Every year I am approached by a friend who tells me they yearn to go to Pennhurst State hospital in Spring City, Pennsylvania.. and it seems, in turn, that I have to tell someone yearly of the true horror that happened at that location in the late 20th century, during our lifetime, and in modern history..
And yes, it's the site of a modern day 'haunted house'.. and that truly upsets me beyond compare.
Here is my opinion, should you wish to read on...
Pennhurst is one of those places that maybe should just get demolished....burned to the ground..destroyed beyond repair. Actual events that took place nightly at that damned place are a hell of a lot more frightening than anything the current owners can create to scare paying customers.
Children were left to fend for themselves.. they fought for their own lives. The "mentally retarded" and "misfits" were often malnourished..beaten.. treated worse than a sick dog.. And the ratio of patient to staff was so undercut that it created a nightmare for patients who lived to remember it.
And that is why articles, like this appearing in the Tri-County RECORD, anger and repel me.. The author of the story, titled 'PENNHURST ASYLUM IS ONE SCARY PLACE' writes this gem:
Can you imagine being a child left in such a place? It must have been terrible to be taken away from your family (if you had the benefit of having one that cared) and basically dumped off at an institution that labeled and discarded you into one of their many buildings or cottages. Understaffed the ratio of care taker to residents was absurd and the institute was severely underfunded, having little ability to change anything. Children were basically left to fend for themselves or tied into beds, becoming often the victims of neglect, beatings and even rape. Children drew into themselves, failed to progress – some became silent. Thankfully, Pennhurst was closed down in 1987. New laws emerged.
"New laws emerged." That is the most that can be said? All of the years of misery and torture, pain and misguided government policy in the state of Pennsylvania, and that is all we can say?
AND NOW, folks, it's a 'haunted attraction.' You can pay someone loads of cash to enter a facility that once facilitated abuse and mistreatment, heard the screams of innocent children on a daily basis, and became a living nightmare for countless people who were forced to experience the trauma of it all...
And now it's a haunted house.
There may be no respect for the dead, but I don't think there's respect for the living either.
1987 isn't that long ago.. Patients and employees are undoubtedly still living.
During this season of the witch, everyone is entitled to 'one good scare.' But raking in loads of money off of true suffering--suffering that happened during many of our lifetimes? Nah.. I find that tacky...disgusting.. maybe even reprehensible.
So get your tickets here and be a part of the agony that the children suffered.. laugh at their mistreatment.. Shriek at the fake horror..
And suffer the children,
Always the children.