Aug 282009

I am thrilled to have won the assignment to write the memoirs of John De Luca, 30-year head of The Wine Institute. Not only has he awarded me this project but also his trust.

John’s life is a complex “mosaic”, in his words, of public and private efforts to bring people and ideas together. Writing his life story will be a challenging but uplifting endeavor. I can’t wait.

Aug 242009

August 8

My memoir client Pat Mahoney had been a guard on Alcatraz during the late 50s until the federal penitentiary closed in ’63. I met Pat and his family for breakfast at Marines Memorial Center. I expected we would be passengers on the regular Alcatraz ferry on our way to celebrate the prison’s anniversary.

Instead we drove to Fisherman’s Wharf and boarded a boat called the Endeavour, English spelling and all.

It turned out that this vessel had been the Warden Blackwell, one of the ferries that served Alcatraz and its population when the federal penitentiary operated. The current owner had bought it and completely refurbished and renamed it.

The day on the island was full of events and special tours. I joined a group going to see “The Citadel”. This was the official term for what everyone who lived on the island called The Dungeon.This truly miserable enclosure held the worst of the worst.

I also saw the prison hospital and the isolation ward where I sat in one of the cells called The Hole.

I bought a couple of books, Darwin E. Coon’s Alcatraz, the True End of the Line, and Frank Heaney’s, Inside the Walls of Alcatraz. Coon was a prisoner of whereas Heaney had been a guard.

The catering was superb. People were excited and convivial. I met another guard who had preceded Pat in his service at Alcatraz.

Unfortunately I did not get the chance to meet either of the two ex-cons who were reportedly there that day.

Aug 242009

August 7

On Friday night August 7 I was treated to a special gala — one of my clients who was a guard on Alcatraz Island hosted a great feast for members of the Alcatraz Alumni Association to celebrate the penitentiary’s 75th anniversary.

At this event I met my client Pat’s family, friends and other Alcatraz alumni, that is former penitentiary employees and their families. I made contacts with people I will need for pursuing his memoir. A great night.