Title: Interview with Elwell Barns
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007140/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Elwell Barns
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: Lumbee County (Fla.)
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007140
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Lumbee County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: LUM 153

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Full Text


This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

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For all other permissions and requests, contact the
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LUM 153A
Date: June 15, 1973
Subject: Elwell Barns
Interviewer: Lew Barton
Typist: Josephine Suslowicz


I: This is June 15, 1973. I am Lew Barton interviewing for the University

of Florida's History Department and the Doris Duke Foundation's American

Indian Oral History Program. Today I am near Lumberton, North Carolina at

the North Carolina State Department of Public Corrections, Robeson County

Unit. This is tape six in a series of interviews with personnel and with

inmates. Uh, with me is an inmate of the prison, and, uh, I don't know

anything about him until I interview him, so I'll ask him if he would please

tell us his name and his number.

S: My name is Elwell Barns and my number's 30431-78.

I: Uh, how long have you been over here, sir?

S: Ever since 1951.

I: Uh-huh, and, uh, do you mind telling us why you're here?

S: I'm in for murder.

I: Uh-huh. Uh, you've been here, then this has been how many years is that

since '51?

S: Well, I've been on this unit since '51 year. I've been in since October

24, 1949.

I: I see. Since 1949, so you've been in for--well, I know you can tell me the

number of years.

S: Almost 24--October it will be 24 years.

I: How are prospects for getting out?

S: Well, it looks good, now.

I: That's good. I certainly will wish you Godspeed in your efforts to get

out, if you, you know, want to get out.

S: Yes, sir.

LUM 153A 2

I: Uh, have you--you have spent part of your time here, and you--where did you

spend your time--the rest of your time?

S: Up in Raleigh in the Central Prison.

I: In Central Prison. Uh, may I ask you your father and mother's names?

S: My father's name was Willie Barns, my mother's was Lucy--Lucy Barns.

I: Uh-huh.

S: Oxendine before she was married.

I: Uh-huh. And they live--where do they live now?

S: Down in Sermont. My father, he's dead. He died back in '58.

I: I see. Uh, well, you've seen a lot of changes take place, then, in the

prison system since you've been in, haven't you?

S: I--I agree. Yes I have.

I: Have you been encouraged by this?

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh, it certainly, uh, an opportunity to talk with you because, uh, we're

very proud of this state and--and the forward steps it has taken, you know,

in this particular area.

S: Yes.

I: We're not always praising the state, for instance, sometimes we're criticizing

them, but, uh, in the matter of prison reform it, uh, we have received the

impression so far that they--there is much to praise the state for in this,

in that it has taken a forward position, uh, in bringing about, uh, better


S: Yes, sir.

I: And, uh, do you think that this is true?

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh, now, you say you were here before--where before you came over here?

S: I was in Raleigh Central Prison, then I was transferred out. After I stayed

LUM 153A 3

there so long, they transferred me down here.

I: Uh-huh. So you have, uh, a ready index, I mean, you can compare the times

yesterday and the times today and the differences there very easily, can't


S: Yes, sir.

I: And also the differences in the two places. Uh, of course, uh, it's been

some time since you were over there and conditions there have changed too.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh, but, uh, is it a great advantage to be near your home?

S: Yes it is. It sure is. You're close to your people.

I: Just being able to see them is worth a lot, isn't it?

S: Yes it is. It sure is.

I: I, uh, uh, am very much interested, uh, I'm sure you must remember Miss

Mary Livermore.

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, very well.

I: She established, uh, I believe it's called, uh, Prisoner's Friend Society?

S: Yes.

I: I was over here with her a few times, uh, some years ago before she died,

and, uh, she always took a great interest in the prisoners.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh, when you, uh, under the old--under the old system before the changes

took place, and, uh, various revisions of laws and so forth, did you have

any chance of looking forward to, uh, you know, being released at all?

S: Yes, sir. I always--always has hopes.

I: That so, uh, but it looks brighter now than ever, doesn't it?

S: Than ever before, yes it does.

I: That's great. I--I certainly hope it's soon, if, uh, uh, are you, uh,

working on work release as yet?

LUM 153A 4

S: No, sir. No, sir, I'm not now. I'm cutting hair. I'm a barber over


I: Uh-huh, you're the barber.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh-huh, uh, you've seen the different changes take place, and you like this

set-up better, don't you?

S: Yes, sir, I sure do.

I: Uh, can you tell why--could you tell us anything about--we don't want you

to talk about anything you don't want to, uh, but I was wondering about,

oh, in the old days, tts-9fre and so forth, that--I know

that's changed drastically.

