Homeward Bound

As I was driving my truck today, with the stereo dialed to my favorite oldies channel, a song began playing and I was instantly transported back to 1966. The song was “Homeward Bound” by Simon and Garfunkel. I could see myself, clear as day, a fifteen year-old boy lying face down on the concrete floor of the solitary building in the Oklahoma State School for Boys at Helena, Oklahoma.

I lay my head close to the door so I could listen to the guard’s radio playing. His desk was at the end of a corridor with isolation cells on either side. There was no way to see out of the small window, because it was covered with a metal door, but I could still hear the music through the crack at the bottom. That was the only good thing about the “no talking” policy. It provided absolute silence except for the jingling of keys when the guard made his hourly rounds to ensure we were all still breathing.

As I listened to the song I made up my mind that I was going homeward bound as soon as I was released back into general population. After my time in the hole was served I was sent back to my dormitory and was welcomed back by my friends. I told them that I was leaving and they could have whatever they wanted out of my lock box after I was gone. Two of them, Gary and Jimmy, smiled and Gary said, “You’re not leaving me here.” Jimmy made the same declaration so we started watching the different night shift guards to figure out the best time and night to leave, and how to get out of the third floor of our dorm. The institution was wrapped with a very high chain-link fence with three strands of barbed wire, but we were young and knew we could make that climb, easily. We would worry about the barbed wire atop the fence when we got to it.

After a few days we discovered that a guard named Mr. Hess was our best bet, because he always went down to the second floor to visit another guard after lights out.

The windows were covered with metal louvers, but they were on the inside of the actual windows, so we could work on loosening those without having to raise the window sash. Jimmy brought a screwdriver from the shop in which he worked and as soon as Mr. Hess left the floor we began working on the louvers. I was surprised how easy it was to spread the sides of the metal frame and remove the louvers. After taking out three of the slats we squeezed through the opening and dropped to the ground three floors below.  It was a very dark night and I could not see the ground, so I had to guess as to when I would land. I guessed wrong. My legs were too relaxed and when I hit the ground my knee came up and caught me below my left eye nearly knocking me unconscious. After a few seconds, staying in the shadows as long as possible,  we made out way to the fence.

Thanks to adrenalin and fear of being caught we scaled the fence in no time, but then we came to the barbed wire. One thing I can tell you about barbed wire, that is slanted inward, at the top of chain-link fence is you either go over it or you don’t. If you go over you will get cut. We tried our hardest to make it over clean, but that didn’t happen. When we hit the ground on the outside of the fence we were all cut in several place.  Luckily, the cuts were mostly superficial, but there were cuts on our hands, legs, stomachs, and my face.  With the bloody cut under my chin and my black eye I looked as though I had just went twelve rounds in a boxing ring. However, I was out and homeward bound. Or, so I thought.

Nineteen hours later I was caught and returned to the hole. I only spent two weeks in solitary and was released back into gen pop. My friends asked when I was going to jump the fence again, and I informed them that my fence jumping days were over. Later on in life I attempted to take a couple more unauthorized road trips, but that is for another day. Several Simon and Garfunkel songs make me think of those days at Helena, Oklahoma, but I still listen to them today.

“Youth is wasted on the young.”  George Bernard Shaw.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lt. Pat Grimes – Oklahoma Highway Patrol

I met Lt. Pat Grimes in late 1967 and 1968. He stopped me, at least, 8 times along Southwest Blvd between West Tulsa, Ok and Oakhurst, OK for not having shocks installed on my car. The first time he pulled me over he said, “You looked like a damn rubber ball coming down the road.” I had a 1958 Ford.
He ordered me to get new shocks. Over several months he stopped me every time he saw me to see if I had gotten shocks. I hadn’t. I never got the shocks and he never gave me a ticket. I was a seventeen year-old kid and he knew I didn’t have money. He was the nicest man you’d ever want to meet, on or off the force. He always laughed at me when I’d start pleading for a break, although he had given me more than I deserved. I could see the grin on his face as soon as he came to a stop behind my old Ford. There was always someone with me and I’d say, “We might be walking home this time.” But, I always drove away without a ticket.

