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Alcatraz is more than a prison on a rock: LaVonne Ackerman

Posted 6/7/17

Welcome, June! You are getting us closer to summer. I know this is such a hectic time of year for many as children finish out the school year this week and graduation ceremonies fill the air. Best …

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Alcatraz is more than a prison on a rock: LaVonne Ackerman

Alcatraz is covered in flowers.
Alcatraz is covered in flowers.

Welcome, June! You are getting us closer to summer. I know this is such a hectic time of year for many as children finish out the school year this week and graduation ceremonies fill the air. Best wishes to all of you who are celebrating in these festivities.

San Francisco sharing continues: Have you ever been to Alcatraz Island? I always thought it was a dark, wet, bleak, black, tiny little island with a jail building on it. How wrong I was! It has a huge history of its own. One thing that really struck me was their beautiful gardens.

Alcatraz was a barren rock, but in the 1860s the first residents planted gardens in pockets of imported soil. Army families who were sent to live there enjoyed time gardening in Victorian-style flower gardens around the Citadel.

Prisoners also gardened, first Army prison crews, then a few closely watched penitentiary inmates. They created a manicured landscape that bloomed until the prison closed in 1963. The flowering terraces, rose beds, and lawns then grew wild for 40 years.

Fortunately, hundreds of garden species brought to the island by a century of gardeners managed to not only survive, but also thrive.

In 2003, the Garden Conservancy, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Park Service began a joint effort to preserve and restore the historical gardens. Daily several hundred visitors are sweetly surprised by the beauty and grace found on Alcatraz Island.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Feel free to email me your news to share.

Quick Quiz

What does Alcatraz mean?

1. Pelican

2. Rock

3. Escape


Happy 22nd cake and ice cream day to the lovely Janelle Dukes of Lower Swatara. So happy for your recent graduation from Bloomsburg University and your Wednesday, June 7 birthday. Best wishes to you always and God bless!

Macy Appleby of Lower Swatara turns 15 on Wednesday, June 7. Enjoy your last day of school and your birthday week!

Happy 23rd birthday to Fernando Santiago of Lower Swatara on June 8. If you see him on Thursday, wish him a wonderful day!

Happy balloon-flying day to Donnie Bell of Middletown as he marks his 15th birthday on Thursday, June 8. Have a super summer, Donnie.

Love and hugs are sent to Scott Ackerman of Lower Swatara as he celebrates his 59 and holding birthday on Friday, June 9. I hope all the good things in life fill your birthday week as you celebrate! God lead you always!

Happy landmark 18th birthday to Kenzie Zimmerman of Middletown on Friday, June 9. Have a fantastic week of celebrations and smiles!

Daryll Hickey of Lower Swatara has 35 things to celebrate and be happy about on Friday, June 9. May the skies be blue and the sun not too hot for you, Daryll!

Happy big-deal 20th birthday to Katie Kellogg of Lower Swatara on Saturday, June 10. Hope you have the best birthday yet, Katie!

Travis Patry of Middletown celebrates his legal-beagle-real-adult birthday on Saturday, June 10. Congratulations and best wishes, Travis.

Brand-new teener Gavin Guckavan of Lower Swatara celebrates No. 13 cake day on Saturday, June 10. Make it a great day, Gavin!

Hey, Ashton Bowers of Lower Swatara! Happy 23rd cake and ice cream day to you on Sunday, June 11. I hope your day is just how you like it, Ash.

If you see Lisa Lighty out and about Lower Swatara on June 11 wish her a sweet happy birthday. She celebrates on Sunday. I hope it is all sunny skies, Lisa!

Happy 82nd birthday to Lloyd Byers of Lower Swatara. He was born on June 11, 1935! May your Sunday be filled with the best things!

Here is a shout-out to George Kuharic of Lower Swatara on Monday, June 12. Have a super-fantastic-confetti-popping celebration day, George!

Ian Finkbiner of Lower Swatara celebrates cake day No. 22 on Monday, June 12. I hope your day is totally special and your week full of fun, too, Ian.

Happy 20th sparkles and glitter birthday to Araynna Link of Middletown. She observes her brand-new 20 birthday on Monday, June 12. Yay!

Jesse Yepes of Middletown turns 14 on June 12. If you see him on Monday, wish him a very happy birthday!

Eric Breon of Lower Swatara will hear the birthday song on Tuesday, June 13. I hope it is beautiful and your day is especially great, Eric!

Happy birthday greetings are sent out to Jeanne Spangler, now of Harrisburg, as she observes her 71st cake day. Congrats to you!

Happy Sweet 16 honk-honk-beep day to Deron Ranck of Middletown on Tuesday, June 13. What a wonderful time to learn to drive! Be safe and have a ball, Deron!

Quiz answer

1. Pelican, they love Alcatraz Island, so they named the island!


Best wishes to Chris and Jennifer Hunter of Lower Swatara on their 15th wedding anniversary on Thursday, June 8. Gift idea especially for you two: watches! Enjoy your time.

Happy 40th anniversary to Howard and Kathy Crawford of Lower Swatara on Sunday. These two forever young at hearts were married on June 11, 1977. Gift idea: ruby! I’m guessing anything red will work. Have a super week.

Bill and Sue Neiman of Middletown were married on June 11, 1955! Wow. Congratulations to you both on your 62nd anniversary on Sunday.

Glad grads

Eric Mosher, Lower Swatara, graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of science degree from the college of Arts and Sciences of Case Western Reserve University and with honors from the department of biochemistry. Eric will further his education in the field of pharmacology and molecular sciences at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. Congrats, Eric!

Congratulations to Sylvia Farley of Elizabethtown on earning her bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering at Iowa State University’s 2017 spring commencement ceremony.

Congratulations to Justin K. Wilson of Hummelstown on earning his bachelor of science degree in sport and exercise physiology on May 20 at DeSales University in Center Valley.

Supper time

All are welcome to attend dinner from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. (or until sold out) Monday, June 12 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church on North Spring Street in Middletown. The menu: grilled ham steak, baked potato, vegetable, dessert and drinks. There is a cost. Please enter through the parking lot doors.

Get a Job

Now that you are back from your vacation,

It’s time to start preparing for your vocation.

If you don’t want to be a slob,

You better prepare for your next job.

Get some training or learn a skill,

If you’re a veteran use the GI bill!

So now it’s time for you my dear,

To start planning your career!


Life Hacks

Here are bath soak remedies for what ails you!

1. Need anti-aging, detox and balance? Try teabags.

2. Need to soften, smooth and detox? Try honey.

3. Need to hydrate, elevate mood and soften? Try strawberry Jell-O.

4. Need to sooth, calm and sunburn relief? Try milk.

5. Need pain relief, reduce inflammation? Try salt.

Quote of the Week

“Capacity, competence and wisdom grow as they are exercised against the resistance of things considered impossible for now. The muscles developed during difficult times are what will eventually turn impossibilities into achievable opportunities for the future.” — Andy Andrews, author.

Question of the Week

What do you think the most exciting or best job is?

“Being a police officer!” — Joseph Peterson, 7, Lower Swatara.

“Fireman!” — Caden Ellmann, 3, Harrisburg.

“Right now, I feel like retirement is the best job I have had!” — Jay Whye, Hershey.

“Being able to restore houses. I think that would be exciting.” — Geri Tingle, Lower Paxton.

“Doing something creative with color.” — Pia Montalvo, Linglestown.

“Being a preschool teacher. I love children that age. It is fun to watch them learn new things.” — Angie Gregg, Linglestown.

Proverb for the Week

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him (16:7)

Reach LaVonne Ackerman at 717-649-7366 or by email at