Ron Alberico chats with Cory Becker
Ron: Well, Cory, perhaps one of the most ironic and tragic splittee stories occurred when I was Director of Oakland and got a wake-up call at 6:00 a.m.. The folks at the Connect wanted to know what they should do about the newcomer who was stone dead — stuck in the produce elevator at the street level with both steel doors closed on him, which of course led to his death. Quite a surprise to pedestrians on their way to work.
Never understood why so few folks believed that Synanon’s doors were open —no locks 24/7 — and they could just walk out, rather than these elaborate and macabre escape attempts.
Not long afterwards, a bizarre nutcase escaped out a fourth floor window, riding her favorite pillow and landing on one of our new jitneys, blowing out the windows and shocking the folks waiting for a ride to our apartment complex. Some were heard to say, “Later for this, dude, I’ll walk to the apartments” — through downtown Oakland, where gunshots, robbers, muggers seemed like a safer alternative to flying splittees! That woman was hospitalized with two broken legs but survived that four-story fall. Amazing!
We all remember well CED’s admonition to all splittees who left while still very much whacked out: “Go for it. You will walk out the door and fall down the first manhole you come to.” I am not sure even he imagined the bizarre variations that character disorders would create on that theme, flying out the windows, actually being killed by a large manhole unwilling to allow an escape with yesterday’s rotting lettuce in an attempt out of a manhole.. In a nine-month period, those two plus an 18-year-old jumper who got to the 12th floor balcony and threatened to jump during Sunday dinner if we didn’t allow her to join her boyfriend who had been sent to Santa Monica. I am certain I had some supernatural help that night talking her off of the balcony, 12 floors above Clay Street. It’s amazing what we experienced in a day’s work and how going on pure gut instinct saved lives. I find it difficult to explain any of the hundreds of situations I experienced over 18 years without tenure, 37 degrees, and doctorates to folks who look at me like I just arrived from another planet. Well, you know I guess I did.
Cory: Ron, this is great. Thank you. I remember those incidents! Especially that first incident because Leon had to go down to the morgue and identify the body. Leon told me after, that as soon as they pulled the sheet aside, he was so flabbergasted that he blurted out “Oh you asshole!”. The morgue attendant was somewhat nonplussed at this response. As I recall, his first name was Martin, his last name was something like Tooey or Touhy, and he came from a prominent Detroit family. I believe he had actually split earlier with Jacqui (?) Grubbs (Arnold Abbot’s former girlfriend). Martin was more than likely trying to get back inside Synanon to steal something. What I remember is he pried open the metal doors on the sidewalk, and as he tried to descend into the basement, the doors snapped shut on his neck, leaving his head sticking out of the sidewalk. When his family was given the bad news, they were sure he was trying to return to Synanon for help. A lot of bad jokes went around Synanon at the time, such as “Martin, let me drop something on you.”
Ron: Yes, I definitely remember all of the gallows humor around the Martin incident. “Gee, Martin, you’ve sure looked better. Why are you so blue?” They were merciless.
I Will never forget. It was in equal portions exhilarating, exciting, fun from 1958 thru 1976 and a tremendous learning trip. Equally terrifying and unpredictable from 1976 to its closing by the IRS in 1990.
I split in the Summer of 1984, I believe it was in 1995 I drove up to the Homeplace property it was fenced and locked of course. Not one to be deterred I got in and toured the lodge and CED’s wing. I will never forget the feelings of sadness I had seeing desks, papers, files, that looked like someone left in a great hurry, leaving everything exactly as it was in 1990. How did such an incredible adventure into communal harmony and learning crash and burn.
After many years I have finally resolved it all and I am at peace with that period of my life.