Family history stories

Grandma in Prison?

Yesterday’s post was about taking the opportunity this holiday season to learn about your relative’s life. (click here for starter questions) It brought to mind some of my favorite stories my grandmother would tell me when she was alive (still miss her dearly). Here are two…grandma-morgan-me

Grandma Georgette (pictured right with my daughter and me) grew up in San Francisco.  She attended high school near the wharf right up the hill from the Ghirardelli Chocolate factory. Because this was 1928 or so… air conditioning was not an option, thus windows were opened to cool the building. Grandma would laugh remembering her difficulty concentrating while smelling chocolate! Can you imagine trying to keep your focus under those circumstances?

Grandma had a good friend whose father worked at Alcatraz prison (an island prison in San Francisco bay). The two girls would go to Alcatraz Island and visit. There they had a bowling alley the girls would frequent. In those days, the bowling pins were reset by hand and that was a prisoner’s job. When asked if it was scary, Grandma just shrugged stating that guards were around… they were fine! I’ve visited Alcatraz and still can’t quite imagine my grandma in the prison bowling while prisoners reset the pins.

1200px-the_social_hall_alcatraz
Ruined Social Hall of Alcatraz                                             (By Carraroe1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17215818)

(Fun Fact: The Social Hall, also known as the Officers’ Club, was located on the island of Alcatraz. The club was a social venue for the Federal Penitentiary workers and their families on the island to unwind after a hard week’s work dealing with America’s most hardened criminals. It was burned down by a fire of disputed origins during the Occupation of Alcatraz in 1970, leaving a shell which still remains. The club had a small bar, library, large dining and dance floor, billiards table, ping pong table and a two-lane bowling alley, and was the centre of social life on the island for the employees of the penitentiary.)

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