Several years later, when I heard he had been killed by two Oklahoma Prison escapees, I could see his smiling face as clear as day, and my eyes watered as I remembered how he had treated me. Almost thirty-nine years later and I still can see his face. It’s grown faded, some, but it’s still there.  I guess sometimes the good do die young. There was also a Tulsa City Policeman who knew me, but I won’t tell that story in the same post as Lt. Grimes. Suffice it to say, the city cop died at a very old age. Click the link below to see a video of the day Lt. Grimes died as told by his twin brother.

R.I.P. LT. Pat Grimes

“The Hole”

Last week I watched a couple of episodes of Lockup. For a jail pod full of tattooed, muscled, hard-core criminals they sure whined a lot. Especially those who are on lockdown for violating rules of the institution, fighting, or staff assaults. They insist that being placed in the “hole” is cruel and unusual punishment and is causing them to act up even more than before they were locked in the “hole.” You notice I have put “hole” in quotation marks. I’ll get to that shortly.

One inmate ranted about his predicament. “They throw you in here and lock you up like an animal and expect you to behave, and respect them. How would they like it if they were in here? I bet they would act up, too. They would probably tear this fucking place apart. Nobody should be in here.” Well, yes, serious offenders should be locked up. It burns my ass when I hear this bullshit. Nobody grabbed them up and threw them into jail. They broke the law and were arrested. Plain and simple. They have nobody to blame except themselves. However, good luck making those idiots understand the difference. Don’t break the law and you won’t be “thrown in there.”

Some people just don’t know when it’s as good as it’s going to get. If you’re in jail awaiting trial, or bond, you can pass the time in one of two ways. You can make the best of it and use your time to read, write letters, or play cards and chess with other inmates, or you can show your ass and get disciplinary reports. If you choose the latter you will find yourself in the “hole.”

Now, I’ll address the “hole.” They are NOT in the “hole.’ The “hole” no longer exists. They are in a plain cell not unlike the cells that the other inmates occupy. They have blankets, mats, pillow, and sheets. They are provided with soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and towels. They are locked up for twenty-three hours per day, but let out of those cells for an hour a day for exercise. More importantly, they have lights.

Back in the ‘70s I spent several stints in the hole and I can promise you one thing. Today’s lawbreakers have it made compared to those times.

The true “holes” at Big Mac were in the basement beneath the East Cell House. They were built with concrete blocks and sealed up with a solid steel door. There was no bed rack, bench, chair, sink or toilet. It consisted of a concrete floor with a hole in the center that resembled a shower drain minus the slotted cover. That hole was the toilet. That was where the term “hole” originated.

There were no lights, and the cell was black as night when they first slammed the door shut. After a while your eyes would adjust and you could see well enough to hit the hole. Well, most of the time.

It was dark, damp and cold year round. I did time in the hole in August and had to lie on the damp floor in a fetal position to stay warm enough to nap. I was given a stack of stale white bread and plastic gallon jug of water twice a day. There was no way I could eat bread in that dank, smelly cell so I concentrated on comfort. I saved my bread and made a pillow out of it. I placed it against the wall and laid my head on it to get some relief from the hard floor and wall.

One night as I lay dozing off and on I felt something near my head and sat upright. It was a large sewer rat trying to eat my bread pillow. I jumped to my feet and kicked at it, but missed and it ran back down the hole. I only lost a small piece of my pillow so I placed the gallon jug over the hole and went back to sleep. Or as close to real sleep as one could get under those conditions. I would love to see those whiners on Lockup get a taste of the real “hole,” then maybe I could feel for them.

One last point and I’ll get off the soapbox. I’m in no way bragging, or proud, of my past. I just accept it. I blame nobody for jail, prison, or the hole. I put myself into all of those situations and I deserved everything I received. I have nobody to blame but me. I broke the rules and the laws of society. I paid for those indiscretions and regret taking that path through life, but it was what it was.

Mine Eyes Have Seen…

Just rambling again. You know, like I always do. Nothing important, just something on my mind  that bugs me, and I wish people wouldn’t do in public. It went this way:

Today I had to make a run to Walmart. One of the least favorite things I have to do. I made a left turn on the cereal isle and about halfway down the isle I saw a woman, dressed to the nines, walking ahead of me. She looked really nice. I had impure thoughts. Her hand was up around her face. I could tell this because her head was tilted to the left and her arm was bent upward. I thought she was probably touching up her lipstick. She stopped to look at the Post Toasties, so passed her on the left. As I did so, I realized that she was not putting on lipstick, after all. She had her right index finger, buried to the second joint, up her right nostril. I stifled my gag reflex, muttered daaaaaaamn, and rolled on.

