Such was the beginning of our evening tour of Alcatraz. It was the last stop for the most criminal of criminals. I read on the wall, "You break the rules, you get sent to prison. You break the rules in prison, you get sent to Alcatraz."
While we were touring the prison, we are treated like we were convicts. We were ordered to 'walk on the left side', 'stop at the end of the hall,' and 'enter your cell'.
We learned that the prison guards and their families lived on the island! They had a recreation centre for the children and all sorts of modern conveniences. The children would sail to San Francisco for school and come home at the end of the day. They felt so safe that they didn't even lock their doors. Most of the guards also worked at Ghirardelli's chocolate factory across the Bay. They brought home free chocolate for the children. The convicts were tortured by the smell of chocolate wafting past their deprived nostrils!
I don't know how the inmates survived this lifestyle. The intent was to keep the criminals locked up until they were no longer considered "disruptive" or "incorrigible". Al Capone was kept there but spent most of his time in the prison hospital. Some couldn't wait to get out. Five of them committed suicide and fourteen attempted escape.
I was ready to escape after about two hours. The place gave me the willies.
But, despite my discomfort, I took the time to choose an appropriate gift for the children I had to leave at home. They will be so excited to receive the genuine imitation gold Alcatraz fridge magnet.