In Memoriam – Mike King 1961 – 1979

Boobie Linder, Andy Blowers, Mike King, Barry Linder, and Larry Morgan. This was the pic that Mrs. Jane took and loved so much.

Boobie Linder (also deceased), Andy Blowers, Mike King, Barry Linder, and Larry Morgan. This was the pic that Mrs. Jane took and loved so much.

One of the most memorable weekends of my childhood was Easter weekend of 1979, my senior year. It is 34 years ago this week. I will never forget that Easter Sunday when my family drove in our driveway from camping at some lake in Louisiana. The next few days would be my first brush with death. And, as far as death was concerned, it was probably in line with a massacre. In that little town of Watson where everyone is related in some fashion or other, we lost three fathers and two children in two separate drowning accidents. My best friend, Angie, lived next door to me, and her father and little brother drowned on a camping trip in South Louisiana along with two other men. For most of the weekend, I was tied up with Angie’s family as we were all very close. In the midst of dealing with this tragedy, another drowning tragedy ended the life of my cousin and schoolmate, Mike King. For years, I’ve wanted to go back and talk about the tragic events that happened that week as I was too young, too scared and too shocked to even know how to talk about it back then. Today, a SWAT team of counselors would have descended on the community to help people deal with such a loss of life in a tiny, rural town. But, back then, you just sucked it up and dealt with it. I remember being numb with grief. My friend, Tammie, contacted me about writing a memorial blog on Mike for his Mom, Mrs. Jane.

Mike is on the first row - second from the right.

Mike is on the first row – second from the right.

The Kings moved out to Watson from Baton Rouge because Mr. Roland had a Community Coffee delivery route in Livingston Parish. I don’t recall exactly what year Mike came to our school, but his friends Barry and Bryan can definitely recall the stir he made. Barry was his neighbor, and he says he still remembers the first day he saw him after he moved into their subdivision.  A group of neighborhood bandits were riding bikes, and Barry saw him in the yard with all this long hair. “Who the hell is that?” Barry thought. Well, as it turned out, it was Barry’s best friend. It wasn’t long before they spent all of their time together riding bikes, playing in the creek, fishing, swimming and talking about girls. They shared families, growing up much like brothers, eating meals together, visiting relatives on Sundays and causing mayhem in the neighborhood. Bryan, another one of my classmates, remembered Mike coming to our school. He was cute. He was a hit with the girls. He looked good in a pair of Wranglers. He could play basketball, football and baseball. What’s not to like? Well, to the local boys, this was not a welcome addition. One of our alpha male high schoolers, Earl, challenged him to an arm wrestling match at the last recess of the day. The crowd gathered around to see if this new boy had the right stuff – surely a challenge to see if he could fit in with the local boys. The entire recess went by, and neither boy won the match. Mike won the respect and eventually the love of pretty much the entire school.

Country boys played outside in those days. Riding bicycles, terrorizing the neighbors, playing all-on-all football and swimming in the nearby creeks were the way hours after school and on weekends were burned. Computers and cell phones didn’t exist. Television was around but not nearly so invasive as it is today. Hanging out with friends was the primary form of entertainment for growing boys, and they bonded and became pseudo-brothers along the way. Family lines blurred as many of us were related. But, even more than that, kids swapped houses, going to one house to eat an after school snack, another to play football and still another for dinner. Barry, Mike’s best friend and neighborhood brother, said they often would go from house to house to see who had the best meat for sandwiches. Mrs. Jane said she felt like a Mother to all of those boys. One day, she walked outside, and she saw that little band of brothers sitting outside, arms around each other, legs stacked together in those big platform shoes of the day. It was so cute, she went back in the house to get her camera. It was a picture she framed and kept in her house through the years to remind her of happier times.

Mike and Kris Sasso

Mike and Kris, the girlfriend I remember of Mike’s

I didn’t really know Mike all that well even though we were related. We ran in the same circles, so we knew each other. He was a gifted athlete, and I followed the athletic teams at school, particularly baseball. He was the quarterback of the football team. Barry asked me what I remembered most about Mike. Well…I laughed...I remember his tight little ass in those wrangler jeans and that blue baseball uniform. I mean – I was a teenage girl – what do you think I’d remember? I still have this very clear picture of Mike in my mind, holding a baseball bat dressed in that light blue baseball uniform. He turned around and was looking at us with that mischievous grin and those flashing brown eyes. He was as pretty as any girl I knew back in high school, and he probably would have winced to hear me say that.

Oh, yeah.....

Oh, yeah…..

Barry and Mike loved to swim in the creek behind their neighborhood. Unbeknownst to their parents, they had old shorts hidden in one of the trees back there. They’d strip down nekkid (in the country it’s called nekkid not naked), change into shorts and go swimming for hours. Then, they’d get dressed and go home as if it never happened. Mike loved the water. If he wasn’t on an athletic field, the creek was the place he wanted to be. One day a group of the neighborhood boys were playing in the creek, and Mike took off running and jumped over a beaver dam in the creek. He landed right on top of a broken bottle. The water turned red with blood. The cut was deep and jagged. They wrapped his foot, and one of the guys ran back and called Mike’s Mom, Mrs. Jane, to come to the bridge to pick him up. They jogged the whole way….and just kept saying…we have to get to the bridgewe have to get to the bridge. Mike was weak from the loss of blood by the time they got there.