S: Yes, sir. Yes.

I: And, uh, a good many things have changed and--and for the better, and, uh,

I think people are becoming more humane all the time.

S: Yes, yes.

I: They realize that any man can make a mistake, uh, some do and some, uh,

they all do, and some get caught.

S: Yes, sir.

I: And maybe some don't, but, uh, when you look forward to the future, uh,

do you have any plans or dreams, or aspirations in that direction.

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, you have plans, maybe what you gonna do when you get

out, make you some money, what you gonna do with it so as I i "'

I: Uh-huh, uh, do you have any very close relatives, uh, you don't have a


S: No, sir. No, sir, I don't have no wife.

I: Uh, one of the things, uh, it seems to me I would, uh, I would be thinking

about, and I'm serious about this, I would--would probably be a girl

friend. How about that?

LUM 153A 5

S: Yes.

I: Do you have a girl friend ?___ ?

S: Yes, I have a girl friend.

I: Uh-huh, well, I know this will be a happy occasion and, uh, I don't know

the circumstances or anything about it, but as one, uh, human being to

another, I certainly wish you luck and Godspeed in your efforts.

S: Thank you alot.

I: To get out.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh, could you tell them--me a little something about, uh, conditions when

you first were in prison, and the difference today, or do you feel free to

talk about things like this?

S: Yes, sir. Uh, the difference in it now is so much difference in it there's

just like--almost like day and night. You know, everything was bad when

I first came in, the punishment they deaiR out, all of that, It is

bad, cause you an ulcered stomach, and everything else.

I: Uh-huh.

S: And, uh, the work--the work was pretty hard. You didn't work, then you'ld

get punishment 9I% i you know, refusing to work or something, or if--

if you work wasn't satisfied, you know, by the foreman that--and guard

that had you on the row.

I: Uh-huh. Did they--did they actually flog, uh, prisoners in the old days?

Did they actually whip Axe, or something like that?

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, they whipped them.

I: Uh-huh.

S: Put the ball and chain on you, uh, handcuff you to the bars at night, such

as that.

I: Uh-huh, and I understand there's a great difference in what, uh, inmates

LUM 153A 6

refer to as--well, everybody does it, uh, on the prison grounds, I suppose,

what they refer to as the hole.

S: Yes.

I: Solitary confinement and what it is today, and what it was years ago.

S: Well thi' they've got now is just like this room here and this room

around here. Just take you out of this room, and put you down there, and

you do the same meals--you don't miss any meals in the thing. It's--it's C

whole lot better. ^ is the nickname of the hole...,.

I: Uh-huh, I wonder how it got that name?

S: I--I really don't know.

I: Uh-huh. I've always heard it called that.

S: Yes, I always have too.

I: Uh, do you know, uh, you don't happen to remember Snookie Barton or Snookie


S: Snookie Jacobs, yes, sir. In fact, I was in jail with him.

I: He's out now.

S: Yes, he's out doing good from what I ___j___- / ',*,

I: Uh, how about Earl Locklear, Jr.?

S: Earl Locklear?

I: You don't happen to remember him, do you?

S: Yes, I remember him. Sent up with, uh, this Barton boy one time?

I: Uh-huh. (Affirmative)

S: Yes, yes I know him.

I: I believe he--he ran a couple of times, you know.

S: Yes.

I: Uh, he said he made a bad mistake in runing a couple of times, and said

the guard could have shot him'S BMR, you know, boy, I had your back S 0

you don't know what you're doing, they said, you don't even know how to, uh,

LUM 153A 7

go about it, but anyway, he was running. He said he was, uh, his feet

was moving fast, but he wasn't going nowhere.

S: (Laughs)

I: He said I--I'll always love that guard because he could have killed me.

S: Yes, sir.

I: And there wouldn't have been anything to it, and he said he had my back
siq b+
right in--in the tes of his gun, but somehow he didn't.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh, he's doing good, too, now. I think he's working in Fayetteville, and,

u-A, uf cumse, he's married. Uh, how about the fellows you've known when

you were in here? Do they come back to see you? When you make friends

in prison do you. .

S: Yes, sir. There's a lot of them that comes back.

I: Uh-huh, that's good. How do you make out for, uh, uh, you know, money to

buy your necessary toilet articles and things like this?

S: Well, on that, you just, you know, since you're not on work release, or

anything, you just have--more or less do the best you can.

I: Uh-huh.

