"On a day a little over a year ago," writes N. Robert Arthur of Silver Spring, "a limousine stopped at the Colonial Village Nursing Home in Colesville. The chauffeur held the car door open for a middle-aged woman of striking appearance.
"The Villa staff stared as the woman approached the information desk and asked for Mrs. Sarah Maycock.
"Many years ago, these two had been roommates at Mt. Holyoke College.Sarah Maycock (my wife's sister) had gone on to become head of the language department at Montgomery Community College, but now was lying in bed, comatose with terminal cancer.
"The woman who had arrived by limousine was the governor of Connecticut, Ella Grasso. She had taken time from a busy schedule to visit her old friend for what turned out to be the last time."
Subsequent to the visit to her dying friend's bedside, Gov. Grasso herself was found to be suffering from cancer. She resigned her office so that the state's business could be properly administered by a full-time governor.After being close to death, she rallied, and at last word her condition was described as somewhat improved.
If someone were to write a TV script based on the story of Ella Grasso, it would probably be criticized by people like me for not being true to life.
I used to know almost nothing about television, but after spending a week at home watching the tube, I now know twice as much. And two times zero still equals zero.
Nevertheless, I have formed some preliminary conclusions about TV. I recognize, for example, that a malaise that keeps me moping about the house for a week makes me irritable and intolerant of most TV scripts. When their intent is comedic I do not laugh, and when their intent is dramatic I feel no sense of involvement. I'm not sure why.
Other people, normal people, laugh and cry in unison As The World Turns, but I am not among them. However, in this aberration of mine may lie a clue for medical researchers.
It may be that, for some people, there is great therapeutic value in standard TV fare.
After undergoing heart surgery in New York three years ago, I was moved to a semiprivate room for convalescence. My roommate loved TV, and several New York stations remain on the air around the clock. A TV receiver was mounted on the wall opposite our beds, and my roommate kept that set on about 20 hours a day-and-night, with the volume turned up quite high.
I complained to the nurses. I told them that in other hospitals sound does not emanate from the TV set itself but from a pillow speaker that minimizes annoyance to others. I threatened to write a letter to the Times.
Nothing I said helped much. They didn't read the Times, they read the Daily News, and most of them didn't want any hassles with my roommate, who was apparently well known to them.
One little Irish nurse with a lot of spunk did suggest to my roommate that he turn off his TV after 1 a.m., and sometimes he did. But it was back on at 1:05, and I would have to go out to the drafty visitor's lounge to try to get a little sleep.
That's what made me well, I think. There were only two ways to escape quickly from that place: to die or to get well, and I credit television with my quick recovery. Medical researchers might want to check this out.
In my case, at least, the effect of TV on convalescense was confirmed by my recent week at home. After a while I realized that I would get better faster at the office than with a TV set at my bedside. And so far, knock on wood, recovery is occurring at a satisfactory pace.
If Ella Grasso has the same blood type or genes or whatever it is that one needs to benefit from TV's therapeutic power, I hope that her doctor will consider using television to speed her recovery, too. RxLAUGHTER
The next time I'm hospitalized, I hope I get a roommate like Bob Orben. A message from him says:
"I'm a little worried about the way 1981 is starting out. I wish there was some way to test it out on laboratory mice first."
Bob also has a bright suggestion: "Let's all go down to the Soviet Embassy and sing 'Look For The Union Label' in Polish."