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Friday, 12 June 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #56– 11/12 June 1962

During the night of 11/12 June, 1962, three prisoners made their way out of California's Alcatraz prison using spoons and a homemade raft.

Frank Lee Morris and two brothers, Clarence and John Anglin, all convicted of bank robbery, escaped from the notorious island prison in San Francisco Bay, renowned for its high level of security. 

The acting warden said they put dummy heads made of a mixture of soap, toilet paper and real hair in their beds to fool prison officers making night-time inspections.

They then cut through the back of their cells with sharpened spoons, crawled out and onto the roof through a ventilation duct, climbed down a pipe to the ground then made their way to the shore of the island.

Prison officials said they used a makeshift raft of driftwood and raincoats sewn together to make pontoons in order to float away from Alcatraz, also known as The Rock.

Opinion is divided as whether or not they succeeded in their escape, were drowned or eaten by sharks.  The FBI spent years investigating the escape and finally concluded the men had failed.

The film Escape to Alcatraz, starring Clint Eastwood, was based on the story.

Alcatraz was closed in 1963 and is now a museum and tourist attraction.

Source: BBC

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