“Darling, may the coming year and those to follow bring joy and happiness. May all your dreams come through before the dawn of another of another birthday. Happy, Happy Birthday To You”–Love Leon.
These tender words of love were written on December 30th, 1949 by Leon Elveson to the love of his life Sylvia Elveson. Out of that union of love came Francine, Joel, & Deborah Elveson. On October 12th, 1979 on a clear crisp sunny fall day in New York the life of Francine Elveson who overcame years of physical adversity to realize her dream of becoming a teacher of children ended at the hands of the son of our next door neighbor who raped, robbed, strangled and mutilated her on the rooftop of our apartment building. She valiantly fought for life but met her death none the same.
“Francine Elveson-Beloved Daughter, Dear Sister, July 21st, 1953-October 12, 1979 –Love For Teaching Children.” 5’ tall 80 pounds. Obtained a Master’s Degree in Education from Fordham University. Francine (we called her Fran) was very protective if not overprotective of her younger sister Deborah (Debby) with a sometimes conflictual relationship with her younger brother (me) whose close and dear friends the Muller’s (aka his second family) were not her favorite people. The elongated stays in the hospital to repair her spine so she could walk and breathe on her own were punctuated by short visits home so the family could feel like a whole family again.
That faithful morning one innocent person was unmercifully killed while four other people lay mentally mortally wounded. None of their lives would ever be the same.
That faithful morning one innocent person was unmercifully killed while four other people lay mentally mortally wounded. None of their lives would ever be the same. Debby (Fran’s baby sister) completed her education at New York University and would soon successfully graduate. Although her effervescent personality remained there seemed to an underlying cold indifference to her. Despite that, she went on to marry and raise three extraordinary children none of which passed up a college education.
Leon (dad) was surrounded by his friends during the Shiva (mourning) period from Victory Day Care Center where he unselfishly devoted a great deal of time too. Sylvia (mom) tried to put on a brave face but she would inevitably break down. The two remaining children Joel and Debby were less than thrilled by the presence of the Victory Day Care Center employees as they (we) felt too much of dad was there and not enough at home. Fran hated them with a passion. She would not hold back on the use of vulgarity to dad as she berated him about them.
When the Shiva period ended it was the Muller’s (Joel’s treasured friends) who came to take him out so he could get back to life. He was ushered in and out of the building by Guy Mulller who had a 357 Magnum whose chamber was blocked off so it could not shoot. It took a while for him to be able to go back to his “normal” life and even then it was difficult as initially, the murder investigators focused their eyes on him. The police had this absurd exaggerated theory that Fran was killed as revenge for the spate of drug deals that Guy and he executed. Guy was never into cigarettes much less drugs. Joel never sold drugs. Drug-induced sex orgies that were conducted in a carriage room of a building we all lived in prior to moving into the execution building in Pelham Parkway Houses in The Bronx was also looked into as a revenge-motivated killing by pimps who were never paid but that “suspicion” proved to be nothing more than that as Joel passed his police-administered lie detector test with flying colors. Joel could never kill a bug nonetheless another human being especially his own sister. How I felt when I found out especially after a verbal war Fran and I had the night prior to her death I….. The real killer (see above) was eventually apprehended but at no time after that did we feel relief or a sense of closure. It remains that way to this very day.
Joel was on and off as he like his father hid his feelings. In between his Friday night shenanigans, he would drive up to the Bronx to see his Mom and Dad. He saw with his own sagging blue eyes that his father physically was deteriorating. It was on a sick feeling day when the phone on Joel’s desk at work rang with the quivering voice of his mother delivering the devastating news that his father had passed away in Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn whose library he planned, organized and ran. One morning just as he was heading out the door to begin his journey to work on the iron horses (subway trains) he looked back at his wife (with the bags under his eyes very much in evidence) whom he had fought with throughout their marriage as if he subconsciously knew he was taking his last steps out of his marriage and ultimately his life.
At age 65 he was too young to be due for death but his heart gave out from all of those years of keeping his feelings hidden (except for anger) from all of us. In essence, he too was killed along with his eldest daughter on the morning of that fateful day when nothing would ever be the same again. I now being the eldest was appointed to go the hospital to “identify” my father’s body (I had to ride down the elevator to the morgue of the hospital with his body) and to collect his belongings especially his precious solid gold wedding band that would soon find its way onto my finger where it remains to this day.
Mom officially died three years ago after succumbing to a stroke but when mom buried her daughter and then her husband she died. Her death spiral increased over the years as she cut herself off from the world. Her grandchildren whom she loved so dearly (especially Joel’s son Lee David Elveson) who was named after his father and his father’s father) with facial features that made him resemble his mother, his father, his late sister, and his grandfather. It was Lee who fed his grandmother baby food on a spoon just a day or so before she died. Something inside of Lee (although he will never admit it as he is a typical Elveson male) died as well. It can be said that Lee was also killed the day of the murder even though he was not even close to being conceived.
Debby’s kids are all on their own. Lee is on his own as well although like his father he suffers from seizures (his are far more severe) a fierce temper that still overcomes him at times. Depression grabs and pulls on him but unlike dad, he has not succumbed. Joel lives on to some degree but his life is nowhere what it once was during his working years. Joel has taken direct hits on the chin (physically and mentally) over these many years so he struggles with life. Relationships are difficult for him to maintain. Too frequently he lives in his past.
One day one actual brutal murder with four other lives that were taken as well. Why he (the murderer) did what he did is a question that has never been answered. Why did he murder and why did he have to go to the sexually graphic extremes that he did?
If you stroll through my published archives on this Site, some bits and pieces about my family are there waiting to be read but it was only after seeing that picture from 1949, my mother’s wedding day gown, and other memories in color while many more in black and white this became an article I felt I had to for some unknown reason write. It has taken me close to two weeks to finish it as I deleted it off my computer several times in anguish and disgust only to finish it tonight having restored it last week. This was the end result. The Elveson name it seems would always be synonymous with turbulent. We lived as one until one by one we died or are busy dying. I never knew a life (lives) could end this way. No happy ending here.
“There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong when I’m gone” –When I’m Gone-Phil Ochs