Barry was with Mike when he had his first seizure. And, for all the time they lived next door to each other, Barry always prompted him about taking his anti-seizure medication. But, Mike didn’t like the medication. He said it made him groggy, and it slowed him down on the athletic field. At some point, Mike moved to another neighborhood, and Barry wasn’t there to be a mother hen about his medication. He got more and more sporadic about taking it. If you read about epilepsy on the internet, people with epilepsy are 19 times more likely to drown than people who don’t have seizures. But, we didn’t have the internet back then, and that research was probably not available. In hindsight, an epileptic with Mike’s love of the water was probably an accident waiting to happen.

“He was just one of those people that made everybody feel good, and he brought out the best in everybody,” Bryan said. “I loved Mike. Everybody did.” My sister, Susan, said Mike used to tease her all the time about having a bird nest in her massive curly hair. He’d come up behind her and start picking around in her hair and say something like, “Well, look. There’s an egg…and another one.”  Tammie said she and a group of friends used to hang out together at Mike’s house. “He was special, so sweet…..genuine. He loved Live Oak High, his friends, had a great, supportive family.”

According to Mrs. Jane, Mike learned to walk when he was 7 or 8 months old. About the same time, they taught him to throw the football. He had a thing for throwing things. In humid and hot Louisiana, most cars didn’t have air conditioning, so the windows were always rolled down to let the balmy summer air circulate. Mike would sit in the back seat with a pacifier in his mouth. Mrs. Jane said he would suck on it for awhile and then throw it out the window. “We went through more pacifiers,” she laughed. She said one of her favorite memories of Mike was when he got a pair of those clogs (platform shoes). Mr. Roland didn’t want to buy them, but Mrs. Jane knew he really wanted a pair, and everybody was wearing them. He started trying to walk in them, and he couldn’t. They laughed all afternoon watching him learn to walk in those shoes. “He had this thing he would do. He would come home from school, and I’d walk into the room. He’d pick me up and throw me on the couch and walk out of the room,” she laughed. “He never said a word. I don’t know why he did that.”

Mike is the third from the left.

Mike is the third from the left.

On that fatal Easter weekend, a group of local boys were camping. They were partying, mud-riding, fishing, and sitting by the campfire. It was a typical Louisiana country boy weekend. Most of the boys went mud-riding, but Mike stayed back. Bryan said they got the trucks stuck, and he came back to get Mike and go get some help. What he found haunts him to this day. Mike was face down in the shallow water. He pulled him out and went to get the other boys.  Mike had a Grand Mal seizure – only the second seizure he ever had – and drowned in shallow water. His boyhood friends, that band of brothers who laughed with him, played with him and loved him beyond measure, had to get help for the unthinkable, unimaginable, unfathomable event – death. Although we never talked about it until this week, I’ve always wondered what that was like for these kids…..and they were kids….playing at being men. It had to be the most tragic and awful moment of their boyhood lives. Barry spoke of the pain….the sound of pain in Mr. Roland’s  scream when he saw his son in a bodybag….the feeling of pain that Barry felt for months after that, knowing that his childhood friend was gone forever. “For a long time, I didn’t know what was night and what was day. I just kept seeing that night over and over again,” he said. “And we never talked about it after the funeral. Nobody wanted to talk about it.” We know now that talking about traumatic events is therapeutic, but back then there weren’t tools to enable people to process grief. And, for teenage boys, their feelings were all jumbled up in a mass of hormones and expectations. I can’t imagine their confusion about how to deal with this. And, of course, there was Mike’s family that lost a son all too soon. It was an event that changed so many people’s worlds – and their perception of the world – forever.

Mike and his family, Tonya (also deceased), Mrs. Jane, Brian and Mr. Roland

Mike and his family, Tonya (also deceased), Mrs. Jane, Bryan and Mr. Roland

Kathy, a schoolmate who wrote a poem for the family after Mike’s death, said, “Truth is that Mike was my first experience with death. As a voracious bookworm, reading and writing were my comfort zone … It’s how I tried to deal with bad things. I remember feeling numb from all the death.” My sister said she was embarrassed that she couldn’t cry at Mike’s funeral. “I had been so exhausted from the other funerals, I just didn’t have anything left,” she said. Every one of my schoolmates that I interviewed for this story said it was their first close experience with death. For Bryan, the night still haunts him. “I always wonder if there was something I could have done. I got scared and ran to get the others. I had never experienced anything like that. I didn’t know what to do.” It was obvious that the memories are still painful for him. Barry said Mike had long been gone by the time they got there, so there was nothing Bryan could have done to change the outcome.

