Thursday, February 23, 2017

"My Arrival At Preston" -- Guest Contributor's Very Own Preston Story

I want to announce a first for this blog, a post from a guest contributor who goes by the name "Alan CYA- # 65085" who I have been in contact with a couple of years now. I first came across his posts on a site called "Solitary Watch," where he chronicled many experiences he had during his time in the California Youth Authority system, at the Preston School of Industry.

 Although my book, "Behind The Walls," goes into the history of the school from its beginnings up to the time the Castle's Administration building closed, I am still very much interested in all things "Preston" related, so I was very enthusiastic to hear about his personal experiences while incarcerated at PSI, along with his thoughts on the youth authority correctional system itself based on his years of reflection and research.

It has taken some time for me to get back to writing and posting on this blog so I am thrilled to be sharing this now.  As my first post in a long time, I am excited to finally be publishing part of his experience at Preston and his personal reflections here in this special blog post, in his own words. 

(Photo Credit: Bill Thiry, c/o Alan)

The watchtower can be seen between the trees on the right of the Castle.

My Arrival at Preston  -- by Alan CYA #65085

"That toil of growing up;
The ignominy of boyhood; the distress
Of Boyhood changing into man;
 The unfinished man and his pain."--

The Dialogue of Self and Soul, William Butler Yeats 1865-1939

From the first day it opened on July 1, 1894, until the day it closed on June 2, 2011, Preston was known as a place that you didn't want to go. Our bus had arrived at the Preston School of Industry in Ione, California, on November 12, 1968. Nearly a half century later, I can still remember my escort taking me down the hill to my new residence in Sequoia Lodge, which was located a good distance away from all the other lodges in the far left hand corner of the institution from the main gate. Preston’s topography of gently rolling hills had two noteworthy landmarks, the first was an extremely high watchtower, and the other was Preston Castle with its ominous facade. The Romanesque Revival architecture of Preston Castle is both eerie and spectacular. Inmates were housed in this intimidating decaying structure until 1960, when the new facilities were completed.

Several days after my arrival I learned that Sequoia Lodge housed the most violent wards in the CYA system. Other lodges at Preston specialized in housing gang members, or drug offenders but Sequoia held the murderers, rapists, and child molesters. My parole was revoked for disturbing the peace. So when I first learned of Sequoia’s purpose, I was surprised because I had never considered myself to be a violent person. Although I had my share of fights, I had done my best to avoid them all and I never used excessive force in a fight. However the unwritten rule of incarceration is that you have but three choices you can “fornicate, fight or flee.”

The Newer Sequoia Lodge 
All photos of Sequoia Lodge were taken in February of 2017 just shy of six years after Prestons closing.

When I entered my 6’ X 9’ cell, the door opened towards the steel bed frame that was bolted to the ground against and parallel to the left wall. The head of my bed was against the rear wall. The toilet sink combo was mounted against the right wall near the door, and a desk sat in the far right hand side next to the only window. The cells were later modified to resemble those of a supermax prison.  The cell doors were also modified at some point to be able to open them remotely and to add a slot for a food tray/cuff up access. Again, something you’d find in a supermax prison but wouldn’t expect in a juvenile rehabilitation center.

(example of Sequoia Cell)

Actual cell at Colorado's supermax prison
example of Sequoia sliding cell 

My cell faced inward towards an open grassy area which was free of obstructions that might conceal an inmate’s attempt to escape. In the distance I could see only the fifteen foot security fence which encircled the entire perimeter of Preston. The fence had the standard razor wire on top with fine wire mesh covering its chain links which reduced the visibility of objects on the other side.  

A perimeter road on the other side of the fence allowed for easy access by maintenance and security vehicles. Regular patrols monitored the condition of the fence to prevent escapes. The only time I would observe wards other than Sequoia’s was during trips up the hill to, the gym, auditorium, or clinic but no interaction of any kind took place between us. All Sequoia’s residents were isolated from the rest of the wards even in this society within a society.

Notice the new brick around the slot windows where old windows once were.
I was held at Preston for just shy of 8 months which is nothing compared to those that followed me. It is hard to see the forest for the trees when one is in such institutions, only afterward, and with a lot of research can one hope to make sense of things. 

Whether or not the violence by the wards brought about the changes to their environment one must ask if the changes only contributed to more violence? Whatever the case, Sequoia Lodge was transformed into something closer to a supermax prison pod than the juvenile rehabilitation unit that it was billed to be.   I found two reports which reflect the effects of the changes. In July of 2005, the California Department of Corrections issued a report on staff assaults.  

“DISCUSSION: Thirty-seven of fifty-four incidents involved wards with serious mental health issues. Twenty-nine of the incidents occurred in Sequoia Lodge (roughly 54% of the total)....Only 7 incidents involved wards on general program status."

 During the year 2004, twenty-seven incidents occurred in Sequoia Lodge, per the report. "These statistics support the immediate issuance of vests to officers assigned to Sequoia." 

