Hello Dear Readers! Today, I thought it might be fun to talk about convicts I have known.
When I was 19, I was a waitress in the coffee shop of the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla Washington. For those of you unfamiliar with Walla Walla — besides hearing it referred to as the town they liked so well they named it twice, Walla Walla is also home to the Washington State Penitentiary.
In the early seventies, somebody (probably one of the “Screws”) said, “I know! Let’s take hardened criminals who have made a few tiny mistakes in their lives like perhaps pillaging, raping and murdering and let them out everyday to go to work as cooks at the Marcus Whitman Hotel!”
And so that’s what they did and that’s how I got to know a few of our nations finest criminals.
George was a sweet little man, polite, personable and quiet. All the waitresses really liked George. One day somebody got up the nerve to ask George why he was in prison. Turns out retiring, polite, little George had murdered his wife with a butcher knife. But not to worry there were extenuating circumstances.
It seems George had been a cook in the army for 20 years where he had developed a horrendous drinking problem. One morning after a night of heavy drinking, he woke up to find he had stabbed his wife to death and he didn’t remember a thing. He said he had no idea why he did it — because he didn’t remember having any problem with his wife.
Unfortunately, George eventually discovered that the Marcus Whitman Hotel Bar was 20o feet away from the kitchen. One day George went into the bar and squirted the nozzle of whiskey directly into his mouth for a really, really long time. We didn’t see George anymore after that. On a bright side, he didn’t use any of the kitchen knives to stab anybody.
Pineapple was a big tall guy with a crazy look in his eye who could barely string two words together. I don’t know why they called him Pineapple. Maybe he was from Hawaii, or maybe it was because he had the IQ of a pineapple either way, one day he got a toothache while he was working in the kitchen, and so he decided the best course of action would be to extract his own tooth with a butcher knife. We never saw Pineapple again after that.
Billy was a smooth talker who got “sent up” for possession of pot or so he liked to tell everyone. And the pot wasn’t even his, he was just holding it for a friend. Billy was like the smart prison guy in movies who was the mastermind behind the scenes and who got the likes of Pineapple to implement his schemes.
One day Billy talked one of the waitresses, Robin, into driving him to the airport after his shift. The authorities were waiting for him when he got off the plane in the next town, and we never saw Billy again.
Robin said the authorities came to talk to her but she didn’t get in any trouble for helping Billy escape. Probably because they could see that in a game of Jeopardy between Pineapple and Robin, Pineapple’s IQ would have won hands down.
Then there was the guy who got drunk, put on a Cher wig and wandered around the coffee shop incoherently until the police finally came and took him away. Oh, but that wasn’t a convict, that was the hotel manager. (But that’s another story for another day.)
Until next time . . . I love you