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Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
 

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Selinsgrove Center and KenCrest Services

Betty

recorded at KenCrest Services June 2015
PHOTO of Betty
photo by JJ Tiziou

Interview at KenCrest Services by Katie Newhouse, recorded June 19, 2015


PHOTO of Betty's interviewer Katie
PICTURED: Betty's interviewer, Katie

Betty: Betty.

Katie: at KenCrest on June 19th and Lisa is also here with us and I think our levels are good? Yeah? Will you introduce yourself one more time so we can make sure...

Betty: Hi my name is Betty.

Katie: Perfect.

Betty: Nice to meet you.

Katie: It's nice to meet you too and I like that you're wearing pink on your shirt and I have pink shoes on so I like pink. So I was going to ask you first a little about anything you remember from -  I was going to ask you to tell me about when you were younger, anything you remember from being a little girl or younger girl?

Betty: I didn't like going to school when I was younger and I got upset a lot but as I've gotten older I got through it just like that.

Katie: So can you tell me one memory from school or one thing that made school difficult?

Betty: I would throw things, scream and holler, bang my head.

Katie: How old were you when you moved to Pennhurst?

Betty: I don't know how old I was. I know when I left I was eight years old and I also went to Children's Seashore House because my dad came up to take me home so I've been in two places.

Katie: Mm.

Lisa: Can I just ask one question? Can you tell me where you were born and where you grew up?

Betty: St. Christopher's Hospital, I think.

Lisa: And where is that?

Betty: I believe that's in Philadelphia and while I was there they did surgery on my leg so I couldn't crawl on the floor and now I hate it because I can't do what I want to do and my mom and dad used to - my dad used to walk up and down the steps with me holding onto a banister. I don't do any of that anymore so that's hard for me and my mom's gone and my dad's gone. They passed away.

MORE/LESS OF BETTY'S INTERVIEW

Katie: I'm sorry to hear that.

Betty: And I've still got two sisters in North Carolina and one lives up here in Philadelphia.

Katie: Does your sister who lives - do you get to see your sister who lives in Philadelphia?

Betty: No because she wants me to come to her.  

Katie: I have a sister so I know how sisters can be sometimes.

Betty: She wanted me to come and live with her and I thought no and the reason I thought no is because of something happened to her and she died I would be right back out in the community again so that's what kept me from doing it. I know everybody dies so I didn't want to do that. I just wanted to be myself.

Katie: And so where do you live now?

Betty: I live in Media.

Katie: Oh, OK. Is it far from here? Far from KenCrest?

Betty: It takes an hour to get here and an hour to get back home.

Katie: Oh, wow. That's a little bit of a commute.

Betty: But I don't mind it and guess why I don't mind it.

Katie: Why don't you mind it?

Betty: Because I get paid every Friday.

Katie: So today is payday?

Betty: No.. Yeah, today is Friday. Well, yeah. So...

Katie: I wanted to ask you a couple more questions about when you were younger, if that's OK?

Betty: OK.

Katie: You were talking about some of your family members but I was wondering if there was anyone who was important to you or if you have a memory of anyone who was important to you when you were younger?

Betty: All of them are important but I don't call them enough. At least that's what they tell me and I believe it.

Katie: Do you have any memories from when you were younger of someone that was special to you?

Betty: No.

Katie: OK. I was also - you talked a little bit about school but what was school like for you maybe before you went to Pennhurst? You said you didn't like it very much?

Betty: No, this was at Pennhurst.

Katie: Oh OK, so that's what I wanted to ask. Will you talk a little bit about what school was like when you were at Pennhurst?

Betty: Yeah, that was when I was at Pennhurst.

Katie: So do you remember what one of your - was there a subject you liked in school at Pennhurst?

Betty: Well I liked that we didn't have to bring our lunch. We had a hot lunch every day. So that was good and my teachers was Becky, Don, and my other teacher was Lane, Rebe, and they had two teachers to a room and they... when I was going to school - (overhead speaker covering voice) and steps. They had these steps that you could put in and you could just - it was a step where like a pair of steps where you could just push in the room and that's what I was just walking up it and down it. So and when... let me see. Yeah I left mom and dad when I was eight.

Katie: So will you tell me why did you go to Pennhurst?

Betty: Because my mom and dad couldn't take care of me.

Katie: Do you have any memories...

Betty: They weren't able to take care of me.

Katie: Yeah.

