Memoir: I won and I Lost … Or How More Is Less

daddy-ma-and-fam-in-color
My family in 1958 (I’m 2nd to left, middle row)

 

(Not Hurricane High School, but this photo depicts how I recall it back when I attended 6th-8th grades, between 1957–1960.)red brick school



A Memoir Story by Beulah Stephany Spencer-LeBaron




It was the 1959–1960 school year in small-town Hurricane, Utah. And everybody in my eighth-grade English class hated our teacher Miss Naegle – everybody but me. They complained about her incessantly, saying things like: Miss Naegle talks too much, isn’t fair, and she gives too hard homework!

But I was taking her class for the second year in a row because I had learned so much in her 7th-grade English class. And I found her lessons and methodology exciting and challenging.

For one thing, she used an old-fashioned method of seating wherein every class member sat in his/her desk that snaked around the edge of the room according to his/her grades.

The “A” students sat at “the top” of the class. The “B” students came next in succession. Then the “C”s followed as the students in their desks continued to snake on down to the bottom of the room where the “D” students sat — and finally the “F’s.”

The “F” students were the ones who hated Miss Naegle the most. They acted out every chance they got. What did they have to lose? They were already as low as they could go. Sadly, the only attention these possibly dyslexic, ADHD, or otherwise learning-disabled children got was when they acted like smart alecks and class clowns.

But the competition among the students at the top of the class was exciting and rife. We got plenty of attention. I was usually sitting in one of the first three top seats. But I never thought of myself as better or smarter than anyone else. I just expected myself to sit in the top section because that was where I fell, grade-wise. I’d gotten used to enjoying this coveted position in the room. And used to thinking of myself as one of the “A” students. So did everyone else in the class.

But I was very shy and highly sensitive. Would cry if the teacher looked at me with a sternly raised eyebrow. Otherwise, I was generally having tremendous fun sitting somewhere within the top seats in class competing with the other top students who were enjoying vying with me to stay in or get back in the top seat. Since it came easily for me to stay up there, it added to the reasons I had liked Miss Naegle’s class enough to take it a second year in a row.

But one day, just as band class was over, I got up to go to my English class only to notice a dark wet blotch on the behind of my red plaid skirt. Mortified, I held my clarinet case behind me to cover my butt and rushed to “The Old Maid”–as we commonly called Miss Naegle (she was thirty, unmarried, and looked really old to us thirteen-year-olds):

“Miss Naegle,” I embarrassingly whispered, “I have an emergency! My monthly just started and it’s showing on the back of my skirt. May I be excused to go to the restroom?” 

Why sure,” Miss Naegle crooned.

But when I got back to class, everybody yelled, “Beulah’s late!! She has to go to the bottom of the class!” And Miss Naegle did it with class:

“Beulah, you’re late!” she chastised me. “You know the rules! Now go sit down at the bottom of the class!” She pretended she hadn’t excused my entering “late,” though I had actually come to class early and gotten her permission to go use the restroom! So I was not only humiliated but devastated and betrayed by my favorite teacher. She was only one of my teachers who showed “the little Saints” how to ostracize and persecute us Mormon fundamentalists in their midst.

So I was not only humiliated but devastated and betrayed by my favorite teacher. But she was only one of my teachers who showed “the little Saints” how to better ostracize and persecute us Mormon fundamentalists in their midst.

I knew grades were due to be made out arbitrarily any minute in Miss Naegle’s room in that religiously fanatic red-necked, red brick schoolhouse where all the “Latter Day Saints”/LDS were acceptable and all the “Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints”/ FLDS were not.

 “LDS” stands for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s commonly called “The Mormon Church.”  “FLDS” stands for The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or “The Fundamentalist Mormon Church.” 

The “FLDS,”  were not accepted–NOT wanted in that little redneck mainstream Mormon town. Our family had moved to Hurricane “temporarily,” three years before, after leaving the nearby Fundamentalist Mormon town of Short Creek.

I was going on ten years old when my parents left the Short Creek group because they had become disillusioned with many teachings and actions of that town and its self-proclaimed prophet, Leroy Johnson.

