It has now been 50 years since it closed.
Alcatraz, the legendary prison in California, remains etched in every person’s mind who has seen it once. Only 3 people ever escaped that place. No one knows if they ever made it to the other side of the bay.. on the shore. The guards believed that they drowned, while the rest of the prisoners wanted to believe that they had reached the shore. There was a certain romanticism in it. Here is an interesting NPR program with interviews with two different people who had spent time in that prison – one an inmate and other a guard.
Inmate is Robert Schibline, who was caught robbing banks while on shore leave from the Navy — and used the aircraft carrier on which he was stationed as a getaway vehicle. The guard is Jim Albright, who escorted the last inmate out of the prison on March 21, 1963.
Both remember their first day at Alcatraz:
“Well, the reputation of Alcatraz went far and wide, even to us convicts,” Schibline says. “I had a bit of a trepidation when I got off the bus, and seeing that thing sitting on the island, out in the bay, shrouded by fog, I thought, ‘Oh boy, here I go again, into the world unknown!'”
Albright was also nervous on his first day on “The Rock.”
“I remember I was only 24 when I started there, and I had no previous experience,” he says. “So it was kinda fearful, and you’d be apprehensive and it was exciting and everything, especially when you walked through the door for the first time and they slammed the door behind you. Because you didn’t know what to expect.”
Here is the discussion with the two from NPR’s All Things Considered: