Escape Artist

Last month I watched the Bresson classic, A Man Escaped for the umpteenth time. The true story of a French Resistance member who pulled a MacGyver-like escape from a heavily-guarded Gestapo prison. Everytime I watch it, I’m struck anew at my total lack of resourcefulness or tenacity; Should I ever be imprisoned by Nazis, I’m done for. The escapes (note plural – they’re always plural for fellows like these) that John Pierson undertook weren’t quite as gobsmacking (few were), but show such determination as to be noteworthy.

Several days later, on March 18, they were recaptured by Confederates that had “orders to arrest any one, white or black, that was going north or south, east or west, that did not have papers to show who they were or where they were going,” Pierson noted. The Confederates transported Pierson and his comrades to a prison in nearby Jackson. “The jail was made of wood and lined with heavy timbers set endways and driven full of nails, so that a mouse could not have escaped. We fared well and had many visitors. All seemed sociable enough except one schoolma’am from the northern states. She thought we ought to be hung, possibly to keep herself from hanging.”

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