Doing Time in Huntsville Prison, Bonnie and Clyde, Prison Rodeo and Art and “Old Sparky” The Electric Chair

What better to do on a cloudy, drizzly day that visit the Texas Prison Museum! I could really go on a rant here about how frustrating it was for me to see all the incredibly gifted and outstanding artists that have been in and out of Huntsville instead of utilizing their talents in the art world but, it “is what it is” – truthfully, I’m just jealous that I wasn’t born with any artistic wonder but NOT jealous that I’m not incarcerated for sure! 🙂 Anyway, enough of me blabbing…

Wooden Motorcyle by Mark Cahill, inmate at Huntsville State Prison
Wooden motorcycle by Mark Cahill, inmate at Huntsville State Prison (sorry about the quality of pix but it was hard to try to get a clean shot)

This wooden motorcycle was started around the turn of the century by inmate Mark Cahill in the Ferguson Unit Craft Shop but then he got his privileges taken away and the motorcycle was donated – unfinished. However, in 2014 Mr. Cahill took up residence again in Huntsville, was asked to complete the project and there ya have it!

Let’s move right along to this next art – again, sorry about the poor images but it was hard to get decent shots for me as I didn’t want to be rude to other patrons 🙂 (and I’m not “there” yet as a photographer 🙂 ) . But isn’t this crazy – urrr – please use your artistic talents on the outside 🙂 !!!! (sorry, I’ll shut up about that now :))

How many animals and faces in one carving? Texas Prison Art
How many animals and faces in one carving?
img_2238-1
Texas Prison Art
Texas Prison Art
Texas Prison Art
Bonnie and Clyde's Pistol at The Texas Prison Museum
Bonnie and Clyde’s Pistol
Clyde Champion Barrow's Letter to Henry Ford 04/10/1934
Clyde Champion Barrow’s Letter to Henry Ford 04/10/1934

Allow me to provide some background about the Texas Prison Rodeo. In 1931 Texas Prison System’s General Manager, Lee Simmons decided to start a Prison Rodeo for the general recreation for the prisoners and entertainment for prison staff and their families. In a few short years, the events grew into a paid event with loads of public attendees, (our family personally attending too). Initially, it was only for experienced ranch hand type of prisoners.  In the 1940’s it became open for any man with enough guts and no prison issues within the past year to become eligible to participate in the tryouts.  They even had a “hard money” event where 40 inmates in red shirts would face a  wild bull and try to grab to sack of money from it’s horns!!! The money would be between $50 and $1500 – can you imagine this taking place today?!! I can remember THAT part of the rodeo to this day along with how terrified I was to watch!  We saw Freddy Fender perform that day in the mid ’70s so I was probably 10-12 years old. October of 1986 was the last rodeo and The Judds were the entertainment, that was the end of “The Wildest Show Behind Bars”.

 

Yes, we used to have Texas Prison Rodeo's! My parents took me to one even!!! Huntsville Prison Rodeo
Yes, we used to have Texas Prison Rodeo’s! My parents took me to one even!!! I can’t believe it now as an adult

img_2251-1

The Wildest Rodeo In Texas - Texas Prison Rodeo
The Wildest Rodeo In Texas – Texas Prison Rodeo – Only in Texas!!!
Prisononopoly (pretty funny and clever!) - Texas Prison Museum
Prisononopoly (pretty funny and clever!) – Texas Prison Museum
Prisononopoly (pretty funny and clever!) - Texas Prison Museum
Prisononopoly (pretty funny and clever!) – Texas Prison Museum (the property cards are the units in the prison)
Creative Contraban from Huntsville State Prison
Creative contraband from Huntsville State Prison

All of this was made with soap by an inmate on the "sly"

All of this was made with soap by an inmate on the “sly”

The old ball and chain
The old ball and chain

img_2247-1

Roses made of toliet tissue by a female prisoner and the boat is made of match sticks! Huntsville State Prison
Roses made of toilet tissue by a female prisoner and the boat is made of match sticks!
Saw Blade Artwork from Texas Prisoners
Saw Blade Artwork from Texas Prisoners
Saw Blade Art by Texas Prisoners
Saw Blade Art by Texas Prisoners
Saw Art Up Close
Saw Art Up Close
Old Sparky The Electric Chair. From 1924-1964 there were 361 men were electrocuted in the Huntsville "Walls" Unit. In 1977 Texas switched to Lethal Injection.
Old Sparky The Electric Chair. From 1924-1964 there were 361 men were electrocuted in the Huntsville “Walls” Unit. In 1977 Texas switched to Lethal Injection.

Ok, that wraps up our tour of the Texas Prison Museum. But wait…

Just out of curiosity, (and please be respectful of other’s beliefs)…are you FOR or AGAINST the Death Penalty? 

 

Advertisements

Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s