Saturday, April 24, 2010

Alcatraz (SF Trip Day 8)

On our last full day, we took the boat out to Alcatraz. Between the boat ride (only about 12 minutes) and our time on the island, we spent about 4 hours.

This is the man who greeted us on the island. He was demonstrating how one potential escapee had hoarded some medical gloves. He blew them up and put them in his prison suit for insulation against the cold water. He floated away towards freedom. The current took him to the Golden Gate Bridge... where police were waiting for him.
The island also has plenty of nature. There are flower gardens and we saw a lot of volunteers working in them. The island is also an "important nesting site for many native bird species, including the Western Gull (in photos), Black-crowned Night Heron, and Brandt's Cormorant." It was the beginning of nesting season for the gulls, so this area was closed. (I took photo from the other side of the fence.)

Here is a typical cell at Alccatraz. Can you imagine living in this tiny space? Yikes!

And, this is a cell in the infamous Cell Block D. I don't remember reading why it was bigger. Maybe because they get out less? Anyway, I think this is a little more livable. Just a little.

Here is Alex in the recreational yard. The inmates played sports like handball here. As you go down the big steps to enter the yard, you see a beautiful view of SF. I wonder how the inmates felt about this.

Inside one cell was this poster about Officer Miller who was killed during the famous 1946 escape attempt.

And, here is the son of another officer who was injured during that escape attempt. He has written a book, along with his father, titled Guarding the Rock. (I bought a copy and he is signing it in the photo.) This man, Mr. Arnie Lageson, actually spent part of his childhood on Alcatraz. Did you know that many of the families of the men who worked at Alcatraz actually lived on the island? The children took the boat into SF for school and other activities. And, they had quite a little community on the Rock. I'm not done with the book, but I'm finding it very interesting.  

I also found it interesting that some of the inmates were so well-read. There was a library where the inmates could borrow books. Also, they could use money they earned (for example, they operated a laundry) on art supplies, musical instruments, etc. So, some inmates were artists, like this one. They also had a band, though the above author said it wasn't very good. He also pointed out that, had these inmates discovered these talents/passions earlier in their life, perhaps they would have never spent time on the Rock.


Rhonda said...

Thank you so much for sharing this information. I had no idea that some of the families of the working men lived on the island. I also was amazed at the story of the escapee and the medical gloves. Very interesting.

Jane Deskis said...

I enjoyed reading through your SF blogs. It brought back some fun memories of when I lived in Castro Valley, training for the Olympics and experienced the '89 quake.
Loved the pictures.

wdworkman said...

How interesting! I'm going to see if our library has that book.

Janet W

Robin said...

Cade popped over to see the photos from the prison. Fascinating! He thinks it's not quite as horrible as he imagined. I'm not a fan of that recreation yard, though. Couldn't they have planted some grass?

Related Posts with Thumbnails