Monday, November 17, 2014

In remembrance of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I am re-posting my original story from my November 2009 blog.


The Day JFK Died

November 22, 1963, Yerington, Nevada

     As a sophomore in high school I sat looking at the clock in my English class, when the principle’s voice came over the loud speaker. “We regret to inform you that President Kennedy has been assassinated. School is dismissed. Go home and be with your family.”My mouth dropped; I could not take my eyes off the speaker box that hung over the door. I numbly heard the gasps and cries of my classmates, but I sat stunned. My mind could not grasp it. Only the voice of Mrs. Crawford, my English teacher, roused me out of my stupor. “Chere, go home. Your brothers and sister will need you right now.”

     “Oh, my God,” I thought, “She’s right! My brothers and sister were being sent home to an empty house. They might be scared and upset.” My mother would be at work. She was a hospital administrator and did not get home until around 8 pm. I immediately shot out of the classroom looking for my siblings. I picked my sister, Lexie, up from school and headed home. My brothers had beaten me home. All of us were in shock. My mom called to reassure us and to make sure we were OK.

     
We immediately turned the TV on to find out what really happened. In our town, we only had three TV stations. Still I found myself channel surfing, hungry for the latest news. I sat glued to the set as Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather gave minute-by-minute updates. Things were happening so fast. Within hours the president had been shot and died. The gunman had been arrested. And then to our horror, the assassin himself was assassinated in front of our eyes on TV. Vice President Johnson was sworn in as President in the President’s plane. President Johnson, Jackie Kennedy and JFK’s body were back in Washington DC within hours and funeral arrangements were underway. This rapidness of the events kept me in constant shock and amazement. This was a speedy reality show, which this small town, slow moving girl had never experienced.

     As the afternoon and evening faded into night, I cooked dinner and put my siblings to bed, while listening to the TV. I did not want to miss a minute. Mom did not get home until 10 pm that night because the hospital was so busy. When she got home we sat watching the news together until the TV tuned out with the Star Spangle Banner. All TV stations in those days stopped broadcasting at 12 midnight.

My Plan To Attend JFK’s Funeral
     Unbeknown to my mother, I had made a determined plan to attend JFK’s funeral. I can’t tell you when the plan began to form, but as I watched the day’s events; I began to have a very strong desire to see what was happening first hand. I had ambitions of being a newspaper reporter someday. Early in the year I had watched the civil rights movements activities and the Freedom Riders woes. I had the same desire then. I wanted to be there; I wanted to make a difference; I wanted to know first hand.

     I figured I could get there by jumping a freight train out of Wabuska. I thought I could get to Washington, DC, go to the funeral, and be back home within a week. I would leave a note for Mom, explaining my plans so she would not worry. As I sat watching TV with my mother, I had already packed a small suitcase with a few days clothes, some apples, a few sandwiches and about $3 in tip money from my after school job as a waitress at John’s Cafe. The note was already written. I was waiting patiently for TV to go off and Mom to go to bed, so I could sneak out my window and start my exciting journey to the Capitol.

     Everything went exactly as planned. Within 30 minutes of lights out, I was up and dressed. I carefully laid out my note so Mom could easily find it. I quietly opened my window so as not to wake my sister, who shared the room with me, and gently lowered my suitcase to the partly snow covered ground. With racing heart in anticipation of the adventure and fear of getting caught, I crawled out the window one foot at a time. Once, my last foot touched the ground, I knew I was at the point of no return. I could not go back now.

On My Way To Washington D.C.
     The crisp November air nipped the tips of my ears and tingled my face. In all my planning, I forgot about the weather.I had no gloves, no hat and only tennis shoes on. I did have a coat and at first, I was not uncomfortably cold. I quietly tipped away form the house and started my walk to Wabuska.Now in our town, there was a curfew law that said children under 18 had to be in by 10 pm.Being a small town, it did not take long for our one cop car to make its rounds about town. I walked down back streets, constantly watching for the police and any other car that might recognize me. Fortunately, very few cars are out at 1 am. If I saw one, I just ducked down behind a parked car.

