Dear Mr. Haulman,
I joined Peoples Temple in the spring of 1966, fresh out of grad school and not knowing what to do with my life. When I finally left ten years later, I had no idea that most of the individuals I’d come to know and admire, among them some of the finest human beings I’ve ever known, would perish less than two years later in a mass murder/suicide at Jonestown. The memorial plaque, listing all the names of those who died– without prejudice or favor– in a simple alphabetical listing, means more than I can express in words. Whatever one may think of Jim Jones–and as a defector I can assure you that my disillusionment was intense, it seems to me appropriate that the man who brought us all together, without whom we’d never have met each other, deserves as much space for his name as all those others who perished at his command.
As a thirty year resident of Oakland who for ten years passed through the cemetery on Camden five days a week on my way to and from work, the memories which the burial site at Evergreen evoke, though ultimately tragic, are filled with joy, peace and even gratitude. I will be at the memorial, commemorating the plaque’s installation as will many of my friends and fellow survivors. As we stand around the site, I will think of the likes of Teresa King, Ron Talley, Diane Lundquist, her two sons, Dov and Jamal, Bev Livingston, Jim and Eva Pugh, Patty and Walter Cartmell plus so many others that I will leave it to the plaque to enumerate. And, of course, as long as there’s life in me, I will return to this sacred site for communion with the living memories of those who perished.
Bless you for your strength of character in standing behind the will of those of us who somehow managed to survive.
1926 Leimert Blvd
Oakland, CA 94602-1941