Tuesday, January 24, 2006

RIP, "Oakie" Brumm

On Monday, 23 January 2006, I read the paper and an obituary jumped out at me: Leonard "Oakie" Brumm. "Oakie" made a name for himself as a coach of youth hockey in the Milwaukee area. He also made a name for himself by writing and publishing a book entitled We Only Played Home Games. The book details Brumm's career, as brief as it was, as the recreation director at the state prison in Marquette, Michigan. The warden wanted something to keep the prisoners occupied so that they wouldn't cause trouble. The year before Brumm started his job the state prison in Jackson, Michigan, had had a riot. The warden wanted to prevent this from happening in Marquette.

Brumm accepted the job reluctantly, but pursued it with vigor once he took it. Along the way Brumm gives us a glimpse into prison life (and love), the tangles and frustrations of bureaucracy (golf clubs were deemed "dangerous weapons" even though baseball bats were already in the compound), and the delicate, egg-walking minuet of guards ("screws") and prisoners.

I had a chance to correspond with Oakie when his book came out and I reviewed it. I always tried to get him to make an appearance with his book at Salem's annual street picnic. He was always hopeful that the next year would find him free that wekend. I guess time ran out.

If you haven't read Brumm's book yet, I urge you to do so. At the very least you should find it in your local library.

Obituary of Leonard "Oakie" Brumm.

Review of We Only Played Home Games.

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