Thirty Years Ago Today

Posted: November 21, 2008 in The Roper Files
Tags: , , ,


November 1978…I’m in a motel room in Huntington Beach California. I was on a business trip for a company I was working for at the time. Thanksgiving is approaching; I’m living out of a suitcase and wondering if I’m going to get back home in time for Thanksgiving. I’m swilling down bacardi and cokes while watching Saturday Night Live. All of a sudden We Have Breaking News. Congressman Ryan is dead, as well as 900 people in someplace called Guyana.

In my drunken Saturday night stupor I thought this was some twisted Michael O’Donoghue bit gone all wrong; this couldn’t be happening. But the newspaper the next morning confirmed the grim story; this was no SNL sketch. Real life had suddenly become much stranger than some writers imagination.

A few days later, I’m walking through LAX on my way home. I notice a small crowd of people with their noses pressed to the windows facing the runway. Looking through the window, I could see a cargo plane unloading several aluminum containers. A man next to me turns to me and says one word: “Guyana”. Those containers were coffins with the cyanide-soaked (and bullet-ridden) remains of Jim Jones followers. Even as I type these words I feel the same creepy shudder going through my entire body even after all these years.

“Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it”

Don’t think I’m forgetting anytime soon.


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