Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania:Ghost Stories

In the October Outta the Way zine we'll take you on a haunting journey through Lancaster county.
We''ll start in the sleepy town of Marietta where spirits have been known to get restless after night falls. You'll learn the history of the "River Witch", grab some spirits with a few spirits, and take a journey into the darkside in a cemetery haunted by phantom dogs.
Next we'll lead you into Lancaster city and visit a few historical spots, each with a ghastly past. One enshrined in glitz and glamour, the other a medieval looking fortress you don't even wanna spend a night in. Than it's off to a city cemetery with local tales of statues coming to life, and spirits roaming the grounds still searching the truth.
Lastly we're off to the railroading town of Strasburg, and a visit to a few homes with more than their share of spine tingling tales. Finally we'll visit the local cemetery and the grave of a mysterious local woman who still has many unanswered questions, even decades after her death.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Abandoned Luncheonette" Rosedale Diner

The late owner of the abandoned Pizza World, also owned another restaurant, though this one will be remembered forever. The Rosedale Diner which had been sitting across the street from Pizza World, caught the eyes of two upcoming musicians. Daryl Hall, a Pottstown native, and John Oates approached the owner about granting permission to photograph the diner which had sat defunct since the mid 1960's. The owner verbally agreed for an autographed first album fresh off the presses.

In 1973 Hall & Oates released the album "Abandoned Luncheonette", featuring one of their most recognized hits "She's Gone." The Rosedale Diner remained in it's dilapidated state until 1983 when it was eventually scrapped. During that 10 year frame it became a hallowed ground for Hall & Oates souvenir hunters. Some debris from the old diner can still be found near the towpath park on Route 724.

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Abandoned Luncheonette" Pizza World

What is it that I find so intriguing about an abandoned pizza shop? There's no real historical value. It's not located in the heart of a large city, in fact it's in a rather remote location. What I find so fascinating is it's modern architectural style. The bright red diamond shaped roof set off with the overgrowth of weeds and trees makes for an interesting contrast.

In this day and age where every business that goes belly up, gets destroyed, and is quickly replaced with a franchise it's a rarity to see an abandoned gem like Pizza World still standing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pennhurst "Haunted Asylum" My Thoughts

Even though the Pennhurst school and hospital closed in 1987 it is still not without controversy. This time the controversy isn't over mistreatment of patients, it's over the possibility that these former patients will be exploited.

The former institute is being renovated into a haunted attraction, this has caused quite a stir given Pennhurst's notorious past. Many fear how the scares will come and if they'll be at the expense of those with mental disabilities. But haven't we been doing that for years? Isn't anyone who murders someone being exploited for someone else personal gain? When a murder occurs in any small town what makes front page news? And every summer we flock to the big screens to watch the latest psychopath on the loose hacking everyone to bits. We find it entertaining! But do we find it to be exploiting to those with mental disabilities? A few may but I believe the majority doesn't. Point being we don't often associate Leatherface as someone with mental disabilities. I'm also not comparing the patients at Pennhurst with a fictional character such as Leatherface, but he is obviously psychologically challenged.

When a family member murders their entire family and themselves you always hear the whispers around town, " something was wrong with them" or "they weren't right in the head!" Yes, something was wrong! People don't murder each other when they have a stable mind. What I find the most horrifying is the way the system has failed those with mental disabilities the most.

I'm someone who will admit to having been a victim of the mental health care field. I can tell
you firsthand there's too much over medicating, not enough listening, and still too much prejudice against those who suffer. I often say a majority of society is closer to having a breakdown than they care to believe. Often times it just takes a traumatic circumstance in your life, or a past tragedy you still haven't properly dealt with. Mine came from a combination of both. Most of the medications prescribed to me often made me feel worse than I originally felt. I would personally rather feel depressed than to feel no emotion at all.

I'm not too sure of the intentions of the haunted attraction, though they are working with a psychiatrist  in order to remain sensitive to the disabled, I'm willing to give them a chance.
There are talks that the monies raised will be donated to charity's that care for the disabled, and will also go into helping to restore the legacy of Pennhurst.

In this day and age of instant technology, not all are too immersed in protecting or learning history. I feel if this is a way to generate interest in Pennhurst and help to preserve it for many other generations to learn from, than I'm all for it.

Though I would prefer that if instead of a guy in a hockey mask wielding a chainsaw, how about a terrifying doctor chasing victims down attempting to strap them into an adult crib, and inject them with Thorazine.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Suffer the Little Children" of Pennhurst

I'm not the type of person who is easily offended. I've seen many of what are considered the most disturbing films of all time, most without so much as a slight grimace. I understand that the graphic images depicted in these films are not real and are strickly for entertainment, even if it's entertaining minds as twisted as mine. But none of these films would prepare me for the disturbing images I witnessed in Bill Baldini's shocking expose, "Suffer the Little Children", showing firsthand the patients at Pennhurst State School and Hospital. These children and adults were ostracized from society in order to help protect us, but who was there to help protect the children from society?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pennhurst State School & Hospital

The Pennhurst facility in Spring City, Pennsylvania has become synonymous with an institute of fear, though the hospital's original intentions were to do help, not harm.

The institution originally opened up in 1908 and was a home and school for those with mental and physical abnormalities. Most of the patients were children, but ages ranged up past 70 years old.

From the initial opening of Pennhurst many had their doubts it would be successful. For starters the institute quickly became overcrowded, others were appalled at the methods used to control unruly patients, but most turned a blind eye to the warehousing of those with mental and physical deformities. That quietly changed in 1968 when a Philadelphia newscaster would shed much light on the atrocities that were taken place behind closed doors. Viewers witnessed disturbing images of multiple patients twitching, rocking back and forth, and pacing relentlessly, while also encountering grown adults in large cribs, limbs bound and strapped to the bars. These disturbing images embedded themselves in the viewer's mind and began to raise awareness, and lot's of questions as to how these members of our society were really being helped.

The expose helped to play a major role in the eventual closing of Pennhurst in 1987. Since than risk takers have been facing heavy fines and exposure to deadly asbestos just to get an inside look at this landmark institution, which played a key role in a civil rights movement for those with disabilities.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fricks Lock

Located near the banks of the Schuylkill river, in Chester county lies a historic town with a futuristic presence. Fricks Lock was once a booming canal town and later a central hub for the railroad industry. Now the town resembles a post-nuclear holocaust. Homes dating back to the 1700's sit boarded up, left to crumble back into the environment. It's unlikely these homes will ever be restored and lived in again. Would you want two large cooling towers staring at you through the windows?

When the Limerick power plant was built the remaining few residents of the town were bought out and forced to re-locate. PECO owns the town and keeps it under surveillance due to those who can't appreciate history, and instead of helping to restore choose to destroy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Abandoned on the Schuykill River

In the September zine of Outta the Way, we take you urban exploring along the banks of the Schuylkill river. First we'll visit a historic town left unkempt due to nuclear energy staring down it's back.

Than we take a look at a large industrial park, with a historic distillery located inside, that's being taken over by the same land it invaded many years before. Than it's off to pay homage to the "Abandoned Luncheonette"; and a nearby modern pizza restaurant fighting off years of decay and abandonment.

Lastly we'll show you one of the most famous and controversial places in Pennsylvania, which now lies in a near desolate ruin. Walls crumbling in as the roof collapses above, weeds poking their way back through sidewalks, and enough horrifying tales to make anyone's skin crawl.