Letter to the Editor: Encino and the Jackson Family

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BY W. M. STRIEBECK, Encino, CA.

I live a few blocks from the Michael Jackson family compound, as their residence in Encino is called by the media.

When I moved to Encino, sixteen years ago, I waited in line at Gelson’s grocery store as an elegantly dressed lady paid for a few items.  When the clerk called her “Mrs. Jackson,” I said (in a teasing tone), “Are you a Hayvenhurst Jackson?”  To my surprise she replied in a sweet voice that she was the “…Mother of the Jackson Five.”  She said that she enjoyed shopping for a some items herself and added that she loved living in Encino.  I told her I had just become a resident even though I had been raised nearby most of my life.  She left with a gracious smile and a gentle wave of the hand.

Most of us in Encino are currently experiencing what Michael Jackson went through most of his life:

From the moment Michael Jackson died, I, and most of the other residents of this small town of Encino, have been experiencing the loud clatter of helicopters flying low from early AM until dark.  Hayvenhurst Street, usually quiet with light residential traffic, has become filled with fans; media trucks; broadcast equipment; tents; barricades; stacks of memorial gifts; roving reporters; security personnel; police cars; and the pained expressions of residents of the area trying to drive through it all so they can seclude themselves in their homes and hopefully  lock out the noise.

An elderly friend of mine, who has lived above the Jackson compound (it is a hill), for many years, finally gave up and went to stay with family members until the excitement dies down.

So much international attention focused on the small town of Encino worries many of the residents since it is considered a special place where leaders at the top of their field live and work.  Encino is the kind of place where celebrities are often seen walking their dogs, enjoying a latte, playing with their kids, or purchasing items from local establishments.  Of the countless celebrities I’ve spotted here, I’ve never seen anyone ask for a photo or autograph: They are treated as an ordinary neighbor of the community – which they are.  Sometimes I will smile when it is someone I especially admire and they always smile back, silently acknowledging my approval of their work.

Though the current onslaught of fans and media are well behaved and express love and compassion, Encino residents hope that attitude will not change once the grieving process has ended.  We love our Valley enclave of productive and creative individuals who are free to express themselves without the worry of others invading their privacy.

Of course,the publicity and crowds stimulate consumer purchases at the many establishments on nearby Ventura Boulevard, and that part of it is beneficial – especially during our current lower economy.

As I wrote this, I heard the helicopters overhead again: I know the Jacksons must be returning from their Beverly Hills luncheon.  “Hooray!”  Now it is dark and the helicopters have left.  Michael Jackson must have felt the same relief when he was finally left alone – wherever he is now, he is at peace – something he seldom experienced in life.

Remembering my conversation with the gracious Mrs. Jackson, I hope she can continue to enjoy living in Encino with the tranquil acceptance of her neighbors.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.