Short Creek is now called Colorado City (on the map) to take attention off this infamous polygamist town after it hit big-time news in 1953 due to its “BIG LOVE” activity and other lawlessness.

In 1953, Arizona (backed secretly by Utahan authorities) raided this renegade polygamist town in an all-out attempt to eradicate the polygamist cult infestation that was growing, lawlessly, on the twin borders of Utah and Arizona.

Unfortunately, the modus operandi failed, the same way The 2008 Texas Raid on El Dorado and the YFZ Ranch failed. The 1953 raid is now referred to as “The Short Creek Raid.” 

Although the Short Creek Raid basically failed, our government reached some success when around 1958, not long after the 1953 raid ended, an Interstate Highway was built that passed right through the middle of this secretive enclave. This secluded, law-unto-itself cult-hideaway could no longer remain totally hidden! 

But the infestation and insurrection still persists, though quelled somewhat now, thanks to the state of Texas that had the guts to stick to its guns and put Warren Jeffs behind bars for life — plus the teeth to jail a few other main leaders of this cult. Thank goodness at least for that!

Recently, the state of Arizona issued mandates to Colorado City (as of around July 2017) to divide up the land into Deeds of Trust that can be owned individually. Wow! Some progress at long last.

But, being a survivor of the 1953 Short Creek Raid that took place when I was seven years old, I was not pleased with Texas’ decision to return the 464 children back to their lawbreaking polygamist-cult parents.

During that El Dorado YFZ Raid, I had prayed fervently that Texas would NOT send those abused, trapped kids back to their brainwashed cult parents. For one thing, children born into Mormon fundamentalism are not protected under the rights other American citizens take for granted.

But Texas succumbed: Backed up against the wall by naïve public sentiment and news-media smoke screening, it ended up sending those misfortunate kids back to the environment of White slavery they were unfortunately born into.

Due to the pressure and ignorance of the public that forced the Texas Government to return the YFZ kids to the abuse of their extremist and secluded polygamist cult, my prayers weren’t fulfilled. Suffice it to say, I wish I had been put in a good foster home instead of sent back to live with my Mormon fundamentalist parents once The 1953 Raid ended.

Because I was sent back to continue a backward lifestyle in a law-breaking, abusive, secluded enclave where I would be raised a polygamist by brainwashed, fanatic, laws-unto-themselves parents who didn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground, lived only for the hereafter, and thought the sky was falling!


NOTE: The following is a picture of me with my classmates when I was in first grade in Short Creek –It’s a mixed-grade class where Verda Lartsen taught grades 1st-through 5th.


me-shortcreek
Photo of my Short Creek, Arizona/Utah Elementary School mixed-grade class of 1st-5th graders, taken when I was in first grade — two months before the 1953 Short Creek Raid.

Sing your song,
Dance your dance,
Tell your tale.
—Frank McCourt,
 Modern-day Dickens, 
Author of best-selling classics
Angela’s Ashes, ‘Tis, and Teacher Man




They Changed the Name of Our Hometown*

1— They changed the name of our hometown the other day,
But in the hearts of some Short Creek will always stay;
The cliffs so high, the valleys filled with memories —
How can they change a hometown’s name or verse to trees?

2— Oh, I’ve been asked a thousand times or more, I guess,
If from the town Short Creek I came; I answer, “Yes;”
With head erect, I proudly say my hometown’s name;
But, since the change to “Colorado City,” it ain’t the same.

3— When I was ten, my family left my dear hometown;
For Colonia LeBaron, Mexico, we were bound.
But Hurricane, Utah became our four-year camping ground;
Still, throughout the years, I can’t forget Short Creek, I’ve found.

CHORUS:
 I’ve been asked a thousand times or more,
If from Short Creek I came;
With head held high, I answer “Yes,”
So proud to say the name;
But since the change to Colorado City,
It’s not the same;
So in my heart, the name “Short Creek”
Will still remain.
Tag:
And, in my heart, they’ll never change
My hometown’s name!


*NOTE: Original lyrics by David Stubbs.
~Verse 3, plus line & word changes by Stephany Spencer.
~~ Melody borrowed from Joe & Audrey Allison’s Classic Country song:
He’ll Have to Go” — 
First line: “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone.”


