Charlie Touchette: Our Back Brace

Charlie Touchette was a lot of things to a lot of people. I remember him most for being in charge of the buses and the drivers, scheduling who was driving as well as the routes the buses were taking to the destination.

I remember one instance especially, when I had only had eight hours of sleep during one week – not in one night, in one week – and I was scheduled to drive on Friday night. I told Charlie that if I got behind the wheel, I would fall asleep! He said that Don, my husband, had already told him about it, and asked me if I would like to sleep in the luggage compartment under the bus, or in the luggage area above the seats in the bus. Well, there was no choice to make, I went under the bus and slept like a baby, they couldn’t even waken me when we got to Los Angeles.

Charlie went to Guyana earlier than most people, and part of his work was shopping for supplies, including needed machines and tools for construction. In fact, when the tragedy happened, he was on the Temple’s large boat picking up supplies, sailing the Caribbean with Richard Janaro, Helen Swinney, and Phil Blakey. In Jonestown, as in everything else, Charlie Touchette was our back brace – sturdy, strong and straight – and made sure it all functioned in order, the way it was supposed to.

(Neva Sly Hargrave was a member of Peoples Temple who eventually left the church and spent several years counseling abused children and adults. She died in Burney, California on April 26, 2024. Her complete writings in the jonestown report appear here.)