S: Take me now, I cut hair when--I don't put any price on anybody for a

haircut, but usually they sometimes, you know, they get me a pack of cigarettes,

or if they give me a quarter or something like that.

I: Uh-huh. Well that's a great advantage. Did you cut hair before you came

in, or learned that after you came?

S: No, sir. I learned after I came here.

I: Uh-huh. And do you cut just inmate hair of inmates?

S: And the employees.

I: Employees.

S: Yes, sir.

LUM 153A 8

I: That's good, uh, if a fellow really wants to, uh, improve himself, he does

have an opportunity?

S: He has an opportunity, yes, sir.

I: Um, how about the food here, has it--has it improved too, over the years?

S: Well, the, uh, I wouldn't say that it's improved any, because they give us

a lot of, you know, cold stuff.

I: Uh-huh.

S: You know, stuff that's been, you know, froze for a while--quite a while.

I: Uh-huh.

S: And then we're--like in a--you know, people preparing it, like the cooks,

maybe they don't--just don't understand, you know, preparing food.

I: Uh-huh.

S: If we had someone who could maybe have been to what they call cook school,

and learnt this, then this would make our food a whole lot better than

what it is now.

I: Uh-huh. Do some of the, uh, inmates do the cooking, or what?

S: Yes, sir. Yes.

I: Uh-huh, of course, I guess they improve as they go along.

S: Yes, yes.

I: They have to eat it too, don't they?

S: Yes.

I: Uh, well, maybe that will improve. You get plenty to eat?

S: Yes, sir, we get plenty to eat.

I: I, uh, interviewed some fellows in jail once, and asked them, uh, this has

been a long time--maybe twenty years ago.

S: Yes, sir.

I: I asked these fellows--these fellows in jail say, uh, you fellows that have

been here several weeks, could you tell me about the quality of the food

LUM 153A 9

and how is it on Sunday, and one said, well, they run the cow through the

kitchen on Sunday.

S: (Laughs)

I: Yeah, they get and rice on Sunday, but, uh, I gather from what he

said that, uh, the beef in it was very scarce.

S: Yeah.

I: Uh, it's different from that though now, isn't it?

S: Yes, yes it is.

I: Now, how about the Central Prison and the prison here, can you tell us any

differences there?

S: Well, yes, uh, there's a--there's a lot of difference in here because when

you're in Central Prison yo 're, you know, surrounded well, all of this
ve'r& S96c1Vo\
wall, and you 4i--sr -naev- see anybody unless it's an employee, or

something like that.

I: Uh-huh.

S: But here you can see--always see people come up, maybe visit a while, leave

and, and maybe the next one you see is somebody different.

I: Uh-huh, uh, when we came in through the gate, we saw that the gate was open

and we just walked right in.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh, this wouldn't have happened in--just a few years ago, would it?

S: No, sir. No, sir, it wouldn't.

I: Uh, although there were perhaps security people standing around.

S: Yes, sir.

I: It seems to be a lot different, uh, even from my observations. As I said,

I don't know anything except what somebody tells me.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh, do you--if you had your wish, now I'm not talking about getting out, uh,

LUM 153A 10

now, but if you had your wish to change anything at all in the prison camp

and you could get your wish--we all dream dreams sometimes--what--what

do you think you'd change first of all?

S: Well, the first thing I would be interested in is maybe getting the prisoners

away, you know, if--if they're doing work.

I: Uh-huh.

S: I would do that, and try and get everybody that I could, you know, on a

paid job such as work-release.

I: Uh-huh.

S: And let them have something toi.lease out.

I: Right.

S: Instead of going out broke, maybe don't even have money to get clothes.

I: Right. Uh, do you think this is improving that more and more people are

becoming eligible for work-release?

S: Yes, sir. Yes, I do. Some more.

I: Um-hum.

S: Getting ready for it now, I believe, than in the past.

I: How about, uh, your mail. You know there was a time when mail was strictly

censored and you, uh, had to write at certain times.

S: Yes.

I: Uh, certain way, you know, uh, is this pretty free now?

S: Yes, sir. Yes, you take your mail and write it and then seal it and (loud

noise) good day's walk usually, you know, on the schedule.

I: Uh-huh. And you can write as often as you like?

S: Yes, sir. Anytime you get ready, you can write.

I: Uh-huh. 6, ,

S: Receive mail anytime. You know, they have certain times wsieAM2 sii i

quite naturally, they do that because they do the same thing in service.

LUM 153A 11

I: Uh-huh, uh, and how--and there's all the visiting, it's only O ,/i *c :

as they used to be.