*In the following video, recorded March 3, 2018, I’m performing the above song, “They Changed the Name of Our Hometown,”  at the California Writer’s Club. Between nerves and lack of practice, I’ll be the first to say the rendition could use some work. I plan to eventually re-record and repost it. But this video gives an idea of how the melody goes.

 

 

 

 


PART TWO



me-with-church-mates
I’m on the right, second row back


We left off in Part One of, “I Won and I Lost,” where I was giving some backstory on a bit of Mormon Fundamentalist history and what my Mormon Fundamentalist family was doing in 1956 in the small mainstream Mormon town of Hurricane, Utah — a town where Mormon Fundamentalists were an enigma.

That is an understatement: We were a thorn in their sides — a reminder of when many of their ancestors lived polygamy until it was outlawed in the United States in 1862, forcing the LDS Mormon Church to officially discontinue it as a church doctrine in 1890. They did so in a written statement referred to as “The Manifesto,” written by the church’s then presiding Prophet, Wilford Woodruff. 

Wilford Woodruff was driven to this decision to prevent the LDS Mormons from being thrown off their land once again. The US government intended to take all the Mormon church’s money and property, among other things, if the Mormons did not abide by this law and ban the backward and barbaric practice of polygamy. Furthermore, Utah could not become a state in The Union till it did away with polygamy.

By 1956 and sixty-six years since the Mormon church had banned polygamy, Mormon fundamentalists in mainstream Mormon eyes were seen as undesirables, apostates, renegades, and lawbreakers.

Besides that, “Fundamentalists” or “The FLDS,” et Al., were regularly headlined negatively in the news, embarrassing mainline Mormons struggling to live by the laws of the land as well as live down their past stigmatization, and, at long last, fit in and respect the Rule of Law. This pattern continues today: Mormon Fundamentalists give mainstream Mormons a bad rap among non-Mormon societies who confuse them with the fanatic Mormon Fundamentalists.

But Hurricane, Utah and other Mormon towns around it are stop-off places or new homes for many refugees from the polygamist townships nearby. Mormon Fundamentalists who leave or escape polygamy, the FLDS dogma, and the control of Short Creek/Colorado City, Hilldale, Centennial Park, and other polygamist towns nearby, hope to make a new life for themselves and their families “Out in the world” –- in other words, outside these renegade and extremist Mormon Fundamentalist strongholds.

My family was one of the families who fled the secluded, strangulating, renegade Mormon fundamentalist Short Creek cult, using nearby Hurricane, Utah as a stop-off place in 1956–It was a place to get our bearings after going through the traumatic two-and-a-half-year *Short Creek Raid

 When that fiasco was over, the state of Arizona released Daddy from jail/parole, along with all the other men of Short Creek who chose jail over agreeing to quit living or believing in polygamy, the most important tenet of their religion.

My father and the rest of the Mormon Fundamentalist men in Short Creek knew the self-proclaimed Prophet Joseph Smith said God gave him a revelation commanding “The Saints”/ i.e., Mormons to live plural marriage or be damned to Hell for all eternity.”

So they’d be damned (pun intended) if they would be caught dead not having more than one wife and all the kids they could produce through this “Principle”! In other words, they chose jail over Hell — or Hell in this life rather than eternal damnation in the next life.

My parents’ plans were to stay in Hurricane ’till Daddy earned enough money to move us to the new Fundamentalist Mormon cult they had joined, The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times,  headquartered in *Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico. Two of my mother’s seven brothers, Uncles Joel and Ervil LeBaron, spawned this new extremist Mormon Fundamentalist sect in 1955. I say they both started it for the following reasons:

My Uncle Joel was a self-proclaimed agrarian hay-seed Prophet who convinced some of his family he had gotten “the mantle” or “Scepter of Power”– the “Priesthood keys to the kingdom”– from his dying father, Alma Dayer LeBaron — who claimed to have gotten these “keys” from his grandfather, Benjamin F. Johnson. And, according to Uncle Joel, Benjamin F. Johnson got “the keys to the kingdom” from his “spiritual father,” Joseph Smith before he died!

