For four days, since the first grisly news of the Guyana shootings came out, reporters have swarmed about the rear entrance to the old cream-colored building here that still serves as center to the remaining Peoples Temple congregation.
The only thing more palpable than the constant rain, however, has been the official silence of the temple. Now that silence appears about to crack.
One by one, the temple's members, mostly security guards, have begun to talk with reporters.
"We are human," said one. "We have families and friends. We don't know anything about them. I don't know what's happened to my wife."
A black man in his mid 30s, he shrugged the large shoulders beneath his stylish sports coat, worn over a light brown turtleneck. He is known as Hugh, and, until this moment in the chill misty night air, he has never spoken more than a few short sentences to most reporters at the gate. He, like most temple members, is highly distrustful of the press.
They talked at length about their intense inner feelings of loss, about friends and relatives who may be among the dead.
"We have work to do," said Hugh. "We have people in San Francisco, people in L.A., people coming out of the jungle in Guyana, we have to serve these people's needs."
He spoke of the late Rev. Jim Jones.
"I hope people will write of the good work he did over 20 years, and not just . . . all this . . ." his words trailed off.
A few moments before Hugh and the security guard came out to speak, a San Francisco television station had broadcast an unofficial list of 107 dead members of the Peoples Temple in Guyana. A reporter and a crew stood outside the gate to the temple, a small minitor broadcasting beneath the floodlights. As the names and ages - ranging from two to 108 - crawled across the screen, three temple guards clung to the storm fencing.Two women, one black one white, hugged one another, each holding her free hand across open mouth in grief and horror. With each familiar name they gasped audibly, or moved their lips in unison, their worn, tired eyes, brimming with tears.
When the list was done, the television crew and all of the guards except one left. The guard who remained was a frail, wan woman in her 30s who took her post and hesitantly talked to this reporter. She said her name was Doxie.
"Do you have relatives living there?" She was asked.
"I think I do," she said. "one."
She looked directly at her questioner, knowing the next question.
"A daughter," she volunteered.
"Was her name on the list?"
"No," she said. She was trying to be hopeful, yet realistic. Her mother's pain was breaking through an heroic attempt at self-control.
She paused, her face trembling. She tried to speak but it was difficult.
"I . . . I . . . "
There was a long pause.
"Her birthday is . . . was . . . today."
"How old is she?"
"She's . . . she would be . . . 12." CAPTION: Picture, THE. REV. JIM JONES . . . "write of [his] good work . . .", Copyright (c) 1978, The San Francisco Examiner