The fact that the wards housed in Sequoia Lodge were responsible for more than half of all the assaults on staff, while those involving wards on general program status were under 13%, could be viewed as an indictment of the wards more restrictive environment. (In several states, where the use of solitary confinement was reduced, the violence level also decreased.) By 2004, Tamarack Lodge (the solitary confinement unit) below was listed as closed.    

            By 2005, Sequoia Lodge had been configured for "close" security living but was not designated as being administrative segregation housing. Sequoia had by this time staffing up to three times the number of other lodges.

          The ward population had dramatically changed at Preston by the time of this report more than 82% of the wards claimed gang affiliation. This also closely followed the trend in the CDRC population.

          Staff has used several factors to decide placement. Age, program needs and gang affiliation appear to drive the process of housing wards.

         Another classified a given ward using a security level.

         Categories 1-2 were the highest security level and included wards committing murder and serious assaults.Many of the wards that I personally knew in Sequoia Lodge fell into this category.

         The interview team conducted interviews with staff assigned to the Specialized Behavioral Treatment Program in Sequoia and found that the Specialized/Intensive Treatment programs treated the most difficult and troubled wards.

The entire report can be read here:
Tamarack Lodge, originally Company G (built 1929)


View from second floor of Tamarack

 Interior of a Tamarack Isolation Cell here too they replaced the bed with a concrete slab.

         After I left, the wards remained totally isolated from the rest of Preston’s population.  This is confirmed in a 1977  CYA  report which reported: 

"The Sequoia Counseling Program is an intensive counseling milieu and educational program that is designed to deal with 48 wards.... This program is primarily segregated from the other programs at Preston. The Special Unit Academic Program provides education...within the Tamarack Intractable Unit, the Sequoia Counseling Program, and the Ironwood Protective Custody Program this allows the special treatment programs, to maintain their isolation where necessary.

         Tamarack Intractable lodge is a 40-bed living unit which provides a secure setting for older more sophisticated wards of the Preston population who are considered intractable. Tamarack does not contain program elements designed to deal with weak, psychotic, or suicidal wards.  Also included on Tamarack Lodge is a 21-bed Crisis Intervention Unit for use as a temporary program for other Preston lodges.”

Classroom cages, called “secure program areas”, were first introduced in 1998 in Preston and Stark both high security CYA facilities located in Ione and Chino respectfully. Caged like animals some belligerent wards began to expose themselves, make treats, or “gas” the teaching staff (dousing them with urine).

These 21 beds in Tamarack were used as Solitary Confinement.  I wrote about my Tamarack experience on Solitary Watch which took place during Christmas Day 1968.  That experience can be read here:

          The suicidal young boy in my story needed expert help which the report above admits was lacking. During my nearly eight months at Preston’s Sequoia Lodge, no staff members were attacked and the only disturbance in our classroom was a fight between me and another ward for which I spent two weeks in Tamarack’s solitary confinement unit. It is notable however, that after our altercation all our cells were searched and numerous weapons were found mostly in my opponent’s cell room. He was asked why he had so many weapons, he replied that he planned to kill me and then attack the staff.  I received no counseling or medications during my stay, leaving me to believe more than the architecture of Sequoia Lodge changed after my release.

Such rage against the system that had begun during the 1960’s, was by 1970, frequently leading to violent confrontations with the men running these prisons. With so many losing hope of ever reentering civil society, the number of violent incidents increased dramatically in the 1970’s leading to ever more draconian measures being deployed against inmates.

Unknown to me at the time, the legendary George Lester Jackson, commonly referred to today as the Dragon, had been transferred from nearby San Quentin Prison to Soledad Prison in January of 1968. He would later be charged with killing a guard in retaliation for the shooting deaths of three black inmates. The inmates had been shot by a lone white guard during a brawl three days prior in what is now known as “The Soledad Incident” of January 13, 1970.  Jackson along with two “Soledad Brothers” Fleeta Drumgo, and John Clutchette, as they were called by the press at the time, would dominate the newspapers of the era.

Following the “Soledad Incident” Jackson’s revolutionary, ideology took hold on both sides of the prison walls and resulted in the deaths of nine more prison guards and 24 inmates over the next year earning him the rank of Field Marshal in the Black Panther Party.

On August 21, 1971, Jackson himself died a violent death in San Quentin’s Adjustment Center, reportedly during an escape attempt. Three guards and two white building tenders also died in what is now called the “Bloodiest Day” in San Quentin’s history, after being repeatedly stabbed and having their throats cut. Three other, similarly wounded, guards would recover. Jackson’s co-conspirators Hugo Pinell, Johnny Spain, Willie Tate, Luis Talamantez, David Johnson, and Soledad Brother Fleeta Drumgo were known as The San Quentin Six, and would go on to dominate the news cycle during their trials. 