At the same time, this scrabble-farming, peddler, painter, polygamist, self-proclaimed “profit,” my Uncle Joel, also claimed to have gotten revelations or a vision from God and angels who visited him in person and told him he was the Prophet who held the scepter of power to set the Mormon church *back in order. After this manifestation, Uncle Joel decided to set up his own church. His brothers Wesley and Floren helped him register it legally, in Salt Lake City, Utah in the mid-1950s.

But his somewhat intellectual and scholarly though not-well-educated  eighteen-months-younger brother Ervil (who had obtained a small-town Mexican-Mormon-colony education before dropping out of school at age fifteen) found the Scriptures to support his much-less-scholarly brother Joel’s claims to be “The One Mighty and Strong.” (Their Prophet Joseph Smith foretells of this Prophet’s coming to prepare the saints for the second coming of Christ.)

 Ervil was also his brother Joel’s mouthpiece, doing most of the missionary work and pulpit-preaching that got the groveling cult off the ground. Ervil’s biggest contribution was some doctrinal pamphlets he scribed, especially his “Priesthood Expounded”–persuasive among a few mainstream Mormons.

Priesthood Expounded” is the Mormon fundamentalist Lit some young, impressionable, wayward Mormon missionaries in the French mission field got hold of around 1958. The pamphlet’s contents converted around thirteen of these idealistic visionaries to Uncle Joel’s cult, “The Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times.”

Seven of these rather bright, young, enthusiastic Mormon French missionaries soon thereafter joined the indigent LeBaron scrabble-cult in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico.

It was the shot-in-the-arm that got my Uncle Joel and Ervil’s cult off the ground onto the map. Especially responsible for this cult’s take-off was my now-deceased dreamer-of-a-husband– the leading (and misleading) charismatic French missionary Con, William Preston Tucker.

So my Mother’s brother Ervil was the “golden goose” who laid the golden egg that hatched her brother Joel’s “Church” which hatched into a small goose-like success; i.e., it spawned a flock of gosling followers — because those golden-goose eggs got into the hands of the right geese … or better still, the wrong geese–those seven exuberant misled French missionaries!

But just as unbelievably ironic is that Uncle Ervil, around twenty years later, turned into the biggest goose of all — actually the biggest gander: He, Ervil-the-egghead, in 1972, vengefully brought his brother Joel’s “church” (“the embryonic egg”) back down by rivalrously cracking it apart!

How? He had his henchmen kill his brother Joel. Thus, murderous and maniacal Cain-like Ervil broke The Golden Egg “Able” right in two: He rolled it off the table. It died a most-messy death … gooey egg yolk and albumin all over the place! Lots of grieving people were left wiping tears of anguish and loss from their face at the prophet Joel’s funeral service.

Yeah, evil-Ervil cracked that LeBaron goose egg “Able,” wide open. Metaphorically speaking, Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, never to be put together again at all!*

But out of the cracked “Humpty Dumpty” hatched LeBaron gosling offshoots–even some Colonia LeBaron “Golden Eggs,” say fans of the Mexico LeBaron branch. But for sure, it’s a LeBaron history still in the making, still in the taking, still making news-breaking history …and still being written and rewritten.

But just as uncanny, unbelievable, cracked, and bizarre as some of the above LeBaron history is, is that of how Mother’s seven brothers, as well as her father, the crackpot Dayer LeBaron, each claimed at one time or another in their life to be “The One Mighty and Strong Prophet — “The Firstborn sent to prepare the world for the return of Christ.”

Some say my Uncle Verlan never claimed to be a prophet. However, I talked to two of his daughters years ago who truly believed he was “The One Mighty and Strong” –their father having succeeded Joel when Ervil murdered him! There are as many stories as there are people who tell them when it comes to “The LeBaron Story.”)

However, other than Uncle Joel and Ervil’s Mormon cults, none of these other eccentric millennial LeBaron upstarts made it off the ground onto the map! Instead (as in the case of Uncles Ervil and Joel’s “goose eggs”), each of them was nothing but a miserable inflated flock of wayward doomsday “geese.” 

