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James Veree Watson Korn
By Louise Waldron, sister of Jim Korn

My Brother, James Veree Watson Korn, was named after our grandfather, James Veree Watson.  I knew him as Jimmy.  He was born on November 27, 1941, in Los Angeles, California, in the Good Samaritan Hospital in North Hollywood, where all the movie stars delivered their babies.  At least Mother who had cystic fibrosis felt safer than in New Mexico.  However, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, and Mother and Jimmy were exposed to blackouts and sirens.  Jimmy always had a wild and colorful personality, perhaps, due to this early exposure to the insanity of war. 

Mother returned to Tesuque, New Mexico, when Jimmy was one month old, only to travel west to Casa Grande, Arizona, in April of 1942, when he was just five months old.  I was not quite six.  Jimmy did not see much of our father while he was Director of what we called “The Jap Camp”, known as the Gila River Japanese Relocation Camp in Sacaton, Arizona, from that time until May 1943.  Father was then assigned overseas to work with British Intelligence helping displaced persons in Italy.  The absence of Father during the War meant that Mother had to take care of both of us by herself for at least three years until he returned in January 1945.

As a small child my brother was a handful, bright and rambunctious.  He was so handsome, with hazel eyes, brown curly hair, and dark olive skin.  He did not know what the word “walk” meant.  He was always on the run.  Jimmy fell constantly, landing on his head most of the time.  This should have been a clue that Jimmy had bad eyesight which was not corrected until he was in the third grade.  My parents always worried about his poor grades in school.

Finally, he was tested at Highland High School where he scored the highest grade ever made on the school’s intelligence test.  He graduated from Highland High in 1960 somehow with mostly straight F’s.  He probably had dyslexia, which no one understood.  He could not read or write.  He made up for verbal discrepancies by memorizing the Bible, the dictionary, and anything that had to do with airplanes.  However, his main interest was athletics.  He was on all-state teams in football and wrestling; but he chose to attend Whittier College, a Quaker school, in Whittier, California, where he was on the football varsity team and where he participated in Small College Bowl game in 1962.  There he was in the Orthogonian Fraternity of which “Uncle Dick”; President Richard Nixon was an alum.

The fact Jimmy was chosen to be on the Student state Legislature in his senior year at Highland influenced his decision to major in political science at Whittier.  He wanted to be a lawyer, but there was another side to Jimmy.  He loved poetry.  At Whittier he worked with the author, Upton Sinclair, talking about his tall tales and his poetry. 

Jimmy died in a car crash going from Father’s house in Berkeley to my house in Stockton, California, after a school Thanksgiving break on December 1, 1963.  He died in Mt. Diablo, Walnut Creek.  He missed a curve, and the car landed on top on him.  A farmer flagged down passing motorists to help, but they would not stop.  State prisoners working on the road lifted the car off of Jimmy.  He drowned in three inches of water.  He could have been saved if cars had stopped. 

Farther and I went back to Albuquerque to have a memorial service for Jimmy at the Albuquerque Quaker Meeting.  All of Jimmy’s football friends from Highland High School were there.  My poor Father ended up in the Albuquerque Veteran’s Hospital with a bleeding ulcer.  Upon his return to Berkeley, Father was forever thankful to Robert Reidy, a close Highland High School friend of Jimmy’s who visited him during this trying time.  He had been attending medical school in San Francisco. 

I always wondered if the time spent in Los Angeles during the break of WWII may have affected Jimmy’s wild personality. 

And then, my brother’s name Jimmy “Crack” Korn followed him through his life.

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