Paddy’s Last Word Series #5: Christmas in Prison

[Note: This is the fifth of Paddy Mitchell’s seven final blog entries, written shortly before his death on January 14, 2007, and mailed to Ottawa to be posted on his blog. The series is being published posthumously between January 21 and January 25th.] 

My good friend Jimmy Allen also has been an inspiration to me this past year with the success of his book: “This Firefighter’s Life”.   What a book!   Jimmy and I have been friends forever.  He writes to me all the time…keeps me informed by sending newspaper articles, stuff off the internet, and just generally, what’s happening around my home town of Ottawa. 

My family, mostly in Ottawa, but spread across the entire country are still supportive of me and don’t condemn me for the things I’ve done (but certainly, do not approve of my actions over the years). 

On Christmas Day, they served us a pretty good meal:  Cornish game hens, sweet potatoe, cornbread, pecan pie and a full plate of fruits and vegetables.     And tomorrow, New Year’s Day, they’ll try to do the same with a steak dinner.  Most of the 1000 inhabitants here will be contented, me included, they try to treat us right on Christmas and New Years. 

One Christmas still stands out to me:  it was the most miserable one I can recall from all those I’ve spent in prison.  It was the one I spent incarcerated at the Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix, Arizona in 1983.  I had robbed a department store in that city in Dec. 1981, and, under false identification, was granted bail on the charges.  I skipped bail and wasn’t re-arrested until more than two years later.  It was like a slap in the face to the authorities in Arizona.   Here they had one of the countries most wanted fugitives in their custody and let him bail on them.   When they got me back in the county jail they treated me really bad.   They kept me in an all-steel cell, never letting me out – except for 20 minutes every Sunday for a phone call.  (I’ll explain what happened to me on one of those forays out in a future letter – suffice to say it wasn’t pleasant).    They didn’t feed me properly – I had to shower in cold water – they ignored all my requests and treated me like dirt.   Then on Christmas Day (evening actually) my big steel door was unlocked and in stepped a uniformed jail guard – the only one who had treated me decent throughout the months I’d been there – named “Frenchy”.  

He said:  “How are you doing, Mitchell?”  

I answered: “Fine.” 

I figured he’d been sent to search my cell or something. 

“I just want you to know that I don’t approve of the way you’re being treated around here, and I just wanted to wish you a Merry Xmas.  My wife asked me to bring these in for you”, and he handed me two packages wrapped in tinfoil and turned and left my cell.   The packages contained about a pound of sliced turkey and a piece of pecan pie!   

Just reminiscing; hope I didn’t bore you! God Bless!

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