Yeah I know. Talk about a long-time-no-penitentiary-post! August was not my best month. It was suckingly hot and humid, and if it makes you feel any better, it turned out to be a month that I got behind in everything in all parts of my life. I hope it makes you feel better, 'cause it didn't to a lot for me to be honest ...
Anyway, in spite of heat and humidity, with a few weekends of incredible storms, life at Eastern State continued much as it had for the earlier part of the summer. There did tend to be more visitors, as a lot of people apparently took their vacations in August (I did), so there were even more opportunities for people-watching, which is not an official part of my duties, but something I consider to be a perk!
Based upon aforementioned people-watching, I have come to the following top 5 conclusions:
1. Punks and Goth types apparently do not suffer in hot and humid weather. There they were, wearing black leather vests, pants, boots, you name it, with LOTS of jewelry and hardware, and their usual makeup. They walked around looking as if they never even broke a sweat. (I, on the other hand, appeared all month to have just finished running a marathon in the desert. One day, I was talking to a visitor, and I moved across the space to get a map for her. I noticed that I had left a puddle of sweat where I had been standing. Seriously.)
2. Teenagers from any country will frequently roll their eyes at their elders. For whatever reason, this was reassuring.
3. Yes, thank you very much, it was hot enough for me. Ha ha.
4. People are way too spoiled by air-conditioning. Don't get me wrong, I love air-conditioning in that kind of weather as much as the next person. But there were a lot of people visiting who seemed to take it personally that the penitentiary was not appropriately cooled.
5. Lots of men wear dark socks with sandals. I had thought this was a primary condition of visiting Washington, DC, with your family, where we called it the "Tourist Dad Syndrome." But either I was incorrect, or the condition has spread more than swine flu.
In other news, my favorite tour ever took place during these weeks, a group of elderly men from a not-quite-nursing-home place across the bridge in New Jersey. Their activity director had apparently planned the outing, which from what I could tell involved having lunch first, and then coming for a tour of the penitentiary. They told me that the youngest among them was 62, and the eldest was 97.
I am not sure if I have mentioned it here, but for whatever reason, older men have always liked me. I have no idea why, as I don't necessarily treat them any differently than I do anyone else, but there you go. So this group had a couple that were my best friends during the tour, and had all kinds of corny jokes to tell me, which made me think of both my father and father-in-law. For instance, when we were on the baseball field, one of them said, "Did the prisoners get in trouble if they STOLE a base?" It was like a trip to the Catskills without ever leaving home!
Most of them seemed to enjoy the tour, and it was certainly interesting to hear their questions and observations as opposed to those I have gotten from groups of kids. The killer for me was at the end, when I was saying goodbye to them, and one man told me that it had been an enjoyable tour, and that I was "a swell gal." It made me feel like I was in one of the old movies that I love to watch!
I also worked with a couple of photo groups. The first was a group of people who were taking a workshop class with a local expert. They were learning the nuances of high dynamic range photography, which was something I had never heard of before. They were pretty self-contained, so I didn't really find out a lot, but there were a couple of people who showed me what they were hoping to capture in their photographs. Overall, they were a friendly bunch.
The other group was another workshop, but for those learning how to frame a shot, set a scene, etc. They brought three different couples dressed as brides and grooms. This led me to become certain that I could never stand to be a model or a professional photographer. The amount of time it takes to get things just right would make me want to scream. The models spent a lot of time moving millimeters before they were in the poses that the photographers wanted, and there were so many do-overs, it gave me a whole new respect for people on either side of the camera who can stand the monotony!
Now that most schools have started again, and a lot of people have taken their vacations, things have quieted down somewhat during the week. But now it's time for Terror Behind the Walls to get started, so there's still a lot happening, and I'm sure that will bring some extra daytime visitors with a whole new bunch of stories.