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County Spotlights

Posted on: January 22, 2019

The Girl In Building C: Book Talk with Mary Krugerud

SCHS The Girl in Building C

Join the SCHS for an exciting book talk! Author Mary Krugerud will be sharing stories form her most recent book The Girl in Building C: The True Story of a Teenage Tuberculosis Patient, and information from Interrupted Lives: The History of a Tuberculosis in Minnesota and the Glen Lakes Sanatorium.


The Girl in Building C tells the story of sixteen-year-old Marilyn Barnes. In October 1943, she was told that her recent bout of pneumonia was in fact tuberculosis. Marilyn entered Ah-gwah-ching State Sanatorium at Walker, Minnesota, for what she thought would be a short stay. In January, her tuberculosis spread, and she nearly died. Her recovery required many months of bed rest and medical care.


Marilyn loved to write, and the story of her three-year residency at the sanatorium is preserved in hundreds of letters that she mailed back home to her parents, who could visit her only occasionally and whom she missed terribly. The letters functioned as a diary in which Marilyn candidly recorded her reactions to roommates, medical treatments, Native American nurses, and boredom. She also offers readers the singular perspective of a bed-bound teenager, gossiping about boys, requesting pretty new pajamas, and enjoying Friday evening popcorn parties with other patients.


Selections from this cache of letters are woven into an informative narrative that explores the practices and culture of a midcentury tuberculosis sanatorium and fills in long-forgotten details gleaned from recent conversations with Marilyn, who "graduated" from the sanatorium and went on to lead a full, productive life.


The Girl in Building C was recently nominated for a Minnesota Book Award. Along with the talk, books will be available for signing and purchase. The event is $5, and free for SCHS members. Registration is available at https://bit.ly/2F7hZ4G, or by calling 952-445-0378.

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