Past Pains

Ruins of the Ellis Island Hospital

A deafening shriek reverberated again off of the tiled walls and metal tables, the sound of pain and fear made all the more palpable as it echoed around the cold, hard surfaces and magnified until it shook the very core of anyone listening. 

The staff inside that room did not make eye contact with each other over their masks. To acknowledge anyone’s humanity, even their own, would only serve to distract from the task at hand.


This is another shot from inside the ruins of the Ellis Island hospital. Several areas contain art by JR, a French artist. Generally speaking, I prefer my ruins untouched but this image seemed to enhance the spooky feel rather than detract from it.

It is disconcerting to stand in the empty rooms and corridors imagining the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital. There are times you can almost feel the brush of someone passing or hear the echoes of fear and hope whispering off of the crumbling walls. 

I ran into some photos of the hospital taken in areas that I did not get to see when I was there and it makes me want to go back, to somehow have more access. I wonder what that would take? 

Have you ever felt drawn to a place in a way you cannot explain? 


98 thoughts on “Past Pains

  1. Hey Victo,

    I was drawn into this haunting episode/encounter from the very first line; not to mention the photograph. Both leave chills multiplying. Great writing! I also enjoyed the additional lines concluding in the question…a nice mix in with the post. Thank you…

    Having a friend who specialised in night photography and urban exploration, it was inevitable we were drawn to an old Victorian mental asylum for a ‘creep about’ and a photo opportunity. It was a very disturbing place to be in, disturbing on the imagination, evermore so at night with flashlights, it piqued my senses, blew my imagination and left me buzzing for weeks! Your photograph (minus the mural) illustrates much of what we found in the dark lol Was I scared? Yes, very, haunted by thoughts of heaven only knows what butchery and suffering may have prevailed amongst the numerous advances made inside of those walls…not to mention what I might step in or find! Creeeeepy! ) So, why were we drawn there? It was purely for the shock and awe, the thrill, overcoming fear, because it was there, and for the shear hell of it! lol 🙂

    Thanks for a great post! Hoping all is well and life a peach on a beach with a tall cool drink.

    Namaste 🙂


    Liked by 3 people

  2. I can’t really think of a place I am drawn to but I once was in a antique shop in the city I grew up in and while looking around (it was piled floor to ceiling, too much stuff to really see what they had…I called it “visual cacophony”) I saw an old white porcelain sink still attached to the wall and suddenly I had the feeling I had been there before back when it was something else. So I looked around more closely and sure enough! When I was a child back in the late 1950’s, my great-aunt was a waitress in this place and I must have been there a few times to remember it, tho I have no conscious memories of it. I think the brain is the most fascinating part of our bodies.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. I feel that way about rolling green hills. I sometimes think I have lived many lives on rolling green hills…
    The hospital shot is a good one, it definitely evokes mood. It could be an album cover.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I understand. People only need one moment like this to realize there is far more than we know. Some call it spiritual. Some call it psychic. I have had two, one with my granddaughter and one looking at art.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The Yuma, Arizona Territorial Prison. It’s a museum now. You can walk around the prison yard and go inside the old cells. It left my wife and I feeling haunted for a long time. We must have been outlaws in a prior life.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have traveled a bit. Went to England for 8 days and then it was off to Ireland. When we arrived in Ireland the minute I stepped foot on the land I felt strange like I had been there before, especially when we visited the Thatched Cottages. Also, the open market in Dublin was that same feeling. When I was a young child I always loved to watch the Irish dancers. Here’s the funny part, I am half Italian and half German. Do, do, do,do—–Do, do, do, do. Great post, I think you were meant to be a doctor. ☺☺☺

    Liked by 2 people

  7. A few months back, I was seriously drawn to a particular building, but I can’t tell you where just yet. It’s a secret.

    On a similar but opposite vein, I can remember going with an old boyfriend to a tourist site near his hometown in Pennsylvania. The place was a saloon many, many years ago, with the bar and dance hall downstairs and rooms upstairs. There was a widow’s walk/observation deck at the very top. As soon as I walked into that building, I got an overwhelming sense of EVIL. That feeling got worse when I went upstairs, and I had to leave. It was one of the most unnerving experiences I’ve ever had.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Isn’t it amazing what kind of feelings a room can evoke that has witnessed all kinds of human history, such as the hospital room in your photo? It immediately fires up the imagination, as well as the feeling of compassion, when thinking of what kind of human stories unfolded there over the years….so long ago. Thank you for sharing the effect it has on you, Victo. 🙂 I have been in a few places that brought on noticeable reactions within me, but I didn’t know why. It is something that has, and continues to, intrigue me.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Most often historical places – old castles, castle ruins, old churches, old jails, There is a feeling of loneliness and feeling oppressed or tight. A feeling of much seriousness. Sometimes sadness. And on the flip side, certain places in nature, mountains, look-outs, vast expanses….and I feel light, as if I could fly. As if in one big, warm loving embrace. Does that make sense?

