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Eastern State Penitentiary Holds Unusual Reunion Saturday

Pat Loeb Pat Loeb
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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Tomorrow is the date of what is surely one of the strangest annual reunions, anywhere. Inmates and guards who once lived or worked at Eastern State Penitentiary come back to the historic prison for the day.

It’s hard to imagine any fond reminiscing at this reunion, but former guard Linwood Johnson says, you’d be surprised. “Everybody understood everybody and everybody did what they were supposed to do. It was like living in a little village over there.”

Of course, Johnson was a guard, but Eastern State’s director of public programming Sean Kelly says the event attracts equal numbers of inmates and guards and even the inmates’ memories are not all bad.

“A lot of them also have lifelong friendships they made in that building,” Kelly says. “It was a time when they were turning their lives around and trying to make something new of themselves and a lot of the inmates come back and tell really heartwarming stories.”

Kelly’s expecting 40 former inmates and staff this year.