Chapter 2: Work with ARC; Learn about Pennhurst
00:00:00.00 - 00:02:44.91
INTERVIEWER: So I'm going to ask you about that in a minute, but I'd like to go back, if I can, first to your early introduction to the ARC? Can you tell me how you got involved? I know somebody was trying to recruit you because of your background in journalism and communications, your affiliation, perhaps, with some of the sports teams.
ED GOLDMAN: The executive director of the ARC, Edith Taylor, was trying to get the Eagles to do this. And they had a part-time PR person. It was a much older guy, and my friend and all the Eagles execs are guys in their 30s and early 40s. And my friend kept telling Edith, the executive director, don't bring this guy. He's not helping your cause here. And she mentioned that they're looking for someone. He knew I was out of work. He made that connection, and I didn't realize when I went for my interview that the job was mine. And I was scared to death because I knew nothing about disability services. I knew nothing about people who were then called mentally retarded. And I still remember they had a day program in the building, which was very close to here at Temple at Broad and Jefferson was their headquarters. And I wondered, what did I get myself into. I felt odd, out of place. I didn't know anything about this. But my job was to do the newsletter, a mini newspaper. And at the time, there were over 700 women in and around Philadelphia called the PARC Aides, which raised funds and the like. And so I was assigned to be their support and link to the association. So that was basically my job was doing all the PR, public information. And lo and behold, the Eagles did grant the association, the ARC, the game. And they basically said, you go sell the tickets. We're out of this. So I spent a lot of time meeting with people in the business community, buying blocks of tickets, and then writing about it and doing all the PR with the local news media and the like. And that was a lot of fun for me. It really didn't have a lot to do with the people being served. It had to do with getting the game and then making sure thousands of tickets got sold.
00:02:44.91 - 00:03:46.49
INTERVIEWER: You had mentioned PARC Aides. You have a real window into this part of history that I haven't really heard many people talk about in the context of these interviews, so I'd love to ask you a bit more about that. Who were the PARC Aides and what did they do?
ED GOLDMAN: The PARC Aides were affiliated with the local association. They were volunteers. Mainly did fund raising through bingos, trips, all the things, a couple concerts. I remember going to see the Man of La Mancha, which was one of my favorites, and that was a sponsored event by the PARC Aides. And so I liaised with maybe 8 or 10 chapters around all the neighborhoods in Philadelphia. And I recall, there was about 700 women who were quote, PARC Aides. And so I worked with them, helping them in their projects and to raise money for the association for the ARC.
00:03:46.49 - 00:04:28.07
INTERVIEWER: And the PARC Aides were connected to disability how?
ED GOLDMAN: Well, many of them had no affiliation. It was almost as if it were a local social group. But of course, there were many families who were PARC Aides themselves. And it's one of those if you know someone then you bring them in. But my experience is, most of the women did not have disability in their family. And for them it was a volunteer fundraising experience to help the ARC of Philadelphia. Then it was known as the Philadelphia Association for Retarded Children.
00:04:28.07 - 00:05:16.77
INTERVIEWER: You also mentioned that the ARC at that time had a day program. Can you tell me a little bit about what that means and what that day was, who it served?
ED GOLDMAN: That was the time before right to education where many children were not accepted into public schools. So it was a combination of both early childhood programming for kids who didn't get into school or were too young at the time. And some were a bit older, but all young children, maybe 10 or less. And there were many classes in the back of that building at Broad and Jefferson. It was in a very large multi-story building.
00:05:16.77 - 00:05:52.95
INTERVIEWER: So this is before the right to education. Were these classrooms staffed by teachers?
ED GOLDMAN: Yes. I'm trying to remember whether they were credentialed special ed teachers or not. But it was a way for children to have a social activity, a learning experience, and also provide some relief for families.
INTERVIEWER: So tell me a little bit, if you would, about the woman who recruited you, who hired you to work at PARC.
ED GOLDMAN: Her name was Edith Taylor. Edith--
00:05:52.95 - 00:10:11.73
INTERVIEWER: And I'm going to stop you for one minute, Ed. If you could paraphrase slightly my saying maybe the person who hired me, however you would phrase it was Edith Taylor. So the woman who or the person who.
