By John Pierce

Thirty years ago, a group of Berry College students and I spent a week in Harlem working with children and assisting in a ministry center down on the Lower East Side. Each night, after our various adventures in NYC, we would gather at the corner of West 72nd Street and Central Park to return to the Harlem brownstone together.

There was a Bagel Nosh — where we could get coffee — across the street from The Dakota. The apartment building’s eerie exterior had been featured in the movie, Rosemary’s Baby, I had recalled (even though I don’t like scary movies).

But I joked with the students that it was a convenient place to meet since I was having dinner each evening with then-super model Cheryl Tiegs — one of the celebrities I’d heard lived there. Late each cold night that week, we gathered in wrapped scarves and with coffee in hand in front of the well-protected entrance to the massive building.

The day after we returned to Georgia, that very scene was all over television — with the addition of flashing lights, television cameras, and police barricades that had been pulled over from Central Park.

John Lennon had been shot to death there. It was hard to believe.

And it’s hard to believe three decades have passed. John Lennon is gone. And neither Cheryl nor I are quite so youthful. 

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