Upon my arrival in my soon to be cell, located in Big Sandy, Texas, I was pointed the way to what they called “booth city” rows of tin huts, un-air conditioned with four bunk beds and two small portable closets. The huts were used for the flocks of worshippers from area churches who came to hear four hours or more of sermons per day during what this cult referred to has the Holy Days. This church kept the Jewish Holy Days. Go figure. I was called in fairly soon, before the big desk, ensconced on the other side was God’s right hand man. I received my orders, “do not talk to the men here, don’t cause trouble.” What does that directive mean? I sincerely was afraid to ask. Someone from on high knows something I don’t, so I will do as I am told.
Suddenly, I was asked a question, listen, I heard it right. It was not another directive, no it was a question coming at me from over top of the big desk. I paid close attention now, these are words coming from somewhere in the heavens and being passed through the vocal cords of God’s right hand man. I considered myself a humble and willing servant so I listened closely. The question was “how did you get in here?” Is this a trick question? I know he is not talking about the plane I flew in on, I didn’t arrive on a broom (better not make that wise crack) but I just might have had the appearance of having had to walk to Texas from Ohio.
It was hot and humid there, every breath sucked in mosquitoes. I smoothed my skirt with my damp hands. Get hold of yourself young woman!!! I swallowed hard and then said I was sent here, the local minister told me to apply. He picked up my file, opened it and remarked that I had written in my application letter that I had come from a farm, I moved to the farm when I was seven years old. I nodded yes and then affirmed with my dry sticky tongue that was correct. Telling something other than the truth never occurred to me, like when you meet people and they say they have been to Harvard, later you find out they flunked out of high school. The authority voice in the room told me I did not look like a farm girl or act like a farm girl. Too late for lessons. Hey, I could do an awesome pig call, should I prove my farm roots to him? I killed a cottonmouth snake, that tried to bite me, I could demonstrate that. It would be a hoot. Anyone got a rubber snake for my demo? Oh hell, give a real one. I was becoming hysterical. Nervousness does that to me.
This man in front of me was cold and serious and apparently could not read my file or see that I was older and had been in a responsible working position. normally held by much older women. I think he had an agenda already in mind. Read the blasted file I kept saying to myself!!! Please, give me some credit dude, I have learned something. I mean REALLY, did they have to pick the hay out of my hair when I went forty miles to the big city? NO!!!! I appeared normal when I worked in the city, naive thanks to help from this isolationist church.
I became acquainted with powerful union bosses, and high powered lawyers . Can’t he read that I worked three years as an office manager. My union boss was on the road, or simply there only long enough to dictate reams of letters, I was an A student in shorthand and office practice. I typed the letters and signed his named, mailed them out. Sometimes, thirty at a time. I did payroll, deposited taxes, I did all the banking. I was an honor roll student my senior year. Yes, they used shorthand in Neanderthal days where I came from. In fact it was necessary and you’d better be good at it. I had my other work set out for me at my job, collecting union dues, compiling reports, balance sheets, phone calls, lots of mistake free contracts to type using carbon paper for the copies. No corrections were allowed on contracts. These were the days when carbons were used, there had to be six originally typed and error free contracts, no Xerox copies.
When my work was done I was instructed that I could to do anything I wanted to downtown and I did. I had the keys to the office to open up and lock up. I had the combination to the huge safe as well. I spent whole afternoons exploring the city and shopping. I had a position, not just a job.
Secretaries in the building where I worked, took me under their wings because I was youngest in the building. They worked for the AFL-CIO, Tax Department for Cincinnati, and Administrative assistants for high powered lawyers in the building. These people liked me, why does no one in this church like me? I did not exactly crawl straight from under a hay stack to Podunk nowhere in Big Sandy, Texas, where many strutted around like peacocks. In those years I was responsible and respected as well. I ate with the fine ladies in nice downtown restaurants, like the Cricket, Maisonette and The Colony. We also stayed late and went to movies. One time I was just a foot away from President Kennedy. He paid special attention to my friend and I, he smiled broadly and spoke to us. Now, as a senior citizen I do have a curiosity about the sneaky ways of God’s Holy men.
