[Montclair High School Class of 1971]

David Yates

David with his grandmother and Duchess, the family dog What happened to David Yates? Most of our classmates from Montclair High School have asked that when I've been in touch with them. He and I shared an interest in electronics and ham radio. He lived at 16 Windsor Place, near my house on Highland Avenue, and we often walked to school together. When we found an old TV set discarded at the curb for the trash, we would take parts out of it or, sometimes, take the whole chassis. We collected the old parts and used them for our hobby. David built an audio amplifier and a code-practice oscillator using the scavenged parts. David and I took our novice ham radio license exams together and were issued consecutive call signs. His was WN2JXD and mine was WN2JXE.

David opposed the war in Vietnam and the draft. We went to several rallies, including one in Washington, to protest the war. He believed that he was going to be drafted and sent to Vietnam as soon as he got out of high school. He spoke of fleeing to Canada or refusing induction. He spoke of how cool it would be to just "disappear," perhaps to hitch-hike across the country. On the night before our first day of senior year, I called David and asked if he wanted to walk to school. He told me that he would get there on his own and to go without him. I didn't see him in school and his mother called that evening and asked if I knew where he was. She said he left in the morning. I had no idea that he would follow through on his talk to disappear. I don't think his mother believed me.

His parents didn't know if he was alive or dead. He contacted them after hitch-hiking around the country for several months. He was living in Washington, DC, and worked in a bookstore.

The last time I saw him was when he came home for a holiday, perhaps Thanksgiving, during my freshman year of college.

At the 2006 multi-year reunion, I met Susan (MHS 1976), David's sister. Susan lived in Washington, DC, for a short time in 1980, after she graduated from college, and visited David. She then moved to Illinois. Not long after that, letters that the family sent to David were returned as undeliverable. They haven't had contact with him since. Susan said that the family wants to know that he is okay, and would like to be in touch, but they honor his decisions. More than anything, they would like to know that he is alive and well.


John Neuhaus, john at jneuhaus.com, Sunday, February 10, 2008