Mattresses are Removed

Our singing went on for hours and hours a day. Several times the guards (affectionately known as “screws”) ordered us to shut up, which caused us to sing louder. Finally, the Warden came in and said we had to stop singing, that it was bothering the cooks. This was hilarious to us, since the cooks were black trustees who clearly were getting a kick out of our spirit and defiance. He announced that if we did not stop singing, that he would take away our tooth brushes. We sang louder. Out went toothbrushes. We kept singing. He ordered that our bibles be taken, we sang louder. Bibles gone.  If we didn’t stop singing, he would have our mattresses and bedding taken out.  We sang with even more gusto. They came to take the mattresses, and some prisoners who tried to hold on to their mattresses had “wrist breakers” applied to them. These are “handling” devices with a metal strap with a leverage handle that tightens the strap around the wrist. The combination of tightness and leverage makes it impossible to resist its action, and has resulted in many a wrist to be broken in prison.

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