Betty: And I'm sure... I'm sure they don't - they didn't want to send me there but being that they couldn't take care of me they had to.

Katie: Yeah.

Betty: And I believe that my parents, at the time, did the best they could and I'm thankful for what I do have and I had... let me see. I lived in an apartment by myself. I normally don't live in an apartment by myself now because I broke my leg. And so...

Katie: So now you live with other people?

Betty: Mm-hm.

Katie: So when you had an apartment by yourself was that at Pennhurst or was that after you left Pennhurst?

Betty: That was after.

Katie: And so do you have any memories of when you first got to Pennhurst or the day you arrived?

Betty: No.

Katie: Or could you describe? I've never been to Pennhurst so could you describe for me a little bit what it looked like or what you remember it looking like?

Betty: I don't know if I could describe that.

Katie: Are there any words that come to mind when you think about Pennhurst?

Betty: I like going - I like going on the bus and going to school even though I didn't like it I liked going on the bus and just going off grounds.

Katie: So when you were at Pennhurst did you leave to go to school or did you go to school at Pennhurst?

Betty: I went to school at Pennhurst.

Katie: Oh, OK. And what about - and so you also lived there, right?

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: So when you lived at Pennhurst did you have your own room?

Betty: No, it was a whole bunch of people and we slept right next to each other.

Katie: In bunk beds or single beds?

Betty: No, single beds.

Katie: And was it other women, men and women?

Betty: No, other women.

Katie: And so do you have any memories or do you remember what the room looked like at Pennhurst or could you describe it at all?

Betty: No.

Katie: How many people do you think you shared a room with there?

Betty: There was, they, - I think there was a lot of people. Like out in - now we're out in the community. They're all over; Chester County, Bucks County, Philadelphia County. They're all over. They're not in one spot. Everybody went somewhere.

Katie: Yeah and that was actually the next question I was going to ask. Did you have friends when you were living at Pennhurst?

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: Do you have any memories or anything special you remember about friends you had at Pennhurst?

Betty: Well I had a friend named Barbara and I went on the Spirit of Philadelphia and she saw me and we said hi to each other.

Katie: What is the Spirit of Philadelphia?

Betty: Huh?

Katie: What is the Spirit of Philadelphia?

Betty: It's like a cruise you take down the river and they play music and you have lunch.

Katie: So..

Betty: And then you go down the river and when they're done they take you all and take a picture.

Katie: So...

Betty: See?

Katie: Yeah, I was actually just looking and now I see the boat that says Spirit of Philadelphia.

Betty: Yep. That's just...

Lisa: You're pointing to this photograph.

Katie: Yeah I was going to say since were recording it will you tell what you're pointing to or describe it a little bit?

Betty: I'm pointing to this photograph of Justin.

Katie: And what's he in front of?

Betty: I guess like a ramp so they could take his picture.

Katie: And the boat, right? I think it says, it's sort of hard to see, but it looks like it says Spirit of Philadelphia so that's probably the boat you went on maybe?

Betty: Yep.

Katie: And so when you went on - did you know you were going to see Barbara or was it a surprise?

Betty: It was a surprise.

Katie: Will you tell me a little bit about when you saw her?

Betty: And my other friend named Barb was there too. My other friend was named Barb Pilsen and I also saw her.

Katie: And were those friends you had from Pennhurst?

Betty: Barbara S. was from Pennhurst, Maxine was from Pennhurst, and I think Barb lived with her mom and her dad and now she's over in CLA where she likes it and she's comfortable.

Katie: How did it feel to see your friends?

Betty: I felt happy because sometimes when people come back you don't see them again.

Katie: Yeah.

Betty: So it just depends.

Katie: I know what you mean and so when you were living in Pennhurst what types of things did you do with your friends?

Betty: What types of things? We went on trips. I wonder what that one is over there.

Katie: That looks more like a - it looks like it says teamwork? It's hard to read it from the reflection but that one looks more like a poster. You know like a motivational poster?

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: Sort of like keep you feeling positive. I don't think that's a picture of anyone here unless have you guys been skydiving?

Betty: No.

Katie: The picture is of people skydiving. That would be kind of fun. I've never done that either. So what did you do for fun when you lived at Pennhurst? Did you have free time?

Betty: Like, I still do. I listen to a lot of music. I have a Wii at home. I have a flat screen TV.

Katie: That's where you live now?

