Buck's Photo Tales

Penal Plantation

Written by Uncle Buck

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1 ~ Sugar Plantation ~ 1

The soaring price of real estate in this semi-tropical nation of islands is a boon to some and detrimental to others.
Current land prices are forcing most of the individual property owners to sell out to one or another of the consortiums
which are promptly constructing grandiose resort-hotels to attract the tourists and their money.
Even the pineapple plantations which certainly were no small operation have succumbed to the pressures of the market
and are now for the most part relics of the past.

Mose Bosley was the overseer on a small sugar plantation operating on an all but inaccessible island located a safe distance away
from the newly minted paradise portion on this area of the tropics.

Slavery is of course no longer sanctioned and had been abolished officially several generations ago.

At first it seemed that the plantation would inevitably follow the path of most of the other local sugar producers.

Having only rudimentary technology and less money, the plantation owners depended on the manpower that was only feasible
using slave labor and all that slavery entailed.

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But Mose's Grandfather had been a determined and resourceful man and this was to serve both he and his progeny in good stead.
The abolishment of the age-old institution of slavery did nothing to enhance property values and Grandpa Bosley was faced
with the equally grim prospects of either walking away from his property a pauper or being reduced to scratching a living
out of the soil himself.

There were prisons then as there are now on this island-nation and and they faced a problem that is not uncommon in the present day -
that being one of locating a site to house the prisoners.
Respectable property owners wanted the criminal element locked safely away and forgotten - preferably somewhere far away -
and certainly nowhere near there own back yards!

And so into this breach stepped Grandpa Bosley, who entered into an agreement with the local government to convert his former
sugar plantation into a penal colony for women.
This arrangement proved to be favorable and went a long way toward alleviating Bosley's labor problems and all went fairly smoothly
to the mutual satisfaction of the principal parties involved.

Disciplinary problems inevitably arose and at first the more recalcitrant prisoners were remanded to the government authorities for punishment.
But the plain point of fact was that the government had put these problems "out of sight and out of mind" and it was their fervent
wish that they remain that way.
So ere long, Gramp Bosley received an official looking document to the effect that he was to "provide discipline at your own discretion
as each situation warrants, to include corporal and/or capital punishment as necessary."

Contrary to what you might expect, Gramp Bosley was not personally overjoyed with the prospect of performing executions.
He had entered into his contract with the local government out of desperation.
His sole desire had been to preserve the plantation and to retain the lifestyle to which he was accustomed and in truth,
he regarded his contract as little less than "My Deal with the Devil" as he often referred to it.

It had all started out to be a humane enough operation but even in his own lifetime he could see that his sugar plantation
was evolving into little more than a place for female prisoners to be housed so that he could get what work he could
out of them before they were executed in one manner or another.

2 ~ Raven Swings ~ 2

Gramp Bosley bethought himself to protest to the officialdom when a trio of bank robbers were condemned to be hanged
and then sent directly to his plantation where the sentence was to be carried out.
But he reread the agreement to which he had applied his signature and there was nothing in the plethora of verbiage
that alluded to or in any way restricted the nature of the crimes with which his workers were charged.

"They had me over a barrel," Gramp wrote in his journal, so he had no choice but to keep the three women under careful
lock and key while he cast about for a suitable executioner.

As it turned out Gramp had less trouble finding willing executioners than he had imagined, for his own sons had grown
to manhood on the plantation while it served in its new capacity as a penal colony or, as it was called on the main island,
a correctional facility.
The boys were well-used to having the women around and were in fact looking forward to this new aspect in the plantation's operations.

Neither was Gramp Bosley overjoyed at the prospect of his sons becoming "Lord High Executioners," as he eventually came to call them.
But gradually the boys won him over as it was the most practical and expedient solution to the problem.

According to entries recorded in his journal, Gramp Bosley insisted that since in these first executions they were acting
as government agents that the three women in question should be properly hanged.

Being in all ways a humane man, Gramp asked the trio if they had any last requests before the sentence was carried out.
Their only reply was to the effect that they should "All Hang Together".
So Gramp had the boys construct a scaffold large enough to accommodate the trio of culprits so that they could be hanged simultaneously.

"I was somewhat surprized," Gramp Bosley recorded, "to see how docile the three ladies were when the boys lead them out
to the gallows to meet their Maker."

"I had expected a lot of kicking and screaming, but the girls all went to the scaffold with decorum befitting to the occasion."

"The only hitch in the proceedings came when we discovered that not one of us knew how to tie a proper hangman's noose."

"This didn't matter so much in this case because the boys informed me that there were no trap doors in the floor boards
and so they intended to stand each of the women on a cinder block with a noose around her neck."

"When her block was pushed away it was to be the lot of each miscreant to dangle at the end of her rope."

"There was no way that so short a drop would be sufficient to break her neck, so the trio would likely die slowly of strangulation."

"This being the case, it really didn't matter much what kind of knot we used as about any one of several would do providing it didn't slip."

"I don't recall who was first to swing that day.
It's been a number of years since the first execution and of course there have been so many since then that they all kind of
run together in my mind sometimes."

"I do recall that Raven was the Brains of their outfit and as I recall, she elected to go first."

"I know that I've written earlier about how the three of them were hanged together, but this is not to say that they were all hanged simultaneously."

"To this day I don't know who cooked it up, but I think that at the last minute the girls seemed to want to make a contest out of it."

"Who could strangle the longest or thrash about the most or stick her chest out the farthest ... something of that nature."

"I guess there were no winners in the contest and as I say, I'm not certain that there was one, but I guess the most strangled
looking award went to the Boss Lady, Raven."

3 ~ Alexus Swings ~ 3

"Raven either got the award for the most strangled expression or for having the hardest nipples among the three of them,
but I'm not certain that there was an award for that, although there should have been."

"Raven was left to swing there with her toes barely clearing the floor as the second woman was lead up to take her position on the scaffold."

"After looking at Raven swaying there with her tongue lolling to the side of her mouth, it occurred to me that not having a trap door
made for a fine show but was certainly hard on the victims."

"There was no trap because the boys hadn't wanted to cut the holes for them.
It seems that one of them had been contracted to build a bandstand for a series of outdoor concerts during the summer that were
in vogue in those days, and they didn't want to make any holes in the floor that somebody might step into accidentally.
It was rather thoughtful of them, actually."

"Al was the next girl up and I was in high hopes that she would outlast the others.
Whether she did or not I can no longer recall, but I do remember that she certainly appeared to have the lung capacity
to make a fine job in the attempt."

"Al did not seem to be overly enthusiastic to play her role in this drama, but I suppose that she can be forgiven.
Who is going to exhibit much enthusiasm for their own hanging?
And besides, with the body she had, a man was tempted to forgive her for about anything!
At least I was as I recall."

4 ~ Jade Swings ~ 4

"Jade was the last lady to swing that day and even though I hadn't been too keen on the idea at first,
I had to admit that I was sorry to see our session come to and end."

"Jade took to the air with rare enthusiasm and I think sure that her chest heaved longer than did any of the others
though now I can't be sure because as I've said before, it all happened a long time ago.
But this I know for certain, there never has been a woman before nor since that can roll her eyes up and back into her head as far as that gal could!"

"The other women on the plantation hadn't been at all anxious to witness our ceremony for one reason and another and, as I've said.
I'm a humane man so I didn't force any of them to witness the execution if they didn't find it pleasant."

"But just so none would miss the point, I did have three of them dig the graves for the trio."

"As for myself, I prefer pumping lead into a woman's chest anytime,
but I do have to admit that hanging wasn't as messy ...
And they sure did look sweet swinging there."

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