There are so many possibilities in this letter. Jim talks about the North Dakota Credit Union League, various Credit Unions in Jamestown, and an experience he had at the Jamestown State Hospital. In the sixties when I lived in Jamestown, the State Hospital was a thing of wonder that none of my contemporaries knew much about. Well, maybe they knew, but I was completely ignorant. The State Hospital is just across the Interstate highway south of town. There’s also the barrier of the James River. Situated on the hill above the river, the Hospital gained the derisive moniker “South Hill.” Rather than invoke the Bogey Man, we heard about escapees from the South Hill.
Treatment of the “insane” has progressed significantly since the 1960’s and 1970’s. When I read about state hospitals today it gives me the willies. That unsettled feeling is clear in this letter from Jim. He traveled around the state and country on Credit Union business, with challenging experiences all over. This is the one he writes about. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest didn’t come out for another couple of years, but I bet if Jim ever saw the movie, he thought about his meeting with the nurse on the South Hill.
In 1971 I was employed by the ND Credit Union League which was the state association of credit unions with headquarters in Jamestown. As a director of field services it was my job to work with the managers and advise them in their credit union operations. At the time there were two credit unions in Jamestown, the Community Coop C/U and the State Hospital Employees C/U. The latter was located in one of the many buildings on the hospital grounds. Velma, the manager, called me and said she had some operational questions and would I mind coming to her office. Continue reading