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Jan. 5, 2023

The Personal Diary of Old Wooden Ears

The Personal Diary of Old Wooden Ears

Bloody Angola Podcast Season 3 Premiere

Woody Overton and Jim Chapman open up season 3 of Bloody Angola: A Podcast by Woody Overton and Jim Chapman give you a ton of insight into Louisiana State penitentiary at Angola by reading you the actual diary of the founder of the "Angolite" magazine and editor Old Wooden Ears" from the 1930's!

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BLOODY ANGOLA SEASON 3 EPISODE 1(Old Wooden Ears) January 5th 2023 Jim: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to another edition of Bloody-
Woody: -Angola.
Jim: A podcast 142 years in the making.

Woody: A Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison. Jim: And I'm Jim Chapman.
Woody: And I'm Woody Overton.
Jim: First of all, Woody Overton, it's Season 3.

Woody: Yes, love, right? [chuckles]

Woody: I can't believe that. Thank you everyone for liking us and sharing us and helping us grow. It's been amazing. Chase Team members and now all our higher levels of Patreon.

Jim: Warden.

Woody: Warden and C.E.R.T. Team. Thank you so much. We appreciate you. But yeah, Season 3, it's amazing. We've sold out two live shows now. Y'all's Response has been phenomenal. We appreciate you. You're about to start getting Bloody Angola three days a week.

Jim: And as is our tradition, Woody Overton, we always start with a classic story from Angola.

Woody: This is a classic story. Not only about the person it's about, but we are going to bring it to you from what should be a story in its own.

Jim: Yes.
Woody: The Angolite.

Jim: The start of the Angolite, which for those of you that are not familiar, that's a magazine that is released by the prison for inmates to read.

Woody: Not only inmates. I had a subscription to it back in 1992 or 1993 and they used to mail it to my house.

Jim: All we're doing is telling people how old we are. Woody: [chuckles] Okay, sure. Yeah.
Jim: [crosstalk] -Pony Express back then. [laughs]

Woody: Yeah, right. That was definitely snail mail. It always fascinates the shit out of me what the criminal mind does. This is after I worked in the prison system too. But it's a phenomenal award-winning magazine.

Jim: It really is. The guy who started that magazine is who we're going to really be talking about today. The interesting deal with this gentleman is that he was the original editor and the guy who started the Angolite. But not only did he do that, he also, in addition, kept probably one of the best diaries of Angola. As a matter of fact, I'm going to go ahead and say the best diary of Angola you would ever come across. And he had a nickname. I'm going to tell you about that nickname first. They called him Old Wooden Ears.

Woody: Wooden Ears.

Jim: The reason they called this gentleman that is he was beat by a correctional officer at some point during his early years in Angola and actually went deaf in one ear. So, he was known by the prisoners as Old Wooden Ears. We're going to tell you about the diaries of William Sadler, and we're going to name this episode Old Wooden Ears.

Woody: Wooden Ears.

Jim: The interesting thing with this episode is that we're going to actually read you the diary because we can't do this justice without actually reading you the entry. We're just going to take these back and forth. Trust me, this is interesting, y'all. This is the real diary.

Woody: Think about it. You don't have a whole lot to do in prison. At least this guy was keeping himself busy by keeping a diary.

Jim: And didn't hold back.
Woody: Right. He told the truth according to him.

Jim: Mm-hmm. That's right. We're going to start with January 1st, 1936. This was New Year's Day on Angola, and it was celebrated by all hands out in the field with the exception of Camp E, most of whom are assigned to the refinery. Sugarcane cutting going on full blast with no Sundays or holidays off until grinding ends, which will be about the middle of the month. Red Hats out in the cane shed.

Woody: Red Hats.
Jim: If you listen to our Red Hats episode, you'll find out a little bit more about them. But he's

already mentioning the Red Hat.

Woody: Yeah. On January 3rd, 1936, he writes, "There was hail on the Gola this day. The refinery has been making 100% white sugar and shipping it to the brokers in Chicago under the Pelican Refinery, Baton Rouge label, so consumers wouldn't get onto the fact that it was made by convict labor. The last month, some of those dudes loading freight cars at Camp B siphoned off sugar out of several sacks and filled holes with striped convict clothes. When the sacks hit Chicago in the retail market and a howl went up, this was heard way down here. The result? About 16 men caught the bat, anywhere from 30 to 45 lashes each. But those who were beaten weren't the guilty ones, strange to say. It seems their clothing had been stolen and shoved into the sacks. And since the dudes bore their laundry numbers, it made them automatically guilty. The actual perpetrators of the switch got off scot-free, which is often the case on this Angola."

Jim: How about that?

Woody: Right. Y'all, go back and listen to some of our other episodes. The bat was basically a big leather strap. That's what they're referring to. Now, that's pretty smart. Let me tell you

this real quick. When I was in basic training in the army, they had a guy on a cot across from me that snored every night, and I wouldn't get any sleep anyway, I've been on a light sleeper. So, before the lights went out, you had to line your shoes underneath the bunk, I stole one of his boots. When the lights went out, he started snoring, I reared back and I threw that boot, I hit him in his head as hard as I could. He jumped up and he was like, "You motherfuckers. I'm going to get you. I got your boot. When I turn on the lights in the morning, I'm going to find out who it is." But guess what? It was his. These prisoners were smart like that. They stole somebody else's clothes and other inmates' clothes and numbers and plugged the holes. They were hoping to get the uprising, which they got. But unfortunately, for the victims that they stole from, well, they got the bat.