Barry - the next school year

Barry – the next school year

“We were fearless,” Barry said. “After that, it all changed. So much pain happened. Everybody went away. It woke me up. Brought me down to earth….Death never entered my mind. We were not invincible. For a long time, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The memories were always there.” Of course, the King family was devastated. Mrs. Jane said that before Mike’s death, their marriage was unraveling. They partied too much. Faith was not a big part of their lives. When the funeral was over, the family was sitting around the living room in silence. Mr. Roland said God spoke to him and told him that Mike was taken so that they would come back to Him. “It changed our lives completely,” Mrs. Jane said. They started going to church. They found a grounding faith in Christianity that sustained them through this terrible tragedy and the future death of their daughter in later years. Mr. Roland taught Sunday School for boys that were Mike’s age. They were able to put their marriage on a better course, and they celebrated 52 years of marriage before Mr. Roland died. Interestingly, Mike had gotten baptized a few months before his death at Amite Baptist Church. He never told his parents. They found the Baptismal Certificate when they were going through his things.IMG_2865

Mike loved this pair of jeans that had a big hole in the pocket worn from a Skoal can. Mrs. Jane said she always kept those jeans clean because he wanted to wear them all the time. That’s the jeans I remember. When my friend Tammie sent some pictures for this blog, there was a picture of his cute ass in those jeans. I obviously wasn’t the only one that remembered. They buried him in those jeans so that he could wear them for eternity. He also loved music. Barry helped him install a stereo system in his car. It was state-of-the-art. He had an 8-track player under the dash and 6 x 9 co-axial speakers. His favorite song was Toto’s Hold the Line. Barry said he can still see him, pretending to play the guitar, drumming on the dashboard like they all did when a great song played. He laughed, “I heard that song over and over…he just kept playing it over and over all the time. Every time I’d hear that song for years, I’d think of Mike.”

As I talked to Barry, the accident in the creek haunted me. In hindsight, could it have been some type of foreboding about the hidden dangers of water. Ironically, the area where Mike died was right where that creek dumped out into the Amite River. Mrs. Jane said that every time she crossed that bridge for a long time after his death, she’d look over there for ….. something. Mike lived hard and fast and wanted to be free…to be free of lethargy-causing medications, restrictions and fear. He loved the water. He loved movement and energy and the feeling of being an athlete in competition. He loved his boyhood friends. We were robbed of the opportunity to see the man Mike might have become. He would have turned 52 this year. Bryan said he can imagine that Mike would be the one with a bunch of kids, and his house would probably be the house where everybody went for parties.  I’m sure Mike would have had his unique share of struggles and tragedies just as the rest of us have. I would like to have caught up with him the last time I was home. If I could get my wish, I hope that Mike is somewhere in a country heaven with a beautiful creek where pain and loss don’t exist. I hope the music that plays every day is that old time rock and roll that he loved, and I hope he visits with us from time to time from behind the veil. When he runs, I hope he is fast and feels free and alive. I hope he’s wearing those tight little jeans and flashing those big brown eyes for all the gals up there to see. And, above all, I hope he has something better than an eight-track tape player. I think he’d probably like that.

He loved music. Mrs. Jane saved these concert ticket stubs.

He loved music. Mrs. Jane saved these concert ticket stubs.

I’ll end with the poem written by Kathy Lentz for Mike’s family. Mrs. Jane keeps it in her Bible. I’ve also included a link to the song Fire and Rain by James Taylor. Bryan said every time he hears that song he thinks of Mike. If you have stories or remembrances of Mike, please feel free to leave them in the comments section of this blog as a gift to Mrs. Jane. RIP Mike.

NOTE: A special thanks to Tammie Horner Hill, Barry Linder, Bryan Cowart, Mrs. Jane King and Kathy Lentz Aucoin for their thoughts, memories and stories of this very special young man. I hope this is a comfort to all who remember him.

For Mike

by Kathy Lentz Aucoin – April 16, 1979

Those of us who knew him, 
Never will release, 
The happiness he brought to us,
But now he has his peace.

Remember him for who he was, 
And don't cry when you hear his name,
For I consider him lucky,
For now he feels no pain.

Those of us who loved him,
In our hearts we know,
That God wanted Mike with him, 
He said it was time to go.

Mike heard his call,
For him God had sent,
And now everyone is crying,
Just because he went.

Remember not the bad times,
Even though there weren't many,
Remember just the good,
Of which there were plenty.

Remember him like I do,
Happy and full of love,
Think of him as he is now, 
Watching us from above.

God is with him this very minute,
Today and Tonight,
It makes me feel so much safer,
Because we all loved Mike.

Feel not worthless,
Because he is not near,
Just look toward a reunion,
When the voice of God and Mike we'll hear.

For of this day, 
I am sure of one thing,
In Heaven very happy now, 
Is Michael Keith King.

77 thoughts on “In Memoriam – Mike King 1961 – 1979

  1. Sharron, that was an awesome story about Mike, Gone but Never Forgotten.
    I had just pulled out my High School Memory book two days ago looking for pictures after Kathy had posted on FB about May Day, when I ran across a few news clippings I had of him along with that poem. Those few moments I had of reminiscing were just completed after reading your blog. 🙂

    • And, by the way, Alisa. You are one of those special girls that I remember from high school. You were a few years younger, but I was crazy about you and Lynn. I think we hung out a bit, and I’m just so thrilled to catch back up with you on Facebook. You were the prettiest little thing ever! And, you still have that glint in your eye!

