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OLD MAN PREFERS PRISON YARD TO FREEDOM
Wethersfield, Conn., July 8.
Early in the morning the heavy
A barred doors of the Connecticut
State Penitentiary swung open
and an old, white-haired man
walked out. The door closed and
the old man, John P. Warren,
- was free.
For 52 years he had worn the
metal-buttoned uniform of gray
that marked him a life prisoner.
When he was 21 he married a
young girl of' 17. From the first
the marriage was unhappy. There
were old stories, long since for
gotten, stories that linked his
young wife's name with that of
anotner suuor. ine oriucgruuiu
took.his girl-wife to a brook one
day and held her head under the
; water until death came.
1 ' In December, 1859, John War-
1 rent was sentenced to life impris-
i onment. Then James Buchanan
was president, and Abraham Lirv
coin, a poor, unknown lawyer,
riding the circuit -in Illinois. The
first ocean cable had just been
dropped into the Atlantic. The
entire country was ablaze over
fc John Brown's raid on Harper's
Ferry. The first oil well was
sunk that year. The douds of an
approaching civil war loomed up
" in the horizon.
As the year 1860 dawned, John
Warren entered the prison.
The war was fought, and "an
other also. Mexico overthrew an
emperor'and a president. Boun
daries of nations changed. , The
jtelephohe, wireless, aeroplanes,.
giant liners and 60-miles-an-hour
trains arrived. Kings and presi
dent came and went. Milions of
people were born, lived and died.
And all the while, John Warren
lived ja. living death in prison
He petitioned for a pardon 28
times, and then resigned himself
to fate, tfe even grew to like
those prison bars, the prison yard
and the flower garden backvof the
warden's house. In that he toil
ed among the flowers during the
last few years. Then, on June 16,
the board set him free.
"liow does it feel, John, to be
free, after a lifetime in prison"
was asked of the old man, as he
stood inhaling deep breaths of air,
and looking far out over grassy
slopes and daisied meadows.
For a long time he did not an
swer. He could not. He just kept
gazing out and out, "stretching"
his eyes, as it were, upon the dis
tance which had been denied him
ever since he was 22 years old.
Then at last he turned:
"How does it feel?" he said;
"why it feels so strange, so un
usual, it doesn't feel natural.
There is too much room out here;
I can see too far. It hurts com
ing, like this, all at once." '
And John Warren, the "lifer,"
the murderer, rapped at the pris
on doors that he mightrgo back
and work a little while in the rose
garden in the prison yard.
"You see, it may be a prison,"
the stooped old man was saying
as he worked among the tangled
roses, "but it's Just about .the only.
t. .-.., ;