'Every day was a Tuesday' 

A visit to the Arkansas State Tuberculosis Sanatorium, a place built on The White Plague.

Page 4 of 4

"It was a very small world," he said. "You could walk across it in two minutes. You didn't go off the grounds. The only time we left was on Friday night, when we'd walk up to the commons building and see a movie. Everything was there: you ate there, you went to school there. You never left that place."

Discharged from the sanatorium when he was 14, Myers eventually served 22 years in the Air Force. When he retired, he moved back to Booneville and went to work at what was by then the former sanatorium.

"I was home," Myers said. "I came home. I know it sounds strange, and I can't explain it, but that place had such a hold on me. That's all I knew. There was really no difference in being in the Masonic and being in the Air Force. I was totally institutionalized by the time I was 14 years old."

Myers retired from the BHDC in 2002. He said he still goes up and drives the old roads sometimes. The building and grounds were groomed and immaculate when he lived there — a pristine, perfect world, he said. The decay he sees makes him sad. Back when local preservationists began talking about building a museum at the sanatorium some years ago, Myers went to one of their first meetings. He said he was the only patient there that night. He hasn't been back. His feelings about The Hill, he said, are conflicted. He thinks of it as home. But he also believes it should be leveled, stone by stone; returned to the windswept mountaintop it was a hundred years ago.

"To me, I think the place should be torn down and forgotten," he said. "It was a terrible place. I don't know why you would want to remember that much suffering and death and devastation — why you would make a monument out of that. It destroyed thousands and thousands of lives."


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