Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mount Carmel, after the fire: Part 6, Grandma

When I left Mount Carmel, it was for five days of frivolity. My grandmother is what they used to call “a notable clubwoman”. Every year she and her friends used to have a holiday season. I would attend luncheons in nice homes, club meetings, dine in state, and, near the end of the visit, dance with grandfathers in tuxes at their Christmas Ball. In the meantime, my husband amused himself by bringing in a paycheck and cooking things I don’t like to smell, such as liver and onions.

So, I would let her choose my dress and jewelry, and out we’d go. None of these Texas ladies I met would have shirked her duty at the mission walls, although, like all Dallas ladies of that generation, they would have been well-groomed for the event. I didn’t get any whiff of Alamo Syndrome.

One night we were taking a break from big doings and the food that makes elderly ladies celebratory but faintly nauseous afterward. I told my grandmother that I’d spent an afternoon at the site of David Koresh’s conflagration. That I’d learned that the news would rather tell a story than the truth. That people worry about their faith.

“Well, my gosh, honey,” she disapproved. “I wouldn’t think you’d need to go there to know that.”
“Well, I did have to go.” I told her about it. She shook her head, slowly.

“The world is so full of evil, I don’t know how you young people are going to manage.”

“Well, Grandma, you lived through the Depression,” I reminded her. “You lived through World War II. Your sister died of tuberculosis, and you and Grandpa nearly died in a ship fire. I don’t see that the challenges we have are any worse than that.”

“Well, that’s true,” she said, brightening up. I finished parboiling chicken breasts and added the broccoli. A couple more minutes, and her digestion would be in a better place.

“Did I ever tell you about the time I was almost taken by a masher in front of a speakeasy?”

“No, really?” She told me stuff I never got to learn as a kid. She was almost kidnapped into what was called white slavery. Now it’s called human trafficking or forced prostitution. Mostly I think she was afraid, running around Chicago after dark, alone, to meet some guy in a bar. But you never know: grandmothers do crazy things when they're young. Sometimes longer.

The chicken was a definite hit. We were eating it while we were watching Jeopardy!

“You know, Grandma, I don’t think the end times are near, either.”
“I don’t think about the end times,” she said. “I just pray for all of you every night.”


Capt. Schmoe said...

A tragic event (Mt. Carmel of course) for the state of Texas and our Nation. In an earlier post, I mentioned that I worked alongside ATF on a few things back in the day.

While partnered up with a senior agent from a nearby field office, we discussed this event at some length.

His position was that the event was totally unnecessary from just a law enforcement posiiton.

When ATF went into Waco, they did so in a typical fed fashion, gobbling up all of the rental cars and motel rooms, sending a clear signal to the locals that a major operation was forthcoming. This information was passed on to people inside the compund, who had time to prepare, we know the result now.

This agent felt that a more appropriate course of action would have been to wait for Kouresh to go into town, which he did on a regular basis apparently, and snatch him up.

With Kouresh in custody, the search warrant for the compound would have been executed in a more peaceful fashion, avoiding the gun battle, stand-off etc.

Who knows for sure, however a more tragic ending to the event is hard to fathom.

As far as the other stuff goes - who knows. The scene processing would be extremely difficult with all sorts of factors present that would have presented conflicting indicators etc. The motivation of the investigating agencies was clouded, the politics involved - a mess to be sure.

I did learn a few things while working with these ATF agents though. The main thing was that for us second ammendment supporters, ATF is definitely not your friend.

Yhanks for the posts Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear Captain Schmoe,
I have read this, that
a. Koresh did leave the compound at times,
b. the compound had a watchtower and was always armed, all intruders had to be inspected or were held at periphery, such as when delivering packages.
c. the ATF strategy was known,
d. they went forward anyway, (idiots).

I never thought about the hotel accommodations, et cetera. How very true!

I've read a few of the stories about ATF and search and seizure--and the strong public opinion against them. What did your associate say about the second amendment and the ATF? I would be interested to know.

As for the fire, they say it started three separate places. Theories: B-Davidians shot at tear-gas canisters; B-D spread accelerant and burned everything; place was put together like spit and went up fast.

People were hit with exploding ordinance; people killed each other and themselves to spare themselves pain; people died of smoke inhalation, no, yes, maybe, depends.

The difference between the medical examiner and the dental examiner's reports need reconciliation. However, with so much data and so little at the same time, it's hard to tell. I wish we could know for sure.

Thanks for writing in. A mystery that will never be solved, I guess. However, I think it has a lot of lessons and reminders for us.


Ann T.