COMMITMENT OF RECREATIONAL ATHLETES UNWAVERING UNDER LEADEN SKIES
Scattered showers did not deter 11 determined San Quentin residents from enjoying an opportunity for recreational freedom on SQ’s Lower Yard March 13. The rain dripped, but Randolph Gibbs and Alan Brooks continued with their exercise routines.
As people rushed across the yard to school, work and groups, Gibbs and Brooks were committed to enjoying the open space, quiet and fresh air.
“That is what we used to do. As a young man, I enjoyed the rain,” said West Block resident Gibbs. “When Mother Nature is taking care of the earth, it is a good thing. We need the rain.”
He described the experience as “outdoorsy,” much like his childhood, when he spent countless hours fishing with his mother. He remembered his first fishing pole made of cane.
Gibbs said that his family coined the phrase “Uptown Country,” to describe the area they lived in. It wasn’t completely rural, but neither was it close enough to town for him to be a “city boy.”
He found rainy days to be opportunities to remember his love for family and experiences from childhood.
Brooks is a resident of Alpine. He said that he grew up on a horse ranch and spent a lot of time traveling and selling horses at county fairs and trade shows at locations like San Francisco’s Cow Palace.
“I grew up outside. My freedom while incarcerated [consists of] coming out and thinking about the good old days. That is where I prefer to spend my time. It does not matter if it is raining or not. Besides, everything smells clean and fresh,” said Brooks.
Another resident found his way to the workout bars, fully dressed in rain attire. He noted the importance of getting fresh air and contrasted it with the air inside the cell blocks, with their poor ventilation, overcrowding and ancient collection of dirt and dust.
He stressed that self-care is more important to him now that he is getting older.
With the constantly changing weather, others sought relief in available spaces like the housing units, library, education building or at work.
When a CO called out the hourly unlock over the loudspeaker, the yard began to fill with people moving to their next destination during the 15-minute in-and-out.
Two men playing handball started to gather their things and head back inside for shelter from the rain.
“I came outside because life continues,” said one of the guys as they headed up the stairway to the warmth of their housing units.
Meanwhile, Gibbs and Brooks continued to enjoy the fresh rain that dropped on them while they got their money on the Lower Yard