In other words, each of my other uncles’ cults, like Joel and Ervil’s cults, was but a bag of wind that barely made it off the ground before it flew over the cuckoo’s nest, took a nosedive, did a complete tailspin, and topped it off by turning upside down the world for Christ’s return. That is, each of my uncles’ cult’s succeeded only in toppling into a world of hell people seeking heaven … a story my Memoir will tell.


*You may use your search engine to obtain more information on this Short Creek Raid. I won’t be getting into it until later on in my Memoir blogs.

*Colonia LeBaron, itself, was founded in Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico by my maternal grandfather Alma Dayer LeBaron, in 1944, on land my father and mother left my maternal grandparents when they returned to live in the United States.

You may check Wikipedia and others sites for more history, details, pictures, etc., to do with these topics.)

* Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS Church became “out of order,” according to Mormon fundamentalists when President Wilford Woodruff signed The Manifesto in 1890 to do away with Joseph Smith’s revelation that said the Saints must live polygamy or be damned.

* See:Prophet of Blood,” by Ben Bradlee and Dale Van Atta, “The 4 O’clock Murders,” by Scott Anderson; and “Cult Insanity,” by Irene Spencer.

Also check my Website’s Menu for “Media on My Extended Family, Friends, and Mormon Fundamentalist Cults.”
A
nd My other Media post: “Famous ‘n’ Infamous Relatives.”


PART THREE

me-in-plaid-14-1
Beulah Stephany Spencer de LeBaron in Colonia LeBaron, circa 1960, age 14 (clothesline in  background)

I left off in Part Two of “I Won and I Lost,” where my parents had moved their family from the fundamentalist Mormon town of Short Creek to the nearby mainstream Mormon small town of Hurricane, Utah. I was ten years old then.

My parents planned to stay in Hurricane only four-and-a-half years, while Daddy worked till he turned sixty-five and could begin collecting Social Security and his Veteran’s Pension. Then their plan was to move to Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico where my uncle Joel had started a new Mormon fundamentalist sect. My maternal grandmother, five uncle’s, and other relatives lived there. And Mother, herself, was born in Mexico in 1921 in the mountainous Colonia Pacheco, Chihuahua — a Mormon colony.

But whatever my family’s plans, we were not welcome in Hurricane. For one thing, the Mormon Fundamentalist “Short Cricker’s” were close neighbors to the mainstream Mormon “Hurricanites” … too close! So they often frequented Hurricane to shop, go to school, live, work, and so on.

 And Mormon Fundamentalists (FLDS) almost always stuck out due to the females wearing the same-mold, crown-like “Plyg-dos,”(hairdos) and attire. In other words, most FLDS made no effort to fit in. Rather, they took pride in standing out because they believed they were OUTSTANDING and “a peculiar people,” as spoken of in the Scriptures. They believed they were God’s chosen hand-full; i.e.,  superior to the mainstream Mormons who had given up “The fullness of the gospel.”

In my class of 1960, out of eighty-four students, David Lloyd and I (both Plygs–short for polygamists) were the most outstanding students in Hurricane, Utah and its surrounding small towns of students bussed to Hurricane for schooling. And my sister Judith Spencer, I, and another polygamist from Short Creek, Fawn Stubbs, had been the best artists that Hurricane’s Elementary, Junior High, and High School had seen in many years!

Mainstream Mormons/ LDS Mormons didn’t like polygamists out-doing “the Saints.” The Mormon fundamentalists/ FLDS out-doing in any way the mainstream Mormons only made  the Mormon Fundamentalists an extra-unnerving and unwanted infestation for this small agrarian town of LDS Mormons whose own ancestors gave up polygamy in 1890, under government duress and fear of losing their lands and homes, again, if they did not abide by US laws so as to become a state in the Union. 

 LDS Mormons followed the mandates of their church leaders to give up “plural marriage” despite their Prophet Joseph Smith’s commandment to live polygamy or be damned. But now, here were these perennial thorn-in-their-side FLDS Mormons, like my family, who thumbed their nose at mainline Mormons who gave up polygamy instead of following the Prophet Joseph Smith’s revelation to live polygamy — live it despite what the laws of the land said and in spite of persecution and prosecution.

