- there were no rooms, it was all just a big open space, and everybody had their own -- no privacy. And so there might have been more patients there, I just... KAREN BREWSTER: But in Ward A, as you said, four people to a room?
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: They had individual rooms?
CHARLES KURTZ: Right. Section 10:
KAREN BREWSTER: What about the staff? How did the staff get along?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I think they got along pretty well. I -- you know, actually, now that I think about it, we -- we actually did have a murder/suicide involving a -- one of our -- one of the women aides -- no. I think she actually worked in the kitchen maybe. And she was going with another person, he -- he worked there, but he was like a truck driver or a -- or a van driver, something like that. They had -- they apparently had some love affair going, and then a third party came in, in a fit of jealousy. I think she was living there on the grounds and they parted, and then so he -- as I recall it, I think he got a gun and shot her and then killed himself. I guess that means that staff weren't getting along too well, but that was really an unusual situation, I think.
I -- it really didn't have anything to do with Morningside, it just happened to be that these two people had maybe been working there when they had their little jealous episode, so...
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
CHARLES KURTZ: I -- you know, as far as I know, staff got along okay. KAREN BREWSTER: And who did you mostly deal with on your job? In terms of other staff people.
CHARLES KURTZ: Oh. I had -- I had another person working on my ward. And, of course, when I first started working there, I was kind of second in -- you know, I wasn't the ward lead. After awhile I became the ward lead. I don't know when that happened, but a year or two later. And so I would occasionally have -- I would get new people from time to time, so I never -- I never worked steadily with the same people all the time I was there. There were a few people, if -- if -- the ward lead when I first started work there, his name was Mel Terry, a wonderful person, taught me a lot, great guy. Insists -- so good with the patients; really, really good. We had -- one thing I remember, we had a patient who -- I'm not -- I'm not recalling exactly what the circumstances were, but he got -- he had been in a beef with one of his neighbors and he got shot in the side of the head, and it -- it blew out his eyeballs and sinuses. And -- and he -- of course, he wore a mask and was awfully depressed, but Mel used to, every morning, would get him up and take his bandages off and clean out all of the -- you know, this sinus drainage and everything, and I always remember how dedicated he was to these patients. That was kind of a symbol or sort of example of his -- how he treated people. The -- the other person who -- who was the person who was in charge at night was the night nurse. And while I worked there, there were a couple of them there, one of them I didn't care much for, she was kind of -- I won't mention her name. She was kind of young and -- and opinionated, but the -- but the one that I liked, actually, I don't know whether it matters whether I liked them or not, but the one I got along best, her name was -- her last name was Merz, M-E-R-Z. I don't remember her first name. Again, it's how people treated patients were how I kind of judged them. So if they were relaxed and comfortable around patients, then -- then they got -- my judgment was they were okay; if they were nervous and fearful and hostile, then I didn't care for them much, so... Section 11:
KAREN BREWSTER: And what about any of the doctors, did you have any interaction with any of the doctors?
CHARLES KURTZ: Dr. Thompson I mentioned, I -- he's the only one that I really had much contact with. And Dr. Moss, you mentioned Dr. Moss. I don't -- I think I met him once. He seemed -- it seemed like he was a small man. But he must have come there not too long before I left, so... KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, he came in '62.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you said you were --
CHARLES KURTZ: I think he took Thompson's place, as I recall. And I might -- maybe I worked there for a year after he was there, now that I think about it, because I don't -- I think I -- no, I probably quit around the end of '62, around the latter part of '62. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, he -- he mentioned that the psychiatrists were on call at night, they would take shifts -- different turns of somebody being available at night.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah, maybe, but I don't think they ever -- I don't remember anybody ever physically showing up. They might have been on call by phone, but very -- very rarely would we see a -- KAREN BREWSTER: That was my question, whether there were incidents that happened where you needed a psychiatrist and you called --
CHARLES KURTZ: No. I can remember lots of incidents that we had to handle that didn't require a psychiatrist. I mean, there were mostly -- mostly patients who were -- who were just out of control in some way and needed to be calmed down, needed to be helped. And from time to time, if there was a problem on the -- on wards, then people from other wards would often come to help. And so -- but, you know, if there was any -- if there was a -- usually the solution to an active -- acting-out patient was a shot of whatever it was that they were giving them, and the nurses did that, so... And it didn't happen all that much anyway. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. But there wasn't an acute crisis that you needed the doctor for?