Betty: Mm-hm.

Katie: Did you have things like that when you lived at Pennhurst?

Betty: No.

Katie: So you were saying one of the things you liked at Pennhurst was that they always had a hot lunch?

Betty: Well we always had a hot lunch in school.

Katie: Oh, OK. So what was meal time like at Pennhurst?

Betty: Some days we liked the food, some days we didn't. Some days we liked the foods and some days we didn't.

Katie: Do you remember something that you liked to eat there or that you liked to eat there?

Betty: I like chicken. I used to like pork, mashed potatoes, gravy, and I liked ham.

Katie: What was something that you didn't like?

Betty: Red beets.

Katie: I can understand that and do you remember... you were describing to me where you lived at Pennhurst looked like. Do you remember what the place where you ate at Pennhurst looked like?

Betty: No. I probably got pictures of it in my photo album but I didn't bring anything with me.

Katie: That's OK. So have you been able to keep in touch or when you lived in Pennhurst were you able to keep in touch with your friends and family that didn't live at Pennhurst?

Betty: Mm-hm. I had their numbers.

Katie: And would you call them?

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: When you were living at Pennhurst did your family come to visit you?

Betty: Well my mom and dad did.

Katie: Do you remember when they would come to visit you?

Betty: They would come to visit me on a Sunday.

Katie: Then what would you do when they came to visit?

Betty: We would go out and they would take me out for a couple of hours but then they would bring me back.

Katie: How did that feel?

Betty: Good because I'm always happy when I saw my mom and dad and my mother and my father got to see my apartment before they passed.

Katie: Oh, where you live now? Oh, where you were living when you lived alone?

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: OK.

Betty: They got to see it so I was glad and my sister had a daughter that her name was Pam and her daughter was named Pamela used to be scared of the vacuum cleaner when she was little. She would crawl up on the couch and I would say "Come on, Pam, that's not going to get you" and she'd crawl up on the couch because she was  still scared.

Katie: And would she come visit you at your apartment?

Betty: No. I forget. Yes she didn't come.

Katie: But you would visit her when you saw your family?

Betty: No because they didn't come up much.

Katie: Just your parents came?

 Betty: Mm-hm.

Katie: When did you first - well, did you hear that Pennhurst was closing?

Betty: Yep.

Katie: When did you first hear?

Betty: I don't know. I just went like everybody, oh.

Lisa: Can I ask a question?

Katie: Yeah.

Lisa: Thank you. I'm sorry to interrupt but I was just curious. I told you I get very nosy. Did you like living at Pennhurst, Betty?

Betty: Nobody actually did. They like living out here better in the community.

Lisa: And why didn't people like living at Pennhurst?

Betty: Because things that happened. Some of them got smacked, some of them were tied down. Some of them didn't want to eat and were forced to eat. A lot of stuff that happened and people got to hear that how Pennhurst was. Matter of fact they put me on TV to do the - the talk on TV how Pennhurst was. It was Mark Friedman at the time so I got to do that.

Lisa: And Mark Friedman was with Speaking for Ourselves. He supported the group, facilitated the group. Is that right?

Betty: Yeah and I was.

Lisa: Did you ever imagine you would leave Pennhurst when you were living there?

Betty: Huh?

Lisa: When you were living at Pennhurst did you think you would live their your whole life or did you ever imagine you would leave?

Betty: No. I knew I wouldn't live there my whole life because other people said they wanted to leave and I wanted to leave too. Some people that could talk they weren't afraid but the ones that couldn't talk, they were more afraid. They were more afraid and that's why Pennhurst is kind of closed now because all the bad things that happened and I went back to - I don't know who it was but I went back to Pennhurst and they took some pictures. So what I'm doing now if they ask me to do something is kind of like helping people out. If they ask me to do it but I used to not. Yep.

Lisa: You're showing us you're rubbing your fingers together like money, right?

Betty: Yep. I used to get paid and I used to get paid for going with Speaking for Ourselves for a day or two or doing whatever they wanted me to do. So, that's been part of my life and I'm happy - I'm sometimes, even now, that I'm out in the community sometimes I'm happy. Sometimes I'm not.

Katie: When it was time for you to leave Pennhurst and move to the community, did anybody help you?

Betty: This guy was named John and he helped me move out of Pennhurst and that was when I was at___.

Katie: Did you live on your own then?

Betty: No.

Katie: Where were you living?

