Mark

Close your eyes and imagine hearing the sound of a boat’s horn, seeing a bright light swaying in the night sky from a lighthouse. Imagine having your hands and feet shackled, and listening to the sound of metal chains dragging across the ground. Those are the sounds the notorious gangster Al Capone heard on the chilly winter day of January 6, 1939. Although the prison wasn’t just a prison but was also a military base. It was a military base until 1939. 1939 was also the year it became a prison. Through the gates was when Al met Harvey Bailey “America’s #1 bank robber” at the time. He also met Robert Stroud “Bird Man”. Al Capone was one of the most dangerous and feared gangsters of all time.The fear of walking through the gates of Alcatraz, not knowing you would leave alive or in a body bag would haunt a grown man for life. There were 28 confirmed deaths. Five by suicide, eight by murder, and fifteen by natural causes. Al Capone was one of the lucky ones to walk out of the gates. He was released early after 8 years of an 11 year sentence. He died shortly after that on January 25, 1947 due to a cardiac arrest. However back at Alcatraz there was an escape attempt by three of the luckiest men who were John Anglin, Clarence Anglin, and Frank Morris. Although Frank Morris didn’t live John and Clarence did. They escaped by scraping off bit by bit of the concrete walls and escaped using the sewers. Once they reached the San Francisco bay they escaped by using a homemade raft which was made from stolen rain coats. The brothers John and Clarence still haven’t been found to this day.Robert Stroud aka “Bird Man” was one of the famous prisoners among many at Alcatraz. He was there for brutally murdering a bartender in 1909 for not paying one of his assistants. He was sentenced to 54 years in Alcatraz. During his imprisonment he self-taught himself to become an ornithologist which is the study of birds, that is how he got the name “Bird Man”. After Alcatraz closed down the prisoners were transferred. Robert Stroud was transferred to United States Medical Center For Federal Prisoners which is located in Springfield, Missouri.Robert Stroud died in 1963.Harvey Bailey had many names such as “America’s #1 bank robber” and “The machine gun bandit”. He was involved with the St. Valentine Massacre in Chicago. He robbed the Lincoln National Bank in Lincoln, Nebraska. He took over $1 million. The $1 million that has been robbed from Lincoln National Bank has still not been found to this day. The first time he was caught he was transferred to the Dallas county skyscraper which was the so called “Escape proof” prison. Harvey Bailey has escaped more than 5 prisons in his lifetime. It has been said that Harvey Bailey is tough to keep behind bars. He stole more money than John Dillinger who was also a very well known robber during the Prohibition era. His friends when he was in Alcatraz were the infamous George “Machine gun” Kelly and Al Capone. He was released shortly after Alcatraz closed down. In 1963 Alcatraz closed its doors for the final time. However even though there are no infamous gangsters walking through the gates, or stone cold killers behind the bars Alcatraz has become a museum because of the most famous people in American history were placed. Today you can go to Alcatraz on a tour whether you want to see where these famous men were housed or routines they had. There is still a lot of activity going on there. From museum tours, to haunted tours they say Alcatraz is one of the most haunted prisons to date (History channel, 2010) . When Al Capone was an inmate at Alcatraz he learned how to play the banjo. Today there are some people out there that say that you can still hear him playing the banjo (USA Today, 2016). Among the crying sounds, moaning sounds, slamming of doors. So the question is “Did the ones that were housed here ever really leave or are they still reliving the sentences they had at Alcatraz.