This past weekend, Husband and I flew to Berkeley to spend a few days with No. 1. She's winding up her first year there but had a couple of days free for the old parents. Walking up and down those hills, I did indeed feel old.
We spent time hanging around her apartment and tormenting her cat, Nickolas, and we went to Napa for most of Saturday where we toured the Hess Winery and had dinner at a lovely French restaurant in town.
On Sunday, we took the train into San Francisco and toured Alcatraz. It's something I've always wanted to do, and we managed to get tickets for an afternoon tour on a clear day. A clear day in San Francisco! We took the audio tour, which is the only way to see this place, because it gives you detailed descriptions from former guards and inmates, and the eerie sound effects give you a slight sense of what it would be like to be held in the prison—whistles, slamming metal doors, metal cups clammering on steel bars. The lesson here—don't break the law, and don't get caught if you do.
This is the island as seen from the boat.
This is the sign that greets you as you step foot on the dock. The graffiti is left over from the Native American occupation during 1970, a fascinating piece of history that I vaguely remember. You can read more about it here.
The typical cell was about 5 x 9 with a built-in desk and seat, a toilet, a sink, and a cot.
And the typical cell block was rows of these cells three stories high. Here are descriptions of the cell life from some of the former prisoners.
This is cell block D, the notorious block where the worst of the worst were kept, like Al Capone and Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz—listen to this about this part of the prison.
This is a cell in solitary confinement, a small, dank room with not a piece of furniture and no light. Once the door was shut, you were left in the complete dark. This is a chilling description of how men dealt with this punishment.
Outside of all the gray misery of the federal prison, this is the view as seen from the main office.