Monday, July 28, 2014

The Day I Went to Prison

Something that has always been on my list of things to do is go to prison.  Not just any prison but the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.  Unfortunately, I was still a child when the prison shut down (December 31, 1990) so I could no longer serve my 25-life but luckily, as it turns out, I still got to go to this prison...on a tour.




This prison is a rather popular and historical sight.  If you've seen The Shawshank Redemption, you are familiar with the grounds because the movie was filmed there twenty years ago.  Yes, that's right, TWENTY years ago.

I decided to watch the movie before heading to the reformatory so I could look for certain movie scenes and have a better understanding of the movie location.  It really is a good movie.  Every time I watch it a new part stands out to me.  Everything about it is so well written (thank you, Stephen King), the acting is spot on (thank you, Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins) and the directing is perfect (thank you Frank Darabont).

I got a little giddy when I saw the ever so popular sign...Brooks was here...so was Red.


Finally, I was able to cross the Ohio State Reformatory off of my things to do while I'm alive list.  I tried to get my family to go with me a few years ago but it never got beyond talk.  I had a friend ready to go along with me last summer but we never got around to it.  So, when my coworkers realized we all had Monday's off, we decided we should do something fun together...and so we decided to put in some hard time.



Since they only offer self guided tours during the week, we made our way down the winding rows, up creaking staircases, past the warden's living quarters, through the cells, and past the solitary confinement corridors.  Every bit of the building was fascinating.  From the paint falling off the walls, to the brick ceilings, to the unexplained smell from the cells, we were actually happier that we decided to do a guided tour with our audio player instead of coming on a day where we would have had to join in with a group. 

There are tales of ghost sightings and horror stories.  At one point, I think I heard what sounded like a fight in the jail cells two stories up, but Sonja thinks the dust and eeriness of the building was getting to me.  Then, later, Dee was walking and her cell phone fell out of her back pocket.  No one was around, and she hadn't done anything to shift her position to make her cell phone fall out, it just did.  That was enough for us to hurry our pace out of that room!  In another room, Dee was listening to the audio telling us about visions of a small boy that was unexplained. We got to the closets and I dared Dee to open up the door. It was a short door, probably something the size of a kitchen-under-the-counter-cabinet-size.  When's Dee opened up the door she said someone's been in here because there were skidmarks in the dust...something we'd seen in a bunch of other rooms. 

"Say, something a small boy would make?" I mention as she opens the other door.  We see a tiny hand print.

"A kid was in there messing around." Sonja said.

"Or possibly a little boy ghost who likes to play hide and seek..." I added.

Sonja rolled her eyes while Dee shivered. " What! You just told me the ghost story of the little boy! It's possible!" I defended my comments.

It was a really neat place to visit and if it isn't already on your do-soon list, be sure to put it there!  It's a little bit of everything.  It met my behind-the-scenes desires, it met my ghost-hunting desires, and it met my historical nerds desires.




It took us about three hours to get through every room.  Sometimes we would climb in small spots because curiosity got the best of us.  From some of the windows we could see the new and functioning prison where we saw current inmates spending time outside and walking the grounds.





This was the first time I've really hung out with these ladies outside of the work place and it turns out that we had a lot more fun together outside of work than we do when we're working similar shifts.  I have a sneaky feeling we'll have more adventures planned for another Monday and I'm looking forward to it.

Prison is the new sexy.  Bow chicka bow wow.
Sonja:  Please stop, I'm embarrassed for you.  (Any time Dee and I would take ridiculous pictures.)
Sonja:  I take it you've never been blackmailed before...because you're giving us a lot of pictures to use...


P.S.  I posted a ton of pictures on my Instagram so if you want a better tour...click here.