Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Most Unforgettable Character I've Met

"I had been warden of New Jersey State Penitentiary for only a short time when I was told that one of the lifers wanted an interview. The name was James Duncan. He was serving the seventh year of a life sentence. At first the name meant nothing to me. Then I remembered - a sun-swept New Jersey golf course, a professional tournament. Jim Duncan had been only 18 then, but he was already known as one of the best golfers in the state. I remembered watching at the first tee as his litche, young body coiled and uncoiled in effortless, powerful swing. It was one of the longest, cleanest drives I had ever seen and, because I had always been deeply interested in sports, things like that had a way of filing themselves in my mind. What was Duncan doing here? I looked up his case. During prohibition he had taken a job piloting a rum-running speedboard along the New Jersey coast. One night the boat was hijacked. A few days later the body of the hijacker, a notorious racketeer, Mike Dries, had been found. With the two other members of the boat's crew, Duncan had been accused of the killing. All three men had been found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Duncan had gone to prison on his 19th birthday."

The Reader's Digest Association, 1953

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