            In response to this rise of institutional violence, the Control Unit was created at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois in 1973. Marion was designed as the place where prisons across the nation could send their most radicalized inmates and violent gang members.  As Marion’s Control Unit received more and more, of the worst of the worst, Marion’s security deteriorated to the point where violence became the new norm. Marion’s warden may have indeed been seeking an excuse to lock down the whole population at the institution when in October 1983, Aryan Brotherhood members Thomas Edward Silverstein and Clayton Fountain supplied him with a politically correct excuse to do so when, in two separate incidents, they brutally murdered two guards. The supermax Prison model was thus born.  As Oscar Wilde wrote in the Duchess of Padua (Act 4), “We are each our own devil, and make this world our hell.”

As the Mecca of the prison reform movement the California Department of Corrections choose not to address the prison movements concerns but instead the state took the lead and opened the countries first supermax prison in Crescent City, CA in 1989 designed especially for the isolation of troublesome inmates.

It is obvious to me that Preston’s modifications to Sequoia Lodge were inspired by, and modeled after, the CDC’s efforts to isolate those they considered disruptive regardless of its effectiveness. It is also clear to me that George Jackson’s ideology of violent resistance and a culture of gang violence that it inspired had taken hold in Preston.  Preston was finally closed after a long battle in which the public refused to be silent over the reported abuses of wards and the “increased violence” that it produced. 

Peaceful protest by the public can indeed bring about change, where as violence only begets violence.   --------- By: ALAN CYA # 65085


Thank you Alan CYA # 65085 for contributing your experience at the Preston School of Industry, as well as your own thoughts on how the system has worsened over the years. And thank you to Bill Thiry for permission to publish the photos of some of the old buildings at Preston.  

Update: Per an email from Alan CYA # 65085, some of the photos of the Sequoia Lodge posted are of a different building that he states was later renamed the Sequoia Lodge. The buildings are the same, although this is not the original Sequoia Lodge, per his understanding. The photos are examples of what many of the buildings at Preston appeared to be at the time.---

Friday, September 23, 2016

Herman Huber's History Revealed

I recently received an email from one of my blog followers, Amanda Boling, in regards to Herman Huber's backstory. She had done some digging which revealed another tidbit into the life of young Mr. Huber, before he was sent to Preston on December 6, 1910.   Although she sent me some information I already had, she did point to a census record I hadn't seen, that shows Herman Huber was living with his mother Jennie, and her husband Amos Brothers (Herman's step-father) by 1910, in Alameda County. At that time Herman was 17 year old.

The other record she mentioned was another accounting for a person named Herman Huber, stationed at Yerba Buena Island in the same 1910 census, as an apprentice seaman. I had found that record before when I was researching Huber's life, but was never sure whether or not that was the right Herman Huber. After seeing the other census that Amanda pointed out, showing his mother and step-father were in fact living nearby, I think that it is safe to assume this could have been the right Herman Huber, too.

So why did I have information that Herman lived with his grandpa, William Ladd Willis in Sacramento? The story goes back to Herman's parents.  A strapping young man by the same name, Herman Huber, (born January 30,1873) at some point Herman met a young Jennie Willis (born August 4, 1873) and the two became sweethearts. By the time Herman had met Jennie, he was living with his mother, who was then a widow. A terrible accident killed his father on February 4, 1889.

Herman's father, who was also named Herman Huber, was thrown off his horse in Freeport, immediately causing death from a broken neck. He was a native of Switzerland and had been a very successful farmer in the area, leaving quite a large fortune behind. Jennie's father was William Ladd Willis, a native of New York. Willis had worked in the editorial department of the Record-Union in Sacramento for thirteen years and compiled the 'State Speller' publications for the State Board of Education. He also authored the book, The History of Sacramento. 

The Sacramento Daily Union, dated May 25, 1890, gives us a peek of the social circles the two lovebirds ran with:

"On Friday evening, at the residence of his mother, six miles south of the city, on the Freeport road, a very pleasant surprise party was tendered to Herman L. Huber, who had just returned from Hopkins' Academy at Oakland for a short vacation. The evening was spent in games, music and singing. About midnight a splendid repast was served. The guests departed at a late hour, wishing Herman a pleasant vacation. Among those present were: Misses Emma E. Foster, Mae Blodgett, Jennie Willis, Lulu Rich, Lentie and Clara Brooke, Mrs. A. J. Huber, Mrs. H.W. Watkins and Carol Watkins of Oakland."--

By March 9, 1892, Jennie Willis and Herman Huber were married, as the Sacramento Daily Union also mentions:

"Herman L. Huber and Jennie L. Willis were yesterday united in marriage by Rev. Mr. Ottmann at the residence of E.B. Willis, 616 M Street. The bride was attended by her sister, Theodora Willis and Charles Huber, brother of the groom, was groomsman. There were present at the ceremony the relatives of the bride and groom and a few intimate friends only. The presents were very handsome and tasteful. The happy couple have gone to Monterey on their wedding trip.....The groom is a well-known and prosperous young farmer of Freeport Township, and the bride is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.L. Willis of this city."---

By August 8, 1893, Herman Huber, Jr., was born to Jennie and Herman Huber, Sr. The marriage didn't last very long, and on July 9, 1896, the papers revealed that Jennie Huber was granted a divorce from Herman, with no mention of the grounds.

