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PD_0161You may recall my recent proclamation:  “Sis Hit the Jackpot.”  Toward the end of last year Sharon managed to score a half dozen tubs full of “stuff” from an elderly Aunt’s house.  So far the “yield” has not disappointed.  All sorts of photos and memories are crammed into the boxes within boxes.  The other day, gold was struck in the bottom of Tub #3.  It was there that a cousin we had lost was suddenly found and accounted for.

Danny’s disappearance from our home state (and pretty much the face of the earth) was explained with the contents of a worn legal sized envelope.   A wad of old newspaper clippings from the 60s unfolded the story of what must have been a terribly painful chapter for one branch of our family. 

Mom note: I don’t think Aunt SueEllen cared a wink about “concealing” this family skeleton.  I really believe she just never got around to looking through this insurmountable pile of “stuff.” Besides, I don’t think “Danny” ever won any familial popularity contests.

At first glance under current  standards of morality, the whole ruckus seemed kinda silly. Danny hadn’t fallen into a mysterious sink hole or been filched by space monsters, he was in fact removed (relocated might be a nicer way to put it) for his own good.   To a modern observer, banishment could seem like an “over reaction” on the part of his staunchly Republican, cigar smoking, politically influential and highly conservative dad.  But once put into context the horrific story became crystal clear.

Let me explain

Revealed on those crumbly old pages was that daddy’s little darling was involved in one of those “Hippy sit-in protest things.” It was a distasteful act~ rife with disrespect of his family and their social standing.  But hey, come on, he was barely out of his teens. And, granted, this took place at Dad’s Alma Mater~ which Danny probably wasn’t smart enough to get into on his own merits (and thus rode the coattails of his father’s Magna-Cum-Status).

So what if Danny’s little “episode” was embarrassing to his family and mocked all that assured him the right to behave so ridiculously in the first place?  How could it have possibly been made into such a big deal?  Well, for that we look to the back story and the facts of the matter:   Danny’s father was very big in politics.  And as the History Channel now tells us the Cuban Missile Crisis  actually panned out to be a big deal…

Seriously?  Danny’s family all lived on farms in Indiana for Pete’s sake.  The Indy 500 sure was a far cry from Fidel’s rockets or those Kennedy boys.

The simple truth was that Danny was in a little deeper than a disruption at the country club. Seems ol’ Danny had always been quite the loose canon.  Growing up he could have been easily described as a boy of privilege who never really appreciated what had been handed to him.  He left small town Indiana for the fancy far away University at a time in history when free love and “self expression” squared off with a nasty oversees war. In those times the emotional gauge of our nation was running  hot.   Hair was long and even “peaceful” tempers were short.  The Indochina “conflict” in Vietnam was  devouring young men by the thousands. Meanwhile many of their own high school classmates were safely in dorm rooms on campus protesting for “peace.” Everything and everywhere was a powder keg politically.

Danny wanted a little attention, a shot at campus fame.

When he decided to join a league of “enlightened individuals who sought peace for the downtrodden” he was pledging allegiance with a bunch of other rich kids who were flirting with the 1960s era equivalent of the Taliban.  The “sit in” that they orchestrated at their prestigious University garnered national attention.  What soon followed involved arrests and charges of treason and other not-so-nice accusations. Danny put his own life and that of his family in real danger.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time Danny had made a “scene.”  He had rolled past several earlier brushes with the law. Petty little embarrassments like possession charges, under age drinking and reckless driving and motorboat operating.

Within family circles there were always whispers of some darker happenings too~about some poor girl at a party and Danny being…well…Danny.

I recall seeing him once when he was “secretly” within our state boundaries for my Great Grandpa’s birthday.  When I asked one of my young aunts who he was she commented:

“That’s Danny, he’s a real Creep. Stay clear of him if you know what I mean.” 

I didn’t know what she meant, but it sounded bad, so I took her at her word and stayed glued to my Dad’s side for the duration of the day’s festivities.

Turns out that my Uncle was able to pull some strings and cut a deal with the FBI.  Yes, I said that.  It went that far.  Indiana didn’t want him around, so it was agreed that Danny would be better suited to a life outside of the Hoosier state.  As far away as land could separate him, his dad sent him off to a remote little coast to set up trade as an asparagus farmer.  Back to his agricultural roots.  Somewhere far enough away from everybody else that he would have to “sit” pretty loudly for anyone to notice he was protesting something.  It was for his own good.  It kept him out of prison.

Stupid kid.  Powerful Dad.  Lucky break.  Sort of.

There are many ways a parent can lose a child.  All of them are dreadful.  No matter what the situation is, no matter how quick or protracted, the pain of losing a child  is said to be immeasurable.  I think that loosing one to their own hurtful decisions, choices, or madness is probably the worst loss of all of the unthinkable tragedies. No amount of help ever helps, they just keep on that troubled path, almost like they are made for hurting themselves and everyone around them.  As I see it, to be cast out by your family,  to be written off and sent permanently away, must bitterly sting at your marrow.  But to be the parent who is forced to take that desperate action, well…that truly must hold down the floor in one’s own earthly corner of hell.

After we found this info in the box, I did quite a bit of Google searching to see if there was any additional info around.  Crazy as it sounds, a bit of the court transcript is posted on the internet.  Also, the bunch of nuts he was running with at the time apparently still host “reunions” from time to time.  At least one of the guys involved is an avid blogger~go figure!   As far as I can tell, Danny’s still farming asparagus on that remote coast.  So Karl Danny, if you happen to read this and feel you want your side of the story told, it’s solely up to you cousin…you know what they say~

Maybe someone should write that down…