Jim: They got the bat. 30 to 45 lashes, y'all. You're starting to see the brutality with Angola and why they called it Bloody Angola. Another thing that I found interesting about that entry was the fact that they would switch the labels. The reason they would do that, back in the 30s, people weren't down with convict labor like that.

Woody: They still do it. When I worked at DCI, they had the crawfish plant, and they ran 24 hours a day. They brought in two 18-wheeler loads of crawfish a day and they boiled them. The inmates had to peel 16 pounds of tail meat and they got to weigh it in their 12-hour shift. If they didn't peel the 16 pounds, they went to the hole. But guess what? They packaged it under Louisiana Crawfish Company and sold it. That's the shit you buy in the grocery store when you buy Louisiana Crawfish-- It used to be when you buy Louisiana Crawfish tails.

Jim: There it goes. The next time you buy, you think about that.
Woody: [crosstalk] -crawfish season, they made them cut onions and they sold the cut-up

onions like the Holy Trinity. But they damn sure didn't say it was done by prisoners.

Jim: That's right. We continue on. And you're seeing that brutality take place. "January 5th, 1936. Narrowly missed the bat myself this day. Captain JH Row-" that's a good cager name, "-of Camp A missed credit for a carload of cane which had been sent to the mill. There's always been more confusion out in the yard when the cane cars are brought in by railroad crews at night. In this case, the weight ticket evidently became lost, not by fault, but close shave nevertheless."

Woody: Wow, close shave-- [crosstalk] Jim: Yeah. And he narrowly missed that bat.

Woody: I can't imagine there were a lot of lights and shit on the trains, they were rolling. I think about sugarcane, y'all, that's what he's talking about. Look, there's a certain time you got to cut it and get it out and get it to the mill to get it pressed. I know they were working sun up to sun down.

Jim: Oh, yeah. And sugarcane was a huge commodity. Woody: Still is.
Jim: It still is, yes.

Woody: All right, y'all. So, the next one, his journal entry is on January 9th, 1936. He says, "It was cold and pouring down rain today. No slickers, no boots, no gloves. All camps that work in the fields, negro women cutting cane from on headland, white men from Camp G working toward them. John Henry on the turn row. Dinner served out in the open. Rain so hard, the whippoorwill peas bounce off your plate faster than you can spoon down. Menu

today, chicken, chopped grits, stove pipe gravy, soybean bread, and coffee made from horse beans for breakfast."

Jim: I'm hungry already. [laughs] Woody: Right? I can't imagine. Jim: Out in the rain, y'all.

Woody: Hey, it's raining so hard, you try to eat your shit before it gets any soggier, but the fat drops are hitting your plate so hard that your peas are bouncing off the plate? That's crazy. Hey, they didn't give a shit. They were getting that sugar cut.

Jim: That's right. "14th January, 1936. The whistle blew today for the end of the 1935-36 grinding season. Tonnage figures showed one of the biggest years in Angola history, but no sugar on the table. They found over nine tons which had been hidden in various places around the refinery for use during the coming year by the refinery crew. The hideouts were tipped off by the Black Cat, who as a convict had helped plan it. Two weeks ago, he was paroled to the state for work in the refinery, so his first duty was to put the finger on the hidden sugar."

Woody: Wow. Gave it up. Jim: Gave it up.

Woody: You know that went on, man. Sugar is a commodity. Even the free people that worked in the mill, I guarantee the inmates kept some too make that homemade brew. All right, y'all, so we're going to January 20, 1936, again from Wooden Ears' diary. He says, "Camps all at work in the field hoeing stubbles. Rainy and wet today. Wet clothes worn into the camp dormitories, which are heated only by a wood-burning stove made out of a discarded 50-gallon oil drum. Clothes are wet when you put them on next morning. This kind of work cut in the weather bring a siege of pneumonia in the free world. The old saying on the Gola is, "You can't kill a convey that easy.'"

Jim: You can't. [laughs]

Woody: First of all, when we talk about the stubble, after you cut the sugarcane, you got basically the stumps of the roots, and they had to clear that so they could plant the next year's crop.

Jim: Amazing.

Woody: And wet ass clothes. I guess they slept naked.

Jim: Yeah.

Woody: I wonder if he got the-- I guess the big bull near the door and got to put his clothes closest to the wood. You know what I'm saying?

Jim: Yeah. Shot caller. Woody: Yeah. The shot caller.

Jim: "February 1st, 1936. Those alert characters at Camp B have rigged up a new wrinkle to beat the daily shakedown at the gate."

Woody: Uh-oh.

Jim: Uh-oh. "Where every bit of garden produce was confiscated. It often became a problem to smuggle a contraband article into the yard and into the dining room. So, the dudes trained one of the various mongrel dogs to fetch and carry. Now, the garlic and even pokes of sugar outside the fence. The pooch scrambles underneath the wire and the guards' noses and brings it into the plant." [chuckles]

Woody: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I'm going to figure out how to get everyone. But on my birthday on February 5th, 1936, Wooden Ears writes, "it was cold and raw this morning. Camp G is working over on Monkey Island, getting in the spinach and radish crops off the overflow land before the rise of Mississippi gets them. It is said the long line must wade the bayou waist deep, going to and coming from the camp. Then, working the water over a foot deep to harvest the crop. And this in winter."