  2. Sharon, this is so beautifully written; I was sobbing mid-way through it. As a mother who has also lost her seventeen year old son, I can tell you one of the biggest fears we have is that our beautiful sons will be forgotten. A beautiful tribute to your handsome cousin. Ok, he really did look good in those jeans. A nice story of reconciliation with God and spirituality by your aunt and uncle. For me, well, I cursed God for a little over two years…. I had hoped that spiritual “church” upbringing would have brought comfort, but it really just made me madder during those days how a loving God could do this.
    Bless you for this lovely recollection of your sweet boy cousin.
    The tears were the good kind by the way! Healthy ones.

    • Thank you for your comments, Reneau. I am so sorry for the loss of your son. And, I know that God handles our anger and lets us go at Him if we need to. It’s only human, and I can imagine how angry you must have been. Mrs. Jane said she was glad I was doing this because she didn’t know if people even remembered Mike this long ago. I could tell her with an emphatic YES that he made a difference, and he was well remembered…cute ass and all. I know your son is remembered and loved. It’s probably very little comfort, but I know he is.

  3. Sharon,
    Thank you so much for posting this. You definitely have a gift. This brings back so many memories. I remember that week well, although a lot of it I have not thought of in many years.

    First, let me say that I was as devastated as everyone else was when I found out about Mike’s death. Yet, I realize that at the time all I felt was numbness. I had never really grieved for my classmate, my teammate, my friend. Until today. I am a guy who is emotional, but does not let that out very often. I sat here and read this and the tears flowed like rain. This touched me very deeply.

    I remember Mike as one of the funniest, fun loving people from the old days. He was a great friend to everyone. He was one of the most talented athletes I have ever seen. We played football and were on the track team together and I saw him do some amazing things. But most of all, he was just Mike. Goofy, funny, a laid back guy who just loved life.

    I remember those platform shoes that he seemed to wear to school everyday. The perennial picture in my mind of him is wearing those jeans, platform shoes and all, with an ever present dip in his mouth. He had a smile and a laugh that could make you glad, no matter how low you were feeling.

    My favorite memory of Mike is the day we were all working out in the old weight room, which was in the other end of the old gym from the shop. Somebody (I think it was James Womack) found a “men’s magazine” someone had stashed in there. It had a life size centerfold. After ogling it and laughing about it like teenage boys are want to do, Mike King decided that it would be the best joke ever to do something with it. We all watched in amazement as Mike climbed the back side of the wall between the weight room and the shop, a good 30 or 40 feet, and hung it over the wall so you could see it from the wood shop. Then he climbed back down and we all hauled ass out of there. I don’t know who got up there and got it down, but the next morning when we went to shop class, it was gone.

    You are right on about the transformation that Mike’s death had for Roland and Jane and their family. I was one of those teenage boys Mike’s age that Roland taught in Sunday School at Amite Church. He was very rough around the edges, but he had a heart the size of Texas that I still remember to this day.

    Thank you again my friend.

    • What a great tribute to Mike and Mr. Roland. Thank you for sharing those stories. You crazy boys!!! That’s a funny story about the magazine. Maybe somebody reading will be the one that took it down and we can hear “the rest of the story.” I thought about writing this after I went through the yearbooks for the last Watson blog, but I didn’t know if it would be helpful or just drag up painful stuff. When Tammie pinged me and asked if I would be willing to do it, I took it as a sign that I should do it. Mrs. Jane was thrilled, and we talked for an hour and 45 minutes about her memories, her family and her son. I hope that our community can grieve this because I don’t think we were able to at the time. Thanks so much for your thoughts and memories.

  4. Thanks for this story, Sharon. You know, I think of Mike often. He was one of the really nice ones at school. He was nice to everyone.

  5. Sharon,
    I think you did a great job. Your story about Mike brings back so many memories good and bad. Like Robbie said I still feel the pain. I hope this will make Mrs. Jane will smile like she used to.

    Thanks,
    Barry

    • Thanks so much, Barry. Listening to you share your stories about your best bud warmed my heart. I have often felt I would like to go back to that week and relive it as an adult because I realize now how to process it. Writing this helped me feel like I did.

  6. Thank you for posting this blog. It brings back so many memories of those years. Mike has not been forgotten and neither have any of the other classmates/schoolmates during those years.

  7. I don’t remember Mike that well, but I remember Ray Don talking about him often, and I knew Mr. Roland and Mrs. Jane later through Ray Don. As a mother who has lost a son at age 19 years, I know the fear that he has been forgotten. Then you see someone that says “I went to visit Beau the other day” and that just does something to your heart. He hasn’t been forgotten!

    This was so beautifully written that I had tears flowing down my face; he seemed to be so much like Beau, that I wish his friends would read it and then maybe they too could grieve and know that is was ok.

    Bobbie Ott

    • I am so sorry about the loss of your son, Bobbie. I didn’t know. I just can’t imagine what that is like. I think his classmates will remember him forever with fondness, and I imagine he AND his death taught them more than you may ever know. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  8. Posted via Facebook:

    Toni Carter Pearson – Was just thinking about Mike the other day. The King family was an amazing family. I remember the day they started at LO. Will never forget this family.

