A Changed Mind
Marie Farmer

In 1910, it was generally known in Bibb County that if you wanted to commit a difficult relative, Judge Grimes would help you out. The good judge believed he was helping families in need and considered himself a humanitarian. He felt particularly Solomon-like when he was able to transfer these troublemakers to a "safe" environment.

Central State Mental Institution was 68 years old. The hospital took in epileptics, "idiots" and alcoholics as well as the insane. Some patients actually recovered enough to go home, others lingered for years in back wards. Every time the state gave a little money to expand the hospital the courts sent more patients. Overcrowding was always a problem.

Judge Grimes‚ ardor for committing unpleasant relatives and other problem members of the community had continued unabated for years until one day he was taken by a sudden change of mind.

While touring the huge institution with a number of dignitaries, Judge Grimes detached himself from his group. He had seen all this many times before. He ducked into a men's room to relieve himself. Instead of using the bathroom, Judge Grimes was accosted by someone who recognized our pompous little bureaucrat.

A syringe, filled with a sedative intended for a violent patient, rendered the judge immobile. He was redressed in a hospital gown and wheeled into surgery. After his lobotomy, Judge Grimes was a changed man. The number of admissions to the hospital declined for a while after that.



First published: August, 2004
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