     As I approached the outskirts of Yeringtoncity limits, I saw the police car coming up Goldfield
Avenue. I was near the bridge over the Walker River, which ran through our town, so I slid down its bank and lay flat, hoping the officer could not see me. As I lay on the bank, the muddy, icy bank caused my body to slide several feet. My right foot entered the rivers freezing cold waters. As the officer passed, I scrambled off the bank with one wet foot and one dry foot. I was hoping as I walked the wet tennis shoe would dry. To my discomfort, instead of drying, it began to freeze.

     Once outside the city limits, the landscape is a combination of desert and dirt farms. There were no streetlights on the highway. The moon occasionally would shine through a break in the overcast clouds. In the desert sound travels a long distance. A mile outside of town, I began to hear the blood curdling howls of the coyotes or wolves (I was not sure). I kept saying to myself, “I sure hope those are a long ways away.” For the next mile, I started making plans on how to defend myself from the wolves, if they attacked me. An owl in a large cottonwood tree let out a “woo,” which caused me to jump into the middle of the highway. My heart froze in my throat; the owl repeated his wooing as if laughing at me.

     I had no time to feel too humiliated, as I saw the headlights of a car approaching some distance down the road. Suitcase flapping in the air, I raced to the highway bank and laid down flat to avoid being spotted.

     Wabuska is twelve miles from Yerington. I figured I had walked about 4 or 5 miles by now. My goal was to be at the railroad station by 5 or 6 o’clock to catch a train. By now my foot was so cold, I could hardly move it. I walked for several more miles hoping it would get better. As I passed farm after farm, the coyotes howling seemed to let up. I relaxed, as the likelihood of my being the coyote’s supper seemed to diminish. I walked close to the fence lines so any passing cars could not see me. In my relaxed state, I became more aware of the intense cold and pain in my foot. It was getting almost unbearable. As I walked past a large cotton wood 
tree, I came face-to-face, nose-to-nose, and eye-to-eye with a large horse that had his face hanging over the fence. The horse reared up and I jumped back. I am not sure which of us was nearest cardiac arrest.
    
     Within moments of my horse encounter, I determined that I would not make it to Wabuska with my frozen foot. I decided that if a car came by, I would try to hitchhike the rest of the way to the train station. As I could barely walk, I stood on the side of the road hoping and looking for a car going my way. For close to an hour no car passed going in either direction. Fear of death began to creep in. I could not go forward, and I could not go backwards. I pictured myself freezing to death on the side of the road and the coyotes eating my carcass.

My Only Hope of Survival-God
     It was at this point; I decided there was only one hope for me-God. I ditched my suitcase on the side of the road, walked to the middle of the highway, and knelt down on the freezing asphalt and began to pray. I knew the ‘Our Fathers’ and ‘Hail Marys’ I learned in Catholic catechism, but for some reason I just knew that would not do. As the asphalt dug into my boney and frozen knees, I begged God to spare my life and send me a ride. While still on my knees, I saw headlights coming a great distance away.

     Before I could even thank the Lord, I jumped to my feet and remained standing in the middle road. I was determined that that vehicle was going to stop or kill me. As the headlights got closer, I saw it was a tractor-trailer truck with a load of alfalfa. I held my ground. The truck began to slow and eventually stopped about six feet from me. I ran to the passenger door and jumped in.“What the blazes are you doing out here,” the truck driver exclaimed. “I’m trying to get to Wabuska, can you take me there?” I asked.“Are you running away?” the truck driver asked, his voice softened. “No, I have friends in Wabuska.” I said. I don’t think he believed me, but he drove me the rest of the way into Wabuska and dropped me at the train station.


     It was now 5 o’clock in the morning. It had taken me over four hours to make it half way there, and 10 minutes to get me the rest of the way. As the truck headed out towards Silver Springs, I sat on the wooden walkway at the train station waiting for my train to JFK’s funeral. Every thing within me still wanted to go to the funeral, but the agonizing pain and cold, began to speak reason into me.

My Journey Home
     Now Wabuska at that time has a population of about 12 people. Despite it’s small population, it still had a sheriff, who was not very well liked, because his main duty was to give tickets to people who sped through the towns 25 mile-an-hour speed limit over the railroad tracks. My mom had received several speeding tickets at his hand. I attended high school with his daughter, but I was always afraid of her father. It just so happened that Sheriff Bails’ house was the only house within walking distance of the train station. I had a choice of freezing to death or reaching his house for help. As I approached his house, my fear doubled. I was not only afraid of what the sheriff would do, but I was also afraid of what my mom would do.