    Darren Thornton – I remember some of the Kings, but not him. My brother’s written about playing on Live Oak’s first football team. They weren’t doing so well during the first half. After Coach Davis’ halftime pep talk, they won the game!

    Lauren Bennett -This took my breath away! We moved to Gods country with 4 children in 1984. Got involved with school & sports & church. Heard a lot of names with long Watson history & respected that tradition. Stayed very involved in community & sports through our 3 sons ., he youngest was on a ball field at 5 days old. He too grew up Like Mike & a lot of good ole country boys. My children graduated from L.O.H. in 1993, 1996,1998 & 2000. They still have live long friends from others who were older or younger than them. In Dec. 2005, Darren was with several friends catching up on school days. He drove his motorcycle too fast in a curve on Cane Market Rd. Like Mike.. the leader of the pack& ladies man & class crazy was never coming back to plan a party or coach a game. Watson has some young people who lived large for their young years & will always have someone to tell a story about the difference this one person made to so many. Its part of Gods plan. I am a blessed mother to still be greeted as Darren’s mom or Jacobs mom & & then reminded of a story that only home town country could appriciate!

    Susan Bankston Nesom – What a great article! I don’t know the family, but, wow, nice to know he is still honored on the roster!

    Myrtle Anne Blowers – What a beautiful memorial written of Mike !!What wonderful memories , The Blowers family has of The King family. They lived across the street from us in Lynda Lea Subdivison I remember the day they moved in ,the door bell rang, I opened the door and mike said , Hi we just moved in ,I invited him in and that was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with our family’s.Mike was a fast mover it was about a week later I went to the door, he was standing in front of our picture window, he said I have something for you ,and held out a cigar band, and said with this big smile said, will you marry me ?? We both fell out laughing and he was like one of my kids from then on . Oh how he enjoyed life and we enjoyed being a part of his. They were a big part of our lives,along with the rest of the bunch on the Church Rd, and in the Sub . Roland ,Jane,Jerry and I remained friends ,along with all of our children ,Jane has gone through lots of pain, and we both have lost our husbands, but we both know it is GOD who has seen us through all things.

    Redgie Davis – What a great story Kathy ! Thanks so much for sharing that… I moved to Watson in 79. He was older, and I may have never met him, but then again I may have, I did know Boobie Linder and a few others in the article …….. (to Kathy Lentz Aucoin) It’s people like you that keep that little town a little town…..no matter how much the town grows, it’s the love that we all have and share for each other that keeps it in that small town USA way…….Thanks for sharing this story, and keeping the rest of us grounded in that small town way !!!!!!!

    Melinda Renfrow – That was truly an awesome tribute to Mike it made me laugh and cry and brought back many many wonderful memories thanks for sharing

    Randy Ott – was a great friend 4 ever n my heart

    Richard Aucoin – The majority of my memories of Mike are from our childhood together before either of us lived in Watson. We were cousins, some how or another and had roots in Watson although we lived in North Baton Rouge. He lived on one street and I lived on another, but there was only one house between mine and his. There was rarely a day that we weren’t together riding bikes or playing every sport that we knew. Sometimes, when Mr. Roland would let us, we rode motorcycles in their side yard. For the most part, I lost track of Mike and his family when they moved to Watson. I still ran into him occasionally when we were in Watson visiting family. (something people used to do.) But, time had passed and we weren’t as close as we were as little kids. We each had made new friends that occupied our time. When my family finally came home to Watson, it was very shortly after Mike’s death. I still feel bad about missing the opportunity to renew our old friendship.

  9. Sharon, Thanks for the story. I was supposed to have been with them that night and at the last minute dad had picked up some extra work and I had to stay home and help him the next morning. I’ll never forget the empty feeling I experienced as one of my best friends was no longer around. Mike and I had become very close through Basketball and the long bus rides to and from games. After Mike died Mr Roland came and asked me to help him coach Bryan’s Baseball team in Mikes place (Mike was supposed to help him that summer of ’79). That’s how I got into coaching. 34 years later and I’m still coaching, all because of a friend that we all dearly loved in HS. .

    • What a great legacy! Thanks so much for reading and sharing that! Mrs. Jane wondered if people remembered him after all this time. He changed people’s lives! I suspect we all do in some fashion or other. It’s a web…;-)

  10. Beautiful! I still miss him. Such a terrible tragedy to strike someone so absolutely full of life. I pray that his parents have found some comfort in the words of his friends. Mike was a very special person, and it would be terribly ironic if Mrs. Jane somehow did not know all that he meant to each and every one of us.

