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Don't Tread On Me Nursing Home
March 21, 2002
By birdman

Theme Nursing Homes
New York Times Magazine
Sunday May 21, 2034
By Alex Byrdman

With the aging of the U.S. population in recent years the traditional nursing home has undergone some striking changes. It is now possible to choose a home that caters to the elderly according to their ethnicity, their hobbies and in some cases even their politics. Theme Homes Inc. a national corporation runs over 100 nursing homes nation wide including one on Long Island that provides care to those whose politics tend very much to the right.

The first thing you notice as you walk up to the Don't Tread on Me Nursing Home is the elderly man in the rocking chair on the porch. He has a shot gun in his lap. As I walk up the gun begins to point ominously in my direction.

"Don't worry. It isn't loaded," says Melissa Dawson, the institutions head nurse who greets me, "it's really just a prop. It makes him feel better to have it and he becomes downright ornery if we try to take it away. I realize it's a bit unusual but these little amenities that are the reasons people come here."

The "amenities" at "DTOM" as the staff and residents refer to it would strike the average visitor as a tad unusual. There is the huge mural behind the reception desk that is a reproduction of the US Constitution. In deference to the feelings of the residents the second amendment is written in bold letters and the sixteenth (the income tax) does not appear at all. "Some of our residents don't think it was properly ratified," explains Dawson.

Zack Davis, the 78 year-old ex-Marine and self-appointed guardian of the porch in fact has the logo of the National Rifle Association tattooed on his right cheek. "His daughter Kimberly told me that the night he came home with the tattoo she knew it was time to place him here," says Dawson.

All over DTOM are the symbols and causes of the American right, at least the right as it was a couple of decades ago. A thin white haired lady named Regina Mc Glone pressed a pamphlet into my hand as we walked down a hallway. "I think you should know," she said. It warned of the impending New World Order. One residents room has a large sign over the door proclaiming it a "UN Free Zone." Four others get together on the benches outside the building at noon everyday for a "Black Helicopter Watch."

In the residents men's room pictures of Hillary Clinton and Jane Fonda have been placed in the urinals and sounds of "Take that, bitch" ring through the hallways as men who never quite got over their anger at these women relieve themselves.

And then there is:


It is the only word that 86 year old Thomas Osborne ever says but he says it at the top of his lungs about 20 times a day. "Of course," says Dawson, "it's a reference to the man who was President back in the '90s. So many of our residents here have been holding grudges about him for decades."

Dawson took me to the library, known to the staff as the Regnery room. "A publishing house named Regnery went out of business a few years ago and donated their warehouses full of books to places like this," says Dawson. A glance at the shelves revealed that there were many books but multiple copies with the same title. A lot of them are anti-Clinton books or conspiracy theories. "We tried a couple of years back to add some books on things like gardening and grandparenting but they all they wanted were these books. Some almost have them memorized."

As I prepared to leave there was the sudden outbreak of angry screaming coming from the dining hall. I followed Dawson down the hallway to see what the problem was. It seems that Osborne had attempted to scream "KLINTOOOON" with a large mouthful of macaroni and cheese causing large clumps of the food to land on several of the other residents. Mc Glone and two other women were attempting to hit him plates and roll baskets and the infuriated Zack Davis was fumbling frantically trying to get his fake rifle to fire a shot. Finally Davis screamed "Semper Fi!" and turned the shotgun around to use it a club. Dawson and two orderlies seized him and the shotgun before he could do any damage to Osborne.

"This seems to happen every couple of weeks," said Dawson when order was finally restored, "it's the one drawback of the conservative homes. They never stop being combative." But Dawson is getting a respite. "I'm being transferred to one of the liberal homes next month. The worst they ever do there is try to play their old scratched up Beatle records after hours."

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