Betty: I was at Pennhurst then.

Katie: But when you first left Pennhurst, where did you live next?

Betty: I lived at Park Ridge. Park Ridge is in Media too and I lived there.

Katie: Is Pennhurst in Media? I don't know the Pennsylvania area very well so.

Betty: Well Pennhurst is far away because it's like in between Royersford and Pennhurst is really up toward Spring City.

Katie: Oh, OK. OK, and so what did it feel like when you first left Pennhurst?

Betty: It felt good.

Katie: Will you tell me a little bit about why it felt good?

Betty: Because I realized even though we were out here something isgoing to happen again but maybe it wouldn't and that's why I think they had the state come in and check and see what's going on; how people were being treated. We do all that right now.

Katie: And do you think now you're treated better than when you lived at Pennhurst?

Betty: Yeah, yes, I do.

Katie: Will you tell me a little bit about how it's different - now how it's different now than when you lived at Pennhurst?

Betty: Well I have a lot more stuff and like after I had gotten out of Pennhurst I wanted a flat screen TV. I got that and I wanted - and I have a game. I don't know what to call it but you put it into the - a Wii. I have a Wii to play games with so that keeps me busy.

Katie: When you lived at Pennhurst did you have your own TV?

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: You did?

Betty: Mm-hm.

Katie: Where did you keep your TV at Pennhurst?

Betty: Well I only had one TV at that time but now I've got a couple of them.

Katie: Oh really?

Betty: Mm-hm.

Katie: That's pretty nice. So then you had mentioned that you were - you're a person with a disability and I was wondering if you would tell me a little bit about your disability.

Betty: Well I've been handicapped all my life. It started from when I was a baby. So I don't even feel bad because I'm handicapped and my sisters are not. I don't feel bad about that at all. It just tells me my mom and dad took care of me the best they could and they couldn't help it for the way I came out. They didn't ask for it to be that way and that's the way I believe it. I always will.

Katie: And so you talked a little bit about being involved with Speaking for Ourselves?

Betty: Yeah. I guess I did it for a couple years and then all of a sudden I just stopped because they talked about people real jobs but when it came to it, they weren't finding me a real job and I'm still hearing - so I just left.

Katie: That sounds tough.

Betty: Yeah. I just left it.

Katie: And what type of a job would you like to do?

Betty: I could do other jobs but I need to be able to work at my own pace.

Katie: I was going to ask you so you were just talking about Speaking for Ourselves and I was curious what types of jobs were they finding for other people?

Betty: Well they were finding jobs like McDonalds and sometimes when you work for McDonalds you pick up all the trays from the table and you take the trash and put it in the trash, you wipe the tables off, and sweep the floor. That's what kind of a job a lot of them were doing.

Katie: Ands what did they say to you about finding a job?

Betty: That's the whole thing. I never found one.

Katie: Did they tell you why?

Betty: No.

Katie: Do you think - is there any reason you can think of why they were having trouble finding you a job?

Betty: Part I guess there was a problem because they wanted me to go faster and I couldn't. I could only work at the pace I'm willing to work at here.

Katie: Sure.

Betty: And if I do then I get to speed up, sometimes I work at my own pace. Sometimes I'm (inaudible). So it works itself out.

Katie: And can you tell me a little bit more about what Speaking for Ourselves was trying to do?

Betty: Well, they were trying to tell people about Pennhurst and what happened and what led into it and Bill Baldini was involved in it. Yep. Bill Baldini was involved in it.

Katie: Was he - OK.

Lisa: Katie is not from Philadelphia so she probably doesn't know who Bill Baldini is what he did at Pennhurst. Maybe you could tell her that.

Katie: Yeah that's actually what I was just going to ask.

Lisa: She's from Boston.

Katie: Yeah, I'm from Boston.

Betty: Boston?

Katie: I know.

Betty: You're way up.

Katie: Yeah.

Betty: How long would it take you to get home?

Katie: Well right now I live in New York City so it's a little closer but to get here from Boston takes seven hours. That's by the train. I think to drive it's six, seven or six. It's far. So will you tell me a little bit about Bill Baldini?

Betty: He was a TV reporter and they came and took pictures of the way Pennhurst looked.

Katie: Oh and were you still living at Pennhurst then?

Betty: Yeah. They came and took pictures of like some of the wards. We lived there, in the school and they came there and took pictures of all that stuff and then after a while they start getting on the news and people started to hear about it.