     Knocking gently on the door, his dogs raised the roof, lights flew on, and I heard footsteps approach the door. Sheriff Bails flung open the door in his bathrobe and said, “Yes, how can I help you?” “Can you call my mom and ask her to come pick me up?” I shivered. He let me in and asked, “What are you doing out here this time of the morning?” Fumbling for an answer that I hoped would make sense to him and my mom, I blurted out, “Oh, I just felt like going for a walk.”

     As he reached for the phone, I thought I detected an amused smile on his face. “Mrs. Barnett, your daughter is out in Wabuska and wants you to come and pick her up. (Pause) She says she was just taking a walk. (Pause) OK. Goodbye.” Hanging up the phone, he slowly walked to the kitchen stove and put on some boiling water. “You look quite cold, would you like some hot chocolate while you wait for your mother to come pick you up?” All I could do was give him a grateful nod.
As I began to defrost in his home, my foot began to hurt even more. I could not move it at all. It was like the tendon in my heel was frozen solid. Sheriff Bails was not much of a conversationalist, which I was glad, as it was taking all my energy to keep from crying. We both just sat in his kitchen sipping hot chocolate and waiting for my mom. 

     Finally, my mother arrived and after a polite thank you, we left for home. The ride home was strange. Mom, who could be quite an interrogator, was being very cautious about what she said to me. I stood by my, “I could not sleep so I went for a walk” alibi. I think Mom was certain that I was running away and was trying to figure out why and how she had failed at being a mother.

     I figured she had not found my note, so I was hoping I could get in the house before her and dispose of it. If I could not convince her that I was not running away, I knew I would never be able to persuade her that I was only going to JFK’s funeral for a week. If she did believe me, she would feel I was mentally ill and might send me to a psychologist. As I jumped out of the car to beat her in, my sister Lexie, came running out waving my note in her hand. Visions of Sparks, the Nevada State Insane Asylum, sprung into my head. Mom sat in the car reading the note as I went to my bedroom. When she came into by bedroom she nursed my foot and said we would discuss it after I had rested.


     I quickly dozed off and when I woke, I heard my mom discussing with a visiting friend the whole event. They explored every possible reason why I would run away, I was such a responsible young lady. I must be going through a stage; perhaps I had too much responsibility throw on me too young; perhaps my friends were a bad influence on me. Finally after her friend left she came in my bedroom to ask me why I had run away. At this point, I decided to tell the truth. I was not running away, I was going to JFK’s funeral. Try as she may, she could get no other story out of me.She never believed it, but I was not sent to the crazy house. It was dropped and I seldom spoke of my adventure, because I did not want to appear insane. 

     God had performed a miracle for me, but I never spoke of it, because if they were not going to believe the JFK story, I knew they certainly were not going to believe my miracle story. Our family watched the funeral on TV like millions of other stunned and heartbroken Americans. When I graduated from high school, I left for the SF Bay Area to study Photojournalism at the height of the hippy movement. I was freed to explore the world first hand now, and explore I did! Nine years later I would come into a personal relationship with the God of my miracle--Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Poetry: Too and To


Too and To

Too sick tonight
  Too sick to fight
Too sick to be right
  Too sick to make it to midnight.

Too many broken dreams
  Too many failed schemes
Too many unheard screams
  Too many of life’s extremes.

Too is abundance, to is towards
  Too is my circumference, to is like new cords
Too is heavy, to is free flight.
Too will be laid down, to heaven I’ll go tonight.

Chere L Brown, Fort Worth, TX, June 3, 2014


Poetry: Pills

Pills


Pills
Round solutions
To all that ills
Pills, pills, pills

Pills
Hard solutions
For the over the hill
Pills, pills, pills

Pills
Scientific solutions
Can they save or will they kill
Pills, pills, pills

By Chere L. Brown, Fort Worth, TX 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Couch

This is the day I spent all day doing nothing on my couch. Oh, I watched a biography on Jamie Foxx and another about John Ritter; I guess that was something. In my mind I stayed busy. I checked my email, read my Google Reader, viewed my Facebook, and watched a half dozen Ted Talks. At different intervals, exhausted from such mental excursion, I took two naps. The only times I left my couch were to go to the bathroom and to warm something in the microwave, which I ate while sitting on my couch.