S: Yes, sir. Sometime it would go three Sundays before you'd have one

visitor, and now it's every Sunday.

I: I'm wondering about AA, uh, of course, in being confined to prison, uh,

you might not think that there is need for a Chapter of AA--Alcoholics

Anonymous, but I understand they do have a chapter of AA at Central Prison

in Raleigh. Uh, do you think an AA chapter would work to an advantage


S: Yes: sir. Yes, sir.

I: Because you guys do have to who are planning to go out.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Even though they're confined now, and you do think that, uh, AA would help?

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, I do.

I: The reason I ask you that is I know some people who are interested in doing

something like this. How about your Chapel excercises? Are those pretty

well attended, or. .

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

I: Um, what is the worst disadvantage, would you say, I mean, in being confined

here at this prison? What--what is the greatest disadvantage, uh, in your

opinion, do you know? Um, do you, I mean, what is the worse fault of it?

I'll put it that way--what's the worse part of it? Being confined, or. .

S: Yes, sir, not being able to go, you know, wherever you want to go.

I: Uh-huh, this is something which is very slow to ammend, uh, I know. RM

9V-C Jb confined to ships when I was in the Navy.

S: Yes, sir.

I: It wasn't exactly prison, but it was almost one, you know, there was nowhere

to go except some other room, you know. While you're out at sea there just

LUM 153A 12

isn't anywhere to go. We were out weeks and weeks at a time, though.

That gives me some idea.

S: Yes.

I: And, uh, I remember on one occasion I went home on leave, and I went to

sleep and I overslept, and when I came back, I was several hours late, and,

of course, they gave me five days on bread and water for this. There was

just no excuse for being AWOL, you know.

S: Yes, sir.

I: And, uh, of course, our ship--I was lucky because the ship had to leave in

three days, so actually, uh, I only had to spend three days, so I--I know

something about being, ur, in solitary on bread and water, but in the hole

you don't--you don t put on a diet like that, are you today?

S: A lot of time they do--used to be.

I: Uh-huh.

S: But you're not now. You get your meals just like you do at mess hall you


I: Uh-huh, well, that's certainly good, and that certainly is an improvement.

S: Yes, sir.

I: I can remember that very well, because I was really crushed by it. I guess

the greatest disadvantage was being, uh, you know, having to go through that.

S: Yes.

I: Because after the first day or two, I didn't get hungry any more, you know,

hungry like that.

S: Yes, sir.

I: But, uh, we'ld get about a quarter of a loaf of bread and a glass of water.

That sort of thing, and bread tasted mighty good too, by the way. (Laughs)

Uh, well then, in--in your position with your job as barber, you can keep

yourself supplied with cigarettes and that sort of thing.

LUM 153A 13

S: Yes, sir.

I: Do you think that, uh, uh, being confined is about the worst kind of punish-

ment, uh, everything considered, that a man could absolutely be, uh, subjected

to over the years?

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

I: I've talked with some other people about crimes, and, uh, of course, to me,

uh, I don't see any difference in inmates and, uh, other human beings, uh,

necessarily, and when I meet a fellow human being, by and large, I say,

there but for the grace of God go I. Uh, so I'm--I'm wondering, um, I'ld

like to know, do you think that most of the people who are in prison are

there essentially because they made a rash mistake on, you know, that they

were the victims of circumstances. In--in that moment they didn't have

time to think or to, uh, you know, rationalize and maybe, uh, a moment of

passion, or a moment of anger, do you--things happen. Do you think this is

about the way it usually happens, or. .

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, I--I really do.

I: Probably just a few hours later they'd o40 ( (.\ / t o'

S: Almost anything in the world.

I: Uh, I don't believe there's any--any such thing as a, you know, somebody

who takes delight in doing things like that. Uh, I've heard people talk

about men who have no conscience. Have you ever known any men like that

who don't have a conscience?

S: No, sir. I don't think so.

I: You've been in prison this many years and you've, uh, you've talked to

hundreds of fellow prisoners, haven't you?

S: Yes, sir.

I: Did all of them seem to have a conscience?

S: Yes, yes.

LUM 153A 14

I: Uh, I've always thought so. Uh, usually what happens is--is circumstances,

isn't it?

S: Yes, yes.

I: How about a man's background? Of course, I--I'm not expecting you to be an

expert, uh, in any field, actually I'm just asking for your opinion. Uh,

do you think things like poverty, uh, being up against this--being in a jam,

uh, causes men to do things that they wouldn't do?

S: Yes.