It appears that was more than likely around the time that Herman went to live with his grandfather, William Ladd Willis in Sacramento. I believe his mother also temporarily moved in with her parents, until she remarried, this time to Amos Brothers on February 24, 1900.  Jennie is accounted for on the 1900 census as living with Amos Brothers and his family in Berkeley, Alameda County. It is unclear how long Herman lived with his grandparents in Sacramento, although we know for sure by 1910, he was living with his mother and step-father in Alameda County.

I have found many accounts of a "Herman Huber," who was a well known marksman in California. A sharp shooter at the top of his game, this person was winning championships and making quite the name for himself. I cannot be certain but I believe that may have been Herman Sr., being that many of the competitions took place when little Herman would have been between 10 and 14, although I guess anything is possible. Maybe he took after his father and enjoyed the sport?

One event that I noticed occurred in 1909, could have very well been Herman Jr., given he was 16 years old by that time.

"Oakland, March 14.-- Herman Huber's name was first in the list of winning marksmen at the Shell Mound ranges today, the well known competitor winning several first prizes. With a score of 605 Huber won the first prize for the best three bullseye centers during the year in the competition of the Noddeutscher schuetzen club, and also garnered the awards for the largest number of bullseyes and the best 10 shot score. Huber's score in the 10 shot match was 2, 157 shooting in the first champion class."-- San Francisco Call, March 15, 1909

SF Call 10/24/1911
Could this have been our Herman, or even perhaps his father? It is hard to tell. But the one thing that stood out when I was reading the article was another name that appeared on the long list of his competitors that I recognized right away, J. French.

That is the same first initial and last name of the man who shot Herman Huber at Preston on October 17, 1911, killing him. Is this a coincidence? Or could this be the same person?

As of right now, I have no way to tell, but that won't stop me from continuing to research it further. Ernest Reed, the eyewitness who saw J. French shoot Huber stated that he did not shoot up in the air as French had claimed, but intentionally shot Huber.  Could he have wanted to shoot Huber for some reason that was never brought up? Could there have been more to the story than just an attempted escape gone wrong? Did these two people know one another beyond the boundaries of Preston?

We still do not know why Herman Huber was sent to Preston. The newspapers claimed that because of his "waywardness" and hanging around a crowd of people his family didn't approve of is what sent him there, even the Preston ledgers at the State Archives in Sacramento only labeled his entry as "Delinquent."

Herman's father went on to move to Southern California, where he eventually passed away in 1954. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Jennie Brothers, Herman's mother died in 1950, and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery. Just yesterday I finally found their memorials on Findagrave and linked them to their son's memorial. Although they are all buried many hundreds of miles from one another, they now can be joined together via "Find-a-Grave."

Let's keep remembering Herman Huber, and hopefully one day, we may find more evidence that can explain the real motive behind his death in 1911.

-- (Copyright 2016, J'aime Rubio, )

Thank you Amanda Boling for the 1910 Census information!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Sad Suicide

February 12, 1917--- Locked away in a dark, cold cell somewhere in solitary confinement, Frank Cardarella, a young man, suffering from epilepsy, allegedly ripped his sleeping shirt into pieces, fashioning a makeshift noose and began to fasten it to the pipes above his cell.  He had just suffered another episode again, one of many, and despite his obvious health conditions, the school did little to help ease his afflictions.

Yes, he had been in some trouble with the boys in his neighborhood, the Fillmore District in San Francisco, which led him down the wrong path. He wasn't like his older brother Michael, a conductor for one of the street cars in town who seemed able to stay busy and out of trouble.  He wasn't like his father Philip either, an Italian born immigrant who owned a small fruit store and seemed to be a hard working, reputable business man. No, Frankie got into trouble at the age of 14, landing him in court and facing time in a juvenile detention facility for burglary.  The first time he was sent to Preston he did a year.

By 1916, he was out and about again, but old habits die hard and he found himself hanging around the same ol' boys he had got into trouble with before. Shortly thereafter, he was picked up on charges again. Whether he was just guilty by association or he had been caught red handed, the papers don't say. What they do say is that he was convicted for burglary a second time and sent back to the red clay hills of Ione, California. Back to the infamous Preston Castle.

Because of being a repeat offender, this time the Superintendent made Frankie stay in solitary confinement at night, instead of sleeping in a dormitory.

It was the afternoon of February 12th when Frankie fell into convulsions, violently seizing on the floor. Instead of being treated in the school hospital to rest and recover, once his violent spasms stopped, the guards were instructed to carry him back to his cell and lock the door behind them. Hours later he was found dangling from a pipe above his cell.  According to several newspaper reports at the time, it was determined that Frankie Cardarella had apparently taken his own life.

What I found interesting is that the Biennial reports contradict themselves, as I have often found during my investigating of the Preston School's records in the past. One page mentions that during 1917, there were 2 deaths at the school. However, on another page of the same report, it shows a summary of deaths at the school, based on year from 1894-1918, and there is a complete blank for deaths during 1917.  In total, according to the report, only 21 boys died at Preston the first 14 years that the school was open and most of which occurred between 1895-1900 and 1911 to 1916. There is absolutely no record of a death, let alone a suicide, in the biennial report for 1917.

