Saturday, January 9, 2010

More Yuma Activities

We gather in the morinings for hugs and mugs and to find out the activities planned for the day.

Just a small gathering for happy hour.

Having lunch in Algondones, Mexico.

And then their was the Talent Show. About a dozen people showcased what they can do. Some sang, some played and sang, some told jokes and one even read us one of his poems. Here is Bob entertaining us on his banjo.

Here he is playing the guitar. He also played a tune on his mandolin as well.

The president of the WINs, Sharon, and Dick sang us a duet.

James made us laugh with his storytelling and jokes.

Freddy played the fiddle.

Joanne sang us some old favorites.

And Paul was our MC. Sorry to those I did not publish, but I didn't get pictures of all the participants.

Another activity was the trip to Yuma Territorial Prison. In 1876 the prison inmates built this prison in which they were incarcerated. Very little is left of the actual prison since it was long abandonded before becoming a historical site and museum in the 1939. The view above is from 1895.

Only in operation for 33 years, it housed over 3000 inmates, including 29 women. Although many were in for murder, no capital punishment or executions were done at the prison. If someone was to be hung, they were taken to the county jail and hung. The nickname for the prison was 'hellhole of the west', but it wasn't due to lack of facilities or treatment of the inmates, but from the intense heat they endured during Yuma summers. Actually this prison was state of the art for its time, having electricity and flushing toilets and even telephones. The inmates were required to work in fields or on building projects, but they could earn money by creating various crafts, such as woodworking and basket making and selling these to the locals. Except for basic meals and clothing, the inmates had to purchase all other goods. The inmates had access to good medical care, a library, wood working shop and many other shops, since everything a prisoner might need, was made on site.

Not much is left today, but there are cells you can walk though and the yard where they could exercise is still there. Even the dark cell, where the inmates were sent when they misbehaved, is still standing.

Following the closing of the prison in 1909, it was the local high school from 1910-1014. Appropriately the high school sports teams are called the Yuma Inmates. The place was largely abandoned and many of the buildings were ransacked. In the 1930s it was the site for many western movies starring such actors as Gene Autry and even John Wayne.

One story told was about the time movies were being made. Since many of the actors were actually quite short, the doors were lowered so the actors would look bigger on screen. Many of the doors today now have 'low doorway-caution' signs as you go through.


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