Saturday, November 22, 2008

The special "Ghost Whisperer" issue of my housing co-op's newsletter

(Photos are of the battle of Savo Island, Albany Village housing that looks similar to the old Savo Island temporary Naval housing during WWII, me in a vacant lot in 1979 just before Savo was constructed, a ghost haunting my home next to a drawing of Sid and Nancy and Jennifer Love Hewett -- on the job!)

What if Jennifer Love Hewitt (that television actress who plays a medium who can talk to ghosts) dropped by my housing co-op today? Would she be able to see any ghosts around here? You bet!

Savo Island Cooperative Homes Inc. is built on a marshland area that used to be a hunting ground for the Ilone Indians. "Are there any shellmound burial grounds still left hidden underneath Savo Island?" I asked.


"But maybe there might be a few Native American ghosts
hovering over by the play structure?"


"Now I'm hearing a little boy singing," continued Jennifer. "And he's also wearing purple?" That would be the ghost of Jimi Hendrix. When World War II started, the US Navy built housing for naval families on this site and named it "Savo Island" after a disastrous naval battle in the Pacific wherein the Japanese navy cleaned our clocks, leaving US soldiers who had already landed on the beachhead at Guadalcanal without any naval backup.

"I know all about Jimi Hendrix already," I replied. "Jimi has been haunting the Stuart Street side of Savo for years. He was raised here in the old World War II temporary housing which was torn down back in 1977 and replaced with our current buildings in 1979." And there was also another singer for some famous girl group who used to live here as a child. But I forgot her name."

I sense that there are other ghosts here," said Jennifer, "but they are tragic ghosts and don't want to talk to me." I know what you mean. My housing co-op went through hard times back in the 1980s and this area was riddled with crime. Crack cocaine had just been introduced to the streets of America, no one know how dangerous it was and it hit everyone across the country very hard. Even Savo was effected. Plus there were the usual alcoholics, crazy people and Desperate Housewives living here that you see everywhere else. One resident was even murdered here, right on Adeline Street. We even had our own crack house. And at one point there was even a SWAT team raiding Savo. But that was only a phase. Savo's not like that any more.

We also had an African-American veteran of World War II living in the house next door. He was a triple amputee, apparently as a result of that terrible explosion at the ammunition dumps at Port Chicago during the war. He passed away in 1983. "What about his ghost?"

"He is benevolent," said Jennifer. I'm not surprised. He was a nice man.

"Now let's talk about the ghost of Savo's dead re-hab," said Ms. Hewitt.

"The re-hab is dead?"

"Well, actually, no. But it is in critical condition and will soon be dead as a doornail unless someone around here starts doing major CPR right now!" Jennifer, you are scaring me.

"HUD just told the bank manager in charge of Savo's re-hab loan," Ms Hewitt continued, "that it would not give them a loan guarantee until your board of directors appoints two impartial outside housing or financial experts to the board.

"HUD also demanded that the board pass a motion saying that board members must cooperate with the management company in the future." Was HUD referring to the current management company or just ANY management company? We've already gone through ten or 12.

At the last board meeting, one board member once again accused our current management company's representative of not living up to the promises the company had made to us before it was hired. But how could they live up to the promises? Our true debt-ridden status and run-down condition had been hidden from them until after they had signed on.

"Your re-hab," continued the medium, "has been put off for yet another year because of board-instigated delays, inability to get loan guarantees and failed housing inspections because the board hadn't raised the rents high enough to be able to afford keeping the place fixed up."

"Does that mean that the re-hab has also been laid to rest -- along with poor sweet Jimi Hendrix?"

"Not quite yet," Jennifer whispered.

"And Savo Island itself will survive and not become just another sad, forlorn, forsaken, abandoned and forgotten ghost?"

"No, Savo will survive -- but only if ALL its residents try as hard as they can to start bringing it back to life...."