Les Mastenbrook was killed in a car crash in Cheyenne, Wyoming while driving cross-country from Oakland to Massachusetts to visit friends and her family there. Les joined the Slingshot collective earlier this year and was working on re-designing our website when she died.
Les was cut down at a very young age, but during her short time on earth, she made a lot out of her life. She grew up in Concord, MA and attended the Maryland Institute College of Art, from which she graduated Cum Laude with a degree in photography. She moved to Oakland where she made close ties with lots of folks. She was into screen printing, live music, photography, travel, cooking, web design and riding bicycles. Her excitement for life and warm smile were infectious.
The following was written by her house mate and friend Jacqueline.
I had wonderful but brief encounters with Les. When I went to Massachusetts for her funeral, I heard stories of her childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood that together addressed the great puzzle that is the complete spirit of Les.
Les was so happy, so delighted, filled with wonder, amazement, and joy for the world and it’s people. We first met when she was dancing — an immense smile upon her face. Les wrapped her arm around my shoulder and I felt really happy as we danced at that show. At other shows I went to with her, she always had that smile on her face. When we sat and talked she was excited and exuberant. She was always eager to go; to do; and to live. She loved when the world happened around her — and it did. Soon we became friends — inseparable. We looked out for one another and took on each other’s lives and burdens.
I watched Les hope and dream. We built goals and created a group house in Oakland together with all the possibilities that one could fathom. What I will miss the most about Les — without a question — are those morning talks on the side of my bed. Or when she would come to my room, to my bed, and grab my shoulders and scream “Jack” in my face before she would tell me of her latest news, or her previous night’s dreams.
California fell in love with Les — with her excitement and joy. And Les fell in love with California. And that is certainly the greatest gift I have ever received. I watched her laugh, cry, sing and fall in love.
I find solace that our last encounter was a great one. While I was heading to work, Les came back for some forgotten items for her much anticipated cross-country trip. She sat on the back of the car and I on my bike. I figured I should go to work because I was running late. But hey, she was my good friend, and I would rather talk to her. We had only a few moments together then we said,” I love you — have fun”. I gave her a kiss on her checks and I rode off. For selfish reasons I wish Les could come back, although I know that she was completely fulfilled with the life she had created for herself