Jim: Crazy.

Woody: It's crazy. Y'all know Monkey Island is located where Louisiana and Mississippi meet at the rear of the prison and was a notoriously miserable place to work. An area border in Mississippi river, it remained flooded and marshy most of the year and was infested with mosquitoes and snakes.

Jim: Yeah, and that's a big problem with Angola that we're going to talk about in the future is the flooding. They've had to evacuate prisoners from Angola many times because the Mississippi river water was up. We're going to move on to February 8th, 1936. "Oscar Loki, the long line water boy, finished up this eight years day for day yesterday. A Yankee lad, he came out on Angola when he was 18. He made and sold out in the field and from his profits over the eight years saved a total of $74."

Woody: Whoa.

Jim: Hey, that's probably a lot of money to an inmate. "His best friend, Frenchie LeBlanc, was the last to tell him goodbye yesterday at the receiving center where he was dressed out. Oscar showed officials his role of hard-earned money, flipped off the rubber band under which was a dollar bill, and found the rest of the role was merely coffee coupons." Basically, this officer took all the money. "No one knows whether LeBlanc stole the money, but Loki said LeBlanc was the only one who knew where he kept it hidden." correction, LeBlanc, his friend, stole the money, put coffee coupons in there with a dollar on top of.

Woody: Thought he's rolling out with $74-- [crosstalk] Jim: [laughs] But he's got plenty of free coffee, apparently.

Woody: Crazy. "On February 9th, 1936, Bill Brazil, the guard at the finery, died today. He had only a few months to go to through a life sentence. A piece of metal, lead, the size of a fist had fallen from one of the beams and it struck Brazil square on the top of his head. Two characters who were working painting the steel structure three stories above Brazil were questioned to no avail. It is not clear how the lead, which had no business in the refinery anyway, happened to fall on Brazil like a bomb."

Y'all, Angola death records listed no one named Brazil dying in 1930s, but a William B. Brazil, inmate number 20030, is listed as dying at Camp B where the sugar refinery was located on April 20th, 1935. His cause of death was listed as broken neck caused by fall from being in the top of refinery. Records have also shown that suspicious deaths were often

listed as accidents. He is buried at the original Point Lookout Road where they bury inmates. That's crazy.

Jim: Yeah, it really is.
Woody: You don't want to say it's an inmate-on-inmate murder. The pen is mightier than the

sword, right?

Jim: That's right.

Woody: Whatever. He was there, I believe old Wooden Ears saw the lead.

Jim: Y'all, Old Wooden Ears tells the truth. This is his personal diary. He didn't know that anyone was ever going to see this.

Woody: He didn't know y'all were going to be listening to that.

Jim: Guaranteed he didn't know that, Woody Overton.

Woody: Almost 100 years later.

Jim: Yeah, so find that interesting too, because we talked about in old episodes how records back in those days were altered or not kept.

Woody: I even wonder, you've mentioned broken backs and shit. I'm like, "Oh, yeah. You break your back," you're not jumping out of a window.

Jim: Yeah, get that bat.

Woody: That's right.

Jim: "February 12th, 1936. Sweet potato stew for dinner and supper these days. Usually, there's a piece of meat somewhere in the pan, but you have to be mighty quick with your fingers to find it. Thank goodness they have stopped making bread with soybean flour, but they are still serving boiled soybeans on the table." Now, mills were served to prisoners in those days with typically the cheapest ingredients you could possibly find in order to save money. When the food items of any real quality appeared, it was often skimmed or outright stolen from prisoners or employees looking to make a little money.

Woody: Again, the soybeans shit is shit they grew. So, we're going to February 15th, 1936. "Vernon Hancock is a saddler, a wiser man at Camp E today. Vernon, who works in the Ice House, was a big shot gambler. He owned all the poker tables. So, two weisenheimers sent out and brought two decks of reader cards, marked, of course. They finagled Vernon into buying into the decks at a bargain price, seals unbroken. Then proceeded to sit into Vernon's game. This all began three weeks ago. Today, Vernon is broke and the pair has all his dough. The two friends who tipped the switch off to Vernon after it happened, he replied, 'Well, them cards wasn't marked. I broke the seals on the new decks myself.' Barely a fool and his money."

Jim: [laughs] I mean, they're running a casino in Angola.

Woody: Right. Gambling is a huge thing in prison, but it says no-- the entries, along with the entry in the opposite column are just more glaring examples of how good fortune, whether in saving for the future or perceived luck at the gambling table, often created problems for everyone involved.

Jim: No doubt about it. Old Wooden Ears going to tell the truth, like we said. Woody: He got no reason to lie. He's writing for himself, not anybody else.

Jim: That's right. Now, February 18th, 1936. "Well, these jailhouse swindles never cease. Mitchell Lafleur-", if you notice, a lot of these names are Cajun names, y'all, "-no-read-and-write cell room guard at Camp E also has been taken to the cleaners, financially speaking. Seems a dude had a catalog with some pictures. He induced Mitchell to pick out a dame who claimed to have $50,000 and was looking for a husband. The dude wrote in the letter for Mitchell. Of course, when the replies came, the dude read them to the guard. The love interests were hot. Finally, the dame said she would come see Mitchell and marry him. Only her $50,000 was tied up in a legal snarl. And as soon as they were married, she would sign over half to him. But right now, she said would Mitchell sent her $100 for the train fare. This is crazy. "He did." [chuckles] Now, this is a guard, y'all. He gave it to the dude to send for him, and that's the last he's heard or ever will hear. Even back in 1936, you had these hustlers, man, and they were, "Send me $100." Nowadays it's through email, back then, it was through a regular mail.

