I have sad, vivid memories of my last conversation with Annie Moore.
I had contacted her about a visit during the summer of 1977 when she was living and working in San Francisco. After first telling me that there was no possibility for getting together, she eventually said that I could visit during a break on her night nursing shift at San Francisco General Hospital. She suggested that I come to the hospital at about 2 am. A friend and I arrived at the hospital and found Annie’s work area. Annie greeted us, but soon became combative and hostile. She wouldn’t talk about Peoples Temple, or even about her work at the hospital. When she asked me about what I was doing, I said that I was thinking about the possibility of going to law school. She asked me what my parents thought about that option, and was generally very negative and aggressive about lawyers and law school having any worth.
As it turned out, I didn’t go to law school, which turned out to be just fine. How I wish that I could have told her that.
That conversation and visit was the opposite of a good reunion with a once-close friend. In retrospect, some level of grieving for the rich relationship I had lost began that night. After the bleak San Francisco visit, I told myself to wish her the best with every hope that the Peoples Temple venture would succeed in proving its caring community ethos, and that I should focus on the many good times that we had during previous years.
My heartbreak from that last conversation contrasted with the fun and laughter, along with thoughtful insights, that I enjoyed so much with Annie. In 1971, we had a psychology class together at Davis High School, with a UC Davis student teacher during the last quarter. Annie and I were both about 16, and in complete agreement that the student teacher was smart, engaging, and very good looking with thick, curly blond hair and cool wire-rimmed glasses.
When the school year ended and Davis’ usual hot summer days began, Annie and I often went to the UC Davis recreational swimming pool. Imagine our delight one afternoon when we spotted the student teacher at the pool. Since he seemed to be on his own, we went over to talk with him. He invited us to come by his office the next day to meet some interesting people, and gave us the address on Olive Drive in Davis. When we arrived at the address, we found – to our chagrin – that his office was the Davis Church of Scientology. Annie took the lead in some friendly questioning of the student teacher on the principles of Scientology, and how he came to join the Davis group. After a few minutes, we got on our bicycles and left, somewhat disappointed. We held out hope that the young teacher would reconsider his choices and turn away from Scientology, but we also laughed about how sometimes great-looking guys with seemingly a lot of positives, can have some significant imperfections.
It works the other way round as well. Annie had her imperfections. She also had a lot of positives, and those are what I remember more than anything else about her.