Written by Cornell DeVille, author of Lost in the Bayou.
It was a warm night in the summer of 1966 when some high school friends and I decided to visit the Kansas City Tuberculosis Hospital. This facility had been built back in the forties by the prisoners at Leeds. Since TB had been brought under control a few years before our visit that evening, the hospital had been closed down for some time. But the building was still standing.
It was dark and cloudy that night, with no moon. Fortunately, I had a flashlight in the car. After parking on the cracked macadam in the abandoned lot, we began walking toward the building. Even in the darkness it was easy to see that all of the windows had been broken out. As if a director had cued the effects team, the wind whistled through the trees and a dog barked in the distance.
We found a window that was low enough for us to climb through and, within a few moments, we were inside, giggling nervously as we explored the vacant halls. The flashlight illuminated the empty rooms, and we peered inside. It became quickly apparent that this building had been abandoned in a rush. Most of the furniture and equipment, including beds and linens, had been left behind. It was a bit shocking to see overturned wheelchairs strewn haphazardly here and there. We also saw huge pieces of equipment that looked like “iron lungs.” They stood silently in the hall, like beached whales.
In some of the patient rooms there were framed photographs remaining on the walls. One of these photos was of particular interest in a macabre sort of way. It was a photograph of a pretty young nurse decked out in her white uniform. The photo was signed, "Wishing you the best." The part that was startling was that someone had taken a red marker and drawn slash marks on her face and a knife sticking into her chest with the word "BITCH" written in large letters.
The further we explored, the more desolate and depressing it became. Finally, we descended the stairs and headed toward the morgue. The stench met our nostrils long before we reached the small operating room or whatever it was. As we walked through a narrow doorway, the flashlight illuminated an enclosure with stone walls and no windows. There was a stainless steel operating table in the center with bloody, or rusting, instruments scattered on it.
Along one wall was a sink with a rusting faucet. As we approached this sink the smell became even more overpowering. When I shined the flashlight into the sink it illuminated a huge slab of meat, bloody and rotting. It was at about that time we decided to leave.
We never found out whether this was the remains of some poor soul, perhaps a serviceman who had served his country during World War II, or if it was a practical joke that some of the Van Horn High School or Raytown High School hoods had decided to pull to scare some unsuspecting victims. We'll never know. But even after all these years, I still remember that evening quite vividly.