Summer of Sam
I was reminded of the "Summer of Sam" by today's NY Times "On This Day" feature. On this day, in 1977, David Berkowitz was caught before yet another wave of his ".44 Caliber" terrorizing of the citizens of NYC.
During that time period, I remember distinctly that we were all on edge. Less than two weeks before his capture, Berkowitz attacked and killed a young woman named Stacy Moskowitz who sat in a car not too far from my home in Brooklyn.
Two or three nights before Berkowitz was arrested, I was accompanying my sister and mother home from my grandmother's house. It was after 2 a.m. The streets were deserted. And oh so silent. We had been talking about the Son of Sam all evening, and were, naturally, a little tense.
Being the overprotective male figure that I was, and 17 years old, I announced to my mother and sister: "Don't worry, I'll protect you."
As we passed an all-night gas station just a few blocks from our home, a car that had just pulled up to the pump... backfired.
I am not sure if I screamed or if it was just a lower, more masculine expression of surprise. But I am pretty sure that I must have jumped about two feet in the air from pure fright.
The ribbing I caught from my mother and sister—"Oh sure, you're gonna protect us!"—had us laughing for some time thereafter.
The Son of Sam was taken into custody days later. The trail of blood he had left behind was no laughing matter.
But at least on that one night, our laughter helped us to face our fear.