Woody: The calls from Jamaica, saying, "Oh, you won a million dollars. Send us $10,000 for legal fees."

Jim: Went on in 1936.
Woody: It only takes 1 out of 100 if you do it. If you're successful 1 out of 100, then you're

successful. Jim: Yeah.

Woody: All right. On February 21st, 1936, Wooden Ears writes, "Getting so they put the bat in action three times a day nowadays. During breakfast, after dinner, and after supper. Foreman calls out the unlucky ones and tells the captain they are lazy or insubordinate, and the poor devils usually catch from 20 to 30 lashes apiece. One yesterday had his third beating in 10 days. How long, O Lord?" I mean, he's just--[crosstalk]

Jim: Third beating in 10 days.

Woody: Probably, the correctional officers were-- to the inmates who are pushing the lines, what they call them the inmate guards, were like, "Hey, we're going to make an example out of somebody." Now, they're doing it three times a day. It helps keep the other people in line.

Jim: I wonder if it was the same guard that lost that $100, Woody Overton, [chuckles] taking it out on people. February 26th, 1936. "Little Doc Goodman at Camp E was strung up naked by his wrist to a beam in the ceilings in the camp lobby today and whipped with at least 50 lashes. Those who had listened said they lost count. Doc has been accused of laziness and insubordination many times in the past. His body is a mass of scar tissue from burns suffered outside. So, he seems to be immune to ordinary punishment. So, the idea of stringing him up naked was devised. He's supposed to hang there 72 hours without food or water."

Woody: Wow. Crazy.

Jim: Y'all, wrap your mind around that. When we tell you Bloody Angola back in the day wasn't no joke, it wasn't a joke. Now, the lengths that the prison or guard would go through to punish people apparently knew no bounds. Despite the dangers of whipping someone as

much as they whipped Goodman, hanging him by his wrist for 72 hours was infinitely more dangerous. Such punishments, with a body position aching to crucifixion, could easily cause suffocation by the pressure exerted on the lungs and the diaphragm by three days of such torture.

Woody: Not only that, three days, that's the maximum you can go without the water, right? Jim: We can never confirm or deny that that existed, but Old Wooden Ears says it did.

Woody: Yeah. [crosstalk] -again, it's all, I would say, to control the population. This guy being a repeat offender, insubordination, etc., like, "We'll show you." But anyway, let's go to February 28th, 1936. Wooden Ears writes, "Safe burglars intent on plying their trade even on Angola. Last night, burrowed through the tag plant wall into the general warehouse and broke into the safe there. They say over $1,000 is missing. Or is this a red herring to cover a cash shortage? How could those guys get out of the cell room building last night to do their burglarizing?"

Jim: That's freaking crazy. [laughs]
Woody: Well, he had a good point.
Jim: He had a good point [crosstalk] guard.
Woody: [crosstalk] -missing, and you've got to blame it on a convict, right? Jim: Yeah. $1,000. And they tried to say they burglarize-- [crosstalk] Woody: [crosstalk] -accused of $1,000 in '36, that's like $100,000 now.

Jim: Okay, so we move on to the next. March 1st, 1936. "Heard today Angola was going to have a doctor. Not like the one present joker who comes up from Baton Rouge once a week, but a full-time medical man. Maybe now they will start examining and classifying fresh fish so they won't be dying out in the fields of such things as exposure and exhaustion. Is this progress?" That's a good point that Old Wooden Ears brings up, Woody. That is when you're new to Angola, they put you out in the fields and bodies have to acclimate. So, these fresh fish, as he calls them, they go out in that field and they're not used to the sun 12-15 hours a day.

Woody: The episode we did with Kelly Jennings talked to one guy whose first job he ever had in his entire.

Jim: His entire life. Woody: Yeah. Jim: That's crazy.

Woody: Them bringing a doctor in wasn't because they gave a damn about the convicts. They just wanted to keep them alive. They cared about keeping them alive so they can keep them working.

Jim: That's right.

Woody: All right, let's go to March 3rd, 1936. He writes, "Pursuant to an edict from the pen of the warden, there are neither dogs nor cats on Angola today. His letter to all captains said,

'Dogs and cats are taking the place. I want them gotten rid of.' So, there was a general roundup and many of pet went to the river via croaker sack. They tipped me off that if farm superintendent, GAG, ever comes in to weigh on my scales, to be sure to tell him 20 to 30 pounds less than its actual weight. He's very myopic. When I wanted to know why, they said, If you don't, he'll beat the hell out of you with his stick."' Vanity. All these are interesting. Shit, this guy was very articulate for a convict in 1936.

