This is a view of a men's ward at Tewksbury Almshouse, 1898. The rectangular room houses two rows of neatly made beds and a center aisle with wooden tables. The room is very spare except for a chandelier. Patients sit and stand throughout the room, facing the camera, as does a gentleman holding what appears to be a clipboard. Image courtesy of the Public Health Museum, Tewksbury, Massachusetts.
Three months after Anne and Jimmie arrived at Tewksbury, Jimmie died. Anne had befriended a severely disabled woman named Maggie Carroll. When Jimmie died, this deeply religious woman advised Anne to resign herself to a life at the institution, this being God's will.
Anne would not accept that as her future. Nor would she agree to continue taking part in Catholic rituals such as confession. She grew increasingly skeptical of organized religion, while at the same time retaining a strong feeling for her Irish Catholic heritage. A grim fatalism stalked her for much of her life:
I must have been sound asleep when Jimmie died, for I didn't hear them roll his bed into the dead house. When I waked, it was dark. The night-lamps in the ward were still burning. Suddenly I missed Jimmie's bed. The black, empty space where it had been filled me with wild fear. I couldn't get out of bed, my body shook so violently. I knew the dead house was behind that partition at the end of the ward, and I knew that Jimmie was dead...It was all dark inside. I couldn't see the bed at first. I reached out my hand and touched the iron rail, and clung to it with all my strength until I could balance myself on my feet. Then I crept to the side of the bed - and touched him! Under the sheet I felt the little cold body, and something in me broke. My screams waked everyone in the hospital. Someone rushed in and tried to pull me away; but I clutched the little body and held it with all my might.