Cover image for Eyewitness on Alcatraz : true stories of families who lived on the rock
Eyewitness on Alcatraz : true stories of families who lived on the rock
Babyak, Jolene.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley, CA. : Ariel Vamp Press, 1988.
Physical Description:
127 pages : illustrations ; 22 x 26 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV9474.A4 B3 1988 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The public has always been fascinated by Alcatraz Island, site of the former maximum security prison, where the author's father worked and lived off and on for nine years, eventually serving as associate warden. Babyak's description of life on the Rock aptly recalls the strange routines, for example, her daily boat trips to school and back in San Francisco along with some 70 other children. Babyak also discusses her relationships with the other Alcatraz families, the cordial-- but extremely limited-- contact with the inmates, and the occasional incidents of brutality and attempted escape. The book features 76 fascinating photographs, including those of the prison grounds, convict workshops, famous prisoners, and Alcatraz personnel. Index. GC.

Publisher's Weekly Review

As a child of seven, Babyak went to live on ``The Rock'' in the 1950s. Her father, Arthur Dollison, was office manager of the prison's industries and later associate warden. Through interviews with former employees and their families, Babyak compiles a series of inside reminiscences that excludes readers. Dull and gray, like imagined prison walls, the prose is replete with restrictions (``Women and children were forbidden on the shoreline during daylight hours while prisoners were out of their cells. Families were not permitted dogs or cats'') and with ordinary events like fishing (when the water on the west side of the island teemed with bass and ``you could not get your line back without a fish on it''). Perhaps Babyak describes the crux of her book's problem when she admits, ``Seemingly ordinary concerns took on exaggerated meaning on an island prison,'' or when she explains that ``because our fathers felt that few outsiders understood their problems, prison people often remained insulated. Vacations in our household tended to include tours to other prisons . . . '' She provides sparse, dry reports on escapes and attempted escapes, hints vaguely at complex prisoner-guard relationships and repeatedly fails to delve into potentially fascinating material. Photos. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved