(Editor’s note: Clifford Gieg, who survived the death in Jonestown by being on the Temple boat, the Cudjoe, with Herbert Newell, died in October 2017.)
I got to know Clifford Gieg when Danny Curtin was my son. Clifford was Danny’s younger half-brother, and both were the younger brothers of Debbie Curtin Harper. While Debbie was as attentive as she could be, she was also a college student in Santa Rosa, with a lot of obligations, and mostly could not spend nights at our home.
Clifford liked to spend the nights at our house when the Temple held its weekend meetings in San Francisco. I remember him as such a kind, helpful and “ready to please” kid. He liked it when we were all getting ready to go to church, clearing the table after breakfast, getting dressed and especially when Danny or my husband David checked on his necktie. That tiny “glimmer” in his big light eyes showed so much depth of appreciation for the attention. His birth mother Rose had left him so as much as he could, and as much as “the system” allowed, he clung to Danny.
Clifford always brought a different than usual level of calmness to our home. My younger sons, John, who was seven or eight, and Tony, who was a year younger, looked up to Clifford in a different way than they did Glen or Danny. As I recall, Clifford was about 12 or 13 and not as much of a man as Danny and Glen were. Clifford got help with his tie, and he in turn helped the younger boys tuck their shirts in and made sure that their shoes were tied. He was a kid with a caring loving personal effect on his environment. Although I never had contact beyond those few short months – he was with us perhaps a year – in my opinion, even as a child, Clifford embodied a spirit of caring love and kindness.
The lingering and residual pain of how so much innocent and loving care, compassion and positive energy of healthy character in that lovely boy, was so heinously destroyed, must serve as a warning for all of us … forever.
(Janet Shular is a regular writer for the jonestown report. Her other articles in this edition are A Child’s Life With Continuous Victimization: A Story About Cassandra Minor and For the Love of Danny. Her complete collection of writings for this site can be found here.)