Fans find inspiration in visit to Jackson’s Gary home
By Michael Gonzalez Post-Tribune correspondent June 25, 2014 10:50PM
Surrounded by children from a nearby day camp, Monica Yassin said she grew up listening to Michael Jackson's music as a girl in Sierra Leone, West Africa. She visited the Jackson family home, 2300 Jackson St., to commemorate Jackson's death five years ago. | Michael Gonzalez~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 27, 2014 8:26AM
GARY — Jason Turner towered over his daughter, Miley, as the 6-year-old wept and clutched a bar on the black fence surrounding the late King of Pop’s childhood home at 2300 Jackson St.
Wednesday marked the fifth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death of an accidental overdose of an anesthetic drug administered by his doctor.
“She grew up on the music like I did,” said Turner, a Munster resident, wiping a tear from his own eye. “We listened to it all the time. (Jackson’s) still around. His music’s always going to be around as long as us as parents give it to our kids.”
Fans have flowed past the house since Jackson’s death, neighbors said. Sometimes they straggle in one car at a time, while, at other times, they come by the busload.
There were not many complaints from the locals.
“I remember the day or two after (Jackson’s) death, the streets were loaded,” said Tanya Patterson, who lives across the street from the Jackson home. “You couldn’t get through. Now, they come every day, all day. There’s not a day goes by someone doesn’t come over there and take pictures. Everybody loves Michael Jackson.”
Trent Jackson, a nephew of family matriarch Katherine Jackson, said the Jacksons appreciate the love of fans and patience of neighbors.
“We really appreciate the fans coming out and doing that,” said Trent Jackson, who accompanies Katherine Jackson on her return trips to Gary. “And we have some really nice neighbors. I appreciate the neighborhood being so patient with us. Can you imagine if you lived on this block and you weren’t a fan? You might be frustrated.”
True to the neighbors’ predictions, the fans came from across the country and around the world.
Monica Yassin of Virginia, who grew up listening to Jackson in Sierra Leone, West Africa, visited the family home for the first time, joined by Melvin Lewis, who grew up in Gary.
Lewis, who also lives in Virginia, was in town for a funeral, but almost any visit to Gary means a stop at 2300 Jackson St., he said.
“I think Michael’s a pop star of the world,” Yassin said. “If you don’t listen to Michael Jackson’s songs, then I don’t think you have even listened to music.”
“Michael’s part of Gary, and people can have something to hold on to with all the other things that have happened in the past,” Lewis said. “This is something that’s positive for our city.”
Paul Brattwood said he grew up listening to Jackson’s music in a small city in the northwest of England and was crushed at the news of Jackson’s death. He visited the house with girlfriend, Linda Marroquin of Chicago.
“With me, growing up with him it was like losing a family member,” said Brattwood, who rolled up a shirt sleeve to reveal a large tattoo of Jackson performing a popular dance move. “I think that affection for Michael will be there forever, like John Lennon. Michael Jackson really left his stamp on the world.”
Dana Christy, a Chicagoan who has made at least 25 trips to the Jackson house, 15 of them since Jackson’s death, said the visits to the house are always spiritual.
“It is very emotional. I feel a lot of sadness, you know, he’s gone too soon,” Christy said moments before writing a note on a wooden post nearby. “There’s so much more he could’ve done with his life. It always feels very powerful here, because I feel, like, his spirit and his energy and his presence, and I always feel inspired by him when I’m here.”