I hit another milestone last week with my 74th birthday. And I didn’t have to look very far to note how the world has changed in the interim.
I was born in Immanuel Hospital in Mankato, Minn. It was a Lutheran institution, one of two hospitals in town. After we moved here, Immanuel and St. Joseph’s hospitals combined. I understand it is now under the distinctive umbrella of the Mayo Clinic, whose headquarters are only about 60 miles away.
Hospital patrons around here know the feeling well. St. John’s, once known by the long-fangled title of St. John’s Hickey Memorial Hospital but subsequently became St. John’s Medical Center and then St. John’s Health System, is now St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital. And a few miles north, Community Hospital Anderson is part of the Community Hospital system out of Indianapolis.
Hospital conglomerates generally are a good thing. They bring in state-of-the-art medical resources once only available at major regional medical centers across the country. The flip side, of course, is the cost of medical care also has risen dramatically.
When we relocated to Anderson in 1951 following my dad’s death, we came by train. I’m not sure if all our children have SEEN a passenger train, much less our grandkids; my wife rode on a train as a small child but doesn’t remember the experience.
The Pennsylvania Railroad train brought us from Chicago to Anderson. We had lunch in the dining car. We disembarked at the Pennsylvania depot overlooking Fletcher Street, an area that has since been leveled for the parking lot below the Work One agency.
The last time I took a train from Anderson was when I was 22 years old, riding to Chicago for a White Sox game against the New York Yankees. I overheard a conductor telling one of the few passengers, “We only run this line because the government says we have to.” Soon after that it stopped requiring it and they didn’t.