Sunday, January 23, 2011

Memorial for Preston Gene Brown

This was a layout for MOVIELINE MAGAZINE in front of Coney Island-Hollywood

                                                1973-2006 (He lived a short life)

Preston Brown came into my life when he came to Hollywood as a teenager. He came into my restaurant, Coney Island, on Christmas Eve. I was one of the few places open that night. He was wearing a ball cap, turned backward, like the young kids do. He was very shy and had a lost, puppy dog look in his eye. He ordered a Bar-B-Q Beef sandwich, which he devoured, along with a Pepsi. I never had the opportunity to talk with him. He ate and left, but within minutes he came back for another sandwich. I learned that he was new to Hollywood and was staying at the YMCA a few blocks away. I had been looking for a new employee and after talking with Preston, I learned he only had about $15 in his pocket. The YMCA was around $35 a night.

After talking with him I offered him a job at my restaurant and free room and board living with me in my apartment. He was elated, and so was I. I took him to the Y to pick up his meager belongings. He turned out to be the best worker I ever had. He was young, cute and I guess you could say handsome. And boy did he ever have charisma. Customers would often get into long conversations with him, mostly adult patrons. He knew all the famous composers, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and, well, more than I know of. He knew what age they died and what they had died from. He had studied piano and I bought him a couple keyboards for him to practice on. And he loved movies. We would go two or three times a week.

I introduced him to Dick Clayton, one of Hollywood's most famous agents. He had been James Dean's agent. Dick suggested that Preston do extra work, on TV and films, and said Preston would probably be discovered by someone important. So, I took photos of Preston and sent them to agencies as well as registering him in companies that provided actors for different productions. Preston was on Cloud 9. On the set he would be pulled from the back of a crowd and moved to the front near the cameras. MOVIE LINE MAGAZINE featured him and he was excited when they sent a camera crew to Coney Island, on Hollywood Boulevard, to film him. They had numerous costumes for him to wear and a couple of female models would be shown with him. They used a fog machine and it attracted a lot of tourists to see what was happening? A limousine pulled up with some star who was wondering what all the excitement was? Preston was grinning from ear to ear.

When Preston was 21 we would trek to Las Vegas. He loved that place, not to gamble but just to see all of the bright lights. He would walk the main street back and forth. He was a poor loser and didn't like to gamble. On our first trip there, we were at Circus Circus. It had been my first trip in many years too. I wasn't winning much and he wandered on the carousel where I was playing the slot machine and touched me on the shoulder and I hit a $1,000 jackpot. He was so happy and was grinning from ear to ear. I handed him $100 in the car driving back, for bringing me luck. You would have thought it was the whole $1,000. We would drive there about once a month. Like a little kid, he wanted to go to the amusement centers instead of gambling.

Unfortunately that menace, schizophrenia, got a grip on him. It led to excessive use of drugs. We soon parted. He was gone for over four or five years. I prayed he would be alright. He had become like a son to me. Then he suddenly came back into my life. He had his own apartment, which I quickly fixed up for him. He had learned to operate a computer and could do web pages. He was very smart. I was proud of him. Like James Dean, he was a Rebel. Unfortunately, he got bit by the menace again. I was unaware that he wasn't taking his medication. He had been really good for three years in his apartment. His schizophrenia got the best of him. He gave up his medication and started, like many young persons in Hollywood, to taking drugs. He hallucinated, not knowing right from wrong. He imagined someone was trying to hurt him. In his delusions he actually hurt someone too.

He ended up incarcerated and assigned to the Patton Medical Facility. Due to circumstances there, he was put into a more secure place, where they never gave him his medication. He still had delusions, which they couldn't understand. When I was able to visit him last February he looked good. He hadn't shaved, and was in a disciplinary section. But his skin looked good and he was mentally alert. I inquired if he was taking his medication and he replied "No." I begged him several times and warned him he had to take his medication in order to get out into the free world again.

But, he never responded to my advice. I can't say he had a death wish. He would write to me and wanted to be paroled to Ohio and to live with me and work for me if I had another business. He was tired of California and wanted to get out of the state. I thought I would see him in March at his parole hearing. Then I got word he was dying. Preston dying? I couldn't believe it. He loved life and enjoyed life and he was dying? I phoned the institution, the Governor and whomever I could think of to try to get him back on his feet. The institution would only tell me he was stable. All his friends were praying for him. His prognosis of only surviving for three or four weeks went on for a month or so. We all hoped he would survive. But, he didn't. What a loss.

He could have made so many people happy. He could have had a career in films, if he had wanted. He is gone at the age of 33. Like the books say, he was, "Too Young to Die." I am agnostic but if there is a heaven, I am sure Preston is there. He would be happy there. He would be contented. And someday, hopefully, we may all be together again. I would like that too. "Good Night Sweet Prince." Larkin (Billy) and Rae Brown of Memphis, was Preston's grandparents and legal guardian. Preston was cremated in Corcoran, California as per his mother's request. "Please leave your comments and rememberances about Preston." I will add photographs later. I heard that his memorial service was nothing more than a sermon and nobody was able to talk about him. That's Par for the course. I faxed the Pastor to read a memorial on Preston. He said he would, but he didn't.

Bill Dakota
Lima, Ohio

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