Jim: April 27th, 1936. "The count at Camp E came up one man short last night." Woody: Uh-oh. [crosstalk]

Jim: "Dewey Brian, ice plant worker, was missing. He was found in the cold storage room dead drunk. The discovery touched off a smelling of breaths of having--"


Jim: This is so crazy. "The discovery touched off a smelling of breaths of having taken a covet nip of the local joy juice and everyone was pulled out and whipped." So, basically, if they had alcohol on their breath, they pulled them out and whipped them with the bat. "Brian was given 85 lashes for being dead drunk. Felt no pain." [laughs] "This morning, they had to cut him loose from his mattress where the blood on his back had dried and stuck into it. He is not the first, nor will he be the last."

Woody: Wow. Crazy. Jim: I mean, wow, y'all.

Woody: Yeah. [unintelligible 00:28:54] know some bad shit, but it ain't worth 80 licks, I can tell you that.

Jim: Stuck to the mattress.

Woody: Yeah, that's going to suck. And your whole back with scab. All right, on April 28th, 1936, he writes, "Despite a workday, which now begins at 05:15 AM and ends at 6:30 at night, the menu remains the same. For breakfast, grits, gravy and bread."

Jim: "29th April 1936, Gerald Red Kramer, who was shot four times by a convict guard in the okra patch near E, got a visit from his mother today." [crosstalk] "Kramer's bed is his coffin because he is expected to die. His mother talked to him across the coffin." And there's a note underneath, it says, "Camps where a prisoner died often pooled money to purchase materials for his coffin. Generally, the camp store kicked in also."

Woody: It's crazy. April 30th, 1936. "Pollywog Jones- Jim: Oh.

Woody: -who was shot in the arm and leg in the okra patch at the same time as Gerald Kramer has gone to work. The foreman drove him out of the Red Hat cells this morning with a stick."

Woody: He [unintelligible [00:30:18] beat him on.
Jim: Yeah, Pollywog going to learn his lesson eventually.

Woody: Pollywog got the stick.

Jim: I love this. "May 1st, 1936. A buyer of potatoes complained today his tubers were arriving skinned up. He was taken into the field where a long line of negroes were harvesting potatoes on their hands and knees. The buyer inspected box after box and the negro who had been skinning his potatoes was whipped. Several offenders caught the bat, they say."

Woody: Crazy.
Jim: Y'all, this is life back then in '36 in Angola.

Woody: Day in and day out. And he goes to May 2nd, 1936, "John Francis Carney died last week in the Camp E hospital. He had complained for weeks of stomach ulcers. Pleaded for milk since he could not digest his regular fare. Dr. Gwynn, the new LSP physician, had this to say about Carney in his report to the warden. 'I find nothing wrong with this man. He is faking and fully able to do fieldwork.' The autopsy showed the cause of Carney's death, stomach ulcers and peritonitis." That's crazy. There's a note underneath says, "Angola death records listed James Francis Carney's death as August 22, 1938. The official cause recorded was peptic ulcer, chronic malignant degradation, carcinoma stomach, etc. LSP records indicate he was buried at the prison. So, he resides at one of the graves with the illegible markers or perhaps in the communal grave where the remains from the various cemeteries located near defuncts camps were consolidated." Crazy.

Jim: "May 3rd, 1936. The orders gone out to all foreman in the field that they must carry a fever thermometer. When an inmate gets overheated, the foreman is supposed to take his temperature and give him a blow in the shade--" [laughs] "But most of these foremen can neither read or write. How will they take a temperature and read a thermometer?" That's a good point, Old Wooden Ears.

Woody: [unintelligible [00:32:35] what a blow in the shade means.
Jim: Yeah.
Woody: I'm assuming, y'all, that it meant a rest.
Jim: I assume as well. But he had some interesting [unintelligible 00:32:45] for that one.

Woody: May 4th, 1936, he writes, "Skinned-up potatoes brought an application of the bat to harvesters at Camp C today. 15 were given from 20 to 25 lashes each. 'Can't harvest a crop without leather,' the general manager says." I guess he means, you can't push the line without a beating.

Jim: That's right. "May 5th, 1936. The new issue of coffee from the warehouse today is half horse beans, parched and half peaberry." But that's good because it has been all horse beans before. There's a letter underneath that says, "Creative efforts were constantly made to enhance the poor quality of coffee available to the inmates. Any manner of items such as chicory or walnuts would be added to create a more palatable brew. But it rarely worked."

Woody: Shit. For sure, they thought it was a big thing in prison. All right. We go into May 6th, 1936, he writes, "Sundays will be worked until the potato crop is harvested according to the order issued to all camps today."

Jim: Now, that's the Lord's Day, Woody Overton.

Woody: Right. The Lord's Day, but that's also-

Jim: Workday.

Woody: They didn’t want the potatoes rotting in the ground. Then on the next day, on May 7th, 1936, he writes, "Milton Good, New Orleans sex fiend, got a dollar watch from the free world, thinking to make suction with the foreman. He gave it to the man today so he could tell knocking-off time. The man beat him over the head with the watch and chain, breaking the watch because he can't tell time."

Jim: That is so great. Woody: [crosstalk]

Jim: I mean, ruined a perfectly good watch. Now, "May 8th, 1936. George Buckley was awarded the line pusher to job today for his diligence in keeping the man informed on who was leaving potatoes on his row unpicked." So, he's a rat, basically, and got him a job based on telling on his boys. And then May 9th, he continues, and he says, "Mosquitoes in the cell room are making the night a veritable hell at Camp E. No screens on the windows. Oil lamps after 8:30 at night. Shower bath is a pipe 6 feet long with holes punched in it."

