Monday, July 24, 2006

Clink of the Glass


One of my favorite summer sounds is the clinking of dishes and glasses through open windows. People's voices occasionally rise through the noise, but it is the clink of porcelain and glass that I like best. It reminds me that people are living--eating, drinking, and sharing companionship. It's easy to forget that during cold and grey New England winters, and I try to soak up as much of the outside action as I can during summer's all-to-brief stint here.

This oddly makes me have something in common with former Alcatraz Island prison inmates. Even though I toured Alcatraz at least 10 years ago, one story always stuck with me. As part of the tour, I was able to listen to recording of a former inmate describing his days on the island. With longing and deep nostalgia in his voice, he described how much he looked forward to New Year's Eve in prison. It seemed that the Saint Francis Yacht Club hosted a huge party every year, and due to something about the air and water that time of year combined with the large number of guests, would allow the prisoners to hear the party sounds across the Bay--clinking wine glasses, women's laughter, and big band sounds. He said he would never forget those sounds as long as he lived. They reminded him that there was life out there.

Now, trudging through New England winter weather is certainly not as bad as being locked up on Alcatraz for years on end, but I do feel some empathy with Prisoner Number 12495. I hope I can remember the sounds of tonight during the cold harsh days of January.

3 Comments:

Blogger Chrissa said...

Ah yes, so evocative.

I think I remember hearing on that tour that the placement of the prison within view of SF was intentional, so the prisoners would be reminded every day of what they were missing. It must have been especially poignant on a night like NYE.

11:52 AM  
Blogger steph said...

i totally agree about this. when i moved away from sf i realized there are so many evenings like that there you hardly notice. so when it happens now, i always notice.

3:39 PM  
Blogger George X said...

Yes! I miss the sounds of SF almost as much as I miss the sushi. The layers of sound were particularly remarkable on exceptionally hot or cold nights. The clank of dishes, conversations, people walking, and the electricity from the buses and streetcars. Even the glow and pitch of TV's were interesting on certain nights. Sigh...

12:44 AM  

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