CHARLES KURTZ: There may have been on other wards, there may have been on mine, I just don't recall that that -- it wasn't -- it happened so rarely that it wasn't a big deal. Section 12:
KAREN BREWSTER: Did you have any dealings with the management side of the facility?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, only Nurse McCoy. She's the only person I ever had much --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
CHARLES KURTZ: -- discussion with. Although my mother was -- often had -- she knew Henry Coe quite well, one of the Coe brothers. But I don't know -- I never had any contact with that side of it. KAREN BREWSTER: So you never met the Coes?
CHARLES KURTZ: I may have, but I don't recall it right now.
KAREN BREWSTER: What did your mother say about Henry, do you remember?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I think Henry was kind of a -- he was the more affable, more -- one of them was quite aloof and never came around, and Henry, I think, was -- was friendly and -- and my mother always had nice things to say -- a little eccentric, I think. KAREN BREWSTER: What does that mean?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- I -- let me see how I -- I guess I've never -- I can't think of examples of why that's how -- that's how I remember, or how I remember my mom talking about him, so -- but I can't think of specifics to back up my -- KAREN BREWSTER: Did your mom ever talk about how much the staff and the Coes interacted with each other?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, she didn't talk about it, but I doubt that they ever interacted very much. I don't think they came around very often.
KAREN BREWSTER: So who was running the place?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, you know, there must have been somebody around besides Lynette McCoy --
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
CHARLES KURTZ: -- but I -- KAREN BREWSTER: Because she was a nurse.
CHARLES KURTZ: She was a head nurse. Well, I guess -- you know, I'm not exactly sure what their titles were, but she may have -- she may have been in the -- well, I won't even speculate. I don't remember the titles. But I -- she certainly was in -- she was in charge of me, I know that. She -- she -- she was -- supervised all the medical staff except for the physicians. KAREN BREWSTER: So what was she like to work for?
CHARLES KURTZ: Great. Very direct, very -- you knew exactly where you stood and you knew what her expectations were.
KAREN BREWSTER: Some people might find her difficult to work with --
CHARLES KURTZ: Maybe.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- for the same reasons.
CHARLES KURTZ: Maybe. KAREN BREWSTER: With any of the Alaska patients, do you remember, did they all speak English?
CHARLES KURTZ: No. There were -- there were Native Alaskans. So no, a lot of them didn't speak English.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know, how did that work? Or how would you have to communicate with them? CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I just -- I don't remember it ever being a particular problem. Again, I -- I didn't have -- have eight hours worth of patient contact, usually, so -- but I don't recall ever -- there ever being an issue. Well, of course, it was -- most of the -- most of the things, they were routine, and once people got into the routine, I guess they knew what -- you know, communications probably weren't -- detailed communications probably weren't all that important. But I -- I think I mentioned earlier when I was working in the kitchen, our scullery worker was -- well, I referred to him as an Eskimo, he may have been an Aleut or -- I mean, I'm not sure what he -- and he certainly didn't speak English, but I -- I never thought -- I never thought of that as being an issue, actually. It just didn't seem to be a -- and I think on my ward, I would say maybe 10 percent of the people on my ward probably didn't speak English. I had one patient who was Chinese, for example, he didn't speak English. He didn't speak at all, as far as I could remember. I had one person that I remember who spoke Russian. And then some Native Alaskans who spoke whatever -- whatever their Native language was. Section 13:
KAREN BREWSTER: So when you were working there, you said there were still Alaska patients coming to Morningside?
CHARLES KURTZ: Uh-hum. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember how they adjusted to this? I mean, it's a big change if you were coming from the village. CHARLES KURTZ: Well, of course, some of them didn't come from a village, some of them came from the city. I told you about one person who came and went a few times, I think he was from Anchorage, he was a businessman in Anchorage.