Woody: Wow.
Jim: Yeah. That's just a good look into their everyday life.

Woody: Mosquitoes on Angola are more like sabretooth rock breakers [crosstalk] fuckers down there on the river. On May 10th, the next day, 1936, he writes, "Shipments of potatoes to date total 253 carloads. All have gone to buyers in Chicago. Coals are being served on the lines tables at camps. It is said the tomato harvest will start about two weeks earlier this year."

Jim: That was obviously a big deal for them were-- crops. That was their life--[crosstalk] Woody: [crosstalk] -everything going in Chicago. There's no gangsters in Chicago, right?

Jim: [chuckles] Nah. That's it. "May 11th, 1936. I have been transferred to Camp B for the duration of the shipping season so that my job as a clerk for the packing shed will be handier. At B are about 150 teenagers who all should be either in school or at home with their mothers." Then, he continues on the 12th of May, he says, "Called camp B today over the phone and asked him for two refrigerator cars to be sent via the prison railroad. Henry von Schumer, who answered the phone, told me a fresh fish had grabbed the man's hickory stick and broken after the man struck him with it. The poor devil didn't know he had a session with the back coming when he got back to the camp. But it was poetic justice and I said, 'I'd have given $10 to see the melee.' Carried to Camp E this night where Henry, the butcher boy of New Orleans, and I painted signs until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning for Governor Elect Leche's Inaugural Ball which is to be held May 14th in Baton Rouge."

Woody: Wow. That's just crazy unreal.
Jim: And you can see, they used them for all kinds of things.

Woody: First, they hit them with the stick, like FU, took a stick from them and broke it. And now he's going to get away with it. That's the entertainment other than me saying you that shit was coming.

Jim: Oh, yeah.
Woody: And then writing signs for the governor? That's not illegal. Jim: [laughs]

Woody: He writes the next day, May 13th, 1936, "After 3 hours sleep, I awoke with the rest of the camp. Was taken into custody to the camp kitchen where Old Tangle Eye, the captain, was waiting for me. He asked if I had ever been whipped yet. When I told him I hadn’t, he told me to remove my clothes, for I was about to catch a dose of red heffer for wisecracking over the phone the day before. The captain then called in four men to hold my arms and legs, spreadeagling me so as I couldn't move. The first blow was liquid fire. It was as though I had been seared with a white, heated iron poker. I yelled and begged for mercy because if I hadn't, he would have beaten me until he could no longer wield the bat. Those trying to eat breakfast, as this was going on, told me later I caught 35 lashes. My back and up and down my thighs are all bloody where the skin has broken. I can't lie down. May God curse me if I ever forget this day, May the 13th." Note: Old Tangle Eye was Captain J. L. Carmichael, one of the more prolific applicators of flogging."

Jim: Holy crap.

Woody: [crosstalk] -with his first bat.

Jim: Yeah. 35 lashes.

Woody: You get lashed like that, I imagine you shit yourself, you piss yourself, if you don't throw up, everything from the pain. Can you imagine?

Jim: They make you strip. They have you take it all off. Woody: They don’t want to rip up prison clothes.
Jim: Yeah, that's a good point.
Woody: [crosstalk] -state property.


Jim: It is indeed. "May 14th, 1936. Back at work at the packing shed today despite my sore back, which keeps me from sleeping. A grapevine kike today tells me that Henry von Schumer received 25 lashes for telling me the incident of the stick and the man over the phone." They beat him just for talking about it. "The charge was for broadcasting camp business over the phone."

Woody: What?
Jim: Dang. I don't remember seeing that in the rulebook.
Woody: There are probably not the operators there anymore listening either, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Woody: May 15th, 1936. He writes, "Old timers at work at the packing shed after looking at my back, tell me I got only a dusting. Where whippings are concerned, 35, it is said, is light. God Almighty, what is heavy?"

Jim: [laughs] This is nuts.

Woody: Next day, May 16th, 1936, he writes, "The captain of Camp B told me today he needs a good office man. I said, 'I was the best.' He said I'd get better food and private sleeping quarters if I took the job at his camp. But he added a sticker. He said, 'I want you to go over in the yard and find out what the men are plotting and tell me.' I said, 'Captain, any man who tells you about someone else will tell someone else about you.' I didn't get the job."

Woody: Surprising he didn't get another bat.
Jim: I'm telling you. Old Wooden Ears, turning down the job. Woody: Turning down the job.

Jim: "May 17th, 1936. My back and thighs are blue, black and still swollen. Well-wishers have given salve to keep my clothes from sticking to me. May the good Lord let me meet the man who beat me somewhere in the free world."

Woody: Yeah, right.

Jim: Look, he's praying for vengeance on that one.

Woody: He's still in the pain.

Jim: And all joking aside, y'all, I mean, beating them so bad that the clothes were sticking--[crosstalk]

Woody: Yeah. Your body can never fully heal because it's trying to scab over, your clothes are sticking to you, you have to rip that off and it makes it fresh every day.

Jim: [sighs] Jesus.

Woody: Crazy. May 17th, 1936, he writes, "Called back to the warehouse at Camp E today to check the LSP cattle inventory. This is a yearly affair. At the slaughter pins where the count was made, the tally came up 245 heads short. The cattle foreman, a free man, explained, 'The rest of them steers is up in the hills. Can't get them today.' They say the shorts has been stolen and sold to farmers over the Mississippi line." Now, you know this shit won't--[crosstalk]

Jim: Likely story.

