Thursday, November 13, 2014

November 13, 1967

It is forty-seven years since my Dad and oldest brother Jay where killed. I was in tenth grade. It was the end the of the life I had.
It was the beginning of the life I have now.  

From my book being written
By Stephanie Brooks Downing

Monday November 13, 1967.

We lived up on a hill in Newbury Park, California.  I had to walk down the hill to get the school bus. This morning I went down and my girlfriend wasn't there. So back up I went to go and get her. She didn't want to go this day. Well she finally got ready and down the hill again we went. By the time we got there the bus had already gone. So we decided to walk to school. By the time we got a couple blocks away it was almost noon.

We couldn't go in then, so we went to a small hamburger place that the kids went to near the school. There were two boys we knew from school. So we hung out until three when school was out and they drove us home. 

When I got out of the car Michael’s best friend Carl was standing on the front porch. Boy the look on his face...I knew I was in trouble.

I walked in the front door and there were people sitting in the living room. One was my Mom’s boss who lived in the Valley and others I don't even remember and of course Carl.

My Mother came over to me and said –
Your Dad and Brother are dead.” I told her that wasn't funny and to stop joking like that. She started crying and I knew it was not a joke. I felt strange all over and not quite there.

At that point all I remember is Carl and I going outside for a walk and I needed/had a cigarette. My brother Michael taught me to smoke and we both smoked as did our parents. (My Dad had quit smoking three
years earlier.)  Back then they didn't know it was bad or they just didn't let people know that at that time. We walked around the corner and I remember seeing Marilyn, my Dad's business partner’s wife. They lived a block away. I didn't care if she saw me smoking or not. At that time I really didn't care and didn't feel much that day or for many days and years to come.

The next day’s my Aunt Chickie (her real name was Charlotte) came from Baltimore, my Mom's sister, my Uncle John who lived in Sherman Oaks and my Uncle Donny from Chicago. They were my Dad's brothers. I learned many years later that they both stayed drunk for two weeks.  The Red Cross brought Michael home from Vietnam. He was what they called the Soul Survivor. Carl and my Mom brought Michael home from the airport.

I remember that we had to go and see the car they were killed in...

My Dad had taught me to drive in that car earlier that year.

To say the least my live changed in a moment.

The next two weeks I stayed home from school. Michael had to go back to the Army for a few days to finalize getting out as the soul survivor.

When I went back to school I remember that my friends where there for me. I also remember leaving one of my classes and going into the restroom and just crying.

So much has happened since that day. Yet I sometimes feel as if it was yesterday.

I love you Dad and Jay.

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