I remember another person who was a school teacher who -- also from the big city, he was there, just -- liked him a lot, he must -- he was only there for a few months. But I -- I -- I don't think most of these people came from villages, I think there were a lot of them from more populous areas. But again, I -- I just don't know the detail about so many of them.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you weren't told their backgrounds, really? CHARLES KURTZ: I -- many of them I -- I was always very interested in patients, and I would often read their charts and try to figure out, you know, how to -- how best to deal with them. So I -- I did, I did know a lot about them individually because their charts were usually pretty complete, but I just don't remember it.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
CHARLES KURTZ: I just don't remember it.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. And while you worked there, did patients -- did any patients die? You mentioned the insulin shock therapy woman. CHARLES KURTZ: Oh, yeah, they -- sure. Yeah. There were a lot -- particularly on these -- these older developmentally disabled people, I think deaths were not uncommon on those wards. A lot of those people were really getting up in years, had been there for a long time. But I -- again, that's just one thing I don't have a personal remembrance of. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I'm wondering what -- how the death was handled and what happened to the bodies and things like that.
CHARLES KURTZ: I don't know.
KAREN BREWSTER: You don't know that?
CHARLES KURTZ: I don't know.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Do you know how other patients handled that if somebody died? Was it an issue for other patients?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, again, I guess I'm not -- other than the one death that I mentioned, I guess that's the only one I really remember specifically, so I can't -- I really can't say because -- KAREN BREWSTER: This may have been -- this was before your time, but your mother would have been working at Morningside, it was investigated --
CHARLES KURTZ: Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- by Congress.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Are you aware of that?
CHARLES KURTZ: Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you have any comments?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I -- my recollection is a little bit vague, but I -- what I understand was that it was -- there were some allegations that the Coes were using the -- they were using money for their own personal use, over and above whatever their -- whatever their contract allowed them to take. As far as I know, nothing came of that. I -- I always thought it was a kind of a political investigation, and I don't know, you may know more about the history of the -- you obviously do know more about the history of the Alaskan mental health system than I do, but at the time, I -- it seemed like it maybe was a power issue from people in the State of Alaska wanting to have their own mental health system and wanting to reject this idea of sending people down here. I mean, you may know more about that than I do.
KAREN BREWSTER: That, I don't know.
CHARLES KURTZ: But that was my impression, that it was more of a political stunt than -- than a valid issue because I don't remember any -- you know, I don't remember them ever finding out -- finding that these folks were defrauding Alaska. KAREN BREWSTER: And did your mother say -- because your mother was working there at the time.
CHARLES KURTZ: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did she feel like there were deficiencies worth investigating?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I don't think there was a question of deficiencies, at least not that I know of. Nobody was questioning whether -- whether the money was going to the patients or not. At least not that I know of. And I don't recall anybody ever thinking that that was the case, anybody who worked there. So I don't know. I always thought the issue was not that they were depriving patients of anything but that they were just taking more than they were -- than was their -- than their contract called for. KAREN BREWSTER: Like overcharging or something like that?
CHARLES KURTZ: Something like that. But I don't recall anybody say -- any issue about -- about funds being misdirected away from patient care. I -- I don't think that was the case. It may have been, but not in my memory.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. I don't know. Section 14:
KAREN BREWSTER: So Morningside was three years of your early adult life. How old were you when you were the aide, the night shift aide?
CHARLES KURTZ: I -- let's see. I must have been 23, 24, something like that. KAREN BREWSTER: And were the other aides comparable ages?
CHARLES KURTZ: Mostly not. Mostly older. There were -- I -- I guess I probably was the youngest person working there. I actually had a college mate of mine, a friend who I got a job out there, he's my same age, he worked there for about six months as the relief night watch person, so he's the only other person I -- who I know who has actual personal knowledge of the place out there. KAREN BREWSTER: Who is still around.
CHARLES KURTZ: Who is still around.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So what did you go on to do after Morningside?
CHARLES KURTZ: Well, I went to work for -- as a public welfare caseworker after I graduated from college in '63 or '4, and was in social work for many years, was the manager of Child Protective Services here in Multnomah County for about four years. And after I got burned out on -- on that, a very thankless job, I went to work for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission where I retired.
KAREN BREWSTER: What's the Oregon Liquor Control Commission?
CHARLES KURTZ: It -- in Oregon, Oregon is -- the State of Oregon is the liquor wholesaler in the state. They -- they have their own warehouse, they have contract liquor stores. That's one side. The other thing they do is they issue licenses to people who sell alcohol, they enforce liquor laws. That was my side of the job, issuing liquor licenses, enforcing liquor laws.
KAREN BREWSTER: Big difference from social work to -- CHARLES KURTZ: A big difference. A big difference. Social work is a job that wears on one after awhile. So -- it did me anyway.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you retired when?
CHARLES KURTZ: 19 -- 8 -- 1995.