Why Frank Caldarella's death was not even noted in the biennial reports will remain a mystery, as will the reason for his death. Did Frank feel that life was so meaningless, that his suffering was so great that he could no longer carry on? I also wonder if he actually took his own life at all? Did Frank really commit suicide?

It is also interesting that there is no notations in the biennial reports of treating any wards with epilepsy, nor medications used during that time frame.  At that point in history, it is odd to think he was not being regularly treated in the infirmary or hospital with daily medications such as phenobarbital, which were readily available at the time to treat and supress his condition. If that is the case, and he was not being properly treated, that was a grave negligence on the part of the school.

Had he been treated properly with regular medication, his epileptic spells may been able to be controlled, and he would not have faced the possible bullying and ostracism that also may have very well occurred. It is sad to think what he must have faced day by day at Preston, around the other boys and the staff who might have made him feel like a freak.  A constant barrage of insults and belittling that could have pushed him over the edge and on the end of a rope. Still, we don't know exactly what happened to Frank. Did he commit suicide, or was it an act of bullying that went too far?

I will always wonder what really happened to Frank Caldarella that day in February, 1917.

(Copyright, 2016- J'aime Rubio.

Sacramento Union, (2/13/1917)
Los Angeles Herald, (2/12/1917)
U.S. Census Records
Biennial Report, 1918

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Preston Castle Was Compared To Spreckels Palace

Post Card- Spreckel's Mansion
Let me first say that during the writing of my book, I did the best I could with the information I had at the time. I have made a few revisions in my first publication of the book, as far as editing grammatical errors that were overlooked. In my research to provide the most accurate information pertaining to any and all history of the Preston School of Industry, I have learned that I misquoted something in my book that I wanted to make sure is fixed. So, I am taking it upon myself to clarify this very easily misunderstood information and make note on this blog that I plan to update this in future copies of the book.

What mistake was made, you may ask?

You see, in the beginning of my book I mention an 1895 article in the San Francisco Call, where writer Joaquin Miller compared the beautiful stonework of the Preston School to that of the "Spreckels Palace" in San Francisco.  Well, at the time of researching this information, the only " Palace" I could find that the Spreckels family was involved in was the Palace of the Legion of Honor. My mistake was not checking the date of construction of that building, as I would have immediately noticed it was built after Preston Castle, not before. For that I apologize.

So then, what was this "Palace" that Joaquin Miller
After 1906 earthquake
was talking about? Well, Miller called it Spreckels Palace but in actuality it was known as the Spreckels Chateau or Spreckels Mansion (not to be confused with the one in San Diego bearing the same name). This mansion was located on the corner of Van Ness and Clay Streets in San Francisco. It had been built in the 1880s, about a decade before Preston was built.  In retrospect, this makes more sense being that the Palace of the Legion of Honor doesn't have any similarities to Preston at all. This mansion does however show similar style and grand design as well as its use of stonework.

Demolition 1927
So what happened to the Spreckels Chateau? Unfortunately it was damaged by a fire after the great earthquake in 1906 when the army decided to create a fire break in order to curb the fire at Van Ness Street,  and was dynamited. Even after such damage the structure remained intact although the insides were gutted. Sadly, in 1927 it was finally demolished entirely and turned into apartments which still stand to this day. What an architectural tragedy.

 -- J'aime Rubio (Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved). 

Photos: by the California State Library, California History Room
via Calisphere, California Historical Society, State Archives and historical post card.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Murder In The Making--Tuffy Reid's History At Preston

Clarence "Tuffy" Reid
During the process of writing "Behind The Walls," I discovered the published findings of journalist Leon Adams. His articles were written while working undercover as a ward at Preston.  Leon Adams was given the assignment to infiltrate the Preston School of Industry and expose them for their mistreatment. In order to do that, Adams was purposely framed for a crime. He then was sent to the Preston School of Industry under the guise of an average young criminal, so that the staff and administration would be unsuspecting of his intentions.

Adams had heard of some of the most deplorable conditions and harsh treatment to wards while in the detention building at Preston. In order to really get a taste of "solitary," Adams had to get into trouble. After allowing himself to get into a fight, and then refusing to "stand the line," he was then sent away to the detention building, exactly where he wanted to be. In my book I go into further details about Adams' experiences there and the harsh realities that he brought to light via the San Francisco Daily News.

While Adams was in solitary confinement in the detention building, he described the conditions of his cell No. 22:

"Two gates clanged, four locks clicked, and I was alone--for 15 long days and nights. My cell was ten feet high and nine feet square. A faucet, a bowl, an iron bunk, two dirty blankets, a little wad of cloth for a pillow---that was my furniture.....Before an hour had passed, I began to calculate how long it would be before I left my dungeon. Fifteen days, each with 24 long hours, seemed like years.
What I am trying to tell about is impossible to conceive. Think, think and suffer. That's all one can do in a cell. Sleep affords no rest....My tomb, I called the place. It was the tomb of many boys before me. Scratches on the wall revealed the presence of an assemblage of notables."

