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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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The Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - January 2, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Two dollars to view The Rock Wcdrmday, January 2, 1974 THE LCTHBRIDQE HERALD-9 Desolation haunts Alralraz ruins By MURRAY OLDERMAN SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. The Rock is beautiful. Maybe to Al (Scarface) Capone in his cramped steel cubicle, it wasn't. Or to Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz, who alternated his life between tender or- nithology and maniacal violence and had to be isolated from the rest of mankind. Or to Machine Gun Kelly, a murderous hoodlum. To them. The Rock was despairing limbo. But sitting in the middle of pristine San Francisco Bay, with its 360-degree sweep of the city, the Golden Gate straits, the rolling headlands of Marin and the mountain backdrop of the East Bay, the island of Alcatraz offers superb and serene vista. Yet it also denotes an eerie history of man's efforts to ex- act retribution from those who traduced the laws of society. Alcatraz has come to mean a barren, forsaken, im- pregnable spit of rock the maximum security prison though it served for only 29 years as the most isolated out- post of desperate criminals. It Had been a military prison for almost three-quarters of a century before that. The main cell block, which looms pastel-like on the es- carpment like an Italian loggia, was built on the foun- dation of an old Army fortress, and the old founda- tion is holding up better than the reinforced concrete walls whose iron rods are rusting from within. When the fog has lifted off the bay and the shimmering .white of the city stands in bold relief to the south, the 22-acre island is the target for a boat across the tide-ripped waters which made escape virtually impossible for the prisoners in their vast iron and concrete straitjacket. Only one man ever definitely made it, so ex- hausted he stumbled right back into the arms of the law. The general public is now able to visit the island for the first time since it was ceded by Mexico to the United States in 1848. It is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and a quarter of a million visitors are expected annually from the San Fran- cisco waterfront one-and a quarter miles away. The trip costs about two dollars. What they'll see is an anomalous mixture of decay- ing rubble' and pastoral scenery, of desecration and destruction mingling with wild floral displays of lavender lippia, red fuchsia and orange nasturtium. "At says Jerry Swof- ford, one of the National Park people leading the trek, "you couldn't walk through the place." There is a permeating mor- bidity to Alcatraz. And most of it focuses on the main cellblock where, down one long corridor, some of the most vicious lawbreakers in criminal history did time in their metal-jacketed 9' by stalls with a cot, a lavatory and a toilet. Pink paint is flecking off the walls. Nicks can still be seen from the bullets which ricocheted in the Battle of '46, when three prisoners and two guards were slain in an attempted breakout. Somberness pervades the corridors, one of which leads to The Hole, where men in solitary were shuttered in complete darkness. And down below, in a big open shower room that looks like the gas chambers of Buchenwald, a guide says, "Two guys were murdered here." Alcatraz was small. It never had more than 302 inmates at any one time. On March 21, 1963, the last of them, bound in waist chains, walked out forever and maybe an era of unenlightened penology went with them. Then six years later, in trooped the American Indians to claim the island for themselves, just as the Spanish had done two cen- turies ago when Juan Manuel de Ayala sailed into the Golden Gate in 1775 and called it Isla de los Alcatraccs (Isle of the The Indians hung on grimly for 18 months and left their imprint. Gutted warden's quarters. Debris. Scattered shoes. Rags. Rooms full of old clothes. It was a hard place to live without heat or water (all fresh water must be tran- sported from the On a corroding water tank they-painted graffiti. "Home of the Free Welcome... Indian Land..." The graffiti will stay. "It's a part of says Swof- ford. The debris and decay will stay as is. It would cost million to restore Alcatraz to a semblance of what it was. And they then would have just an outmoded prison. Through the tangle of barb- ed wire, broken glass and crumbled concrete there is compensating beauty in magnificent views. From the shell where the warden once sat in his living room, a wide- angle bayscape. The best to you from Palm. Cottage Cheese. PALM DAIRIES LIMITED WHOLE FRESH BREAD TOMATOES Polly Ann Fresh White or Brown Sliced 20 oz. net wt. loaf SPECIAL Safeway Prices Hamburger Fixin's French, Cheeseburger 8V4 oz. Net Pkg. NOTICE Commancing Jin. Our Naw Store Hours Will Be WON. TUES. WED. A.M. to 6 P.M. PRICES EFFECTIVE IN LETHBRIDGE JAN. 2-5, 1974 HERE'S YOUR CHANCE TO SAVE EXTRA BIG GROUND COFFEE FRUIT JUICE WHOLE PLUMS ALMOND CRUNCH CHEESE LOAF ICE CREAM ORANGE JUICE BREAD DOUGH BATH. TISSUE SalawayAIIPurposs 11b. bag Tasta Tails Pink Natural Pwa From Concantnta 48 fl. oz. tin Town Housa Canada Choica 14fl.oMin 21 4i Davids Biscuits 14 oz. not wt. bag Lucarna Procass Zlb.loaf 79 PEANUT BUTTER Emprass Homoginizid lea Box Jir NEW AT SAFEWAY 32 02. not wt. jar SAFEWAY PRICE ai. THURS.4 FRI. A.M. to 9 P.M SAT. 9 A.M. to 6 Snow Star Assortad Flavours 3pl.ctn.............. BalAirFrozanConcantrata 16fl.oz.tin BalAirFrozanWbita 5-1lb.loavaslnpkg. Brocada Assortad Colors 600-1 ply 4 roll pkg. COTTAGE CHEESE Locum Grinned Ural ar SMKH Curd ar 2% M.F. 32 az. an wt. eta. SPECIAL 77 SAFEWAY PMCfS PEA SOUP Habitant Ready To Serva 28 fl 01. tin FIXIN'S 37C Frenchs Chicken Noodle TVioz. rwtwt pkg 99V Noxzema Deodorant to oz. wt. tin Uf NAVEL ORANGES Sunkist Size 72s SPECIAL California Had Siza Sffs Spacial GRAPEFRUIT B.C. APPLES CRISP CUCUMBERS RUTABAGAS _fc, FRESH BROCCOLI PARSNIPS 00 Can. Fey. Mm or Can. Ex. Fey. QVIWII UWltHHBM wfJPJIfJ MJ 4179 assr: ORANGES 2 f 2 L 29 ;