´¯`•. July 12, 2017

Jackson Day Trip (3 of 3):  In the Clink

Once upon a time, I went to Jackson, Michigan.  Yes, I’ve been there, before.  See, in case nobody’s noticed, I love to write.  Mostly to people.  (Although… echo! …echo… echo… echo…)  But I had a penpal all through high school, then wrote to Pop and a few other soldiers in Saudi during the Gulf War.  Then I went to college, and a girlfriend hooked me up thru prison ministries with two penpals – one in Jackson Prison.  So when we were near there, I asked to go and visit him, and shock to me! , my parents agreed to let me go.   Oi, the adventures I’ve always been responsible for dragging people on…!

The guy was skeery.  His letters were ‘advanced reading’, to put it lightly, and he was a phenomenal artist – decorated the pages with art I hadn’t seen since my bestie in High School, Dan.  Except Dan was harmless, and I was pretty sure this guy was a bouncer-beating terrifying-mastermind-slash-hulk-of-a-thug.  He was… intimidating.  And a little creepy.  Okay, SO creepy that I couldn’t write to him again, after meeting him.  Skeery person at destination, abort, repeat abort!  ( /end of story about my first visit to Jackson.)

If you were to tell me that someday I’d go back to Jackson Prison, I would’ve laughed at you.  Because the place is for BAD guys.  Like BAD bad guys.  And yeah, I went to Marquette Maximum Security prison twice (once to Christmas carol, once to meet a girlfriend’s fiance.  The same girl who hooked me up with my penal penpals, yes.  Have blogged about it before -now’s not the time).  But Marquette had a quiet, repentant, solemn kind of a feel.  Jackson has more of a ‘The Gates Themselves Will Kill You Dead’ kind of a feel.

Anyhow, it turns out that not only was Jackson prison the first prison in the state, it was the largest walled prison in the world.  For something like a hundred years!  For Michigan, that’s impressive.

And I found out that there was a museum there… it’s called ‘Cell Block 7‘, and so I looked it up, and… well, the pictures are impressive:

We did not go to Cell Block 7 on our visit to Jackson.  Why?  Because it would’ve cost my family seventy-five dollars just to walk in the door.  I’m sorry, but that’s just too expensive for a museum.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s bars and concrete.  (Wait!  Concrete.  McCourtie!  The plot thickens!  And I digress.)  Wait, where…?  Oh.  Yeah, that’s a LOT of money, you know this?!  So if you’re rich and have nothing better to do, you can go in a canary yellow jail museum that matches the canary yellow Coney Island.  R’something.

We did drive down to it, just to look.  The razor wire’s razor wire has razor wire with razor wire.  I’m not kidding, either – it was like FIVE layers of fence and razor wire.  Insanity.  We were slack-jawed over it.

Then we turned around and drove away.  But on our way, we saw this medical building, and Lydia said, ‘Mom!  I think there’s a castle over there!  You’re going to want to check it out.”  So we pulled in by the medical building, and saw what looked like a portcullis.  Except there were sprinklers, and I couldn’t get up to it to see what was inside.

But the portcullis-looking gate was on a long, long wall…
and of course that meant we had to follow it around.

THIS was the original prison!  The old, walled one.
The very, uber, super kewl one!  So we got out and wandered around.

Here you can see the tracks we took our walk down.

People were doing senior pictures, here.  If it weren’t such a drive…!

Just down along the south side is Armory Arts Village – listed on MSN as one of the top ten most unique places to live.  They give tours of the grounds, with ghost stories and history, by appointment.  I hadn’t made an appointment, but it was impressive just to look at.

Armory Arts building.

Adjacent, it looked like this might’ve been servants/wardens quarters or something?

Anyhow, it’s really astoundingly beautiful, and SO much history.  We enjoyed just wandering around, looking at everthing.  Some day, I wouldn’t mind going back, and doing the tours, just to learn more.  But for now, this was good enough.

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