        Liked by 1 person

      • For some reason, every time I have gone to New Zealand – even on short visits – I have felt immediate belonging and joy. In some areas, incredible HUGE joy…..and also peacefulness. It feels as if my body wants to soak in all that it can, wherever I happen to find myself….whether on a ferry, on a hike in a wilderness area, in the ocean, on the beach. It seems to feel more magnified than when I have been in other beautiful places, as in Canada, etc. It seems ENHANCED somehow in New Zealand. Interesting, eh? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • And outside of visiting some friends there and doing personal explorations, I don’t have any family connections there. That attraction has always intrigued me, even though I have strong feelings for Canada and certain other places, like Germany (where I DO have family and past experiences).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, this place is one. The highlands in Scotland are another. There was an old fort as a kid that I stood in and closed my eyes, hoping to travel back in time because I felt so strongly about the place that it seemed possible.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There must be something uniquely mesmerizing about the highlands in Scotland, as I have heard a few friends telling me that something draws them in very strongly, as you mentioned. There must also be some kind of connection between you and that old fort….to give you that urge to travel back in time. It’s fascinating.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Forests, mountains, and mountains with forests draw me. Since my teenage years, I’ve longed to see the Rockies and the forests of the US Pacific Northwest which are on my Bucket List. I’ve never actually lived in the mountains, but I’ve visited the Appalachians many times. Whenever I’m in the car, approaching a small village or town nestled at the foot of a mountain (even in a photo) I get a strangely strong feeling that I belong there.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. When my parents lived near Long Beach (California) we visited the Queen Mary permanently docked at the port of Long Beach. It felt like home, like I belonged. I visited on my own many times agree that. And even had a ghost encounter! I miss it. I always had the sense that I was home when I went there.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Oh yes. I think places hold the memories of the people that “lived” there, particularly when those people/places were emotionally charged. I don’t know what it is we tune into – it may be pure empathy and something about it that strikes our core or a more mysterious connection. Entering those places can be very emotional. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Two things come to mind from this post. First, I’m drawn to circular buildings. One that I used to adore was the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm (in north west London, England). It was originally a railway turning station, then became a theatre and music venue. I went to it a lot in my late teens and early twenties. These days it is an arts venue and has changed a lot but now, even though I live in Wales, I still find myself looking for photos and articles about it. There’s something about the place and I’ve never known what.

    The other thing – more relevant – is that I spent a lot of my childhood in hospital, a children’s hospital in east London, and hated it…. I have very few good memories of the place or my times there, not all to do with the actual illnesses I was in there for, and was delighted a few years ago (in a very selfish way, I realise) when it closed down. But then some time later, I came across a site that had photos of its interior in its ruined state and it just chills me to the bone. Even though I had bad times there, I’d far rather remember it as it was when I was there, as a place with living beings in it, than as it had become. The very worst thing for me, in that building – both when I was there and looking at its derelict version – were the overhead pipes that I always remember having to look up at as I was wheeled to the path labs for blood tests and x-rays. This is and was the hospital:

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yes, absolutely. The last school I worked in was attached to an abandoned convent. Everything was left as was; the nuns’ dormitories, paintings on the walls, meeting halls, a little chapel. I am about the most sceptical and rational person you will meet, and man I found that place so unsettling. The care-taking staff refused to go in there alone and most of us wouldn’t venture down there unless absolutely necessary (sometimes we would have to hold assemblies there). I was weirdly drawn to it though. You could just feel the history of the place. It was awful in one sense, but so alluring.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I felt a deep emotional connection to Ellis Island…so much family came through there, and my grandmother was hired to translate several Eastern European languages when she arrived. For me, I have had those deja vu kind of moments in urban areas, the strongest were NYC and Toronto, moving around like I knew where I was going.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I have a lot of catching up reading to do.. But glad I went to your most recent first.. I don’t think anything else you could or have written, could send icy spine tingles down my neck and spine , like this one.. The picture.. then the shrieking.. My face was 😨 while reading..
    I’m glad you are still in solid writing form.. 😊
    I miss my reading time..

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Wow! Very haunting. A phenomenal picture. Your writing too of course as always.

    I’m trying to think if I’ve been drawn anywhere. I think anything historical but I know why. It just fascinates me.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I was about 10 and really wanted to visit her. They didn’t let me go after electro shock therapy or after her room-mate (a medical student) hanged herself in their room. Maybe it made me want to work in mental health?

        Liked by 1 person

      • My memory is hazy but I think she was in hospital for more than a month, if not months. It would have been so much worse just to imagine what was happening to her without seeing her. There were no cell phones and we didn’t have a telephone at home for communication. Having worked in a Texas psychiatric facility, I understand why relatives are discouraged from visiting at the beginning but after that it can be an important part of recovery. Children add some levity to a somber experience and I remember my mum’s fellow patients and nurses loved to see me. My Nana very carefully explained what was happening but it was pretty obvious that my mum was mentally ill in the lead up to her admittance. She never fully recovered her intellectual ability after all the treatment and came home a different person. I guess I should write a blog about this instead of writing one on yours! 😍

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Not drawn to but scared of and this has happened twice and I’m normally your practical no nonsense type of person.
    A temple somewhere in Indonesia, i don’t even like to think about it but I had a strong feeling that it must have been used for human sacrifice.
    The other was a visit a long time ago to the convict ruins at Port Arthur in Tasmania a place of particular cruelty. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. A few years later a gunman killed 35 tourists there.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I don’t know if I’ve ever been drawn to a place but certainly remember being expelled from one. Driving out of Munich after a two night stay, we passed Dachau and every fiber of my body stood on edge. I expected a speeding ticket to get out of the area quickly enough. That picture you have almost evokes the same feelings. Too much pain. I could not visit places where great pain occurred. Very thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It is easy to see why you have a blog. The doctor in you is one person and this writer part is another. What a graphic reminder of who/what you are capable of.

    BTW, have you written any more on your novel?

    Liked by 1 person

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