1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


 FRW Memories  Chapter  6
 "A Fun trip with the Manson Girls"
John McCurdy


                      I think it was 1978   when I was told I was going to take an inmate to Richmond, Virginia for, now get this, a "Breast Reduction," it seems she had silicone implanted in her "boobs" as a cosmetic added attraction to her avowed occupation as an exotic dancer and prostitute. She was a  pretty and personable girl, who was well liked by inmates and staff, she had apparently convinced someone on the Medical Staff of her need to be less of herself.

            Sort of as an afterthought, I was told we would meet the Bureau of Prisons Air Bus, (much like today's ConAir), at Byrd Field in Richmond on the following day.

            Now this was in a time of frugality in the Bureau of Prisons, (which did not have a reputation for spending money without a whole bunch of justifications even in the best of times)! We were to be taking the Institution's 12 passenger bus, and I had made a special trip to ask the fellows at the garage to please have it ready and in good shape for the trip, and get some inmates to clean it and to please clean the inside of the windows.

            As I expected all along, when I picked the bus up the next morning they had filled the gas tank, but that was all!  Knowing that was all I was gonna get, we picked up the inmate and took off, since the inmate was going to be on furlough for the surgical procedure I didn't see a lot of need to restrain her!

            Audrey Williams Thompson was the lucky individual making the trip with me.  I'm sure to not to her everlasting joy, but I was glad to have her, I've sure been in worse company on trips!  

             I had taken the precaution of having my CB Radio as well as the radio already installed in the van that was on the Bureau of Prisons band. Somewhere on I-64 between Charlottesville and Richmond a voice from the CB hailed me and asked, "Hey van, do you know you got a bump as big as a football on your right rear tire"?  Well I did not, of course, and we immediately slowed down to less than 50 MPH and started looking for a off-ramp and a service station.. At Short Pump I had the tire replaced by the spare and proceeded on in a mood fouler than usual, out ten dollars, at least for a while.

            We arrived in Richmond in the early afternoon, took our inmate to the Federal Jail in Richmond and left her to do what she could to charm the staff there.  Now I had just been transferred back to Alderson after three years in the Richmond area, at the Petersburg institution, and had no special desire to visit the Petersburg prison again so soon, but that was where tires would be. Since the Petersburg industries was the site of the BOP tire recapping operation. While Audrey toured the prison with a counselor from Petersburg, I visited acquaintances  in the administration building, the van was washed inside and out, the oil changed and 5 new tires installed! Talk about service!

            Later when we were discussing where to eat supper, Audrey mentioned a place one of her kids had recommended, I think the name was the "Old Tobacco Barn", it was down in Shocktoe Slip, in the recently gentrified area of downtown Richmond. As I said earlier we were in a frugal, (read tight), era in the BOP. Our uniforms were the worst grade of Polyester, sky blue blazers and grey pants, Damn trashy looking. That's all the cloths I had brought.  Audrey, on the other hand, had brought a more suitable outfit with her, and was quit presentable.  

       When we, and our van, with Bureau of Prisons emblazoned on the doors drove into the parking lot of the restaurant, the valet sort of sneered and told us to just park ourselves in the back row! To add insult to injury the Receptionist looked me up and down and up again and told us it would be at least a 1 to 2 hour wait for a table!  I tried not to slink as we went out, we went to a great BBQ joint, full of other low-brows like me.

            The next morning we were at Byrd Field at 8:00, a full hour before the plane was due to arrive from AtlantaPetersburg was there with their big bus and a back-up bus borrowed from the Virginia state prison. They had a lead vehicle and a follow-up car, with about ten armed officers proving security, (and then there was Audrey and I representing Alderson, the poor relations)!  At around 5:00 PM the plane finally arrived. We had 7 inmates for Alderson! Including 3 or 4 members of the Charles Manson gang.  We had to borrow the handcuffs and leg irons and waist chains from the Petersburg prison staff.  Audrey and I loaded them up and drove off into the sunset.