Dark Side of NH History Featured in Documentary on Amazon Prime
My goodness, the things you see on Netflix when you are just searching for something to numb out your mind.
This past weekend, I was looking for just such a thing and found "His Name is Bob," on Amazon Prime. I really like documentaries and this one looked rather intriguing. It's about a man named Bob who definitely has some developmental disabilities living in Texas. As it turns out, he comes from, you guessed it, New Hampshire. Everything comes back to the 603, I swear.
Bob and his Mother lived in NH and you find out early in the film, she had abandoned him when he was 8 years old at the Laconia State School in the Lakes Region. The school was once known as the "New Hampshire School for Feeble Minded" and has a horrible history. I grew up in Nashua and I remember hearing stories of the Laconia School when I was growing up. I think it was my Mother who thought it was terrible that people were sent up to this awful place. To think about someone like my step-daughter Audrey, who has Down Syndrome, sent away to a place like that just breaks my heart.
According to abandonplaces.com, in the very early 1900's, it was believed that the "feeble-minded" should not only be segregated, but also not allowed to reproduce. NH actually authorized sterilization of these people. The School and the State at the time, would not allow a person to leave unless they were sterilized.
In the movie, Bob carries around a keyboard everywhere he goes. This might be a result of living at the Laconia School for 17 years. If you lived there, you were allowed a cubby hole, a/k/a "locker," where you could keep your things. When you came back for them, sometimes they would be gone. And that was the least of the abuse that they suffered there.
As much as this sounds depressing as hell, it's really a rather uplifting movie of a man who still, after all he has endured in his life, is able to maintain a sense of humor and have friends all around him. There are, of course, people who can't stand to be around him, but isn't that the case with all of us?
Here's the trailer:
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