Katie: And so why did you want to join Speaking for Ourselves?

Betty: I actually do join just to know what it was like and I wanted to learn what it was to be people that's not like me. Like I'm going to give you an example.

Katie: OK.

Betty: When they say somebody that's not like me, they mean somebody that's retarded because that's the way they get money from the state. If they didn't use that, they wouldn't get money from the state; the funding kind of programs so that's why they used that.

Katie: And so that's something that they did at Pennhurst or that's something that Speaking for Ourselves did?

Betty: No that's something when they start outting everybody together and everything. They just used that to get money from the state because we were coming out and they didn't know where they money was coming from. As a matter of a fact each person has a case manager that comes in and checks and sees how they're - what do they want to do or if they're happy. And the case manager comes to the meeting and the staff, the supervisor comes to the meeting and so everybody has that. We all do. Everybody has that and I like it because it's having somebody to talk to. You don't know if it's going to happen again. It probably could so I'm glad.

Katie: Will you just tell me, what do you mean by this could happen again?

Betty: The stuff that happened at Pennhurst.

Katie: Oh, OK. That's what I thought you meant but I just wanted to make sure I understood you. One thing I was going to ask you that you were just saying; so because you have a handicapped were you saying people said - I don't like to use the word - but said you were retarded so that you could get more money from the state or their program could get more money from the state?

Betty: Mm-hm.

Katie: What do you think about people doing something like that?

Betty: Some people get - when they hear that, they get really upset and I tell them "No, it's not something to be upset about. It's because they need to get money and they need the state to help us out and they need money to get money for programs to begin. They need money for these workshops. They're using the money for a lot of things because they have to and they have to have money - somebody has to have money to pay the staff for what they do so I know more than you think I know."

Katie: well I really appreciate you sharing what you know with us and I hope - I'm going to ask some more questions more about what you're doing now at KenCrest but I love hearing that information. So - but before we move to that. You said you're no longer a part of Speaking for Ourselves.

Betty: No.

Katie: And do you feel like or what do you think Speaking for Ourselves accomplished?

Betty: Well they accomplished help getting people out of the institutions and letting them getting them to go out to see the world so they don't have to be scared and everything. That's what they accomplished.

Katie: And - but you've chosen to no longer be a part of that organization but you still think what they're doing is good work for people?

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: You're just choosing not to participate?

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: And then there was one other question I was going to ask you. Oh, so when you're talking about people needing money for programs you're talking about in the community. What do you think now you've been living in the community - how old were you when you left Pennhurst?

Betty: Eight.

Katie: No, when you left. When you were no longer living there.

Betty: 22.

Katie: So you've been living in the community for a while.

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: And so what do you feel about living in the community now?

Betty: I think it's dangerous because I look at the news every day just to see what's going on and to hear what's going on and people killing people for no reason at all and I mean it was crazy because people just, they shot what was it? Eleven people yesterday.

Katie: Yeah are you talking about in the church in South Carolina?

Betty: Yeah in that church.

Katie: Yeah I heard about that story.

Betty: And they just don't seem to leave people alone.

Katie: I know.

Betty: I mean why do that?

Katie: Yeah. I don't have an answer to that one, not even close.

(Speaker)

Betty: And then if you go out and try to ask somebody about it, you might get shot because they don't want to talk about it.

Katie: Yeah.

Betty: So there's a lot of things to be worried about but I still come to work every day and do what I have to do.

Katie: Yeah. So tell me a little bit about your job here at KenCrest.

Betty: I shred paper and I do putty.

Katie: And how long have you been doing that for?

Betty: Maybe a year or two.

Katie: OK. So when did you first start coming to KenCrest?

Betty: My case manager would know that.

Katie: Do you feel like you've been here for a long time, short time?

Betty: I've been here for a long time.

Katie: And so have you been shredding for a long time or is that new?

Betty: No, I've been shredding for a long time.

Katie: And has your job changed at all since you started coming to KenCrest?

Betty: I shred paper, do putty, I put things in boxes so that's kind of what I do.

Katie: And what do you enjoy about your job here?

Betty: The money. I mean the money means so much to people.

Katie: Mm-hm.

Betty: Because it means we're getting a paycheck every week. We look forward to that paycheck every week.

Katie: Sure.

Betty: And when the paychecks aren't here they can tell they didn't come in or something or they had a doctor's appointment or something.

