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


Tom Delmastro chapter 3


Chapter 1: Tom's Childhood
Chapter 2: Tom's Experience at Pennhurst; Buildings, Residents, Staff
Chapter 3: Mistreatment at Pennhurst (you are here)
Chapter 4: Working at Pennhurst
Chapter 5: Conditions at Pennhurst Exposed in the Media, Talk of Closure
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 3: Mistreatment at Pennhurst

20:39:13:23 - 20:39:36:20

Lisa: You were talking about friends that you made while you lived at Pennhurst; friends with other residents. How were you treated by the staff at Pennhurst?

Tom: Well, I was more towards being punished on M1, M2, K1, Q1.

20:41:35:20 - 20:42:19:00

Tom: I also wanted to say when I first worked on D ward I was strapped down with a camisole and then I went to the hospital ward on Pennhurst unit 1, W1 I was placed with shackles in a crib when I had eye surgery for my left eye for the tear duct but they never did my right eye for the tear duct.

20:42:19:25 - 20:42:55:16

Lisa: Tom, you said you were restrained; there were shackles. How old were you when that happened?

Tom: I was about 7, 8. Then I had my teeth taken out. And I wear - I can't think of the name of it. It was ... I wear... I'm wearing dentures - top and bottom.

20:42:56:00 - 20:43:09:19

Lisa: Tom, do you remember why people restrained you?

Tom: It was that I did something wrong that I shouldn't have done and I don't know what else.

20:43:10:14 - 20:43:17:03

Lisa: Do you know why they removed your teeth?

Tom: No I don't.

20:43:24:15 - 20:43:48:17

Lisa: Was the staff ever abusive to you at Pennhurst?

Tom: Some of them were and some were really nice. I was really nice to medical records, the dentist department, critical therapy, recreation, maintenance and stuff like that and the secretary.

20:43:51:20 - 20:44:35:18

Lisa: Tom, a lot of people who lived at Pennhurst have described things like you've described. Did you see other people hurt at Pennhurst?

Tom: I walked around and I saw people get hurt. They were punished on some of the low functioning wards. I had to clean their feces which I didn't like, clean toilets when their feces would clog up the toilet from toilet paper and every time I would look at that I would automatically go and clean a different toilet that didn't have that.

20:44:36:05 - 20:45:00:15

Lisa: So, Tom, when you saw people being hurt, who were the people hurting residents and how did they hurt them?

Tom: Well some residents were fighting with other residents and some of the personnel were fighting with residents and they were trying to put them under restraints and stuff like that.

20:45:02:20 - 20:45:14:13

Lisa: What did you do when you saw people being hurt?

Tom: I don't know cause I didn't see most of that go on.

20:45:16:15 - 20:45:31:00

Lisa: If you were hurt or someone else that was hurt was there anyone to tell?

Tom: If I tell them - people that and they would just like.... I don't know... I'm trying to think.

20:45:34:06 - 20:47:04:21

Lisa: You were describing some times at Pennhurst which were obviously not very nice but were there any happy times you had at Pennhurst?

Tom: Yeah like setting up for parties, directing Villanova, West Chester, volunteer when they'd come up to Pennhurst I would help them set up the coffee house in Penn Hall. I would set up then I would help with the circus, not Ringling brothers but if somebody would come in for the circus, like uh, I forget the name of the circus, the Hunts Brother Circus and Kovine Circus and stuff like that. If I would go out and help the people get underneath the tents and find their seats. Then I would find my seat and sit down and watch the circus go on at Pennhurst.

20:47:06:05 - 20:48:40:29

Lisa: So sometimes there was entertainment on the grounds of Pennhurst?

Tom: Yes, then I would go help who was doing audio/video work and set up for a Christmas show and stuff like that. Then they would have like - then they would have like shows from the tadpole player. They would come out. I would call Harold Amster and I'd say, "Harold, there's a group of people here named the Tadpole Players. They would like to use the stage." So before they got on the stage I'd say, "Number one there will be no smoking in the auditorium." And I said if I'd see smoke in the auditorium, I would let them know that - that they have to smoke outside before they come in the auditorium so some of them were smoking on the stage and I said, "Oh I didn't see you. I didn't know what happened." So I told them the next time they came out and they realized that if they're going to do a show to get their set together. I'd do the lighting and stuff like that.

20:48:41:16 - 20:49:18:09

Lisa: You had also mentioned that there were some parties at Pennhurst. What were they...

Tom: Yeah; Christmas parties, Halloween, picnics...picnics, Halloween parties, birthday parties for each month and they would have like a stereo set up for the birthday party and they would like give out gifts for anyone who had a birthday in November, October, December, January, February, and so forth.

20:49:21:02 - 20:49:33:07

Lisa: Tom, when you were growing up at Pennhurst did you ever imagine or hope for life that would have been outside of Pennhurst?

Tom: It's just a whole new ballgame.

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