Ever since I had seen the movie “3:10 to Yuma”, I had been dying to visit Yuma, AZ. I love the romanticism behind old west shoot ’em up movies. I guess it goes with the darker side of my personality. I enjoy mafia and war movies, too. As I sit on my comfy couch eating popcorn with my favorite “blankie”, I like to pretend I could be as brave as these soldiers or hit men. Something has always fascinated me about the courage it takes to stare death in the face whether it be for a valiant or sinister cause. It’s somewhat of an escape of some sort, even if I am in my footy pj’s.
…And I guess it didn’t hurt that Christian Bale was in it, too.
So we left Picacho Peak, AZ this morning and guess what? It took us three hours and ten minutes to get to Yuma. What a coincidence! We had actually been here for a quick stop last summer, but it was 111 degrees and the only time we went outside was to enter into a Cracker Barrel which, by the way, had a shower that misted you as you walked through the front door. Yes, it was THAT STINKIN’ HOT!!
But this time, it was a comfortable 67 degrees and I was so excited to finally be able to visit the Yuma Territorial Prison.
There it is again, that demented side of me.
Yuma Territorial Prison was an institution opened in 1876 and contained some of the most hardened criminals of the old west. A gunfighter from the famous OK Corral, a female stagecoach robber, an outlaw from the Earp-Clanton feud and over 3,000 other prisoners in its 33 year reign. The prison sits on the Colorado River and to outsiders it was dubbed “the country club prison”,because it had such a great view and a state of the art hospital. But to inmates who knew the truth it was a hell within hell. With most tiny cells housing six men the temperatures would bake them and the bed bugs would bite them. The bed bugs were so bad that in 1901 the wooden beds were scrapped and iron beds were brought in. My suspicion is that the wardens wife was tired of having them in HER bed.
But the most disturbing area in the whole prison was the dark cell. This was solitary confinement at its finest. The warden would stuff as many of the inmates as it could hold and the door would be closed. No light, no beds, no toilet. Nothing but the sweaty disgusting man beside you and time. I entered this ominous space and I swear I could smell the putrid scent of men sweltering in their own filth. It was beyond creepy!
As we left the prison, we spotted a section that featured the women of Yuma Territorial Prison. Over the years, there were actually 29 women sentenced to spend their days there. Laneybug and Boober decided to get into character and experience what it might be like to be in their shoes. They also decided that the model size scene of the gallows in the glass case was a perfect size for their Barbie dolls. Unfortunately…
it looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.