I had an experience at age twenty in the local branch of the Radio Church of fraud in Cincinnati. A gentleman was visiting from Pasadena, I was fairly new to this cult, I believe I heard he was an assistant of some sort. After church my father walked up to me and told me I would be accompanying this stranger to a party at a deacon’s house. Inside me there started an immediate fire, hot flames, it roared and burned. I protested to my father to no avail. I had not even met this stranger. He had asked my father’s permission to abduct me, he had not the decency to let me refuse him. I stood outside under a tree after church, arms crossed filled with dread. I knew that not one person would rescue me. The church building itself was a dirty rented Vet’s hall, oh but not so this church’s headquarters, the czar of Russia had nothing on Herbert W. Armstrong.
Soon I was told to get into the car with a man I did not know. I had a brother one year younger than me, I would have given my life for him, he on the other hand could have cared less about me. This stranger tried to pour alcohol down my throat when out of sight of the curious eyes. I had never had a drink before and I spewed it out. At the party he was drinking heavily, I stayed as far away as I could while the deacons and others drank and partied on. Drank heavily and partied on ..oh I guess I said that. After the mini orgy was over, it was time to make the long trek to my isolated farm. My home was a mile into the backwoods. We owned 42 acres. I was dead silent on the way home.
As I feared the stranger tried to force himself on me, I fought back. I stopped the assault, my neck hurt from being grabbed by him. I wanted the worst to happen to this man. If I had it do over he would be walking with a permanent limp and producing zero children. I was safe, finally home, well as safe as home was for me. I hid myself out of sight. The stranger spent the night. I stayed awake all night long, burning tears of rage and humiliation flowing down my face. The next morning I was instructed to get two of our horses and escort the pervert on a horseback ride. I did not say a word, what could I say? No one would listen. I saddled up, when I had the stranger out of sight of the farm house, I dismounted, left my horse run loose and left him to figure out what to do next. I simply vanished. He left finally.
I received a card from him once he arrived back in Pasadena. His card said “I hope you enjoyed our date as much as I did.” I torched that note, watching it burn his words made me feel a little in control but not enough. Back to the day he left. I called the local minister and told him what had happened to me. He said since he had probably already touched down in Pasadena it was then God’s will that he not be punished for what he did. I now wonder if, indeed he was called by this minister and told my story, I would say he did call the pervert and I would also say that the pervert made up a lie to protect himself ..no doubt along these lines “she came on to me.” The reason I say that is because he told a story during my silence in the car of how a 14 year old girl whom he was practicing leading songs with, while she played piano; how she had come on to him and how it was difficult to control himself.
He was a child molester, a young girl molester, a pervert. In later years I heard that he was involved in sexual orgies. No doubt he did a fake repentance and was right back to continue with his molestations and blame his lust on the women. My guess is that I was condemned upon my arrival at Ambassador College in Texas, as some sort of lascivious young woman, just looking to seduce an unwilling young man.
It has taken all these years to see this ordeal for what it really was in hind sight. I was isolated nearly from the get go at Ambassador College and at the time, I could not understand.
Okay, the wheel of fortune is turning now, so I made two good female friends, oops wrong move toots, back inside dear, before God’s right hand man, more orders from God. I was told I was becoming a member of the three musketeers, therefore, I would not be walking to and from class with the other two girls. Alrighty then. It is getting really ugly now, something is just slightly out of kilter. What is it? It can’t be the religion, it has, after all, that Self Ordained Apostle right there on his throne. A senior class student and my roomy took pity on me and invited me to breakfast with her and to meet up with her each day for lunch. Oh it didn’t take long, she came to me and apologized that she would no longer be allowed the privilege of my friendship. She was told her relationship with me was OUT of line. Well, of course it was out of line. I had a friend, I might not be as miserable as they would like for me to be. I digress here. Back to my story. Exit to stage Hell, Act one, Take one.
Away from the peering eyes of my parents, (I had two for a while) could I find the young woman I had become? I tried not to cry (I am fairly tough) (I am now, that is for sure) and to look at the bright side of this whole situation, I could socialize, be normal, make friends, OMG maybe a real date? Okay, I tried to smile through my watery eyes at my prospects. It is going to be alright. I packed a royal blue satin dress given to me, it was used. It had been used in a wedding. A bridesmaid’s dress. Let’s see here, something old (the royal blue satin dress.) A friend of mine had worn it, so that made it very special to me. It was to be for the formal events. Now for something new, I bought a pair of long white gloves and a dyed pair of royal blue shoes to match my dress. I am ready now. (I am so silly, something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, dear me, that saying is for a wedding!) At the time though fanciful me just sucked up my circumstances and laughed at my own self.
