Personal Narrative: Alcatraz

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Observation Site: Alcatraz

It’s two forty in the afternoon and the warm sun is clouded by the grey sky on Pier 33. The San Francisco weather is being its usual self, causing my hair to dance in all directions. While purchasing our tickets for the Alcatraz tour, a sudden call of a Caucasian man with a raspy and dry voice is made, “Two forty from Pier 33 to Alcatraz is now boarding! Final call!” My mom quickly checks the time on her grandma phone and realizes it’s now two forty-five. We sprint to the gates with our tickets in hand and fear in our eyes of missing the tour. Fortunately, the Caucasian man lied about the final call and we make it to the gate just in time. With a sigh of relief, my mom and I make our way down to the boat and up to
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My heart sinks while taking the first steps into this cell house which was home to thousands of the world’s most infamous criminals. Slowly, I navigate door by door being cautious of what might appear before me. Step by step I climb up the wooden stairs, hearing a slight creak each step I take. A large, rusty arrow pointing right labels “cellhouse” and I cautiously creep through the dark corridor. Light suddenly appears as if it was the light at the end of the tunnel. With two large steps, I enter the cell house. At first glance, there are three stories with about forty cells lined up right against one another. My mouth drops wide open and I notice my mother’s does too. Metal gate after metal gate and only a few windows where light travels in. As I slowly make my way through the forever lasting hallway, each cell is identical to the next. There is one dimmed light bulb, a fish bowl sink, a toddler’s toilet and a metal cot filling almost half of the entire forty five square foot cell. How can one survive in such a confined space for their entire life? A person must go insane being isolated from the fresh air and beautiful outdoors. Each cell is barred with double, inch thick metal bars and stands about 6½ feet tall. The paint is chipped all across the metal, but mostly discolored around the bar five feet high. Believing the wear of the paint is a result from multiple inmates grabbing hold to these bars when trapped inside, I touch the scraped paint and quickly remove my hand. I feel an eerie tingling feeling in my forearm. Behind me, the silence of each person’s curiosity is interrupted by the screams and crying of a young baby boy. He wore a blue baseball cap too large for his head and black Vans around his little feet. The dragged steps of every person are tuned out and the baby is the only sound

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