The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #159670   Message #3788606
Posted By: GUEST
04-May-16 - 02:18 PM
Thread Name: Obit: Merle Haggard (6 Apr 1937 - 6 Apr 2016)
Subject: RE: Obit: Merle Haggard (6 Apr 1937 - 6 Apr 2016)
Sacramento Bee has an article that mentions MY being a ward of the State at the Preston School of Industry in Iona, CA.

The young Merle Haggard made a break for it twice in the early 1950s, Page said. The first time, he and a buddy planned it six weeks in advance, shimmying down a fire escape and off into downtown Ione. Haggard, who apparently was as dexterous with car doors and engines as he would later be with guitar strings, sprinted toward the closest car he could find, jumped in, hot wired in it less than a minute and hit the gas pedal.

"But he didn't notice the car's owner had chained it to a tree," Page said.

Haggard hid in a cubby hole nearby the stalled car, as the police began their search. The police chief's young son, the story goes, was about at eye level with the crouching Haggard. The two locked eyes. Haggard put his finger to his lips to shush the child. The boy ratted him out anyway. As Haggard later wrote in his autobiography, the last thing he remembered from that escape attempt was looking over his shoulder as he was being led away and seeing the little boy wagging his finger at him.

"The next time Merle escaped," Page continued, "he stole the police chief's car and got all the way to Fresno before he was caught and brought back."

And what punishment did escapees face?

"Contrary to what they said at the time, the boys were beaten, severely punished," Page said. "Boys were whipped and thrown in solitary confinement. It was pretty bad."

The Preston Foundation has reached out to Haggard to perhaps stage a benefit concert. For some reason, Haggard reportedly declined the invitation.

"He wants nothing to do with this place because of what he calls his 'fond' memories, like being hit with two-by-fours," Page said. "Merle's got a tattoo on one of his wrists with 'PSI' on it. He hasn't forgotten."

His crimes were:
By the end of 1951, Haggard had returned home and he was again arrested for truancy, as well as petty larceny. In the beginning of 1952, he was sent to Fred C. Nelles School for Boys in Whittier, California; again, he ran away. This time, the courts decided he was incorrigible and sent him to the high-security Preston School of Industry; he was released after 15 months. Shortly after his release, he and a boy he met at PSI beat up a local boy during an attempted robbery, and Haggard was sent back to PSI. "