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Monday, February 18, 2008


After I wrote my book about tarantulas and had founded the American Tarantula Society, I received many invitations to speak. There were live radio interviews and appearances on television, etc., but the most unique invitation came from the Alliance of Alien Prisoners at the Matsqui federal penitentiary in Abbotsford, British Columbia. They wanted me to come to the prison to give a presentation on tarantulas, and, because of regulation, no live specimens could be brought in. I had always hidden my fear of public speaking behind the fascinating prop of my pet tarantula, and this time not only would I miss this protection, but I'd be speaking to a group of federal prisoners! It was an opportunity, though, too interesting to pass up, and so I agreed to come.

I was let in by guards who treated me with coldness and some suspicion, yet with cooperation, and when the leader of the Alliance of Alien Prisoners, Baron von Lindberg, came to greet me and take me to an inside meeting room, it felt comparatively like a breath of fresh air. He was cordial and dignified, with a big smile, and he introduced me to the Alliance, about twenty men sitting around a table, waiting to hear a speaker without props who had struggled to get a C in his high school speech class and suffered from stage-fright.

Well, I did my thing, and the men seemed fascinated and were full of questions afterwards. Then, in appreciation, they voted to make me an honorary member of the Alliance of Alien Prisoners, and as I left, Baron handed me a card which read:

Alliance Of Alien Prisoners

SATURDAY JULY 7th, FROM 12:30 P.M. TO 9:30 P.M.


I returned home to Bellingham, Washington, and the following day brought my wife Micki and our seven-month-old baby son Leif into a federal penitentiary for a salmon barbecue. We gathered in an outdoor courtyard. Other visitors were there, but no other children besides our baby. We found, by talking with the prisoners, that most of the men in the Alliance were American, but were serving time in a Canadian prison and were hence alien. We also found that many of them were serving life terms, and so were called "lifers," and they got a big kick out of the fact that we often called our baby Leif (we pronounce it "life") by the nickname "Leifer." "You call him lifer?" one of the men asked, and laughed heartily when we nodded.

It was so interesting, visiting with these men. One young prisoner told us his sad tale: He was found in possession of marijuana at the U.S.-Canadian border, and thought that if he could only get across the line, he would be out of the officer's jurisdiction and could get away. So he hit the officer and ran across the border, thereby unknowingly making his misdemeanor a federal crime. Another man we talked with for a long time, a loner sitting apart from the others, said that he always refuses any privileges in the prison, because the guards use them for manipulation and take them away as punishment. He also pointed to an attractive, sexy woman across the yard who was laughing and whispering to a couple men, and he said, "You see that woman over there?" We said yes, and he said, "She's not a woman." We never did find out what Baron von Lindberg was in for, but did learn that he was a millionaire, and had fit the bill for much of these events.

One incident happened I'll never forget. Another large table was needed, and so one was being carried out the door into the yard. Two men were lifting the end of it still inside, while a huge man carried the forward end by himself. He was the scary stereotype of a monster convict. When he glanced over at us, he set down his end of the table, blocking the door and the men inside at the other end, and came walking over to us. With his gruff voice, he so gently asked, "Can I hold the baby?" We let him, and he cuddled little Leifer, with tears in his eyes, and quietly said, "It's been five years since I've seen a baby that young."

Not long after returning home, I received the following letter:

July 16, 1979

Dear Dale,

We wish to again thank you for your information and highly entertaining talk to the Alliance of Alien Prisoners at Matsqui Institution on July 6.

By the unanimous vote of the membership, the Alliance of Alien Prisoners has elected you an official Honorary Canadian Prisoner, with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereto, including:

(1) Free Food, prepared by government cooks
(2) Furnished living quarters, rent free, with all utilities supplied
(3) Free medical and dental care
(4) Guaranteed work
(5) Free clothing & laundry
(6) No taxes
(7) No more grass to cut, house to maintain
(8) Freedom from worry over gasoline shortages, inflation, etc.

To take full advantage of these rights and privileges, you must first convince a judge to sentence you. However, that should pose no obstacle nor require great imagination as numerous ideas as to how to go about it appear nightly on the TV evening news, dramas, etc.

Congratulations! And again, many thanks for your fine talk!

Baron von Lindberg, Chairman, AAP

Of course, since they had made me an honorary member of the A.A.P., I in turn made them honorary members of the A.T.S. And later this letter arrived:

October 12, 1979

Dear Dale:

We recently received our membership card to the American Tarantula Society and, as a group we certainly appreciate our being included in your Society. We also received a copy of the September/October issue of "Tarantula Times." I must say we are most appreciative of your comments with respect to our group and our annual "Family Social."

One of our members or myself will be writing an article for your newsletter in the very near future. We trust that it will be up to the standards of your publication and of interest to your readers.

Enclosed is your "Honorary Membership Certificate" sent with the very best wishes of all the group members.

The very best to your wife Micki and also your little son Leif.

Best wishes in all your endeavors Dale and it is our hope that we will meet again soon.

Yours very truly,
Baron von Lindberg

But the article to be submitted for the Tarantula Times never came, and I lost contact with the Alliance of Alien Prisoners. Eventually we learned that the group had lost its privileges to assemble or continue because of a prison riot at Matsqui. I did, however, receive a beautiful certificate of my honorary membership.

In 1981, the late Alexander Crosby's book, Tarantulas: The Biggest Spiders, was published by Walker and Company of New York. Mr. Crosby included in it a full-page picture of me on page 55, as well as a write-up on my founding the American Tarantula Society. The write-up's last paragraph reads:

"Lund used to dread speech making even more than he did spiders. But he agreed to talk about tarantulas to the Alliance of Alien Prisoners at the federal penitentiary in Abbotsford, British Columbia. A salmon barbecue was the big outdoor meal. The prisoners gave such a warm reception to Lund, his wife, and their seven-month-old son that Lund tended to 'feel safer with the prisoners than with the guards.'"


P.S.   "June 2, 1981: Major riot, 300 inmates seized control of the facility, torching seven of the prison's buildings and causing millions of dollars worth of damage. Actions taken by Corporal Patrick Aloysius Kevin McBride during the riot to rescue eight staff members from a burning roof led to his receiving a second medal of honour for heroism in the same year from the Governor General."
As a result of the above incident, the Alliance of Alien Prisoners was disbanded in 1981. 

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  1. Was wondering is that a picture of Baron von Lindberg the one who is the second row last person on the right???let me know?

  2. Yes i thought so, Thats my grandpa, he passed away a couple years Ago. I did some research on him and found your site, Thanks to the picture you had posted, i knew it was him.

  3. You inspired me to do some research, and I just found that "Baron Von Lindberg passed away on December 18, 2008 at Mission, BC at the age of 76 years." I'm so sorry to hear that, and am very happy to meet his descendant! He was such a nice man, and made my small family and I feel so welcome when we went to the AAP potluck and met him in person. Please keep in touch. I'm also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1085524406