Thank you God for my sense of humor, it has helped me over lots of rough spots. That rhyme was in my head as I sang an Elvis song, packing for my journey. In my local area I was heard humming an Elvis song while in the ladies room and a whole sermon was directed at me, it was about the evils of such vile behavior. I looked like a whipped dog as I sat on that front row in the local congregation of the Cincinnati Church of Snobs …branch of the World Wide Church of Snobs. Cult incorporated.
Now, surely it would be a different venue at their college, wouldn’t it? Little did I know, this would be a trip nightmares are made of. Decent into the maelstrom. Okay, anyway, I am now prepared for my first dance at age 21, God’s college with, hopefully, a handsome escort to walk me to a dance. I would twirl and sway in my Royal Blue Satin Dress as the music played on. Stuff most girls look forward to by the age of 16. A freight train I had not yet seen coming, was on the way, it was still not in sight yet, but it would be, oh yes, it would be and it would be loaded with deceit aplenty, disappointment enough to make a young woman’s eyes bleed. MacArthur’s Park is melting in dark, all the sweet green icing flowing down…words I relate to my former life, along with the song At Seventeen.
I quickly recognized after my arrival in Texas with my royal blue satin dress, that many if not all of the young females at AC wanted husbands quickly and the males wanted wives also quickly. The clamoring for attention in the race to snag a mate at an unprecedented rate was not in my best interest, it would not have mattered if it was, I was quickly rejected as unusable. What about dating, courting, dances, dinner? This was not what I expected. What about engagements? Formalities? NEVER MIND, there would be NONE of that idealistic adventure for me. No, not the farm girl, not the dreamer, not the girl who prayed for everyone on my knees an hour a day. Not for the girl who read her Bible an hour a day. Not for the girl who was an innocent victim. I was put on a LIST, this list consisted of misfits, rejects, those considered too homely or different (by whose standards) to mix with the chosen ones, those of us not fit for mating.
Cults operate that way, divide and conquer. The “misfit” list hung in the library or as it was called, then The ” Red Wood Building” for all to see, prior to the formal events. So the college tactics of human manipulation essentially went according to some sort of “class” system, their version of it. There was a category you were put into, not long after arrival there. Potentials and non-potentials. This college vowed that all things worldly were useless, yet I noted that students who had spent any time in a so called worldly college shot straight to the top, immediately given positions over the lowly ones. The ones who had ministers or deacons for fathers, yep, same thing, straight to the top of the heap.
I was too naive to break out of the cast I was put into. The aggressive ones just moved on. Although, some were sent home right off the bat, others were allowed to hang around and waste their time and youth. They were unaware that they were wasting anything though. They figured if they devoted themselves totally, they would be given a nod and used in the wicked work at some point.
I saw unions blessed between males and females that I honestly felt in my heart, that through the folly of youth, raging restricted hormones, pressures from the hierarchy to unite and reproduce little robots (if found worthy) would surely doom those unions of the hastily concocted marriages . This college was about hooking up young people, brain washing them and sending them out as couples to spread the “so called” Gospel, unholy doctrines of complete deceit. I was right, these unions failed by the dozens. I saw others who were sincere, honest, not phony at all, who were genuinely in love broken up by the hierarchy.
Local churches of this cult were busy as bees carrying out these same putrid human violations. Marriage is the biggest test of developing character you will be faced with, it is an honor to find a proper mate. Marriage is a work in progress. This cult mocked that privilege of marriage, dominating young people’s emotions. Ministers in the local churches broke up long time marriages, some people who were married for nearly all their lives would be separated, generally for having had a previous marriage. They even imagined they were SEX experts and violated the sanctity of the bedroom. The cult leaders had their noses in every inch of the followers lives.
The members lives were put under a microscope, once they fell victim to the cult. Young people were simply “hooking up” “no physical contact mind you” (well some had special dispensations) afraid of being left out, then quickly married. The END OF DAYS WAS AT HAND, THE APOSTLE SAID SO. End date 1972 and it was roaring down on us and then, BAM, it will all be over kiddies! Not really (this is a get rich quick scheme) you give them all your STUFF, you will have no use for it anyway. Fires belching out of the bowels of the earth, the ministry needs that loot to spread that unholy word to one and all. The Plain Truth About The World Tomorrow!! That is the lie the sheep accepted that was taught by this cult. This group was shaped like a pyramid, the fatted Apostle at the top, with jets, limos, gold, finery enough to make a Pharaoh drool. Then it goes down the line, down to the BOTTOM, to the dumb sheep who pay for it all and sacrificed to the bone like we did to pay 30 percent of my husband’s gross salary.
To be continued…