Woody: I heard stories in 1990s about one calf went to the state, one calf dropped, went somewhere else. I'm not saying any names, I'm going to get [Jim laughs] [crosstalk] about it. I bet you, 235 heads? In the Tunica Hills? [unintelligible [00:42:35] -cows ain't in the Tunica Hills.

Jim: Nope. They're in somebody's belly. Woody: Right.

Jim: May 18th, 1936, "Preacher Doc Careway of Shreveport, a recent arrival, has laid his bible down today in the long line at Camp B. He raised his arms to the skies and discovered his belief in divinity. Said Doc, 'There can't be a god who would allow a place like Angola to exist.'"

Woody: May 19th, 1936, he writes, "The potato harvest is over for this year. More than 300 cars have been shipped at an average price of $286 per car. No account has been made of the cost in blood from Angola's 300 slaves, however. I have been transferred back to Camp E to work in the general warehouse this date." There you go. The next day, he writes on May 20th, he says, "Machinery at the Pelican Cannery here is being readied for the tomato harvest. The plant will be under the supervision of Captain JNW who is head man at the woman's camp. The canned products will be labeled Pelican Cannery, Baton Rouge, and will be sold in the open market, it is said." That's crazy. In the note, it says that, "Captain JNW referred to was captain J. N. Willis. In March 1940, the cannery was the subject of controversy following complaints about the labeling and pricing of the canned goods process there. The cannery was later destroyed by fire in October 1940."

Jim: "May 21st, 1936. My back is slowly healing from the beating I received last week-" Man, he started-- [crosstalk] I'm telling you, "-will leave only faint scars, I am told. But the mental scars will never heal. Today, Ray Carroll, Camp E office clerk, told me the record showed only 16 lashes. If Captain Tangle Eye had gotten his head all over the 16 he put on me, it would have killed him." We got to look up Tangle Eye.

Woody: I bet there's stories on him, yeah.

Jim: "May 26th, 1936. The women are to be worked alongside the Camp E long line in the cannery next week according to informed sources. The LSP policy on tomatoes is to eat what can't be canned, and can all you can't eat."

Woody: Informed sources. I love that. This is how he's writing, a convict in 1936. May the 23rd, 1936, writes, "Jack Dorset and Tom Abbottsford, the former having enacted for over a year as physician here and who was responsible for many an ill man being placed in the fields were brought back from furlough violations. Both have been nabbed while passing bad checks in New Orleans and each blame the other. They were soundly whipped and later engaged in an old-fashioned bareknuckle fight. Each continued to blame the other for their arrests. It's laughable because each was only too eager to run the water on the other. Where is that honor among thieves business you hear about? Both also were busted to the field detail."


Jim: May 24th, 1936, "Artie "Gold Brick" Joiner-" man, they got some great nicknames, "-who slept adjoining me for 11 months and who shared my tobacco and coffee all during that time was last week turned out convict guard. Today, I inadvertently passed his guard post. He racked down on me with his double-barreled flat back and was all fixed to blow my head off. Our friendship, it seems, has now ended." [laughs]

Woody: Oh, my God. Jim: I love that one.

Woody: He's talking about convict guards. That's what they did to keep the cost down of securing the prison. Think that, his old--[crosstalk]

Jim: Cellmate for a year.
Woody: His own bunkie for a year almost, and they gave him a shotgun and he almost blew

his head off.
Jim: That's cold blooded of Old Gold Brick to do that.
Woody: Old Gold Brick'll have to eat some soggy potatoes or whatever.

Jim: I'm telling you. "May 25th, 1936. The warden put on a new sign at the Peckerwood Hill graveyard today." What a great name. "It straddles the entrance way and is a foot high in letters of old English font. It says, 'Through the sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.' But since the sign facing the roadway, the convicts buried behind it can't read it, whose sign does it refer to?" It says underneath, "Note: Peckerwood Hill was a nickname for Point Lookout, the prison cemetery. The first recorded reference to Point Lookout was in 1935 for Jesse Anderson, who was buried on Row 2, Grave 11. His death was caused by cerebral hemorrhage and syphilis."

Woody: Oh, shit. We're definitely going to do an episode on Point Lookout. Jim: I can't believe they called it Peckerwood Hill. [laughs]

Woody: I'm not sure of this, but I'm pretty sure that they didn't bury blacks and whites together. Maybe they called it Peckerwoods for that, that being a derogatory term for whites. All right. May 26, 1936, writes, "There were several fallouts in the Camp B long line out in the field. Heat stroke. Foreman is supposed to let them blow in the shade [Jim chuckles] if they're [chuckles] overheated. The water boy carries the fever thermometer, but the bulb is broken off the end." It says, "Note: Comments about the lack of attention given to overheated inmates were common, as supervisors seemed to feel that overheating was an excuse for inmates to rest. Despite their excuses, in 1936, at least five inmates died of heat-related causes."