At times my couch is much like an astronaut’s pilot seat. It is very confining, but gives me an amazing view of earth and space as I observer uncharted areas on the Internet. My control panel has a navigational device called Google, which guides me and allows me to make amazing discoveries. I keep contact with the earthlings through email and Facebook and occasionally I receive a voice call from friends or family, which is a real treat. My Google Reader keeps me abreast with the latest news. Often my spaceship turns into a time capsule. Ancestry.com transports me back in history were I find roads once traveled, but are new to me and just as engrossing as the present and the future adventures. At times I am hurled through Internet space so quickly and so engrossingly that I reach total weightlessness. I lose complete awareness of my blob perched upon my couch. It is like an out of body spiritual experience where I jump to another dimension and touch the face of God.

My aching body then flings me back to my dimension. My space capsule crashes on the landing pad of my couch as the gravitational pull on my hunk of flesh moans. I stretch trying to remove the stiffness. “Get up,” my body screams. “I can’t take this inactivity any longer.” I arise from my couch and the full pull of gravity on the weigh of my body registers the pain in my foot as a number 8. I limp to the bathroom, then to the kitchen for a sack. All along the way my foot is yelling, “Get me back to the couch. Quickly, get me back to the couch.” I respond empathetically, “I hear you. I’m on my way.” In great pain, I limp back to my couch and fling my leg up. As I eat my snack, the pain starts to let up. I consider taking another voyage into Internet space, but opt for a nap instead; I hug my couch and fall asleep. As I drift into a dream world, I am aware I have now embarked on a different journey---a journey of the unconscious mind. From my couch I can take many journeys except one- physical journeys. I have been waiting for six weeks for surgery for a blood clot in my left leg and an ulcer on a toe. Should I have this soon, I might be able to resume my normal activity and once again embark on some physical journeys. Life is a journey, but the modes of transportation are many.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Shannon's Story: Shannon's Obituary

Shannon Ivy Brown

September 14, 1968 – December 19, 2009

Shannon Ivy Brown died December 19, 2009 after thirty years of serious health conditions starting with a brain tumor at age 11. She died in Richmond, California due to a septic blood infection. She was 41 years old.

Shannon Ivy Brown was born September 14, 1968 to Daryl Thomas Brown and Chere Lynn Brown (Barnett) in Seattle, Washington. Shannon has lived with her mother in Washington, California, Nevada, Tennessee and Vermont. She has been a resident of Richmond for 11 years. She had a wonderful sense of humor. Shannon’s greatest attritubues were her simple faith, her loving heart, her patience and her endurance. She became know to her family as the “Comeback Queen” because, despite many near death experiences over the years, she always pulled through.

Shannon is survived by her mother, Chere L. Brown of Richmond, CA; her father, Daryl T. Brown of Tucson, AZ, her grandmother, Beverely Brown of Yerington, NV, her uncle Daniel C. Barnett of Incline Village, NV. Many cousins around the country also survive her.

A memorial service will be held for Shannon at 2PM on Saturday, January 16, 2010 at Central City Christian Fellowship, 1230 Bissell Avenue, Richmond, CA. There will be a reception in community room of the church following the service. For additional information call 510-407-1525.

Shannon’s urn will be buried next to her grandmother, Clara M. Barnett in Yerington, NV.

Driving Directions

From Vallejo

Merge onto I-80 W toward SAN FRANCISCO.

Take the SAN PABLO AVE exit toward BARRETT AVE.

Turn RIGHT onto BARRETT AVE.

Turn LEFT onto MARINA WAY.

Turn RIGHT onto BISSELL AVE.

End at 1230 Bissell Ave Richmond, CA 94801-3137

From Oakland

Merge onto I-80 W toward Richmond

Merge onto I-580 W toward Richmond

Take the HARBOUR WAY NORTH exit, EXIT 9B.

Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto HARBOUR WAY S.

Turn RIGHT onto BISSELL AVE.

End at 1230 Bissell Ave Richmond, CA 94801-3137

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