Fellow dot member Debbar spent June 25th, 2010, at 2300 Jackson St., in Gary, Indiana.For all of us who could not be there, she has shared with us what it was like to be where Michael and his brothers and sisters began their lives, where the Jackson 5 got started..where the magic began.Please read Debby’s story and watch her video.
Thank you, Debby, for allowing your entire MJTP family share this experience through you.
The first time that I went to Michael's childhood home at 2300 Jackson St., it was a huge surprise. My friend, who is also a dot member, told me that she was taking me for a drive to help me relax. When we got closer to Indiana, which is about 50 minutes away from where I live, I started questioning why we were going there. She claimed that her brother wanted some lottery tickets from a gas station that had recently sold winning tickets.
As we turned onto 25th Street, I was aware that this was a different type of neighborhood with little storefront churches and many run-down, evacuated buildings. I kept looking for the gas station that we were supposed to find, not noticing that the streets were all named after past presidents! On the left side of the street was an old high school. I checked the sign in front for the name...Roosevelt High. That name rang a bell! I thought to myself, I wonder if this is the same place where the Jackson 5 won that talent contest back in '58? I dismissed the idea, thinking that there must be a million Roosevelt High Schools around this country!
Usually I am a lot quicker to put two and two together, but on this day I guess that I had other things on my mind. We drove for another block and turned left. Now I was getting uneasy. "There is no gas station down this street," I said. No, to be honest, I think that I more yelled it! It was at this point that I caught the name of the street that we had turned onto. The sign read, “JACKSON ST”! I began to cry.
I don't know why the tears came. Perhaps it was because I was surprised, perhaps it was because I had always wanted to go there...perhaps it was because at this moment I felt that Michael was very close to me.
I didn't need to look at the street addresses to know which building was 2300. I had seen so many pictures of this tiny house that I knew it the minute it came into view at the end of the block. This house, this home that Katherine and Joseph Jackson bought and then raised 9 beautiful children in, was no bigger than a 3 car garage. It looked the same as what I had seen in photos except for the newly poured sidewalk and the wrought iron posts that promised of the gated property that was sure to come.
It was extremely quiet, and only the lamp post in front of the house and the street signs covered with fans’ testimonies of love gave away that anyone extraordinary once lived there.
On June 25th, the same friend, my daughter and I hopped in the car and once again headed to "Michael's House". This time when we turned onto Jackson St., things were much different. There was a certain excitement in the air. People scurried up and down the block, TV crews were arriving, stages were being erected and fans were lining up in front of the house to take pictures and secure their spot for the unveiling ceremony. Even the fine neighbors were busy sprucing up their own properties for the event. We parked the car and walked the rest of the way to The Jacksons’ Childhood Home, as the sign on the end of the block proudly boasts!
I had heard that Michael's cousins and nephews were there earlier in the week doing some landscaping to the home, and it turned out to be true. Freshly planted bushes, flowers, trees and gardens surrounded the small home. There on the corner of the property, behind the new wrought iron fence, stood the covered monument which would honor our Michael.
As I stood watching family members arrive, followed by Katherine walking through the front yard of the home that she so dearly loved, it hit me hard that these people were here because of one thing...We were all here in front of 2300 Jackson St. in Gary, Indiana this day because...Michael was not.
Thoughts of the Jackson 5 dancing and singing in the living room, playing on rare occasions in the yard, in the snow, standing in the doorway, walking on those sidewalks - all of these images flooded my mind. I thought of little Michael, inside rehearsing day after day, of the happiness of just being a kid, and of the sadness too. I thought of his little face peeking out the window, looking up at the stars...of his dreams. All of it, right there in that house!
So much time has passed, so many years. Katherine gave birth and brought home her babies to this house. What it must have felt like for her to walk across this yard, this time without one of them. In a quiet, reserved and humble voice she spoke to us and thanked the fans for our support.
The unveiling took place around and a tree was planted on behalf of Michael, directly behind the monument. There was a jet flyover simultaneous with the unveiling and I know that Michael must have been smiling! This thought only made me cry harder.
I was very proud to explain many times what my "Dot shirt" meant, I was proud to be interviewed by film crews and I was proud to have left my gifts for Michael at his front gate, but I think that most of all, I was proud to be able to be a small part of history in Michael's world. I was not there for him for so much of his life - his ups, his downs - and I feel tremendous guilt because of this.
I was so happy to be there in Gary and be part of a ceremony that was dedicated to the most phenomenal man that this world will ever know. This man that we all love so much and miss even more. We fondly call him.....Michael.
Thank you, Valerie, Jerry , Valmai and all my friends at the MJTP for giving me the opportunity to share this with all of you.
"If love could have saved him...he would have lived FOREVER"
Dot member nessie took this photo of Debby and her daughter at the monument unveiling in Gary, Indiana on June 25th.