Reader e-mail for "Small Towns, Big Headlines"

I saw the “Letter to the Editor” you posted about the Lima prison. Where’s the joke? I happen to agree with the author. The old Ohio State Reformatory (better known as Shawshank) in Mansfield is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the greater North Central Ohio region. Only the Living Bible Museum draws more visitors, and let’s face it … there’s no way to compete with Ohio’s only life-sized wax museum/Christian dinner theater.

Anyway, just think if Mansfield had decided to demolish the old prison. How would Andy Dufrain have crawled through five-hundred yards of Richland County shit to his freedom? Would Tango and Cash be the classic it is today? Where else would I have taken my girlfriend (now wife) on her first visit to my hometown? Don’t answer that last question, Mom … I know you are still horrified.

The old prison is a gem up on that Richland County hillside where Johnny Appleseed once roamed … welcoming weary Lincoln Highway travelers to stop off and and enjoy a cold bucket of suds with Andy and Red. The prison offers tours, ghost-hunting events and you can even rent out the main hall for class reunions (which works out great for my class considering a good 25 percent are next door at the new prison). It’s even inspired the new Shawshank Redemption Driving Tour.

See for yourself: There’s even an online gift shop.

– Jim Jolley

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles
  • JPro

    Ahh, your post reminds me why I try never to go home. And, I think my class may have your’s beat, as I’m sure a good 30 percent of my classmates are next door—at the new prison—doing time.

  • David Trinko

    Glad to see my paper’s providing some humor for you.
    I think it tells you all you need to know about Lima that they were fighting to reopen the prison. Most communities fight to keep prisons from opening. Lima fought to keep its second prison open, then several years later fought to try to reopen it.
    As for tourism there, you have to remember the mascot for the community — and no, I’m not making this up — is Beanie. Yes, Lima Beanie.


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