Katie: Right.

Betty: They take all that. They take - when we have a doctor's appointment, somewhere to go, then they have to take that out.

Katie: So you have to work in order to get paid.

Betty: Mm-hm.

Katie: So if you're not here on a day, do you get paid?

Betty: No we don't but we get paid for every day that we're here.

Katie: OK and tell me about some of the - well what's something you would want to change about your job?

Betty: I would want to see them fix the building up better.

Katie: Can you give me some - what are the things you'd like them to fix?

Betty: When you come in and you go through the kitchen, the doorways are a lot smaller and I wish we had a bathroom at every room. I don't know if we'll ever get it but that would be nice.

Katie: And I noticed that there are stairs when you come in.

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: So are you able to go to the second floor or do you have to stay?

Betty: There's no elevator.

Katie: Yeah.

Betty: They just say upstairs is the same way as downstairs even though we haven't seen it but it would be nice if they had an elevator so we can go up.

Katie: And then what about the job, the work, you do? So the paper shredding; is there anything you'd want to change about paper shredding, about your job there?

Betty: No, I like that.

Katie: I like shredding paper too. It's kind of soothing.

Betty: Because that gives me the most money than anything else.

Katie: Will you tell me, if you don't mind, if it's not rude, will you tell me how much they pay you to shred the paper?

Betty: I'm not sure.

Katie: So, the other job, the putty.

Betty: The putty.

Katie: Is there anything you'd want to change about that job?

Betty: Well that job I wish we got more but the putty they're dividing up between the whole table. The shredding is me doing it myself.

Katie: Ah so because that was going to be my next question. Tell me a little bit about the people you work with.

Betty: The people are nice and I like my supervisor and like when I do the shredding I get to do it all day. So when my paycheck comes up there's more money in it and I like to do that but sometimes Rachel needs me at the table and I go to the table because she needs me but when she doesn't - I don't go. I go and do whatever they need me to.

Katie: So when Rachel asks you to come to the table what does she usually ask you to do?

Betty: I'm at the table today because my shredding machine - I got a piece of paper stuck in there yesterday and they still weren't able to get it out. I have to work so today I am working at a table and I like the job. So that's... that - and we have puzzles in our room if we want to do them but we don't get paid for it.

Katie: Gotcha. It's more like free time.

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: Yeah.

Lisa: I was going to ask a question if I could, Betty, and forgive me if it's rude but can you tell me, on average, somebody who was shredding paper and maybe doing a little putty; what would the average paycheck be per week?

Betty: Maybe like I could take two paychecks and put them together and take them home and they'll come out to a hundred dollars. I can take three or four and it'll come out to more.

Lisa: Thank you.

Katie:So if you could leave KenCrest where else would you like to work?

Betty: I don't know. What I wonder about is what... is there another workshop up here? I don't know because I haven't seen another place.

Katie: And what about - is there any type of work you would be interested in doing outside of a workshop or any other place you've thought about working?

Betty: Well I thought about working in a fast food place or stuffing envelopes but the fast food place turned me down because they don't want me to work at my own pace and want me to work at their pace so that cuts it down.

Katie: And then what about stuffing envelopes?

Betty: I would like to be able to stuff envelopes but I guess that I would have to work at a certain pace. Yeah, because a lot of the things they want you to do they want you to be able to do it a little bit faster. When you're sitting at the table and you're working they want you to go a little bit faster so what they do is they put you on a line with a whole bunch of people and see how fast it goes.

Katie: Mm. And what about where you live now? Is there any place you'd like to live instead?

Betty: There is a place I'd like to live. I'd like to live in Allentown. I want Allentown because I've seen they only got one (inaudible) which is not only - they have apartments. Apartments that are built and that's why I would want to move up there.

Katie: Would you tell me a little bit about what it's like where you live now?

Betty: Right now I live with three other people besides myself but most of the people that's living in Allentown is two or maybe three.

Katie: And do you like living with three other people?

Betty: Not at this time. I mean they must be having a hard time because if they have been able to find something I'm sure they would be able to call me already and they haven't.

Katie: You mean in the place where you'd like to live?

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: Gotcha.

Betty: Let me see. What else am I doing for myself? I'm buying a brand new lift for myself.

Katie: Oh wow so will you tell me a little bit about what that is?