I: Do you think most men, uh, most men who, uh, are in crime would rather not

be? Uh, some people seem to get by with it for a while.

S: Yes.

I: But do you think, uh, anybody ever gets by with it, you know, for very long?

S: No, sir, not long can you get by with it.

I: Uh, what do you do with your time when you're, uh, you know, do you spend

quite a bit of time alone, or are--are you forced to do this because of

circumstances, or are you usually where you can talk to other people?

S: You--you're free to talk to anybody You.know that's on the inside of the


I: Uh-huh. I notice that you--you have this, uh, chance. You have several

girls, uh, I believe about nine, now. Do you think this helps the morale

of the men.

S: Yes.

I: Just to have--know that there are people of the opposite sex around?

S: Yes.

I: Uh, they don't have to take any kind of precautions or anything like that?

S: No, sir, they just come up here. Somebody will go out and start talking

to them.

I: Um-hum, are they friendly to them?

LUM 153A 15

S: Yes, they're real friendly.

I: Uh-huh. I believe these are-- are probably on work-release,

or. .

S: Yes, sir, yes.

I: Um-hum, uh, when people get on work-release, like if they don't feel that

this makes them better than there fellow prisoners, does it?

S: No, sir. Not a oas--not as ) ''t you know by first hand C

I: Do you think that the majority.of, uh, the prisoners are just about like

anybody else as--you--as far as the discipline is concerned?

S: Yes, sir.

I: When people misbehave, or as--can it be sometimes because they're bored, or

you know, just have nothing else to do?

S: Yes, sir. That--that--that could be some of it.

I: How about your recreation {'f1 There's, um, uh, uh, is there

anything in that direction that might be improved do you think, or, um,J

games or entertainment, things like this?

S: I hope so. I--I feel we've got the sports-down.pretty-good.; I knew we've

got just about everything excepting a football field, yet.

I: Uh-huh. What do you usually do on Sunday? Do you read a lot?

S: Well, mostly Sunday morning, you know,because Sunday evening you start

visiting, you know at twelve--twelve thirty.

I: At twelve-thirty.

S: Yes, sir.

I: And you usually have, uh, you can have visitors if you're--if you're, uh,
CQ Al 0 ^4 r^A. d")'on0-r
"rnotc I you can have visitors every Sunday?

S: Yes, sir, and if you're (i you know, make me some brown clothes,

they can fit it up some, too.

LUM 153A 16

I: Uh-huh, now I'm not familiar with the difference. Now what is the gunman?

S: He's the one that wears the brown outfit.

I: Uh-huh, and where is this? I mean. .

S: Well, maybe he's just come in prison and ain't been in long enough, you

know, to have in:his ten percent to make 1O0 rf-cll

I: Uh-huh, in other words, uh, he's in pretty closely in security. Is this

what you're talk--security?

S: Yes.

I: Pretty close security until he proves himself?

S: Yes.

I: Uh, uh, can you think of any differences between, uh, uh, Central Prison

and--and the Robeson County unit, here?

S: Why, yes, sir. It's--like I told you a while ago--you know, about being

inside of the wall when you don't see too many people.

I: Uh-huh.

S: And down here you can see anybody come up, you know.

I: This is very important to you.

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

I: Can you think of anything else?

S: You can visit, you know, your visiting is more convenient here than it would

be in Central Prison.

I: Uh-huh.

S: And they--they write your people and let your people know what time to come,

what time to be there for you to visit them--everything.

I: Um-hum. Now say, um, we're talking about a1;-e.- "J prisons, uh, if

you wanted to make a phone call, uh, would that be possible, if it was

something bad, or. .

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, we've got a phone right there at the barber shop.

LUM 153A 17

I: So you don't have any difficulties talking to people on the outside.

S: No sir. 0 (,r-^ ,2

I: Of course, uh, this wouldn't be possible if you weren't ____S__t.

S: Yes, sir, you could still talk.

I: Uh, do you think there are many, uh, escapes now, or, uh, attempts of

escapes as there were in the old days, or were there more in the old days?

S: No, no sir. I believe there were more in the old days.

I: You think there were more then than now.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Then the better treatment is really paying off, then, isn't it?

S: Yes, sir. We're looking forward to getting--getting help for theirself.

I: Uh-huh. A cP

S: Maybe make \y' iThey usually make E and get on work-release.

I: Um-hum. Well, that's certainly something to look forward to.

S: Yes, yes it is.

I: In the old days you didn't have much hopefc-

S: No, sir.

I: All you could do is just sit and, uh, and not have anything at all much to

look for.