  11. Sharon, I remember the morning the phone rang. I can’t for the life of me remember who called, (it was either Trudy or Gena) but the caller told me, “Mike’s gone.” I could not wrap my mind around what that meant. I asked, “What do you mean? Is he missing? Did he run away? What’s happened?” The caller said, “He has passed away!” I remember feeling cold from my head to my feet. At 18 and a senior, I had never experienced the death of a friend. That was the most awful, empty feeling. I can still see his locker as we walked past it. Everybody always got so quiet and stared at it as we neared it. I remember Amite church, where the wake was held, was packed; I mean packed. I had never in my whole life seen so many people, most of Live Oak High, at one place at one time. Ii seems like I was with Artie, Lisa, Mark Singleton (I think), and Chance West (who is now gone). When we got back in the car after the burial, we all rode in silence for the longest.
    I often think back on that day. I wonder what would have been. I wonder how things would be had this horrible day not happened. I do know one thing: our childhood innocence was taken away from us that fateful day, and we all realized that we were not invincible anymore.
    Thank you for the wonderful memories. I smiled, I laughed, and I cried.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Bridgette. In a perfect world, children should never have to attend the funerals of other children. But, it’s just not that way. I know this has been very healing for me to do this and to now hear from my community at that time. Finally talking about it helps me. It was forever a place in my life where I wondered how everyone else felt, but I was afraid to ask…afraid to make them cry….afraid to make them hurt. Now, I know we probably all needed to talk about it desperately.

  12. Sharon this article brought me back to that weekend of all these tragedies. I can still remember hearing about Angie’s dad and little brother then Mike! I have a few memories of Angie’s brother Johnny those memories are of a little mischievous boy. I have more memories of Mike. It was so hard to understand at the time or make sense of these tragedies. I also lost my youngest son Jeremy six years ago from an automobile accident. It has been the hardest think I have ever endured in my life. But how happy it makes me when I hear a story about Jeremy! Im sure Mike’s mom feels the same. I think it’s difficult sometimes to talk about sometime but when someone tells you a story about a lost loved one it makes you feel like your child or loved one is remembered. I believe we are all blessed to have grown up in our small town where we knew everyone. Sharon some of my best childhood memories are times with you. Thank you so much for this story. It brought tears but also made me smile!

    Take care my friend!

    • Thank you, Susan, for reading and commenting. I had no idea so many people I knew have lost children. Life is just so unfair sometimes. I, too, remember spending late nights at your house, talking about boys and just causing general mayhem. I’m sure Mike was among those conversations. You are very dear…both you and Debbie. I hope to see you sometime in the near future. We should plan a girls weekend with all of us gals who used to hang out. I know it will probably never happen, but I’d love to think how fun it would be! Love you…do you still have those fabulous damn eyelashes I used to envy?

  13. Sharon, you made an A++++, you carried us back to one of the most memorable and treasured times in our lives, simple, easy, fun times. Helped us remember a dear friend, so full of life. As I read this story, I could see Mike laughing, smiling, hear his voice, see him walking down the hall at school. What you’ve done here through your writing, is give each and everyone of us therapy, long overdue. Creating a way for everyone to tell his or her story about Mike, paying our respects one more time. He was loved by so many. The comments, memories, stories and love that this everyone has shared will help Mrs. Jane get through tomorrow. Thank you so much.

  14. To Kathy Lentz Aucoin via Facebook:

    Bill Sibley – Kathy, I pray Live Oak will always keep that number retired. I have always wondered if a new administrator or AD ever came in (not knowing the circumstance) would they in inadvertently let a player use that number. I hope it always stays retired. thanks for posting

    Sherry Quirk Stewart – Wow what a wonderful memorial of Mike. I was one of those neighborhood kids that grew up with Mike. I loved him so much. My best friend Penny and Mike Allen and I hung with Mike all the time. We use to have so much fun!!! So many wonderful memories !! I loved his mom and dad too. Great people. I could sit here and write for hours of things the four of us did together !! But one of my greatest memories of mike is him picking me up on his bike and riding me on the handlebars to my friends house, just talking and laughing! He was so fun. He could always keep you laughing. My son was born on the day Mike passed away in 1982 . So I always remember Mike .

  15. Shared via Facebook:
    Jean Anne Easterly Brooks – Sharon & Kathy, Thanks so much for sharing and writing this. I had the honor of being one his classmates. I also had the honor of being his friend. Mike was one of those people that was loved by everyone. Such a gifted athlete and a true friend. I think of him often with such fond memories. His death affected everyone that knew him. I remember him wearing the #7 to this day. He wore it well and with so much pride along with those wrangler jeans and of course the platform shoes. Anyone who knew him would agree that number should remain retired. No one could ever wear it the way that he did. He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.

  16. Sharon ~ I started reading your blog this morning while waiting on my coffee to make. I had to sit down in the rocker to get through all the emotions that rose to the surface. I could hear Mike’s laugh, I definitely smiled when I remembered those wranglers 🙂 I felt the shock of the moment I heard the news. My heart panicked again for Barry & Bryan. I never quite understood how they got through the horror of finding their best friend gone like that. Time stopped that day and yes, we all lost the innocence of our teenage years. I remembered others that we all have lost way too soon. I thought about all the mothers who have had to endure the pain that Mrs. Jane did that day. God will surely Bless their suffering.
    Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with us all. The memories we all share, good times and bad, will be a bond that ties us all together…always!

