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