Betty: It's a thing that when they want to take you up the wheelchair, they put you on it. They can set you on it and it's electric.

Katie: Yeah, I think I've seen that before.

Betty: It's electric and you can take it with you.

Katie: Oh nice.

Betty: Real nice but yeah, I like that. They're ordering that for me and I'm paying for that out of my own pocket.

Katie: There you go so then it'll be yours.

Betty: I'm happy about that and you know all my money is not bad because it's something ire ally want to do for myself. The state bought this but I'm going to go out and buy another one and it's not going to be like this. It's going to be one that you can push because if this goes down I need another one to sit in so that's why I'm going to do that.

Katie: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Betty: So that's another thing that's important to me. If one goes down I have to have another one to sit in so that's how I feel like doing it and I'm going to do that but it's going to come out of my own pocket too.

Katie: Yeah. I can imagine.

Betty: And that's because I want it to come out of my own pocket because I don't expect the state to get everything for me. The state comes, you get this. The state comes, you get that. No, that's not the way it is. I tell them what I want to get for myself. They might tell me they want somebody else to get it but I don't want nobody to get it. I want to do it for myself and it's because it's something I need.

Katie: Mm-hm.

Betty: So I need to get it.

Katie: Yeah.

Betty: That's what I'm doing.

Katie: I think that sounds pretty good. It's important to do.

Betty: Yep.

Katie: You know? So, I only have a couple of questions left but one of my last questions is what's something in your life you have done or something that you think about that you're proud of?

Betty: I'm proud because I was able to live by myself even though it's not that way now but I'm proud of that and I'm proud my mom and dad got to see it and so that makes me very proud.

Katie: Do you remember anything about it - I'm going to wait. Do you remember anything about the day that your mom and dad came to see the apartment?

Betty: Mm-mm.

Katie: How do you think they felt when they saw it?

Betty: They were scared at first but then they know they had nothing to be afraid of because they realized that they weren't letting anything happen. You know how you try to help people with things and some things are just not in your control and it happens anyway? That was what kind of the parents were worried about.

Katie: Those are very wise words.

Betty: But I'm not too scared now to see the son or daughter in the apartment and somebody's training them how to do or clean or keep up with their laundry and stuff and keep up with their clothes for work so that's a lot of things what they're teaching people now.

Katie: Do you think that's important?

Betty: Mm-hm.

Katie: Do you think that's different from when you were growing up?

Betty: Yes. Right now, for me, I have I can't wash my clothes because I can't stand up so staff has to do it for me and they wash them and make sure they're clean and make sure they're folded and put away.

Katie: And how do you feel about that?

Betty: Well, I feel OK about that because every place you go it's not going to be big enough so you can do - so you can put your clothes away and everything. My room is very small but I still sleep in it because it's the only room that they have because they have other people living there before me.

Katie: Oh.

Betty: So that's why I got the smallest room.

Katie: Well where you live now you have your own room or you share a room?

Betty: I have my own room.

Katie: But you share the kitchen and living room and things like that?

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: What does the place look like - how many rooms does it have?

Betty: Four.

Katie: And what are they?

Betty: They're all girls.

Katie: But I mean like it is all bedrooms? Is there a room where you guys can watch TV or do you keep your TV in your bedroom?

Betty: My TV is in my bedroom.

Katie: OK so there is a common area for the people you live with where you can sit together?

Betty: Yeah, they got a little living room. I don't go there too much because I like my bedroom.

Katie: I understand that. And so if you could change anything about your life, what would it be?

Betty: If I could change? To be able to buy what I want when I want it. To not have to save money up to get something. That I would like to change.

Katie: And why is that something you'd want to change?

Betty: Because if you don't have a whole lot of money then you've got to save it up and put it in the bank so you get a lot of money.

Katie: Do you keep your money in a bank account?

Betty: Yeah and what I do is I won't go to the bank one time. I'll wait til I get four of five checks and then put it in the bank.

Katie: That feels good, right?

Betty: Yeah. That's how I do it. I don't go just on one. I take a couple.

Katie: Yeah, I understand that.

Betty: A couple and then the bank fills up faster that way.

Katie: Yeah. So, we've been talking for a while and I wanted to see if there anything else that you wanted to tell us today, anything else that was part of the story that you're telling us?

Betty: Well, I'm happy here and I'd like to say that I hope I don't stay here all my life. I think I'll be here most of it but I don't want to be here all of it.