Adams goes on to recall that he read the name "Tuffy" Reid etched into the wall, following "third time over the hill." Other names were also scratched into the walls along with marks of how many days spent in solitary. Adams claimed that the name "Tuffy" kept standing out in his mind, and later he remembered where he had heard it, the media!  Tuffy was a death row inmate who made headlines in the newspaper for a murder in Los Angeles in 1923.

Who Was Tuffy Reid?

Clarence "Tuffy Reid was born in Texas around 1903, according the California State Archives records. Not much more is known about "Tuffy," besides the fact that he was sent to the Preston School of Industry in 1922 on robbery charges, but he somehow escaped. While on the lam, Reid found his way down to Los Angeles, and on January 21, 1923, he made a choice that would change the course of the rest of his life.

According to Reid's filed appeal records, the incident occurred at 419 S. Spring Street, when Reid and his accomplice, Lawrence McMullen entered a trunk store owned by Charles and David Weingarten, and they proceeded to rob them.

"The murder occurred in the rear end of a trunk store, located at 419 South Spring Street, in the city of Los Angeles, at about 6 o'clock P. M. on January 21, 1923. There were present in the store at the time six persons, Munson, Safady, Mason, Ingham, Charles Weingarten, the deceased, and David Weingarten, brother of the deceased and proprietor of the business.

The defendant, accompanied by one Lawrence McMullen, entered said place of business through the front door, which was slightly ajar. As they entered the store they were met by David Weingarten, who thought they had come on business. Both the defendant and his companion were carrying guns. The defendant commanded David Weingarten to "stick 'em up" and forced him to walk back to the rear of the store where the safe was located. Charles Weingarten seized the defendant's arm and held it up. While in that position the gun in the defendant's hand went off, the bullets striking the ceiling. With his other hand the defendant reached into his pocket, procured another gun and fired straight at the deceased, killing him. The shuffling and the shooting all occurred in the space of a few seconds.

After the shooting the defendant and his companion fled from the store. Jumping on the running-board of a moving automobile the defendant succeeded in making his escape. In his flight the defendant had dropped the hat he was wearing in the store. Meeting the former owner of the hat that evening about 7 o'clock and knowing that the initials of the former owner were in the hat he told the owner that he had "bumped off" a man and for the owner of the hat to "watch out." At the trial the defendant was positively identified by an eye-witness to the shooting as one of the persons who had participated in the attempted robbery and his companion was identified as a workman in an electrical shop just across the alley from the trunk factory where the deceased was shot. The defendant upon the trial of the case did not deny the killing, but interposed the defense of insanity."--- (People v. Reid - 193 Cal. 491 (Cal. 1924) Crim. No. 2598, Supreme Court of California)

Reid went to trial, and was convicted of murder in the 1st degree, earning him a death sentence. Newspaper reports stated that a witness in the trial, Jesus Hoyuela, another inmate who had claimed that Reid confessed to the murder of Weingarten, later recanted his statements claiming that he perjured himself and that none of what he told the court was true. Reid still attempted to appeal the conviction, but failed.

Interestingly, Reid's attorney, Ernest Torchia was a very popular man within the Italian community. Being that San Quentin records claim that the only employment Reid had experience in was being a news boy, it made me wonder how could Reid afford to retain Torchia in the first place? Could Reid have been involved in organized crime in Los Angeles?

As I kept digging, I found that just a few months after Reid's appeal was denied and his stay of execution was lifted, Torchia received a very horrific gift in the mail that proved to be disastrous. What appeared to have been a gift-wrapped Christmas present for Torchia, ended up being an explosive device that went off in Torchia's home, critically injuring the attorney.  The wounds were so severe the newspapers stated that they thought he would not survive the attack. Torchia's left arm, one of his eyes and part of his abdomen were blown off in the blast.  Detectives discovered the package was postmarked in San Francisco, but it would be hard to figure out just who was behind the vicious act. Torchia had served as a divorce attorney in several cases of prominent Italian families over the years, making many enemies.  The question of who sent the package, and why, continued to leave the police baffled.
Identification Card 

After wearing out his appeals, Reid was finally executed at the gallows on April 23, 1925 at 10:02 a.m., at San Quentin Prison. 

On another note, in July of 1930, David Weingarten- the brother of the murder victim, was found dead. Weingarten was found in his car, engulfed in fumes. He had locked himself in the garage and ran the motor of his car until he succumbed to the exhaust. The police ruled it a suicide, taking in account his wife's statement that he had suffered great losses in the stock market and had been very depressed.

1920's statistics for Preston 

"Of every 100 criminals at San Quentin State Prison, four are "graduates" of Preston."

"Only two out of every 100 boys who are taught trades at Preston School of Industry follow those trades after being released."

"90 boys of every 100 who leave Preston are back again in some state institution within five years."

