Chapter 8: Tom Reflects on Life
21:18:02:02 - 21:18:57:00
Lisa: So what is a typical day like for you now?
Tom: Well, I feel that since I'm out in the community and I'm getting used to knowing it then that way I sort of looked at that I used to be fitting into it. But sometimes I would go somewhere and someone was letting me... telling me you're not, you're not, you're not this kind of person to be um... explain this stuff.
21:19:01:05 - 21:19:13:10
Lisa: Do you ever see the friends that you made at Pennhurst?
Tom: I see friends that I know and other friends that I'm getting to know and stuff like that.
21:19:15:02 - 21:19:39:05
Lisa: Are there ever opportunities for people who lived at Pennhurst to get together?
Tom: Yes sometimes. But one time I went to a play where I met Pennhurst people down in Philadelphia at a party and I got a chance to see my older friends and I knew who they were.
21:19:40:00 - 21:20:03:00
Lisa: What is it like when you all get together?
Tom: It's like it's a small world.
Lisa: Do you ever worry that you might have to live in an institution again?
Tom: No I don't like that. I'd rather be where I'm at and I'm happy where I'm at.
21:20:16:00 - 21:20:34:17
Lisa: Tom, you've had such an incredible life and so many incredible experiences...
Lisa: So what stands out for you as a time that maybe you were the most sad?
Tom: That I don't know.
21:20:36:24 - 21:20:54:18
Lisa: Was there a time when you were perhaps the happiest?
Lisa: When were you the most happy?
Tom: When I would get something for Christmas and I would look at it and play with it. Then somebody else would come along and just rip it apart and throw it in the trash.
21:20:56:15 - 21:21:29:23
Lisa: When are you happiest now?
Tom: When I'm out in the community and I'm learning what to do in the community. But one thing I will say when I look across the street if there are cars coming up and cars going down I try to look both ways. Otherwise I walk out and the car would not stop or dead stop.
21:21:31:05 - 21:21:45:03
Lisa: Well that seems like very wise advice.
Lisa: But I'm wondering if there are personal moments...
Lisa: ...that make you happy?
Tom: Well... I don't know if there are personal moments.
21:21:48:03 - 21:22:06:28
Lisa: Things like maybe something you do when you're volunteering or time with friends...
Tom: Well like volunteering I sort of help with those areas that I just told you on my volunteer sheet and stuff like that.
21:22:10:09 - 21:22:43:15
Lisa: Tom, is locating family still important to you?
Tom: Not really cause I tried everywhere, I tried talking to county and I didn't get nowhere. But I wish somebody would find out if I do a family I'll be glad to see them but since I'm grown up inside of the box I can't open it and let them jump out.
21:22:45:28 - 21:22:58:16
Lisa: If you could find a family member what would you say to them?
Tom: It's good to see you. It's a long time and if I remember them then I would know.
21:23:03:08 - 21:23:14:29
Lisa: Pennhurst where you lived for a large part of your life, is now used as a haunted attraction.
Tom: No, it's going to be a veteran hospital.
21:23:15:12 - 21:23:26:12
Lisa: Well you know for the past few years they've used it as a haunted attraction.
Tom: Yeah but that's going against my rights and the people that used to live there and they shouldn't have done that.
21:23:28:27 - 21:24:08:15
Lisa: How is it going against the rights of the people who lived there?
Tom: That when the people moved out then friends went down and they put a haunted attraction in there and there's not many people to go to see it and they're just going against the rights of the people that were living there without them knowing it. It's just like if you get a record and you put it on the record player, somebody takes it and when you want it again, it's gone. zip!
21:24:09:10 - 21:24:17:11
Lisa: So someone who lived at Pennhurst do you think it's right that they use it for a haunted attraction?
Tom: No! Absolutely not.
21:24:20:05 - 21:25:11:11
Lisa: So, Tom, how are you different now than when you lived at Pennhurst or Allentown?
Tom: I'm different because I'm getting used to the community; going to the store, going with somebody to look around the store, see if I find something that would interest me and I would buy it if I had money to buy it, or go out to eat like McDonald's, Burger King, Friendly's, and stuff like that or Red Lobster or Popeye's Chicken or Chicken Filet.
21:25:26:28 - 21:25:42:04
Lisa: Tom, who are the most important people in your life?
Tom: The people that work with me in the C-L-A group home, like Joe has known me for 28 years cause he is 68 [Joe is actually 48].
21:25:44:20 - 21:25:59:14
Lisa: Why is he important to you? Why are the people who support you important?
Tom: That I help them out to get them to know the rest of the group homes so that when they learn they will pick up automatically and they will know what to do.
21:26:00:07 - 21:26:09:20
Lisa: Why are they important to you?
Tom: That I look out for myself and look out for others.
21:26:17:15 - 21:27:03:00
Lisa: So when you think about your life what are some of the most important lessons that you've learned?
Tom: I don't know.
Lisa: It's a hard question.
Lisa: Can you think of one?
Tom: Like keeping my own responsibilities and if there's something that if I would like to talk about or sit downstairs and watch TV or watch TV upstairs in my room or listen to the radio or whatever then I relax my time at night when I fall asleep with music on.
21:27:40:00 - 21:28:06:12
Lisa: You had mentioned music a lot. Is music important to you or something that you enjoy?
Tom: Yeah I enjoy. That's why I took that music class because music comes from professionals when they do big shows for people that are like rock stars and country stars, polka bands, and stuff like that.
21:28:08:26 - 21:28:48:01
Lisa: Tom, what do you think that people should know about people with disabilities that they don't know already?
Tom: That I don't know.
Lisa: What should people know about you?
Tom: That I'm a good guy and I help people and I'm giving back to the community by helping the organizations and volunteering for stuff I like to do.
Lisa: Well I agree. You're a good guy and it's been great to talk to you today. Thank you so much.
Tom: You're welcome!
More Interview Chapters
- Tom's Childhood
- Tom's Experience at Pennhurst; Buildings, Residents, Staff
- Mistreatment at Pennhurst
- Working at Pennhurst
- Conditions at Pennhurst Exposed in the Media, Talk of Closure
- Tom Moves to the Community, Faces Challenges, Moves Temporarily to Allentown State Hospital
- Tom Returns to Community, Finds Employment, Becomes Active Volunteer, Presents on Pennhurst at Meetings and Conferences
- YOU ARE HERE: Tom Reflects on Life
About Tom Delmastro
Advocate, Newspaper Delivery, Volunteer Work
Employment, Home and Community, Institutions, Pennhurst, Volunteer