S: That's right.

I: Um, do you, uh, have any hobbies- at all?

S: I have leather--a leather hobby, you know, make billfolds, and lady's bags,

and such like.

I: Uh-huh. Can you get material for making these? Uh, can you get it at a

reasonable enough rate that you can make a pretty good profit on it?

S: Yes, sir. You can, maybe, double your money on it.

I: That's good. Uh, do you sell well, though, d n-tler "

S: Yes, yes.

LUM 153A 18

I: I think I've got one. I think I have just about every one I have is--is

like this. It's made by somebody in the prison.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh, have you ever seen a blind prisoner?

S: Yes, I have. Blind prisoner? Yes, I have.

I: Well, does this person present a special problem?

S: Yes, sir. He have a problem, you know, getting around and about--loose

and about.

I: Uh-huh. If some of the prisoners don't like what's going on, or they have

some legitimate complaints, or they just like to sit out and talk to some-

body--tell them about the way they feel and their problems.

S: Yes?

I: Um, would you have any trouble finding somebody, or getting to somebody

that you trusted,-or'somebody--I'm talking about somebody who understands?

S: No, sir. You don't have no trouble, you know, getting them to talk--set

down and talk with you. .

I: Usually very simple task?

S: Yes, yes sir.

I: You know, uh, people on the other side come along and they may be a little

careless or indifferent, uh, do they ever forget to--when you want them to

do a special chore for you like tell somebody something, or, uh, get some-

thing done, maybe get a letter wrote, or see somebody for you, do they

usually come through?

S: Yes, sir. You--you mean the employees?

I: No, I'm talking about just somebody come along.

S: Oh, just somebody from the outside come up?

I: Uh-huh. (Affirmative)

S: They--they usually, you know, keep their word.

LUM 153A 19

I: Uh, do you remember the Hunt__ boys? I believe it was the Hunts,_but

I forgot their names, who had--who had a group of gospel singers here

just a few years ago?

S: Was that, uh, Tommy Hunt?

I: I believe it was, but anyway, uh, this was a very good group. A group they

sounded great, and they'd play onthe radio, and they'd sing on the radio.

S: I believe that was Tommy Hunt.

I: And, uh, one of the songs they sang was "My God is Risen."

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, that's who they were.

I: That was something to }6 Uh, you don't pick--you don't have a

group like that now?

S: No, sir.

I: Uh-huh, most of those boys have gone home, right?

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

I: It makes you feel very sad, though, I imagine, when you, you know, be here

with somebody and they leave. Uh, would you say that the comradeship--friend-

ship between prisoners is perhaps greater, or closer than that between folks


S: I--I believe that--I believe it's more close than--now than what it used to

be a long time ago.

I: They feel for each other.

S: Yes, yes.

I: And you think that the better treatment may help anybody to just be a better


S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

I: Do you remember, uh, since you've been inany of thegmnm have been

feoi4eg around?

S: The gumoHrr" VC.x.r _r

LUM 153A 20

I: Uh-huh. (Affirmative)

S: h Lhe ______

I: from Raleigh.

S: Oh, you mean down here?

I: Yes, I do.

S: No, sir, I don't--I don't think I've ever seen one down here like I've seen

them in Central Prison.

I: And do they--would they inspect on walk through and. .

S: Yes, just walk through and walk around the .Iff/1 areas.

I: What--do you have any indoor games that you can play, I mean, how about

uh, of course, I don't know--do they allow you to have cards?

S: Yes, sir, yes.

I: And you can--you can play.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Long--how about--you couldn't--probably couldn't gamble.

S: No. No, sir, they won't allow us to gamble, but any other game they let

us play.

I: How about dominoes, and. .

S: Yes, we got dominoes.

I: Checkers, and. ..

S: Yes.

I: Uh, what are the most popular games or anything like that?

S: I--I think the card game is.

I: Uh-huh. Do you ever play a *. e game. monopoly Do you ever

play monopoly?

S: No, sir, I don't believe I know that one.

I: Uh, this is sort of black and it's a little like checkers, only you use, uh,

play money and--and you buy buildings and stuff like that on it.

LUM 153A 21

S: Yes, sir. They--they bought one of them, and roll the dice, or..

I: Right.

S: And you go so far.

I: That tells you where to move it.

S: Yes.

I: Uh-huh.

S: Yes, sir. We have one of them.

I: It's called monopoly I think. Uh, you have, uh, rooms--you have recreation

rooms, uh, where the TV is? 0 r^-

S: No, sir. Our TV is on.the inside of our 0 (l dount-e "lldor,

you know.

