Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its sixth year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

April 7, 2015

WANDERING THE BIG HOUSE

... jon joined us for the last scheduled stop on our wanderabout, a visit to "the ohio state reformatory," which was the major filming location for one of our all-time favorite movies, "the shawshank redemption" ... with a rather aggressive canadian goose guarding the nest containing his mate's eggs, climbing the front steps was a risky endeavor ... 

... as we tried to follow the tour signs we wandered a maze of abandoned corridors, empty rooms, and twisting staircases ... at one point adrien found herself ascending a "stairway to nowhere" ...

... progressing through the building, our journey slowly became less touristy entertainment and more a gradually increasing emotional immersion in the sadness and despair that haunts this 130-year old prison ...

... cages within cages within cages ...

... throughout, echoes of hope's flight ...

... we climbed to the top tier, then walked along rusted gangways which we thought to be more than a tiny bit unsafe ... later, jon determined that we'd somehow entered into one of the prison's "keep out" zones ...

... no alcatraz style dig outs from these cells, rather than crumbling plaster the walls are one-inch steel plate ... when constructed the entire internal cell block was the largest free-standing steel structure in the world ...

... we closed the door for a picture ... when adrien tried to open it she found it wouldn't budge ... i tried several times, all the while wondering about the little "click" i'd heard when it had slid shut ... i'll give her credit, she didn't panic, or at least she didn't let it show ... i was about to make a trip to find a maintenance person with keys when jon's giggling gave him away, he'd been holding the door shut with the tip of his shoe ... obviously i didn't notice it as i was snapping pictures ...

... luckily, my guess being because it was the day after easter, she let him live ...

... everywhere, tiny details of an entire world hidden away ...

... so much darkness in this place, and not just the absence of light ...

... adrien took a moment to reflect ...

... jon and adrien climbed into one of the turret shafts ... once twelve prisoners managed to sneak into one of these spaces when the guards' attentions were elsewhere ... they spent hours chipping away until they'd punched a hole in the external brick wall ... they all got out, but, being as they were directly beneath a guard tower, only two made it out of the parking lot ... they were caught in the woods a few hours later ...

... rather unexpectedly, we came across the set for one of the most famous scenes in the movie ...

"Andy Dufresne - who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side."
RED

  

... we came across other things, things not movie props, horrible constructs reminding us that this institution was about one thing, failure—be it the failure of an individual's conscience and morality, failure of a home or family, failure of a community, or, perhaps, even the failure of the entirety of a culture, it matters not, permeating this space is a pervasive spirit of failure ...

... we found things of which i want to not know ... jon experience something like this as part of his air force SERE training, a horror he says still returns in nightmares ...

... just a section of a flop house constructed by prop builders within an abandoned prison, simply a set for a scene in a movie, yet this room is one of the saddest places i've ever been ...

... adrien and jon sentenced me ... stretched out on that thin pallet, nothing but bars in front of me, questions came to me—questions of which i'm grateful i'll never have to know the answers ...

Remember, Red. Hope is a good 
thing, maybe the best of things, 
and no good thing ever dies.
ANDY

... with me behind bars, adrien and jon celebrated ...

... as we left the facility we saw the remains of the tree of which andy told red, "in the stone wall beneath it you'll find a rock that doesn't belong" ... next to fence jon was viciously attacked by a killer goose ...

... on our way out of mansfield we stopped for a most excellent meal ...

Get busy living, or get busy dying.
ANDY