The summer of 1966

plants Home Depot 005-A

During the summer of 1966, I was the recipient of a WICHE scholarship, which was awarded to college students, who were interested in pursuing a career in mental health.  I was paid $600 and worked 5 days per week for 6 weeks.  I received an “A” for the 6 credit course.

I was assigned to Waimano Home and Hospital in Pearl City, where mentally retarded boys resided. These boys were unable to speak.  They grunted, yelled, and laughed.  My job was to train them to use the toilet, brush their teeth, change their clothes, and eat with a spoon or fork.

There was a ten year old boy, who was autistic and retarded.  Now and then, his mother would visit him, but after she left the hospital, the boy would shriek and scream, spinning like a top out of control.  The staff had to restrain him by putting his arms in a strait jacket.  He was then allowed to pace back and forth in a narrow corridor until he calmed down and stopped banging his head against the padded walls.

On one occasion, the staff took the boys to Kahuku Beach to play in the water, followed by a picnic lunch.  The boys had fun, and it was so nice for them to get some fresh air and exercise.

As part of the WICHE program, we students toured the rest of the grounds at Waimano Home and Hospital.  There was a large room, where hydrocephalic boys stayed in individual cribs.  In another building, we met a boy with cerebral palsy, who painted pretty pictures by holding a paintbrush between his toes.

We also toured the State Hospital in Kaneohe, where we saw a catatonic woman seated in a chair, not moving or blinking.  We also spoke to a young woman, who was there  because she had attempted suicide.  She showed us the scars on her two wrists.

Waimano Home and Hospital in Pearl City is now defunct and has been abandoned.  But, the State Hospital in Kaneohe still exists.

Those 6 weeks during the summer of 1966 were enlightening.  I went on to graduate from the University of Hawaii with a BA in Sociology in 1968.

9 Responses to “The summer of 1966”

  1. Mukhamani Says:

    We never forget such experiences. Thank you for sharing.

  2. David Says:

    My sister’s boyfriend, Robert Yuge was a patient at Waimanu Home. He was a very capable person who ended up as a janitor. I do not know why he was there other than his parents abandoned him. This place was closed because it appeared to be the dumping ground of society. The patients such as Robert were mainstreamed to the benefit of society.

  3. Olga Says:

    I also worked and later interned at a similar institution in college. It was closed as was the state hospital because, as David said, they were seen as dumping grounds. Now, I think, prisons are the dumping ground for those society has not been able to adequately care for. Anyway, I think it was a good thing to have had these “real world” experiences as part of college educations.

  4. De Says:

    I believe the state health department moved into that building in Pearl City. They moved from their ward location as that building is slated to be torn down.

  5. Tom Sightings Says:

    You did something a lot more worthwhile than I did. Summer of ’66 found me behind a lunch counter making burgers for $1.35/hour. (Funny how we remember those details.)

  6. honoluluaunty91 Says:

    How sad, it is heartbreaking to know of those poor souls locked up in dysfunctional bodies and minds, and not much hope or help left for them.

  7. Kay G. Says:

    Ah, the summer of 1966, my little sister was born and I rocked her to the hits by the Monkees. Your summer sounded more interesting!

  8. anonymousinthemainland!!!!!!!!!! Says:

    I lived in San Diego California and worked at a big dept. store for $1.60 an hour a kings ransome in my eyes. I walked to my aunts home and rested then helped her with her antique stuff and ate with my grandmother and my aunt at my aunts nice home..I soon lived at the YWCA for little money a room, with cooking privileges for I think $40 a month..I went to college and worked and worked, it was a lovely time but lots of stuff happened in this big USA and after my Grandmother passed from this earth I left San Diego, even though I had a great govt. job..I went north to Ventura then San Francisco and eventurally the pacific northwest where I met my husband and married in 1974..I have always thought that California treated people with mental health issues and other issues far more humane than the pacific northwest..just my opinion..I do appreciate the fact that when I needed health and mental health options that I got it in California for little money, no shame and no bs..That is all changed now unfortuanetly..aloha in paradise….

  9. Christine Says:

    Wow what an experience, not everyone could do this job, sounds like you did well.

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