"Seven of the 127 prisoners in the San Francisco County Jail today, were at Preston at sometime or other."--- (San Francisco Daily News)

When looking back to the story, back to when Leon Adams had discovered Reid's name on his cell wall, one can only imagine where Reid may have learned to be so cold and cruel. He was obviously in Preston for a reason in the first place, but could he have became even more a hardened criminal having been there? Is it possible that the harsh elements the wards faced may have contributed to them leaving Preston worse than when they stepped foot on the grounds? I believe it is quite possible. I believe that many of the boys came to Preston in bad condition, more than likely past the point of rehabilitation. I also believe there were a lot of boys who changed their ways and were able to move on to live productive lives in society. There were also many boys who came there because of petty crimes, vagrancy, being orphaned or just incorrigible only to leave the school as calloused and cold as many inmates in the prison system. Perhaps at one point Reid had been one of those boys.


California State Archives, Sacramento, California;
Secretary of State of California 
State Archives, San Quentin Prison Registers.
People v. Reid - 193 Cal. 491 (Cal. 1924)
Crim. No. 2598, Supreme Court of California
Berkeley Daily Gazette, 12/25/1924
Oakland Tribune, 12/26/1924
San Jose Evening News, 7/31/1930
Santa Cruz Evening News, 4/24/1925

Random Mugshots

Here are some photos of past wards at the Preston School of Industry along with the reasons for their incarceration. 

WALTER TESCH-- Ward # 1379, accepted at the Preston School of Industry in 1910. Walter Tesch was convicted of burglarizing the home of Mrs. Ella Noble in 1909, and spent 2 years at Preston for this crime. When he was released, it didn't take long before he found himself in more hot water. He was later charged as an accomplice to several robberies with his friend, murder suspect- Henry La Frenz in 1912.

EDWARD ROWE-- Ward # 487, accepted at the Preston School in 1902.  On April 20, 1904 he attacked the night watchman in the upper dormitory room of the Adminstration building. He and his accomplice, Dan Gillette, then escaped from a water pipe on the side of the building.  After he was apprehended he was then transferred to San Quentin as inmate # 20626. His acceptance date at San Quentin was May,10, 1904.  He was sentenced to 10 years for "assault to commit murder," however he was able to commute his sentence on February 16, 1908, where he was then released.
DAN GILLETTE-- Ward # 548, admitted to Preston School of Industry in 1903, escaped from Preston on April 20,1904, after attempting to murder the night watchman, J.S. Phillips. He was caught and sent to Folsom prison where he served 3 years as inmate # 5693 only to return to Folsom again on burglary charges as inmate # 8764, in 1913.

EUGENE GRIFFIN-- Ward # 1136, accepted at Preston in 1909. According to the Amador Ledger dated March 11, 1910, Captain William H. White, who was drillmaster and held the rank of Major, narrowly missed being fatally shot by ward Eugene Griffin, when he and his accomplice, fellow ward Albert Brown attempted their escape at Preston. Griffin had stolen a revolver from the bakery shop, where he worked, and after being chased by White, he fired behind him barely missing White. Brown and Griffin were later caught and the newspaper states that the school had no intentions on keeping them so it was more than likely Brown was sent to the State Prison for the remaining term of his sentence, and any other time added for their attempted escape. Griffin was sent to San Quentin and later discharged on January 11, 1912.

WILLIE BANNING---Ward # 160, William "Billy" Banning was just 10 years old when he was sent to Preston School of Industry for stealing camellias from the garden of Miss Hurd of P Street, in Sacramento. Judge Davis sentenced William to 8 years at Preston, in 1895, after he was convinced that William was incorrigible. You see, William had been arrested several times before, and due to his age he was always given a slap on the wrist. This time around he was not so fortunate. Still, an 8 year sentence did seem pretty steep for picking flowers.  After William was released trouble caught up with him once again, when he was arrested and convicted for 2nd degree burglary and sentenced to 4 years at Folsom in 1909. He was released in 1912.

Sac Daily Union 3/15/1895

 (Photos from the State Archives, San Quentin & Folsom Prison records)

(© Copyright 2012-2015, J’aime Rubio, Originally published either on blog “Dreaming Casually” by J’aime Rubio, on my Facebook Page or in the book “Behind The Walls- A Historical Exposé of The Preston School of Industry” by author, J’aime Rubio.)

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission by the author/publisher, J’aime Rubio. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Superintendents & Their Legacies

Preston School of Industry, Ione, CA-
In previous blog posts and also mentioned within my book "Behind The Walls," I touch on the subject of mistreatment to the wards, under the supervision of the acting superintendents.

The first superintendent. E. Carl Bank, was accused of mistreatment only after he fired some of his employees at the school. There really wasn't enough evidence to prove the case, so nothing was done.  Bank was booted out of his position in favor of Edward Stephen O'Brien, for sheer political reasons, leaving many to wonder if the accusations of mistreatment were just a farce to soil his reputation.  Unfortunately, the era of actual abuse and mistreatment was just about to begin at Preston. The second superintendent, E.S. O'Brien ruled with an iron fist and it was his reputation that brought such reproach to the school that it was dubbed, "The Preston School of Scandal." His methods of torture and abuse was unfathomable, making his role at Preston, not that of just a superintendent, but that of a tyrant as well.  (To read about E.S. O'Brien, click here.)

