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Ready and Waiting : Ex-Hostage's Neighbors Poised for Celebrations, but They'll Be Delayed

November 09, 1986|ROXANA KOPETMAN | Times Staff Writer

David Jacobsen is coming home today. But while friends and strangers wait to celebrate, the former hostage has planned a private homecoming, his family said Saturday.

Eric Jacobsen, David's eldest son, said his father and immediate family members, who were reunited with him overseas, will return this morning in a private airplane provided anonymously.

"This is just quiet time with my family," David Jacobsen said.

On Saturday, the family spent the morning sightseeing, and returned for lunch at the exclusive Jefferson Hotel near downtown Washington. The elder Jacobsen reiterated that he would not speak to the news media for at least "several days. There will be time for that later."

In Orange County, Jacobsen's former neighbors, friends--and even people who have never met the man who spent 17 months as a hostage in Lebanon--are ready to throw him a party, or two or three, as soon as he gives the word.

While Jacobsen's old Huntington Beach neighborhood readies for a block party, the Hy-Lond Convalescent Hospital in Westminster, a senior citizens' home that "adopted" him and other hostages, is planning a countywide celebration outside that city's Civic Center on Friday afternoon. A ceremony also is in the works at Huntington Beach City Hall.

The residents of Hy-Lond hospital prayed Saturday for the remaining American hostages in Beirut, just as they do every day at 3 p.m. Dorothy Williams, 70, said there was loud celebrating last Sunday when they learned Jacobsen was being released.

"There (was) yelling and screaming. . . ." said Williams, who had adopted Father Lawrence Jenco, the priest kidnapped Jan. 8, 1985, and released last July 26.

Jacobsen was adopted by Alice Mount, 74, who said she hurried to Williams' room when the news was flashed on television.

"I woke Dorothy up and said, 'David's been released. He's released, come on, hurry up, he's released,' " she recalled.

"We stayed glued to that TV all day," Williams said.

Meanwhile, excitement is growing on the Huntington Beach street where the freed American used to live.

"We're ready to have a potluck anytime," said Lorrie Vallercamp, 54, whose family lived next to the Jacobsens for 23 years.

"It's just a miracle he's alive," Vallercamp said after playing a recording of "When the Word Comes," a song Eric Jacobsen wrote about his father's captivity and his family's wait for his arrival.

Eve Dobkin, 63, who also lived next door to Jacobsen before he was divorced from his wife Sally and went to Beirut, said she couldn't understand why he had accepted the post of director at American University Hospital there.

"I asked him, 'Why are you going to Beirut? It's dangerous.' And he said, 'It's no problem. You just dodge the bullets while you're jogging,' " Dobkin said.

Across the street from the Vallercamps, Jacobsen and Dobkin households lives Bob Govin, 66, the Realtor who 23 years ago sold them all their homes.

As Tillie Govin, 64, talked about her front kitchen-window view of the Jacobsen and Vallercamp girls growing up, her husband planted flowers in front of the house, which was decorated with a yellow "Welcome Back Dave" sign and yellow ribbons.

"I'm going to put some fertilizer on those pansies and see if they turn yellow real quick," Bob Govin said.

It may be a while, however, before Jacobsen, who may be staying with son Eric in Huntington Beach, will be ready for the block party with his old friends.

Today's homecoming is "going to be a low-key thing," said Ted Forbes, Jacobsen's brother-in-law, from his home in Altadena.

Times staff writer Ray Perez in Washington contributed to this report.

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