I: I see. Uh, what's the--what--do you know the longest term man here, I mean.

S: The longest term man?

I: Um-hum. (Affirmative)

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh, how long is he? For life?

S: He's--I think he's got, uh, two life sentence.,

I: Um-hum. )

S: From what I've even learned. E never, you know, question him, or. .

I: Prisoners don't usually like to talk too much about those things?

S: No, sir. No, sir.

I: Uh, don't think anybody should bother 'em about it L7-'- Ki

S: No, sir. No, sir. You're right.

I: God has set him a task. They're looking forward to the future.

S: Yes, sir.

I: And, uh, you say one of your parents is living and one is dead.

S: Yes, sir. My mother, she living. /

I: This time of year when CM things are plentiful, I meanjrwe-rs plentiful--

LUM 153A 22

- things C O-I ,,i4 r.

S: Yes, sir.

I: It's yS^' 9 you always look forward to this time of year, don't they?

I say I eat like a king because when I eat vegetables, fresh vegetables,

this is, uh, uh, something that I like very much. Do, uh, people, uh, do--

are you able to get fresh vegetables--I mean, like out of the country, or,

or do you have to get them when they're not too fresh, or they're like out

of the store? Nobody gets very fresh ones out of the store.

S: Yeah, yeah. You have to get them when they're, you know, not too fresh.

I: What do you usually have for breakfast?

S: Uh, mostly bacon and eggs. Either scrambled--scrambled eggs, you know, and

bacon by itself.

I: Uh-huh. Are they usually dried eggs, or fresh ones?

S: They're fresh.

I: That's great. Uh, when I was aboard ship, we didn't, you know, of course

we didn't--we were not at shore very often, and we had to eat dried eggs

quite often because we'ld be away for weeks and weeks at a time. Uh, I was

trying to compare in my mind the difference between, uh, things that you

have. Uh, how about your clothing, uh, of course, uh, it'-Ls u-nly pio-T

weidBgsi just about anything?

S: No, sir.

I: Or do everybody have to conform to the prison rigg?

S: Yes, sir. Unless you're going out on pass, you know, you can put your

civilian clothing on, unless'an you're not going out, then you have to

remain in the same kind of, you know, maybe like I've got.

I: Uh-huh. Uh, among guys who do go out on pass, do very many of them mess


S: No, sir. There are not too many of them messing up, now. They have been

LUM 153A 23

some, you know, maybe once a month, every two months, maybe three.

I: Uh-huh.

S: Somebody make a foul-up on.....

I: Do you think this was because of alcohol, maybe, or. .

S: More or less, yes. .'

I: Uh, do you think, uh, alcohol is, uh, is, uh, -$ most everybody

probably agree on--do you think alcohol is responsible for a lot of, uh,

the prisoners being here?

S: Yes, yes I think.

I: I've heard people say that, uh, Indian people couldn't control their liquor,

or something like this, uh, I don't think anybody can control it if they

get too high.

S: That's right. You're right about that.

I: Uh, you don't see any difference between, uh, uh, an Indian drinking and

anybody elses?

S: That's right.

I: Um, has there been a difference since you've had all three races over here

working together? Uh, has it made any difference at all, uh, that you can


S: No, sir, no. Not that I can tell, you know, but, uh, living quarters and

eating, such as that, I think I don't see any difference.

I: Uh-huh. Uh, an inmate is not usually more suspicious of, uh, somebody from

another race than he is of somebody in his own race, 4s7Tl ?

S: Well he--he--he's probably, you know, more suspicious.

I: Until he finds'out-better?

S: Until he--'til he findSout then himself, you know.

I: Uh-huh. When a new inmate comes in, uh, is there a tendency to look on him,

you know, question him mn=zr Kind of reserve judgement until, uh,--' 1 f

LUM 153A 24

aet find out what kind of person he is before, uh, they get too friendly

with him?

S: Yes, sir. Just, you know, we judge--judgement until you find out about

him yourself then.

I: Uh, do you consider yourself to be a pretty good judge of human nature?

S: Yes.

I: And do you size up a guy pretty good?

S: Yes, sir.

I: Are you usually right?

S: Yes, sir. I usually am.

I: Uh, is there a favorite among the staff members? Is there one person who,

stands out above all the rest as far as wIlft __ their eenern,

do you think? Somebody that they're particular with? Farm guys who--

wait now, this is a square shooter, this is a real man, that sort of thing?

S: Yes, sir, I'ld say there is.