In fact, my father would tell the LDS they were going to hell because they gave up “the law of plural marriage”! My true-believing, fanatic, antagonistic parents further riled the LDS townspeople by telling me and my siblings to preach polygamy and the “fullness of the gospel,” to our schoolmates and friends — should we ever acquire friends, given our isolated and ostracized position in the town.

We were literally to inform our peers and Mormon acquaintances that they and their parents and family were going to be condemned to hell in the hereafter for having given up the most important commandment and revelation the Prophet Joseph Smith ever gave!

Where did my parents and other Mormon fundamentalists come off thinking they knew more than anybody else and were the only ones with the true religion — the only ones going to heaven? Such provincial thinking! Plus, they forgot that “Pride goeth before a fall.” So you can imagine how unwelcome our family was among these mainstream Mormons.

With this history under our belt, let’s return to the little 1960’s red-necked, red-brick schoolhouse where Miss Naegle unfairly yet too conveniently allowed the little Rednecks to topple me from my coveted seat at the top of the class and dump me down at the very bottom of our class — the “F” section. 

Making this abuse and betrayal even more embarrassing and painful was her joining in with my little redneck-rivals as they clapped and cheered loudly at my misfortune–as though we were at a ballgame and the mainstream Mormons were winning. (I’ve referred to them as “Rednecks” for effect. But, honestly, my family and I were more red-necked than most of them!)

However, as God and luck often intervened on my behalf, homework was checked aloud in class each morning following roll call. Because I had no mistakes in my homework, that got me immediately back up into the B+ section! So my peers and teacher didn’t get very far sending me to the bottom of the class. It lasted all of fifteen minutes. But listen to what happened next:

Seeing how I had so rapidly ascended back into almost the “A” section, suddenly, without warning, Miss Naegle snatched her BIG BLACK GRADE BOOK, exclaiming, “It’s time for me to give out your final grade for the semester!”

As I said before, she determined it arbitrarily, by wherever we happened to be sitting in her class whenever she chose to give out the final grades for our Report Card.

In other words, my 8th-Grade English teacher was making sure I did not again get straight “A’s” on my Report Card — the way I had my first semester at Hurricane Jr. High School when the faculty did not yet know I, the attractive, outstanding, talented new 7th-Grader, was a “Plyg” from Short Creek!

But every semester, after the first Report Card I got at Hurricane High School (where my Jr. High School classes were held), my teachers found ways to unfairly give me a lower grade to keep me from making front-page news again the way I had the year before, in 1959, when I first started Seventh Grade there.

That year, my first semester in seventh grade, I had been headlined in the town’s newspaper as the only student from 7th to 11th grade to have made straight “A’s.”

The LDS church and other Mormons refer to themselves as “The Saints,”  or “Latter Day Saints” — or “LDS.” This LDS faculty who gave me my grades in 1959 had not yet learned by the end of my first semester in 7th Grade that my family was from Short Creek.

In other words, they hadn’t found out we were “FLDS.” That is, we were “Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints,” not “LDS.” And the Latter-day Saint faculty of Hurricane High School needed to know this! They kept tabs on who the Plygs–the FLDS were in their classes.

As soon as the Hurricane High School/ Jr. High faculty and the town found out that I and my family were Mormon fundamentalists, they let their students know.

And immediately thereafter, the kids began calling my siblings and me names like “Licey,” “Stinky,” and “Short Cricker.” But their favorite slur was “Plyg.” How it chafed, hurt, and humiliated me when my fellow classmates pointed fingers at me, called me names, and made fun of highly-sensitive me.

To add to the painful persecution and marginalization, if I should sit near one of them in class, they would quickly get up and shout, “Ooooo!! Licey! Beulah has lice!” Then they would shun me by moving to a different seat where they pretended to blow the lice off them. But many of these little “saints/ devils,” were descendants of polygamists themselves.

It was very painful going to school in that small Mormon town, even though I was Mormon, too — just not “LDS” Mormon. It would have been less painful had my family tried to fit in. And had they also accepted the community. Instead, they continued to act as though they were better than all the mainstream Mormons around them — to the point they condemned them to their faces, at times!!

