Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jail Time


On the way home from a ride in the mountains the other day, I had to spend some time in jail. 

Now, I am sure you'd never have thought that good ‘ol Bucky would wind up behind bars. 

But I did, and here's the view from inside to prove it, looking out through the mesh at my faithful scooter: 

Here’s the story.  

My time in jail started in a portable cage on wheels that was once used to house prisoners overnight while they were working off their debt to humanity, but were working far enough from the jail building to preclude their returning each night to sleep there.  Back in the early 1900s, a responsible municipality could purchase a cell on wheels that would be located near the workplace of the convicts, and give them a warm, dry -- and secure -- place to spend the night.  

The one I was a captive in, made by Manly in Dalton, GA, slept 18 men, and had a place for a warming fire, and canvas sides to keep the wind out and the heat in.  The steel wheels originally had solid rubber tires that are long gone. After the county acquired gasoline powered trucks and machinery in the 1930s the cage was no longer used.

I had to check it out thoroughly.  There was a latch on the outside, so I opened the door, went in, and had a look around. 

It didn't feel much like home, frankly.  

Going into "my" cell:   

I was smart enough not to close the door behind me. Sure as shootin' some neighborhood kid would come by and lock the door with me inside. 

No, I didn't get trapped inside and then have to appeal for help from some benevolent soul passing by. 

It is the old Pickens, SC jail that this cage sits outside of.  It has been turned into a museum of sorts.  After I left my outside cell, I served some time spent some time in the main building, originally built in 1902.  

…not in a cell, mind you… 

Anyway, there is only one cell left in the building. This one:

That noose back there was used for the last two public executions in front of the courthouse in Pickens County in the early 20th century. 

The jail looked like this in 1908: 
South Carolina Department of Archives and History
The jailer and his family lived in quarters on the west side of the building.  Some of the barred windows today have shadowy silhouettes of bad guys behind them.  

The jail building houses displays of quite a lot of local history from the olden days.   

There are also some exhibits that describe people who have been important from the area, and there are four Congressional Medal of Honor recipients born around here.  Brave men, those, who served above and beyond the call of duty: 

There is almost always a display of artwork as well.  One of the displays right now is by a Greenville artist, Pat Kilburg.  

She does some of her art using a method called encaustic but uses more familiar materials as well. 
Look here:

I confess that I don't understand the round things as subject matter, but suppose some art connoisseurs must. 

A dozen other artists currently have displays here too.  One of their pieces:
This is a serendipitous one called "the Sky is Falling," by Beth Bullman Regula

I don't understand it either, but it is fun to look at. 

Well, luckily they sprung me after I had looked at all of the displays and artwork, I made my way to freedom, hopped onto the saddle, and headed down the road to the comfort of home.  

Oh.  Try not to go to jail for real, please. 


Matt in Vegas said...

This jail is sweet! Old out in Las Vegas = built before 1985. We need a history shot every once in a while.

Eliseo Weinstein said...

I always get a kick out of old jails and crime based museums. I'll never forget the night tour of Alcatraz I took back in summer 2010, I would definitely recommend it! That is quite the striped convict’s outfit; looks like it would be great for a Hamburglar Halloween costume!