Until that moment in the public library in Lawrence Kansas when a record came up online that my great aunt Jessie Hutchison had my father W. Lon Hutchison committed to the Eastern Oklahoma State Mental Hospital, I had no idea that he had suffered from mental illness. I had only heard vague mention from my mother of narcotics in my father’s past.
I was shaking, when the records came up on my laptop of my father being committed by his aunt to the state mental hospital. I had never heard of the Eastern Oklahoma State Mental Hospital nor the town of Vinita, where it is located. The records were a blast from a past and from a place that were unknown to me. How could I have ever known or even heard about the Eastern Oklahoma State Mental Hospital in Vinita?
I don’t think even my mother knew about my father being committed to the state mental hospital by his own family. She once told me that he was bitter about his family but she thought it was because he had been disinherited by his siblings.
My friends in Lawrence, Kansas, where I was staying, had a road atlas. I looked up Vinita. There it was. Almost due south from Lawrence. I rented a car and left for Oklahoma the next day. It was a straight shot down a narrow two-lane road through the Kansas plains to Vinita, Oklahoma. A pleasant drive with very little traffic.
I easily found the Eastern Oklahoma State Mental Hospital just outside the town of Vinita. I drove around on the road bordering the brick buildings. The state mental hospital has an extensive, imposing campus, with no trespassing signs and a tall fence to keep people out. It had been shut down several years before.
How was I going to find out anything about my father’s time here? Would I find any clues about how he got out? Being committed to a state mental institution is often a life sentence, without parole.
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Your comments are always most welcome.
Have you had any family members committed to a state mental hospital?
Note: I have another blog dedicated to my mother at https://www.bettehutchisonsilver.wordpress.com