In 1976 Judy Bebelaar and I were teaching at Opportunity High School in San Francisco. Opportunity was the new name of the old Continuation High School. The school was designed to attract those students who did not have success in the mainstream high schools - drop outs, unwed mothers, chronic truants, those with severe school phobia and others. It was a small school located in an old state Motor Vehicles building on South Van Ness Avenue. On one side was the original Mel's Drive-In and on the other a freeway ramp leading to the Bay Bridge and to San Francisco Airport.
One day in September of 1976 about 125 new students suddenly enrolled all at once. We soon found out that they all belonged to a new firebrand church in town called the Peoples Temple. Many of these new students had previously attended school in Ukiah and some had attended Drew Preparatory Academy and Washington High in San Francisco. Three of these new students (Stephan Jones, Jim Jones Jr. and Tim Tupper Jones) were sons of Rev. Jim Jones who would soon be appointed by Mayor Moscone to head of San Francisco's Housing Authority.
In May 2005 a play by Leigh Fondakowski opened at Berkeley Rep called The People's Temple. Both Judy and I saw it and soon decided to write a book together about the many kids from Peoples Temple we got to know during their stay at our school. Judy had kept poetry they wrote in her Poetry and Creative Writing class. I was the Journalism and Radio Production teacher and also coached the school baseball team called the Cobras. The team of 16 players had 12 members of the Peoples Temple on it including pitcher Tim Tupper Jones.
By the summer of 1977 most of our students who belonged to Peoples Temple had dropped out and gone to Guyana to a place called Jonestown. For most of them it was a one way trip.
See photos of some of these kids in the photo gallery - just click Media or visit www.redroom.com/author/ron-cabral
Some of the photos placed there will be in the book in progress. We expect the book to be completed and out in late 2011 or early 2012. In 2011 a memorial was finally laid at the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland for the more than 900 who died in Jonestown on Novemeber 18, 1978. Four hundred former Peoples Temple members - mostly children - are buried there in Oakland in a mass grave.
Causes Ron Cabral Supports
National Wildlife Federation, California State and National Parks, Arf, Paralyzed Veterans, National Film Preservation Foundation, California Historical...