Yuma Territorial Prison and Arizona Marketplace

1/14/16 (Thursday) in Winterhaven, CA (Pilot Knob-ROD)

Since we needed to go to Yuma for groceries we figured it would be good to include some new experiences with our trip, so on our way we first stopped at the Yuma Territorial Prison. Opened on July 1, 1876, when 7 inmates were locked into the new cells they’d built themselves. It was closed in 1909 because of overcrowding and the prisoners were moved to Florence, AZ.

What amazed me is how forward thinking the people who ran this prison were. For one thing the prison had more amenities than most people in Yuma had: electricity, forced ventilation, sanitation (2 bathtubs, 3 showers) and a library with 2,000 books. They even had a band. On the rough side, they suffered terrible heat and humidity and vermin. They bathed once a week. They worked 48 hours a week in the fields, quarry, adobe field or shop, although the time spent working was subtracted from an inmate’s sentence according to the amount of work he/she performed (yes, 29 women served here too). Plus they got to create crafts to sell/trade at a public craft show (a share of the profits were given the inmate when they were released). The shops they worked at included tailor, shoe, and bakery. The prison was completely self sufficient. Everything they needed, they made there, like a tin cup, a new mattress. These were also trades they could apply in the outside world. I was especially impressed with the mirror used to take their “mug” shots, that showed both a front face and profile image in the same shot.


On to the Arizona Marketplace, basically a large flea market in canopied booths. We came just looking for lunch but to our surprise left with several items. One booth had wonderful produce for great prices too! We learned at the produce booth that the inspection checkpoint we must stop at going back to our California campground is looking for citrus produce, apparently not allowed into California. Lunch was pretty expensive for what you got, we won’t do that again.

Then we headed for the Post Office which just happened to be very close to the Fry’s grocery store. Our purchases accomplished, we came back home to relax. Well, I managed a lot of laundry and a nap in that time as John watched TV.

About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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