Even after several affidavits to the authorities from not only wards, but staff and doctors who had good standing in the community, nothing seemed to happen. Even the Governor himself couldn't touch O'Brien. It seemed he had some friends in really high places, which kept him out of reach for any sort of disciplinary action.  Eventually though, the media attention he was getting must have got the better of O'Brien, so he resigned from his position, but not before threatening everyone that if he was continually smeared any further in the papers, that he would sue them.

The next superintendent to take on the job was D.S. Hirshberg. His time at Preston, January 1, 1898 up to December 15, 1900, was not without its share of scandals.  According to the Preston School of Industry's Biennial Report for 1896-1898, the "Corporal Punishment" section reads:

 “When low or base things are practiced , it becomes necessary to resort to vigorous punishment, which, however, is inflicted with discretion.”
 It goes on to say:  “Punishment is never inflicted without knowledge or authority of the Superintendent, and always in his presence, but never by him.”

On his watch, there was the ingenious escape of  Robert Byrd, and also the death of Joseph Morgan, a ward who was killed while attempting to escape. Those events alone brought so much unwanted attention, along with Hirshberg's open view of corporal punishment, making it necessary for him to resign his post and pass the torch to yet another superintendent.

C.B. Riddick entered the scene on December 16, 1900.  During Riddick's time at Preston there was only one reported death of a ward, June 24, 1902.  The young man's name was John Lawne, and his cause of death was reported in the Biennial Report as tuberculosis. The feat that Riddick managed to hold down his post at Preston for nearly four years without any sort of scandal was impressive, given the reputation of his predecessors. The Amador Ledger spoke of this accomplishment in an article mentioning Riddick's resignation in 1903.

"Superintendent Riddick Resigns-- The San Francisco Chronicle says that J.B {sic} Riddick, who for the past four years has filled the responsible position of superintendent of the Preston Reform school at Ione, has sent in his resignation, to take effect in December next. With many who desire the welfare of the institution, this action on the part of the superintendent will be regretted. The place is an arduous one; not every good man can manage a reformatory of this kind with credit. It must be admitted that under Dr. Riddick's care the school has been free from the rumors of scandal and mismanagement  that have marked it in previous years.The boys have been contented and happy; the attempts to escape have been few. That he has not pleased everyone is not to be wondered at.  That feat is beyond human accomplishment. Public interests will be well served if his successor proves as capable and efficient in the management of the school as the retiring superintendent has proved himself."----- Amador Ledger, September 25, 1903

When I wrote my book, "Behind The Walls," I hadn't been able to find a lot of information in regards to the fifth superintendent, W. T. Randall.  The only story I found at the time Randall was superintendent, was a story about a ward, Joe Pires, who claimed to have been wrongfully committed. He stated that he never had a trial, but instead was forced to plead guilty to petty larceny to a Justice of the Peace in Santa Barbara and immediately shipped off to Preston. He filed a petition on the basis of habeas corpus, but I was unable to find any outcome of this young man's case. In my past research, the only other information I found was that Randall retired in 1909, claiming that he wished to devote  more time for educational work at Berkeley, but I have found that couldn't have been further from the truth. An article in the San Francisco Call, enlightens the subject with more detail as to the real reason why Randall retired from Preston. 

"Sacramento, November 19.--- Dr. William T. Randall, former superintendent of the Preston School of Industry at Ione, did not resign of his own accord to pursue educational work in the bay cities, but gave up his position under pressure following an investigation held by the governor and the trustees of the reform school.

Mistreatment of the boys under him was one of the charges brought against Doctor Randall. Another was that he favored the Free Methodist sect in the appointment of teachers on the school staff. These charges by Dr. J.K. McLean of Oakland and Rev. Charles A. Ramm of San Francisco, were kept secret by the investigators by agreement. Secretary of the Board of Examiners Deming  admitted that pressure had been brought to bear in Doctor Randall's case.

"Doctor Randall's conduct of the school was above reproach," said Deming. "The only thing that could be said against him was that he was a little too severe with some of the boys. The worst thing he did was to imprison one boy for 90 days in a room in an attic. There were other things not quite so severe.  We did not suspect any of this until the state board of charities and corrections investigated complaints that had been sent to it. Its charges were in turn investigated by the governor and the trustees, and it was agreed that Doctor Randall should resign. He would not agree that he was wrong, and that was the only course left open to him."--- San Francisco Call, November 20, 1909.

The horror stories would not stop with Randall's resignation. No, the Preston School of Industry would continue to carry on its reputation for scandal and mistreatment for many years to come....

(© Copyright 2012-2015, J’aime Rubio, Originally published either on blog “Dreaming Casually” by J’aime Rubio, on my Facebook Page or in the book “Behind The Walls- A Historical Exposé of The Preston School of Industry” by author, J’aime Rubio.)  All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission by the author/publisher, J’aime Rubio.