That is why I always use those handy-wipes at the front door to wipe down the shopping cart handle. I suggest you do that, too. I only wish they passed out latex gloves to shoppers.

A Stranger’s Tales

 

 

I spent last night sitting with a very strange-looking man. I have no idea where he came from, but the man told me stories in a smooth, but somewhat gravely, hypnotic voice. His eyes seemed to change color with every sentence he spoke and his skin was an eerie reddish hue.

I wanted to leave, but when I tried to stand he would begin another story and I would sit down in wide-eyed awe. He knew things that no other could possibly know, and told of happiness, pain, life and death as if it were all one and the same.

The man said a book had been written about 3500 years ago and was intentionally misinterpreted so it could be used to benefit the Kings, Queens, and wealthy land owners of all the kingdoms across the land. It became nothing more than a rule book to keep the poor and enslaved in line, and in fear of what would happen if they didn’t obey. The reddish colored man claimed he only came into existence after the book had been translated over and over to fit the needs of each generation of Lords and Ladies. I asked if that meant he only existed in my imagination and after a short time he said, “I’m no longer sure if I am real, or not. I guess I’ll be real as long as the book exists, but when it’s gone and faded from memory, the way of most ancient tales, I’ll fade away, also.” I told him that he sounded as if he wanted the book to be forgotten. He just looked toward the ceiling, shook his head, and started another story.

Near dawn, after the man had finished the last of his stories, he sat quietly for a few moments as if he had forgotten I was there. Then he slowly stood, walked across the room and poured us a drink. I noticed his yellow finger nails as he served me red wine in a long-stemmed glass. I hesitantly took a small sip, but he drank his down in one swallow, and said, “Don’t worry about it. They’re only stories from a once feared man who is fading into obscurity. Truly, I was never a threat to anyone.”

I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again he was gone. I knew it was only a dream… until I got out of bed and stepped on a very fragile long-stemmed wine glass. I guess small remnants of a long-lost belief that was forced on me as a child still exists, but it’s quickly dying. I won’t hold that against my mother. Having been born in 1916, at a time of world-wide religious fanaticism, she didn’t know any better.

Pictures Of 1973 McAlester Oklahoma Prison Riot

These pictures were taken by various agencies and individuals during and after the prison riot that happened in 1973 at McAlester, Oklahoma of which I was a participant. The man being helped by a group of convicts suffered a gunshot wound as he and I were running toward a building for shelter. Several shots ricocheted off the bricks as we ran through the door. One slug hit him in the left side of his back and exited his right lower abdomen. The shooting was unprovoked. The guards who were shooting at us were outside the fence and we were inside. They were in no danger, whatsoever.

I do not own these pictures, nor claim ownership of same. I am using them for references and demonstration purposes only.

McAlester Prison Riot 40 Years McAlester Prison Riot 40 Years McAlester Prison Riot 40 Years McAlester Prison Riot 40 Years McAlester Prison Riot 40 Years McAlester Prison Riot 40 Years McAlester Prison Riot 40 Years OSP2 McAlester Prison Riot 40 Years OSP Riot 1973 041 OSP1 OSP Riot 1973 040 OSP Riot 1973 039 OSP Riot 1973 038 OSP Riot 1973 037 OSP Riot 1973 035 OSP Riot 1973 033 OSP Riot 1973 032 OSP Riot 1973 031 OSP Riot 1973 030 OSP Riot 1973 029 OSP Riot 1973 028 OSP Riot 1973 027 OSP Riot 1973 026 OSP Riot 1973 025 OSP Riot 1973 024 OSP Riot 1973 023 OSP Riot 1973 022 OSP Riot 1973 021 OSP Riot 1973 020 OSP Riot 1973 019 OSP Riot 1973 016 OSP Riot 1973 015 OSP Riot 1973 014 OSP Riot 1973 012 OSP Riot 1973 011 OSP Riot 1973 010 OSP Riot 1973 009 OSP Riot 1973 006 OSP Riot 1973 005 OSP Riot 1973 004 OSP Riot 1973 001 McAlester Prison Riot 40 Years

The Garden Path

The Garden Path

AP2 Industrial Area