Ho. Lee. Shit

“[Jack Palladino] returns to his laptop.  ‘There were very few people who survived that day in Jonestown,’ he remarks.  ‘One of them had a wonderful name, and I’m gonna see if I can pull it back,’ he pauses as he scrolls through the files.  ‘We interviewed her in Los Angeles.  She’s an elderly black woman in her eighties, probably looked in her nineties, with that kind of leathery skin.

‘Hyacinth,’ he recalls, ‘it was Hyacinth.  they had the old people in Jonestown stacked up like cordwood basically.  They would collect all their Social Security checks, and Jones would use it for his own purposes.  They were terribly malnourished –– except for Jones, who of course had a freezer run by propane that had meat in it –– but the rest of the people were just warehoused basically.  Hyacinth was in Jonestown in a bunk bed when she hears the announcement over the PA system to report to the pavilion.  She gets very frightened.  She’s been trained, you know, White Nights and the GDF, the Guyanese Defense Force, is going to attack and all that, so she hides under the bunk bed.  And she falls asleep.  So whoever came in to poison people  in her cottage –– they poisoned a batch of people, especially some of the older folks, in their bunks –– they see her lying there and she looks dead.  They just didn’t bother to poison her, because they’d thought she’d already been done.  Didn’t squirt her with anything or inject anything.

‘So she wakes up in the middle of the night, walks out into the middle of Jonestown, and everybody’s dead.  She’s convinced she’s the only survivor.  She is the only survivor who lived through the whole thing and walked out the next day alive.  There are people who escaped, we have several of them, but she’s the only one that was right there and walked out.  Her story is a great little vignette of what she saw, what she believed.  It thrust you right into the mind of the elderly, highly religious, and unfortunately very controlled people.  Hyacinth is a wonderful story.'”

— Leigh Fondakowski, Stories from Jonestown

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