To the editor:
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the death of a wonderful girl I killed. No, I didn’t stab her or shoot her. I killed her with my big mouth. Her name was Jackie Finnegan and she and I were members of the Big Red Band.
She wanted to be majorette in the worst way, but she had been turned down. Back in 1963 there was a rule in the band that if you made a noticeable mistake in a halftime show, you were automatically benched the following week, even if you were a senior. This one Friday night I was marching next to Jackie. I don’t know where her mind was, but she made one mistake after another. When we got off the field, I said to her, “Well, you certainly won’t be marching next week.” I had no idea of how true my words would be.
Because of my big mouth, instead of taking a baton lesson on Sunday afternoon as she always did, Jackie went boating on the Ohio River with her uncle. The boat hit a rock, Jackie was thrown out and hit her head on that rock, and sank to the bottom of the river. Her body was found five days later.
I have had to live with my guilt for 50 years. In commemoration of her death, I am having a formal dinner in my home. I just hope and pray that Jackie can somehow forgive me.
R. Scott Carlton
Big Red Class of 1966