In Memory

Robert 'Skeet' Brayton - Class Of 1958

Robert 'Skeet' Brayton

Robert 'Skeet' Brayton

August 30, 1940 - January 20, 2001

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12/29/10 11:05 AM #1    

Grant Thompson (1958)

 Skeet was one of my best friends in my last years in high school. He, Ernest Adams, and I did a lot of things together. Skeet entered South Pasadena's schools only in high school, as best I remember - he was not a "lifer" as many of us were. He was always somewhat of a loner, although one of my memories of him was as a fierce, athletic handball player.

One weekend, when my parents were out of town, Skeet persuaded a friend to buy three quarts of hard liquor for us (I remember bourbon, vodka, and gin). The only recipe book available to us was my mother's "Joy of Cooking;" mint juleps sounded inviting, so Ernest procured fresh mint from a neighbor on the pretext that he was going to plant it in his yard. Our plan was that every hour we would write a paragraph about how we felt. Looking at them the next day,we only got about three of them done -- increasingly shabby. Needless to say, the next morning was a mess. We apparently had gone out to our backyard, buck naked, to go swimming (Ernest's glasses were at the bottom of the pool); we had eaten Oreos and turkey meat - a fine mixture when thrown up all over oneself and the carpet; and we were sicker than little dogs. It's lucky we were so sick, since that amount of alcohol (yep, the bottles were empty!) would have killed us otherwise.

In a particularly 1950s touch, I needed to clean the carpets and didn't know how. I thought, "Surely a woman will know how - but I can't call my mother's friends to ask." In what I thought was a stroke of brilliance, I dialed O, since operators were all women. She kept offering to connect me to a hospital if I had been sick, but refused to tell me how to clean vomit off a carpet.

Skeet had to work that day (Safeway); we drove him to work but had to stop every few blocks for one of us to open the car door to throw up. The whole episode kept three young South Pasadena boys from ever becoming alcoholics. In my case, for months afterwards, when my mom would have a bourbon, I would have to leave the room since the smell made me ill.

Skeet went on to Dartmouth - the first in his family to go to college. I visited him there once and he told me that he had never been as cold in his life - blue jeans just weren't enough against New Hampshire winters. 

Sadly he had to drop out when he and his high school girlfriend had a baby boy; she also had to drop out of her elite Eastern school - it was how things were then. Their marriage was not a happy one and eventually they split.

Skeet ended up in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. He was in and out of mental institutions and became a follower of a guru (at least for a time). He cut off communications with old friends. His death was, I understand, by his own hand.

Robert (Skeet) Duncan Brayton was a man of enormous promise and a joy for this friend to know and treasure. He trusted me and we treasured one another's strengths and laughed at our weaknesses. I mourn his passing. I am in occasional touch with his now remarried ex-wife (who is quite ill) and for many years I wrote occasionally back and forth to their son, who attended Pomona College years after Sharon and I were there.

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