The Crash

In some ways this feels like the Crash of 1977!

Back to that in a moment.

If you were a kid in the ’70s or ’80s, you’ll remember a time when kids would come over to your house to ask if you were available to play. Obviously, if we could text each other, we certainly would have. But the period I’m describing was a simpler time. Instead of spending hours on phones like kids do nowadays, we spent hours on skateboards, playing football in the street, basketball in someone’s driveway, or riding bikes.

Even when handheld video games and consoles arrived, like the Atari 2600, we still spent hours outside. Two of my favorite games to play were baseball and the wildly popular “butts-up”! Both were usually played against someone’s garage door.

Believe it or not, my best friend and I would even go to a local diamond and play one-on-one baseball. We enlisted “ghost runners” to keep score. We didn’t have bottled water, but usually there was a drinking fountain or water hose nearby. By the way, if you’ve never drank out of a water hose, it tastes exactly like you’d imagine. No, not like chicken; more like rubber. Still, we drank to our hearts’ content.

Like most kids, I enjoyed being with my friends. Our favorite east San Jose neighborhood locations were Tully Road (the steep part — in the east foothills), which, during that time, was much, much safer. It also had an open creek running down the center, making it even more fun, especially on rain-soaked days. The other location was at a local church down the street.

Back to the Crash.

Minutes before the Crash of ’77 my doorbell rang, and when I answered the door, three people were there; two were on bikes, my friends — twins — Tim and Todd, both were facing me, and the third person, a tall, white guy, who was walking away. When I asked my buddies who he was, they said they didn’t know.

No more thought was given to the man.

Sadly, about 20 minutes later, that would change.

Before I grabbed my bike and headed out, I had to gently push my little brother back into the house. He was about four years old, and cried just about every time I left the house. Moreover, he would always cry out “Rigo! No!” over and over again. On this particular day, he was especially upset because, other than our babysitter, no one was home. My older brother, Joey, was out with friends, my mom was running errands, and my dad no longer lived with us.

Shortly after arriving at the church, one of the twins crashed and scraped his knee pretty badly. Because of his injury, we had to head back home.

As soon as we approached my friends’ house, their mother quickly ushered us into the house. She said that someone had broken into my house. When we peered out of the window, the large man we had encountered earlier was in my front yard, screaming MY name, and holding my little brother by the back of the neck! (We learned later that he undoubtedly knew my name because it’s what my brother was screaming when I left the house. And it was my little brother who opened the door for the intruder.)

After tossing my brother, and attempting to assault our babysitter, the intruder began to rummage through the house. Thankfully, both the babysitter and my brother were able to escape largely unscathed, and joined me at my neighbor’s house.

Before police arrived, my dad, who had raced back from his house, joined a few neighbors on a short but wild manhunt. It didn’t take long for them to find and constrain the guy. It turns out he was high on drugs. And from what I recall, served one year in jail.

If you’ve ever experience an intruder, it’s a weird feeling to know that an unwanted guest has been IN your house. I haven’t felt that way since. And while this virus is bringing back some of these feelings, I know that we — and all of you — will make it through this.

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