And Then They Were Gone

And Then They Were Gone is a work in progress book co-authored by Judy Bebelaar and Ron Cabral. The book has yet to be published, but below you can find out more information and read some excerpts.  Please follow us on Facebook to get updates!

About the School: Opportunity II High School was established in San Francisco in 1971 and was part of the San Francisco Unified School District. It existed during the 1970’s in 3 different locations around the city. In the early 80’s it moved to the Alamo Park District and became known as Alamo Park HS. Later it changed its name to Ida B. Wells HS which still operates today. In 1976 Rev Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple Church enrolled around 100 teen-aged members into Opportunity II High School including 3 of his sons. Over the summer of 1977 almost all of them dropped out of school and moved to a place in Guyana, South America called Jonestown.

Excerpt from the Book:

FROM CHAPTER 3: In Small Dreams

September 1976

Joyce and Dorothy

Joyce had convinced Dorothy to join Creative Writing. Dorothy was born in Mississippi, and she and her mom and Loreatha, her older sister, had lived in Ukiah before they came to San Francisco. One of Dorothy’s first poems expressed both nostalgia for a simpler world and a sense of foreboding about the future. I asked her if she’d read it to the class today.

She seemed pleased, even touched, but said she’d rather not have the class hear it. “It’s kind of personal, you know, Ms. B. I don’t think I want to read it.” . . .

As kids began to drift in, I pulled out her poem to read it again. Something nagged at me, but I wasn’t sure why. She always had a smile on her face; I had no reason to worry about her, right?

Walking down a busy wide street

Seeing many people pass by me,

I’m happy with my friends,

Like a bluebird when it sings its happy song,

The smell of the biscuits cooking in my friend’s house

The street lights on my face like the stars,

Looking down on the earth, my earth mother earth,

Now home, looking down on the busy cars

Wanting my brother to come home,

But he won’t never come back

She hadn’t wanted to tell me more about her brother when I’d asked her. Maybe he was dead? In prison? Was he the reason her mother had gone to Indiana and joined the Church? . . .