    • Thanks for reading, Denise. Writing this one has certainly been a labor of love. It took two weeks. Talking to Barry, Mrs. Jane and Bryan were hightlights….hearing them share so deeply from the heart of their love for young man. I felt very honored to do the work. I know Mike was there with me as I wrote. And, I know he is here, laughing and crying with us all today. I’m afraid I’m not getting much work done. 🙂

  17. Several memories came back to me as I read your memorial to Mike. The first was a memory of hanging out at the place we all used to call Peno’s, which was nothing more than a gravel truck stop/parking lot on Hwy. 16 where we all used to go to “hang out.” I had recently purchased my first car – a Toyota Celica and Tony had built a box with 4-5 speakers in it that fit across the back of the hatchback. Mike came to sit in the car with me and listen to the music. It was the only time that I was ever alone with Mike and we didn’t talk much but it is a memory that has always stayed with me. He was such a good looking guy with those gorgeous brown eyes and that smile that lit up his whole face. Such a sweet soul taken from us way too soon. I also remember the overwhelming grief felt from the loss of Tony’s dad, Mr. Barney and little brother, Johnny. Sharon, you are right in your comment that none of us knew how to deal with that kind of loss and trauma. I just remember feeling numb and just struggling to get through it. It also brought to mind another young person that we lost too soon – Marla Penn. We will all have a great reunion one day!

    • Yes, we will have a great reunion! You are not the first person to mention Marla today. She was older, and I did not know her, but I know she was undeniably loved. Thanks so much for sharing your memory of Mike. That sounds like a nice moment, and the way you described, I can see both of you perfectly in my mind. Are you sure it wasn’t Wino’s???

      • Bonni, I remember that Celica. I could see Mike sitting on the passenger side, door ajar, one leg extended out the door and the other leg bent as he propped an elbow on the console. And the music was LOUD (possibly even Pink Floyd).
        And yes, Sharon it was Wino’s. That was Tommy Horner’s favorite place to take me on a date. (Thank God, my momma never knew:)

      • Haha…I love it that we called that place Wino’s…all this talk is bringing back so many memories that I’d long since thought I’d forgotten. When Bryan talked about that arm wrestling match, I first didn’t remember it. Then, it all came rushing back…the anticipation and talk before recess…the crowd gathering…the match that just ended with no winner.

    • I remember Marla Penn. She was so pretty and smart. She and another girl whose name I can’t recall right now could not get into my honors English class because of scheduling conflicts, so I taught them the honors course in a regular class. Really, they did the work themselves. So sad. What happened?

      • She was killed in a car accident. I don’t really know the details but I know my cousin -of course- Rexine Chandler, was with her. I think there were some other kids, too.

      • Thanks, Sharon. I remember Rexine, too. I hate to hear about all these tragic deaths among my students. Were Rexine and the other kids ok as far as you know?

      • Marla was older than me, but I remember seeing her in a yearbook and becoming in awe over her beauty. I dont’ think I was in high school yet when I became fasinated with her and wanted to be just like her. If I’m not mistaken she had won Miss Live Oak beauty pageant queen.( You all know I loved pageants) I talked to people to hear her story. I was told she was so full of life, friendly, and smart, then her life ended in a tragic car accident inwhich 5 friends were traveling down Hwy 16 (i think near the baseball park) and didn’t make a curve. I believe one of the Edelmann brothers was also in the vehicle. That story was told to me so many years ago, I hope that I have it correct. I kept that story in my mind throughout my vunerable years and also told my daughters about her in order to confirm that no matter how wonderful we are we are never invincible. I didn’t know her, but she made an impact on my life.
        I hope I’m not out of line posting this here, but since her name was brought up, I wanted to share my experience about her.

  18. Sharon, thanks very much for writing this tribute about Mike and our family. Beautifully written. It made me cry tears of joy that so many classmates, friends and teachers remember Mike and loved him. I want to thank everyone for taking time to share their personal memories. 34 years ago, I was in shock, grieving, didn’t realize how much Mike touched everyone. He was a true joy and had a love for life. I know how you parents that have lost a child feel, and believe me talking, remembering and,thinking about that child keeps me going. I never realized that I’d lose another child 27 years later, but having such wonderful memories of Mike and Tonya have blessed me. They were both born 2 years apart on November 6th. Knowing that they are in heaven with Roland at their side comforts me. May God Bless each and every one of you. Thanks again, Love, Mrs. Jane.

    • Mrs. Jane….I know Mike had a party today with all of his old friends, laughing and crying with us. I’m so glad you embraced it, and I’m thrilled to have had a lovely long conversation with you, my new friend. Hugs….you and your family members are truly, truly loved no matter what plane they are on right now. That is a precious gift! I am glad to have been a part of this.

  19. I wanted to share this memory that I have of Mike. This was my last year at what we now call the high school. I was in the first grade. We had an old tin building that we would go and get our cokes and chips from right next to the lunch room. I remember putting my money in for a coke. Well the machine wouldn’t give me my coke and I just stood there looking at it. Now remember I was in the first grade now. So Mike walked up along side me and he asked me what was wrong. I told him… it won’t give me my coke. I remember him shaking the machine, him grinning then putting more money in the machine and out came a coke. I remember looking up at him us smiling at each other. I said thank you and away we went. I remember how nice and cute he was. Yes even a little kid like me knew about cute. The next memory I have of Mike was sitting in my classroom looking out the window and being sad. The school was very quiet almost nobody there that day.