ED GOLDMAN: Yes. I was hired by the executive director, Edith Taylor, who at the time was looking to recruit someone that would hopefully fit in better with the brass at the Eagles so that they could get the game. And Edith had been the president of the board of directors. She had a son with intellectual disabilities, who at the time was at Elwyn and had been at several other places as well. And Edith was tough. But for me, she was wonderful. She was my mentor. She allowed me to grow faster than my experience would've warranted. Gave me more responsibility. And I started to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life mainly through her leadership. But there were a lot of people in the community, in the disability community, that didn't like her so much because she was tough, no holds barred. And I still remember in the very early days of getting to know her, she said, "I'm a results player. What have you done for me lately?" And I thought, wow, that's pretty harsh. And what you know what, she was dead on. There's a lot of do-gooding, but not getting much good done. And that's what she was about. She was a fierce advocate. And I learned that through her. And as a result, when the shelter workshop director left, she asked me to take over the responsibility of being the director of the children workshop. And that's where, I think, personally, I blossomed. I just loved everything about it. We got some very large federal grants during the time when the federal government actually gave out grants, which they don't do much anymore. And we were able to professionalize the workshop. First time they ever had a doctorate-- someone with a doctorate working in the agency who was head of our programs. And we were doing some really wonderful vocational things. For example, it was almost impossible to get anybody working at the US postal service. The main facility was the 30th and Market. And the reason was, in order to go to work at the postal service, you had to pass a written examination, which for some jobs makes absolutely no sense. One of the jobs was for people to unload the big tractor trailers filled with mail sacks. And all they did was take the mail sacks off the truck and put them on the loading dock where they would then be moved inside. So the only real criterion was, can you lift 50 pounds. So I worked with them, and finally they relented, and we had lots of people became postal employees. I remember, must have been 30 or 40 years later coming back to visit and there were two twin son-- two twin boys who we got jobs at the post office, and between the two of them earned more than their father. Changed the whole family dynamics. And I came back all those years later and they were still working. It was wonderful. So that was kind of a fun, really, almost a developmental experience for me personally is I realized I like running things. I like being the guy in charge and taking on that responsibility and taking on the best that everybody had to offer. So that was a great experience. And from there, I became the deputy executive director of the association of the ARC.
00:10:11.73 - 00:11:36.96
INTERVIEWER: So, Ed, you had mentioned that Edith was a fierce advocate. I actually heard some stories about her. She's one I wish I could have met. But I'm wondering, during your time at the ARC, I mean, I know at that period of time there were many wonderful advocates who were working on behalf of folks with disabilities. And I wonder if you recall any of them? Did anyone any of them stand out?
ED GOLDMAN: Well, fortunately, in the Philadelphia area with the suburban counties, I got to know many of the similar advocates. One of course, on our own board of directors was a young guy named Jim Wilson, who I know is one of the people that you have interviewed. In fact, the other night there was a meeting at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the entire meeting was devoted to Pennhurst and its role in the history of advocacy of ending institutions and the like. And Jim was there. And his brother used to be in our shelter workshop. And Lowell was my favorite person. You couldn't show up any day without Lowell having a giant smile, making you laugh, or whatever. And so Jim and I were able to reminisce again.
00:11:36.96 - 00:12:15.81
INTERVIEWER: He's a lovely, lovely human.
ED GOLDMAN: He really is and was one of the other advocates who was strong on suing the state over right to education. He was in a leadership position with the state association for retarded children at the time in order to do that. So I got to know him. I got to know Dennis Haggerty, who was another dear old friend before he passed. So I got to know many of the people-- Pete [INAUDIBLE] was the executive director at the Montgomery ARC when I was in Philadelphia ARC.
00:12:19.74 - 00:15:34.68
INTERVIEWER: I'm going to ask you about the right to education in a moment, but I wanted to touch on something that you mentioned earlier. You said during your tenure at the ARC you visited Pennhurst, and I know that was a profound experience for you. So if I can go back and ask you again a little bit about what made you decide to visit Pennhurst and what your experience was when you arrived.
ED GOLDMAN: Well, when I started to then really get imbued in all of the disability issues, it became clear to me during the tail end or the beginning of the civil rights movement in the United States that there was no group more disenfranchised than people with disabilities. And I never heard about this. This was all new to me. And so everyone kept saying to me how bad Pennhurst was. And I started to parrot what other people would say, until finally one day someone said, well, have you been there and I got called out. So I made an appointment to go visit Pennhurst and was toured by the superintendent, who at the time was Dr. Leopold [INAUDIBLE]. And I kind of expected it wasn't going to be good because of what everyone else said. But until you smell the smells and hear the wailing and the crying and see nude men milling about in concrete rooms. The idea of a shower was lining men up against the wall with a drain in the center of the floor and hosing them down. It was the most horrific experience I have ever gone through. Way beyond what I expected. And I remember a year or two earlier seeing the movie, Judgment at Nuremberg. Was one of my favorite Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster movies. And I used to say to myself, well, how could all the local people near the concentration camps see all the trains filled with people going in one direction and always coming back empty. Were these the good Germans? When I finished my tour of Pennhurst, I got in my car in the PARCing lot and I sat there and cried. I could make no sense of this. It was unbelievable. And the thing that got me most was how could the state be doing this. The state was doing this. I didn't know what to make of it. And it was a life-changing moment for me. Because it is one thing, I thought to myself, I a little more than the, quote, good German. That this place is 25, 30 miles outside of Philadelphia, lived here all my life up to that point, how could I not know about this? Does that make me complicit? And then, of course, the threshold moment for me was, it's one thing if you didn't know, shame on you. But now that you know, what are you going to do about it? And from that moment on, I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
More Interview Chapters
- Background and Education
- YOU ARE HERE: Work with ARC; Learn about Pennhurst
- Work as Commissioner
- Right to Education Normalization; Systemic Change
- Institutional Change
- Woodhaven Center Community Living
- Controversy at Polk Center
- Pennhurst Memorial Preservation Alliance; Reflections on Career
About Ed Goldman
Born: Philadelphia, PA
Work history: Commissioner, Mental Retardation, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Executive Director, ARC, Carlisle, PA, Deputy Executive Director, ARC
ARC, Institutions, Normalization, Pennhurst, Polk, Pennhurst Longitudinal Study (Twin Study)