Tag Archives: federal prison


postcards 1You lovely, sweet, kind people: thank you for the postcards!

Jack and four other Quakers here in SW VA visit the federal prison once a month, seeing a few prisoners each. They use postcards a week ahead to let the prisoners know they’re coming, as required by federal regulations. And the prisoners use the postcards as windows, since their cells don’t have any.

So when I asked about two weeks ago, if you have some lying around, could you send us a couple of postcards from your area so they wouldn’t get the same ones over and over from us, you sent more than 400 post cards!

Thank you; thank you; thank you. This is so sweet.

The cards came (with such thoughtful notes about the book, our bookstore, and Jack’s willingness to visit prisoners) from Mary in Columbus; Sandra in Charlottesville; Janet in Crystal Falls, Michigan; Terry in San Francisco; Lynn in Rossland, BC (Canada); Barbara in Pawtucket, RI; from Wilmington, DE; from Gina, who not only sent cards but stamps for them; from my friends Beth of Blacksburg and Liz of Glen Antrim, Ireland, who spend half their professional life running through airports; and from the people we worked with at Hylton Arts Center this past January, doing a Burns Supper; five or six other places before that, but we threw the envelopes away before realizing we needed to write thank you notes! (I’m sorry; we are stupid; feel free to leave a comment here if you sent us cards so we can thank you properly.)postcards 2

The Quaker visitors have more than 400 postcards now, from Alaska and Montreal and Lourdes and Florida and the Midwest, boasting dogs and wildflowers and birds and moose and such pretty, pretty mountains.

“The guys are going to love these,” Jack said as we piled them on the floor to take a picture. (Please note that clump of cards is about an inch deep.) I think there was a tear in his voice. It’s wonderful to be affirmed in one’s calling; it’s lovely to have great photos to send the prisoners.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! from Jack, Elizabeth, Sue-Ella, anonymous, and Jim (the prison visitors) and Wendy (who LOVED seeing them get such support and affirmation).

PS: From the sublime to the ridiculous, if you feel inclined, scroll down a couple of blog posts to the 100,000 visits contest and leave your funniest bookstore pick-up line. Contest closes when our FB page hits 1,000 likes or the blog reaches 100,000 hits, whichever happens first. It looks like they will take place pretty close together, so Jack and I have a friendly bet on. We’re not telling you who is betting on which. ;]

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized

Got Postcards?

Every once in awhile I ask blog readers for something. I try not to do it often, but it seems like a good reason this time; it’s for Jack.

So…. got postcards?

Jack and my friend Elizabeth (she’s in Little Bookstore) do prison visits, along with a few other Friends from the Quaker meeting at our bookstore. Each month they sit chatting with two or three federal prisoners who don’t have visitors for some reason. The prisoners have requested someone through the Prison Visiting Service, an ecumenical group.

Jack and E go out at 8 a.m. and return home about 1 p.m., drained. It’s hard to make these visits; I don’t go; I know my limits. Two weeks in and I’d be contacting lawyers and media, mounting campaigns to improve food, ensure funeral visits, all that stuff. I’m an empathic listener, internalizing everything.

Jack is not; he’s a smart, sympathetic listener with common sense. One man Jack visits was brought to America illegally as a seven-year-old, lived his life without papers and then, at the age of 32, was the passenger in a car stopped for running a red light. He’s doing six years. The other guy Jack visits has killed two people and stolen things. He’s doing life.

About ten days before their next visit, Elizabeth and Jack send prison-required postcards to their guys, telling them they’ll be there. The prisoners decorate their cells with these cards and trade duplicates with fellow inmates.

So…. if you have some cool postcards from your area, and it wouldn’t cost you much to slip half a dozen into an envelope, Jack and E and the other Quakers doing prison visits would get new views to send, and the guys would get cool cards to post on their wall. We’re running out of Wise County postcards.

We don’t know what it would cost those of you in Korea, Britain, and some other countries to mail six unused cards, so if it’s expensive, forget it and thanks anyway. American views from anyplace would be very appreciated, and if international posting can be done, yippee! Send them to 404 Clinton Ave E, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219. And thank you, on behalf of visitors and visitees alike.


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