Saturday, February 01, 2014

Abandoned, But Not Forgotten

The Massachusetts Health and Human Services has had to go back on a claim that their now abandoned state mental health facilities were empty of any patient medical records. The retraction comes after a teen doing some urban exploring came upon medical records and admission cards of former patients at the Paul A. Dever State School. From the article I read, it doesn't look like the records are for patients currently at any other state hospital or even living patients but what's interesting is that instead of just admitting that the state should send people to go back through the long-abandoned buildings they blame everything on this one teenager and urban explorers in general.
They're trespassing on state property. They're stealing things or using things that don't belong to them.
Is the answer the deputy commissioner at the Department of Mental Health Clifford Robinson said trying to deflect the matter of his offices negligence onto some kid's hobby. I understand people's problems with urban explorers but true urban explorers never vandalize, never steal and never damage. They only want to go where humans may not have been in a while and get a few pictures. When I was exploring abandoned places, I wish that I would've taken a camera but I didn't so all I have are mind memories.

The Topeka State Hospital Main Building, abandoned since about 1997. I was only able to get this exterior shot as the building was torn down about eight months later.
I don't do any urban exploring anymore mainly because I am older but also because I don't have anyone to do it with. The first I explored that was what I consider true urban exploring was an old house in Baldwin City. It was a wood frame house on the edge of town so much newer than the last couple of houses I had explored but while those houses were truly abandoned and devoid of any human contact for years, this house was still loaded from top to bottom with furniture, dinnerware, curtains and discarded proof of a family recently living there.

I've always wondering, and still do wonder, what happened to that family. I think every town has a house like that. One that is still full of stuff, waiting for the owners to return, but no one knows where the owners went or if they even planned to return. My friends I went exploring with came up with colorful stories about the owners but I figured it was more financial in their decision to leave. They had to be out by a certain time so instead, they just bolted leaving behind beds, clothes, toys and mail. The house is long gone now. All the contents were auctioned off, the house torn down and grass and a small bush now grow where it once stood. I do have a couple of old books that I grabbed from my first time there but a drawing on an old newspaper I found on the floor is probably my favorite reminder of that house.

Until next time, I remain...