Peter Pan's stunted life

Dateline: Fri 13 Apr 2012

A reader of this blog referenced Will Higgins' story in the online version of the Indianapolis Star Local Living section late Wednesday.

This is the sort of journalism, wrote the blog reader, that we used to call "chicken dinner stories" --- so good, so compelling and so insightful that they generate purposeful conversation around the Sunday chicken dinner.

"I thought this story about a recently deceased "bridge kid" from Broad Ripple fit it to a T. I thought it was a very powerful piece of journalism that is all too rare at the Star," he wrote.

Here, here.

Anyone who heard or read about the death of Gregory Jarrett had to be curious: a man found dead in the canal at Broad Ripple. But in this city, bodies are expected to surface downtown or in an alley on the proverbial Near Northside or Near Eastside. This one did not fit the mold -- found by a jogger, all that sunshine, near Broadway, in an area where people go to drink expensive wine and eat good food and generally spread money around.

Leave it to Higgins to crack open the case. Gregory Jarrett was 34 years old, known as "Tweety" and "Pepper" by Broad Ripple's Bridge Kids' community, the young people you see hanging out daily along the rainbow bridge near Good Earth foods, smoking, talking, messing around. They've been there for years: they come, they go, they grow up, they leave.

Not Jarrett.

"But Jarrett...did not move on. At 32, he was the bridge kids' Peter Pan. He joined the legion while a teenager, somehow finding Broad Ripple from an unhappy home in Kokomo...he remained a bridge kid to the end...He'd led a stunted life: He confided to a friend...he'd been a bridge kid with the mom of a current bridge kid."

The punishing drugs, booze and raggedy lifestyle played out. But instead of a cliche, you have a poignant portrait of a man: someone who loved to watch the sun rise, who was adored by a grandmother, who affirmed others, who is remembered with flowers on the water. 

So now we know the rest of the story, thanks to Higgins and his understated, powerful story telling.

Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that the Star is doing a lot more feature stories lately and playing them on Page 1 or front of metro/state? This story deserved better exposure. But like a treasure hidden away -- somewhat of a metaphor for Jarrett -- we found it.





hendy [Member] said:

As the dad of a graduated BR bridge kid, I can tell you that they often grow up and move on. Yet Higgins put some context into this visible microcosm of BR. The world is a ghetto.

2012-04-13 11:36:11

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

It was one of the best articles I've read in the paper in years. Brilliant.

More. Please.

2012-04-13 19:25:10

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