Ghosts on the Rock

June 14, 2009

The Rock receded quickly in the wake as the Alcatraz Clipper sped away from the island toward the San Francisco skyline, and with it, the ghosts of my past, dissolving into the mist.


A dozen years ago my parents and I spent my most wonderful birthday in San Francisco, along with DEX3 and two friends. A highlight of our day was doing the Alcatraz tour together.

Since then, life has moved on and so has everyone in our little group.

But the mystique of Alcatraz remains for me.

I can’t walk up the steep hill to the cellblock without remembering DEX3 pushing my mother up the hill in a wheelchair. Today, a motorized cart takes infirm visitors up. But back then, pushing that chair was quite an effort.

I never tire of the very well-done audio tour, the Alcatraz story told so effectively by former inmates and guards.

The tiny cells, several outfitted like they were when inmates inhabited them. One of the photos here is a replica of the way the never-found escapees dummied up their beds to make their escape.

The library, a few bookshelves still remaining. Alcatraz inmates were some of the best read in the federal prison system, we’re told.

The big mess hall and the requirement that prison meals be not only healthy and nutritious, but attractively presented.

The remnants of the warden’s big house.

Looking at the ruins, I wonder how many more generations of visitors will get to see this slice of our history. When will the sea air finally crumble the remains to dust?

The night tour was far less crowded than day tours, and we enjoyed a beautiful and sunny San Francisco evening. It was just starting to get dark as we left the dock to return to the city. The chilled air was comfortable, and as we pulled out, the horizon stretched pink across the sky.

Ahead of us, the lights of San Francisco.

Behind us, the sky began turning dark, and the lighthouse atop the Rock shone as a lone beacon of the past.

One comment on “Ghosts on the Rock
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