Reflecting Through Echoes

Posts Tagged ‘Birdman of Alcatraz

the last stop…

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p. 17. Atlanta was a maximum security federal joint. Known among the cons, as the “Big Top,” it was, along with the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, the last stop before Alcatraz.


“Big Top,” I love the nicknames that these cons come up with. I had to mention Leavenworth as well because it’s only about 40 miles away. Leavenworth was nicknamed the “Hot House” because of the Kansas heat and humidity. Sounds lovely but I bet it is still better than the damp and cold climate of Alcatraz.

p. 18. West arrived on the Rock the same month as I [Jolene] did as a seven year old in April 1954.

The way Jolene describes moving from Iowa to actually living on Alcatraz itself is rather fun. I get the sense that she enjoyed the change. It’s not something I ever thought about but of course there had to be regular families living on Alcatraz. What a strange childhood that would be, going to school and playing right next to the worst of the worst.

p. 20. While both Atlanta and Leavenworth held two to three thousand men, Alcatraz averaged only about two hundred and sixty -or about one percent.

Jolene explains that these men weren’t here because of their crimes but because of their behavior inside other prisons. These were truly the psychotic. When punishment did nothing to change behavior, off to Alcatraz they go. Can you imagine if you were actually wrongfully convicted and were sent here? On the plus side though the place was tidy. I have a feeling that being tidy is going to factor in, in a big way, for the escape attempt. I confess, I know what it is already but vow to keep it a secret for now.

p. 20. …the mattresses sank like urine and he could touch both walls with his arms outstretched, it was what West would have called a friggin’ luxury apartment: one man to a cell.

The smell you get get used too. The tight space you could get used too even. Not having to share it with another convict, priceless. For someone like West, prison life must have been a regular routine. He was in and out for most of his adult life. I remember the character Andy Dufresne from the film “The Shawshank Redemption” as the years slowly passed by, a sense of familiarity sort of settled in him. It was what it was.

p. 27. Tell me about ’46.

Allen West listening to all the previous escape attempts in the thirties and the disastrous attempt in 46. The escape attempt from forty-six left five men dead. I could have swore their was a movie filmed about this but could not find anything on imdb. I found “The Birdman of Alcatraz” features a brief scene of the battle. Maybe it was another prison take over film of the one I’m thinking about. Curses.



Written by Mr. Lake

February 3, 2011 at 6:34 pm