GRAPHIC: Visionary Voices logo
Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
Interviews    Archives    Performance    ABOUT    DONATE       

interviews

Tom Delmastro chapter 5




chapters

Chapter 1: Tom's Childhood
Chapter 2: Tom's Experience at Pennhurst; Buildings, Residents, Staff
Chapter 3: Mistreatment at Pennhurst
Chapter 4: Working at Pennhurst
Chapter 5: Conditions at Pennhurst Exposed in the Media, Talk of Closure (you are here)
Chapter 6: Tom Moves to the Community, Faces Challenges, Moves Temporarily to Allentown State Hospital
Chapter 7: Tom Returns to Community, Finds Employment, Becomes Active Volunteer, Presents on Pennhurst at Meetings and Conferences
Chapter 8: Tom Reflects on Life

transcript - entire interview

Tom Delmastro Interview (Word)


transcript - current chapter

Chapter 5: Conditions at Pennhurst Exposed in the Media, Talk of Closure

20:54:11:27 - 20:55:02:06

Lisa: Tom, in 1968 while you were still living at Pennhurst a reporter named Bill Baldini came to Pennhurst to report on the conditions there. Do you remember his visit?

Tom: Yeah.

Lisa: Did you get to meet him?

Tom: I was in the administration building and I was sitting on the couch watching TV and Bill Baldini comes and says "Hi Tom." and then he went to the office of Dr. Lieberkanski and I said "excuse me young man", where he's Dr. Lieberkanski's secretary, and Channel 10 is here to talk about Pennhurst with Dr. Lieberkanski.

20:55:04:22 - 20:55:18:11

Lisa: And so you got to meet him?

Tom: Yeah.

Lisa: Did you spend any time with him?

Tom: Yeah, by walking around picking up footage about what happened at Pennhurst.

20:55:19:00 - 20:55:24:05

Lisa: Did he ask you questions about what happened at Pennhurst?

Tom: No, I was too busy.

20:55:28:07 - 20:55:41:00

Lisa: Do you remember how Bill reacted when you took him to different wards around Pennhurst?

Tom: He wasn't... I don't know.

20:55:44:00 - 20:55:46:26

Lisa: Did you get to see Bill Baldini's report on Pennhurst?

20:56:10:28 - 20:56:35:16

Tom: Yeah they had it all on TV. Pennhurst had it on TV and they were like right away they shot the video and played it the next day and everybody saw it nationwide.

20:56:36:14 - 20:56:42:06

Lisa: And what did the folks at Pennhurst think when they saw the video?

Tom: I don't know.

20:56:43:04 - 20:56:53:16

Lisa: What did you think about it?

Tom: I thought it was a lot of shame that that had happened there.

20:56:54:24 - 20:57:04:02

Lisa: Did you think it was important to show the world what was happening at Pennhurst?

Tom: Yeah I would. I mean they should show something else, they should show Pennhurst.

20:57:11:15 - 20:58:04:06

Lisa: So, Tom, we had talked a bit about your time growing up in Pennhurst when you were a child. How about when you were an adult? Were you sort of free to come and go on the grounds?

Tom: Yeah. I was allowed to go to Pottstown, Pennsylvania to do shopping when I got out. I went to the Lehigh Valley Mall. I went to Westgate Mall. I'd do other things with a lady named Joann [Ligoner] like I cleaned the church up that she had. It's called West Marine Church out in - out in um... I forget where it is.

20:58:05:22 - 20:58:45:09

Lisa: So did going out into the community make you want to leave Pennhurst and live in the community?

Tom: Yes, it gave me new change that, that when I'm living in the community it through my way at Pennhurst that I don't even think of the past. I'm thinking of not the present, not the past but probably the future. I would just see if I would automatically do something however.

20:58:47:05 - 21:00:10:00

Lisa: When did you first hear that Pennhurst might close? Do you remember?

Tom: I heard it during the parent association where I would help the parents to modify the meetings that they had either in the new - in the - in the dietary part and the new Horizons building that they put up at Pennhurst and most of the buildings that Pennhurst had were supposed to be torn down and maybe put up new ones and when I went out there with some person... I walked around Pennhurst. I showed them where I was living at and stuff like that.

21:00:11:17 - 21:00:30:28

Lisa: So Tom, bear with me so I'm sure that I'm clear. I know you were helping the parent's associations set up for some of their meetings, is that correct?

Tom: Yeah like making coffee, getting the cookies. Had coffee over here, cookies here and something else over here.

21:00:31:18 - 21:00:40:28

Lisa: And it was while you were helping to set up those meetings that you heard parents talk about the closure of Pennhurst?

Tom: Yeah.

Lisa: What did the parents think about that?

21:01:10:16 - 21:01:45:00

Tom: Well they were going to upgrade it then. When Judge Broderick stepped in, then they switched superintendents like Dr. Youngblood and George Copchick that used to be a speech and hearing department, but he moved up to superintendent and when he left he went to Allentown State. Peter O'Mara went to Hamburg State but I don't know where they're at now.

21:01:45:20 - 21:01:54:01

Lisa: You mentioned Judge Broderick. Who is Judge Broderick?

Tom: He would come on the grounds and he would find the conditions at Pennhurst.

21:01:55:08 - 21:02:10:16

Lisa: And what role did he play in Pennhurst closure? Did he?

Tom: He was the one that wanted it closed because a lot of people found out that the conditions at Pennhurst were downright bad.

21:02:14:17 - 21:02:27:19

Lisa: Do you remember when someone first told you that you had to leave Pennhurst?

Tom: Not really, no.

21:02:31:24 - 21:02:42:06

Lisa: Did you want to leave Pennhurst for the community?

Tom: In a way, yeah.

Lisa: Was there any part of you that didn't want to leave?

Tom: I don't know.

21:02:44:15 - 21:03:06:13

Lisa: So you heard Pennhurst was closing?

Tom: Yeah.

Lisa: And you thought that was a good idea.

Tom: Well after what happened.

Lisa: What happened?

Tom: That Pennhurst was closing because of the building conditions and stuff like that.


Share this page:
Follow us:
GRAPHIC: visit our blog    GRAPHIC: Like us on Facebook.      GRAPHIC: Follow us on Twitter.