I: Uh-huh, would you mind telling us who he is?

S: Well I--I think hre.
---^-------- -
I: He is quite a guy.

S: Yes, yes.

I: (Laughs) You're pretty good yourself, and he is quite a--quite a person.

Uh, do you remember Summer Locklear? He used to work here as a guard or

something, you know, a guard or something, uh, maybe until last year or the

last two or three years.

S: Yes, sir, I remem--I remember him. Was he a--was he a Locklear, or--he

was or not?

I: I believe he was Summer Locklear. Kind of a tall guy.

S: Yes, he had the mess hall--worked in the mess hall for the last two or

three years. He's the one that had--his health went bad and had to, you

LUM 153A 25

know, take him to the hospital.

I: Uh-huh.

S: I think he had some kind of brain operation or something.

I: Uh-huh.

S: Taking some kind of tumor out of him.

I: Then the problemO < uh, can you usually get to the authorities

pretty easily-now.and then?

S: Yes, yes sir.

I: Um, unless--some of these questions may sound silly to you. I--I don't

know how a lot of you feel that a lot of other people on the outside don't

know as much as they ought to know.

S: Yes, sir.

I: Um, but do some of the fellows ever do any goldbricking--do you--'capse

I guess, maybe, you've got I gold bricks a t f\' Laughs)

S: Yes. Yes, sir, there's a lot of that happening too.

I: You have to be pretty sharp to. .(Laughs)

S: Yes. To get SS with yes, sir. V- -

I: How about, uh, your education? How abeot-year education ?__

S: I only have about, maybe, fourth.

I: Uh, fourth grade?

S: Fourth grade, yes, sir.

I: Uh-huh.

S: I take .' up here on the e-Sife-

I: Is that right?

S: Yes, sir.

I: That's good. Uh, does anyone teach adult education here, now?

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, they've got. .

I: How often is that, uh, .

LUM 153A 26

S: Uh, it's taught all day long. This teacher came in the morning, and when

she--after she leave then there's another takes her--she teaches in. .


I: Uh, this is side 2 of the interview with, uh, inmate Elwell Barns. Uh, Mr.

Barns, that's spelled E-L-W-E-L-L?

S: Uh-huh. (Affirmative)

I: B-A-R-N-E-S in case our typist would not know how to spell it. Uh, I sort

of lost track of where we were back there on the other side, but, uh, I, uh,

wanted to ask you about any changes you've noticed in the, uh, in the security

over the years. How--do we trust our prisoners more now than we did yesterday?

S: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

I: Do you think this makes, uh, makes them better too?

S: Yes, sir.

I: A man to know that he's trusted like that?

S: Yes, sir. That makes a lot of difference.

I: Uh-huh. Uh, the loneliness--do you get very lonely?

S: Not--not too lonely because there's somebody always around to come up, you

know, and start talking.

I: Uh-huh, then everything is, uh, in the old days /ll --I want to ask you

something very frankly, and, uh, I want you to tell me if you know and if

you will, if you don't want to, of course, uh, don't--but in the old days,

you know, there used to be stories told about guys in--being in prison they

give them salt peter and stuff like that. Uh, do you think they really did,

or do you think that i t- c j i X[ salt?

S: I heard--I heard that same thing, but as long as I've been in, I've never

saw it--ain't saw any at all.

I: All the time that you've been in prison?

S: Yes, sir.

LUM 153A 27

I: Uh-huh. Well, uh, it's been done in some states, but I don't know how many,

uh, but, uh, I'm sure it isn't being done now. Uh, at least I don't think


S: I don't think so, either.

I: Uh, I guess, uh, we've gone about the length of time that you had to stay

with me, and, uh, I want to tell you how much I appreciate talking with you,

and. .

S: I appreciated talking with you.

I: Is there some, uh, errand I can run for you on the outside?

S: No, sir. I don't--I don't know of such--anything right now.

I: Um-hum. Well, I certainly appreciate you talking with me, and your honesty

and frankness, and explaining these matters to me, and I know they're painful

to you.

S: Yes, sir.

I: But I certainly do appreciate it, and I know a lot more people will, uh,

profit by listening to you, and, uh. .

S: You're quite welcome.

I: I certainly wish you Godspeed and I hope that you get out very soon.

S: Yes, sir.

I: When you do, give me a call, will you?

S: I will.

I: I'll probably see you before this.

S: Alright, sir. Alright F J C. Ic oil *,

I: Good luck to you then.

S: Yes, sir. Thank you a lot.

I: I'll say thank you.


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