  20. From Facebook –
    Tammy Penn – Sharon , you did a great job with this story ! I have not been able to get all the way through story because my eyes are too full of tears ! I miss that guy and all the fun times we all had in high school ! Thanks for bringing it all back ! Love ya !

  21. From Facebook:
    Janet Nicholson Zimmerman – Sharon, that is a rich and beautiful memorial to your cousin Mike. That will be a lasting gift to his mom, to all of his other loved ones who have not forgotten him, and to his many friends.
    Sharon K King – Thanks for reading, Janet. He was a great guy.
    Curtis Miley – Good job Sharon–Very good!
    Sharon K King – Thanks, Curtis. I was looking through an old yearbook the other day while I was doing this and saw where you signed my yearbook. Brought back good memories.
    Lori Ott – Thanks for yet another smile memory. When I think of Mikey I always smile. Chocolate cake and four leaf clovers remind me of my dear friend. Loved him and his family so much. Mary Jane and RoeRoe were so supportive to us I think they helped us grie…See More
    Sharon K King – Thanks, Lori!!
    Bridgette Linder Ott – Once again Sharon, I very great story, its like the show Wounder Years that came on t.v. Growing up back then, we had it so good in Watson and all we wanted to do is
    Sharon K King – Thanks, Bridgette Linder Ott. Sometimes it feels like it was all a dream.

  22. That is exactly what it feels like to me…one huge dream. One that I wish I could go to sleep and relive all over again. Wonderful memories of Watson. We were so blessed to have lived in such a small community where everyone knew each other and obviously even though we may not have realized it then, truly cared for each other.

  23. Sharon, you are right. It was Wino’s. I was thinking about it all last night when it came to me. Peno’s, of course, was the hardware. That parking lot would be full on Friday and Saturday nights. The people in the wreck with Marla were Rexine Chandler, David Bailey and Mike Sylvest, a guy that Marla was dating at the time. They were in Rexine’s Volkswagon Beetle. I remember the night so well. It was during the time that we had the Eagle’s Nest and I remember all the police/emergency vehicles flying up Hwy. 16. Of course back then we knew that if something happened it most likely involved someone we knew so a bunch of us went to find out what had happened. One of those tragic memories that never leaves you. Thank you for writing the memorial. It has touched many hearts and brought back a lot of good memories.

  24. Reblogged this on Midlife Moments and commented:

    My friend Tammie approached me about writing this blog for my cousin Mike’s Mom. The anniversary of his death was coming up. I had a great time interviewing some of my childhood friends and working with Mrs. Jane and Tammie to get pics together. After it published, Mrs. Jane called me and said she would read it everyday to read the comments that everyone posted. It gave her great joy to see how beloved and revered her son was. I couldn’t wait to see her once I got here, but she died the week I got down. I was so glad we did this when we did it. They can all read it together now from heaven.

  25. That was such a sad time at Live Oak. I have thought of Mike many times since school. I remember him from track practice and I remember having to bring him home when he forgot his track shoes! I considered him a good friend. He was always so happy and smiling and comical:) Thanks Sharon for the trip down memory lane! Sorry to hear about Mrs. Jane also.

  26. I saw mike 1 day before the day he died & when I saw him that day I shook hands with him. that was the first time & the only time that happened & the next day that was when I heard that he died. when mike shook hands with me he also knew that was the first time & the only time & I had a strange feeling something was going to happen to him & I could not put my finger on it.

    • I’ve heard so many people say that they had a feeling … and that Mike knew … that his death was imminent or that something powerful was about to change. I’m glad you were able to connect in that way.

  27. today is the 35th anniversary of mike king,s death. my sister sherry,s son dean is 32 years old today. by a strange coincidence, my aunt phoebie,s mama passed away 32 years ago today at age 62. my aunt phoebie is going to be 73 years old on july 8 of this year.

  28. today would have been mike king,s 53rd birthday. today also would have been mikes sister tonya,s 51st birthday. today is also my brother jonathan,s 45th birthday. today is also rob Robert,s 67th birthday. this is the sixth birthday he has had since his wife Karen passed away in 2008. Karen is my brother jonathan,s mama,s sister.

  29. today is the 36th anniversary of mike king,s death. today is also the 33rd anniversary of my aunt phoebie,s mama,s death & today is my sister sherry quirk stewart,s son dean,s 33rd birthday.

  30. Sharon you are right about that. I am sentimental about birthdays, anniversaries & important dates. I have a friend on facebook. her name is eva morgan. I met her on September 11 1973 after she became my friend on facebook I reminded her she made my day on September 30 1974 & she said if she did make my day, she hopes it was not in a bad way. by the way, it was not in a bad way. she also made my day on November 23 1974.

  31. This is so well written, so descriptive, you have me crying because your words and the pictures make me feel the loss of this beautiful person. The poem says Mike is in heaven, looking down on all of you, Well I’d like to believe he’s seeing your post and saying , “Well done, Sharon.” Thank you so much for sharing Mike with us.

  32. today is the 38th anniversary of mike king,s death & today would have been the 108 birthday of annie lee miley.her grandson david miley passed away one week ago yesterday. he was 58 years old.

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