Episode 391:

Adult Hands and Adult Brain

June and Jennifer Gibbons aka "The Silent Twins"


Notorious Bank Robber and Escape Artist Forrest Tucker


Episode 391: Adult Hands and Adult Brain

This week, Georgia and Karen tell the stories of June and Jennifer Gibbons, aka "The Silent Twins," and notorious bank robber and escape artist Forrest Tucker.

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

June and Jennifer Gibbons aka "The Silent Twins"

June and Jennifer Gibbons aka "The Silent Twins" Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Scott Wilson / Alamy

Other Image:

  1. “The Silent Twins” Jennifer and June Gibbons


"June Alison and Jennifer Lorraine Gibbons were born at an R.A.F. hospital in Aden, in the Middle East, on April 11, 1963. June arrived first, at 8:10 a.m., but Jennifer, born ten minutes later, seemed to be the stronger twin, more alert and physically robust. Their parents were from Barbados: Aubrey, tall, handsome, and stiff, and Gloria, whose soft eyes gave her a gentle, yielding appearance. She relied on Aubrey to make decisions for her, just as June would later defer to Jennifer. In 1960, Aubrey, an Anglophile who had long dreamed of being a proper English gentleman, had decided this: he would make a life for himself and his family (a daughter, Greta, had been born in 1957; a son, David, in 1959) away from his homeland. He went to stay with a relative in Coventry and soon qualified as a staff technician for the R.A.F. Gloria followed, with Greta and David, several months later.

The Gibbons family was part of the postwar migratory wave of West Indians commonly called the Windrush generation, after a ship that carried large numbers of black island dwellers to the “mother country.” And, like all the other immigrants, Aubrey and Gloria hoped that in their new land they would become true Britons, with a solid home and the English ways they’d learned about at school—a reverence for the Queen and for cricket. Their dream included a pretty patch of green on which to raise their children. Instead, they moved from post to post, struggling to adapt to a culture that often found them ugly—or, at least, irritating in their difference, with their strange accents, dark skin, and oddly textured hair.

In late 1963, the family returned from the posting in Aden and settled at the R.A.F. base in Linton, Yorkshire. The twins—or “twinnies,” as Gloria called them—had round cheeks and bows in their hair and winning smiles, and soon they had a baby sister, Rosie, born in 1967, whom they adored. But even as toddlers they could barely speak: three or four words at the most. “When they first started their schooling, we knew they had the speech problem,” Aubrey said, in an unused interview for a BBC documentary, “The Silent Twin—Without My Shadow” (1994), written and produced by Olivia Lichtenstein. “In the home, they’d talk, make sounds, and all that, but we knew that they weren’t quite like, you know, normal children, talking readily.” In 1971, when the twins were eight, Aubrey was posted to Chivenor, in Devon. At their new school, the girls were taunted mercilessly about their skin color and their silence. “Eight or nine, we started suffering, and we stopped talking,” June told me when I saw her in November of 1998. “People called us names—we were the only black girls in school. Terrible names. They pulled our hair.” The twins soon stopped making eye contact with others, perhaps so as not to have to see themselves judged. They also stopped speaking to their parents and their older siblings, whose questions they had previously responded to. “We made a pact,” June explained. “We said we weren’t going to speak to anybody. We stopped talking altogether—only us two, in our bedroom upstairs.” Aubrey and Gloria could sometimes hear the girls chattering to each other in their room, in a patois that they couldn’t understand any more than they understood the girls’ silence..."


Source: “We Two Made One” by Hilton Als (The New Yorker, 2000)



Notorious Bank Robber and Escape Artist Forrest Tucker

Notorious Bank Robber and Escape Artist Forrest Tucker Notes:

Other Image:

  1. Forrest Tucker's mugshot from Alcatraz


"When Forrest Tucker, at age 73, left prison in 1993, the storied career of this veteran bank robber and stickup man seemed finally over.

He and his wife, Jewell, settled into a comfortable home here on a golf course. He puttered in the yard. He began writing his memoirs, a work he titled “The Can Opener,” which includes an account of his 1979 escape from San Quentin by kayak.

But late last year, a rash of bank robberies erupted within commuting distance of Tucker’s house. And it wasn’t long before the police and FBI zeroed in on a suspect.

The robber was elderly, white-haired and armed.

On April 22, minutes after a masked bandit walked out of a Jupiter, Fla., bank with $5,300 cash, authorities were in hot pursuit. The chase ended on a dead-end street near a schoolyard when the getaway car slammed into a palm tree.

When a police officer ran up and stuck a gun in Tucker’s face, he was dazed, pinned to the seat by an inflated air bag, and laughing. “He looked like he just came off the golf course,” said Broward County Sheriff’s Lt. James Chinn. “You’d more expect to see him go to the early-bird special than robbing banks.”

‘Addicted to the Adrenaline of the Game’..."


Source: “79 Years Old and his Life of Crime Appears to be Going Strong” by Mike Clary (Los Angeles Times) 1999