Jim: Wow.
Woody: Crazy.
Jim: Broke the [unintelligible 00:49:08].
Woody: Give them that blow in the shade there, boys. Jim: Yeah, give them a blow in a shade.
Woody: I want to get me a blow in the shade-- [laughter]

Jim: "May 27th, 1936. George Basil Weisenheimer, a lifer, was instructed this morning to sweep off the cannery steps and porch. He did. He also swept everything in the yard and into the porch. When asked who told him to give the yard a sweep, he said, 'God told me to.' They put 30 lashes on him. He was only recently released from an insane asylum and is definitely not right."

Woody: Nice. [chuckles]

Jim: "May 28th, 1936. Tomatoes are on the table, stewed in water. No seasoning. Meat ration for Camp E's 375 men is 135 pounds of forequarter beef per week." Per week.

Woody: Probably, one of those cows from up in the hill.
Jim: Yeah. "By the time the cooks and their friends get through with it, the long line gets a

chunk about as big as a thumb in the stew once weekly, if they're lucky."

Woody: Wow. Crazy. Yeah. The inmate guards were probably having t-bones. All right. May 19th, 1936, he writes, "They say the deducts are beginning to fly on Angola. Each employee from Captain down to Foreman must kick in from 10% to 25% of his monthly paycheck. It's either that or quit. They all pay off at the Camp E general warehouse to Nelson Beauregard, the Superintendent. The cash goes in the Governor Leche's campaign kitty, I'm told. No one knows for sure." It says, "Note: It was not unusual for politicians to apply suggestive pressure on employees and even inmates who were often conscripted as evidenced by [unintelligible 00:50:57] until 5/12/36.

Jim: "May 30th, 1936. Today, up in Yankeeland, it is Decoration Day and a holiday, but it is just another workday here on the field. By 4:30, we're in for supper, and at 7:15, to bed. And early to rise sure as hell don't make anyone on the Gola half healthy, wealthy, or wise." On the Gola. "May 31st, 1936. Today I saw the corpse of five babies in the doctor's office at Camp E General Hospital. They are preserved in bell jars and alcohol. The talk is they were born to women at Camp D. No one knows for sure."

Woody: Wow.

Jim: That's crazy. And there's a note underneath. "Rumors persist to this day about children born to women at Camp D. Few records are available. Yet according to a 1951 article in The Times-Picayune, a child was born to a newly incarcerated woman in February of that year."

Woody: I bet you some were born after they were incarcerated, the guards having a poke or whoever, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Woody: Remember in the first episode, it wasn't a crime for the women to be raped in prison. And if they had the baby-- now, this is 1936, a long time after slavery. If they had the baby while they were locked up, it became property of the state as a slave.

Jim: That's right. Woody: Fucking crazy.

Jim: Y'all, we hope you enjoyed that. That's just a little taste of his diary. What they did was they produced this in the Angolite last year and they had several issues they put out. We just read from a couple of those issues. But I'll tell you what, I enjoyed this episode.

Woody: I love the history, I love the insight. This dude is writing this daily, almost daily, the shit he saw, his perspective.

Jim: Yeah. I can only imagine-

Woody: [crosstalk] -Angola.

Jim: -years and years of that book, I'm a reader--

Woody: I wish he was alive so we could interview him.

Jim: Old Wooden Ears in studio.

Woody: Yes, indeed. Well, we told y'all it would always be different. This is another fine example, something that Jim dug up which I think is fire and we hope you enjoyed it.

Jim: Yeah. We thank y'all for allowing us to have a Season 3, all of our Patreon members. Of course, if you can't be a Patreon member, we totally get it and we hope you enjoy the episodes. If you are a Patreon member, thank you so very much. We couldn't do it without them.

Woody: Absolutely. Y'all, please, if you would be so inclined, go leave us a review on iTunes or wherever. Like and subscribe to Bloody Angola. Check out all our social media. Y'all want something really cool? Now, we have our own Bloody Angola wine.

Jim: Yes.

Woody: [crosstalk] -$25 a bottle. We'll sign it for you and send it to you. Tell them about it.

Jim: That's right. We have a white wine, a red wine, and we have a rosé, I guess is what they call it, wine. If you're one of the people that are going to the live at the Southeastern Livingston Center here in Livingston Parish, we'll have it there for purchase if you're interested in purchasing bottles. Otherwise, just message us on Facebook and we'll give you.

Woody: Yeah. And we're going to announce it for the first time today. If you're a Patreon member, you get $5 off a bottle.

Jim: Yes.
Woody: So, instead of $25, it'd be $20.

Jim: There you go. Always trying to give you more perks out there when you're a Patreon member and support what we do here at Bloody Angola.

Woody: And y'all check out on our social media, the new tiers levels, that we have for Patreon members, the different benefits that you get underneath that. If you're kind enough to support us by subscribing through Patreon, we'll give back to you as much as we can.

Jim: Amen. And we got transcripts available now, which is a big deal. That's something that y'all have really been asking for. Hey, we listen when y'all ask. We do have transcripts available now that we'll be uploading of each of our new episodes going forward. So, you can read along as you listen along.

Woody: Yeah, absolutely. And then next week, you'll be getting three Bloody Angolas.

Jim: Three Bloody Angolas a week. They're all going to be entertaining and good, and we're looking forward to bringing that to y'all. So, until next time, I'm Jim Chapman.

Woody: And I'm Woody Overton.
Jim: Your host of Bloody-
Woody: -Angola.
Jim: And a podcast 142 years in a making.
Woody: A Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison. Jim: Peace. [laughter]