1910 - 1984
Place of birth: Columbus, OH
Date of Willard admission: 1946
Length of stay: 3 years
A Broken Plate
On June 7, 1945, Mr. Frank #27967 went into the Virginia Restaurant on Fulton Street in Brooklyn and was served a meal on a broken plate. He became upset and caused a disruption outside the restaurant, yelling and kicking garbage cans. The police were called, and, instead of arresting him, brought him to the psychiatric ward at Kings County Hospital. From there, he was transferred to Brooklyn State Hospital, and on April 9, 1946, he was admitted to Willard, one of a growing number of African American patients transferred to Willard from New York City in the 40s, due to over-crowding.
Born in 1909 in Columbus, Ohio, Frank arrived in Brooklyn at the age of 20, and found work as a chauffeur. He was also an amateur boxer. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 1941, and received a medical discharge in 1944, Frank returned to settle in Brooklyn.
Though the medical record stated that he had no family ties, he kept in touch with his family in West Virginia and Ohio, including regular correspondence with his father. Some of these letters were found in his meticulously ordered trunk, along with a neatly pressed Army uniform, family photos, and a baby shoe. The hospital staff worked hard to get Frank's trunk picked up from his landlady in Brooklyn, not because they were concerned about his access to his possessions, but because they wanted to get his army discharge papers, so that he could be transferred to the Veteran's Administration system.
Mr. Frank # 27967 never escaped the consequences of that day outside the restaurant in 1945. In 1949, he was transferred from Willard to the Veterans Administration hospital in Canandaigua, NY, and in 1954 to the VA hospital in Pittsburgh. He died there 30 years later, having spent more than half his life in an institution.