Katie: Is there somewhere else you'd like to go? If you could go anywhere would you like to go?

Betty: I would like to see if they have another place that does more (inaudible).

Katie: Mm-hm.

Betty: Like I would want to work on sealing as something that you fill bags with it and they put putty in a bag and then you seal it and put it in the box.

Katie: Interesting.

Betty: So, yeah, I like that too.

Lisa: I was wondering, Betty, if I could ask one question just because your perspective is so unique. You lived at Pennhurst and you were there when Pennhurst closed and I know you know that now they use Pennhurst as a haunted attraction every Halloween and I just wondered what your feelings were about that. As someone who lived there you have a very unique experience.

Betty: I don't know. I don't think I would be scared or anything. They say its still ghosts in there. I don't know if I believe that.

Lisa: Do you think it's right for them to turn Pennhurst into a haunted attraction?

Betty: Well they were going to turn some of it into something else and then part of it was going to be an attraction because I think they're trying to find something to do because it was a big building so I think they - (speaker) so I think they was going to turn it into something else. Part of it was going to be a haunted house.

Lisa: So how should we remember Pennhurst?

Betty: How should we remember?

Lisa: Yeah.

Betty: I don't know.

(speaker)

Betty: I mean I'll never forget that I lived there. That's something I'll never forget and I hope that I never have to go into another institution for a long time because the only way I could see going in another institution is if I'm sick and I need more help. That's the only way I'll see it and -

(speaker)

Betty: That's the only way I'll - that's the only way I'll go to a nursing home because a nursing home is so overworked that they don't treat the people the way they should. They really don't. So when the family comes in and sees that they get angry. They ask them all kinds of questions. They might have a bruise or whatever. So it's a lot of things.

Katie: Did anything like that ever happen when your parents came to visit you at Pennhurst?

Betty: No.

Katie: I was also thinking earlier you said that your parents, when they sent you to Pennhurst, that you realize now that was what they had to do?

Betty: Yeah.

Katie: What was going on at the time that makes you think that or - yeah.

Betty: Well they had to do that because they didn't know if anybody could take care of me and my mom couldn't. My sisters didn't so that's what they did and they just said "Betty, we're going to put you somewhere where people are just like you."

Katie: How did that feel?

Betty: It felt OK. I was able to get along.

Katie: Did you feel like the people at Pennhurst were just like you?

Betty: Had a disability like me? Yeah, a lot of them had disabilities.

Katie: But what about who you are as a person? Did they like the same things you liked?

Betty: I'm not sure about that.

Katie: Yeah.

Betty: I'm not sure about that but there would be people and they would sit down and listen to their radio or their TVs because that's why they used to put you in an institution like that because they had nobody to take care of people. Like the name of this building had just changed a year ago. It used to be called Lynch Homes. Now it's called KenCrest. It's being run by KenCrest and KenCrest have a lot of people that live in group homes.

Katie: So what do you think about that change?

Betty: I just wish they would make fix up the bathrooms and fix up stuff and well, time will tell.

Katie: Yeah.

Betty: Sometimes you can say you want something and you never get it and then sometimes you get stuff. Like I wish they had different work for everybody. We do the same thing over and over every day.

Katie: Yeah.

Betty: That's what I would like to see change. So we didn't do the same thing over and over.

Katie: Is there anybody here you can talk to about the changes you want?

Betty: I have a case manager and it's going to be hard to - it's going to be hard to talk about it because the jobs we have right now is the only thing they have.

Katie: Gotcha.

Betty: It's the only thing they have.

Katie: Well, we've been talking for a while and I know my voice is getting a little scratchy so yours might be too but it was really, really great to talk to you today and hopefully when it's in City Hall you can come see it and hopefully I'll be there too so we can see each other again. I don't know if we'll see each other in the future but it was really great to meet you and I really appreciated the different things that you shared with us. It gave me a lot to think about.

Betty: Yep. It'll give you a lot to think about because you're not like me and you're not like some of the other people but you're you and I'm me so that makes us two different people.

Katie: Yeah, exactly, but I think that's sometimes the best type of person to learn from is someone who's different from you.

Betty: That's how most people learn.

Katie: Right?

Betty: Mm-hm.

Katie: Well I'm going to turn off the recorder now unless is there anything else you want to say to us that's going to be recorded?

Betty: No.

Katie: Alright well thank you.


Photos by JJ Tiziou




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