My parents made it very hard on their little children who had to bear the brunt of such behavior and of being different. My family’s not trying to fit in and not “doing as Rome did when in Rome” only added to our being spurned, resented, persecuted, and despised at school by our peers and teachers.

It would have been better for us Mormon Fundamentalist children participating in the LDS Mormon public schools if our parents had let us be a part of the mainstream Mormons. Instead, they made no effort to teach us how to get along with them — nor anyone else not of our Mormon fundamentalist faith.

How un-Christian, right?! But my fundamentalist parents believed it was their way or the highway. They thought it their God-ordained duty to call to repentance mainline Mormons who didn’t believe like they did. And they incessantly taught me and my siblings that we were above and beyond the mainstream Mormons because they were not living “the fullness of the gospel” the Prophet Joseph Smith had taught.

Be that what it was, at the end of every school semester, the Hurricane newspaper printed the names of the straight “A” students from Hurricane High/Jr. High School. Their one embarrassing oversight on my behalf, when I was in 7th grade, was enough to put the whole Hurricane High School Mormon faculty on alert to not let that happen again!

In other words, make sure “Plyg” Beulah Spencer did not end up frontline news in the town’s newspapers, again, as “the only student from 7th to 11th grade who got straight ‘A’s’!”

Many parents and leaders in the town were furious that semester when a “Polygamist” got the top ranking in town for the best grades; ie, had out-ranked/ outflanked all the little “Saints,” from 7th to 11th grade.

So now you understand why Miss Naegle unfairly got out her BLACK Grade Book at the very moment I was almost back into the “A” section.

                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~PART FOUR~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

me-in-plaid-dress-14
Beulah Stephany Spencer de LeBaron, age 14 (Clothesline in background)

We left off in Part 3 where I had almost gotten back up into the “A” section of our class. Then my eighth-grade English teacher Miss Naegle suddenly and unexpectedly snatched up her BIG BLACK GRADE BOOK and said:

“I told you I would surprise you as to when I would give out your final grades for this first semester’s Report Card. Well, now is that moment! SURPRISE!!”

As I said before, she determined our grades willy-nilly. That is, she determined them by whatever section of her class we were sitting in whenever she chose to give out the Final Grade for our Report Card — be it the “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F” section — whether we really deserved that grade or not. It was all subjective on purpose so she could assign grades in any way, shape, or form that suited her purpose. 

In other words, she had it set up so she could manipulate our grades so “Plygs” wouldn’t get the top grades … and so she could please parents who complained that her grading system wasn’t fair so their “poor” child never got an “A.”

To be exact, this LDS teacher was making sure I did not get on the Honor Roll again as an “A” student and thus be once more headlined in the town’s newspaper. The Mormon faculty now knew who I, the high achieving, beautiful, new student was: I was “Miss Pliggie from goll-dern Short-Cricky” — someone small-town Hurricane did not want making big-time news. 

As I said in my last blog, there was an uproar in Hurricane, Utah in 1958 when the little town newspaper printed my picture along with a piece about me being “The Top Student,” and the only one to obtain straight “A’s” out of all of the students from 7th through 11th grades.

A teacher-faculty uproar followed after they found out the Straight-A 7th Grader the newspaper article talked about was me, a Mormon fundamentalist! Mormon fundamentalists were lepers in that small town. So how was it I could be showing up all the little “Saints” from LDS families?

It WASN’T FUNNY!
People get envious and come undone
When outdone by the very one
They thought was down-under-’em —
Their untouchable, scapegoat scum.

So now you understand why my teacher got out that Grade Book before I could move back up into the “A” section. And why she once again betrayed me – and in so doing, continued to show the class how to treat the “Plygs.”  Actually, it was a Cold War — the LDS Mormons against the FLDS Mormons!

So my classmates sat and watched Miss Naegle unfairly give me my first “B+,” down from the “A” I’d had the whole semester and year before – till that opportunistic moment in her grading system where she was able to give out our final Report Card grades for the semester simply based on where we were sitting the moment she maneuvered our sitting arrangement so she could give me the grade she wanted to give me — not the grade I earned.

But hey! It appears this action not only kept her in good favor with the Mormon town and teaching faculty but with Sammy, Jr.’s family too. His father had recently been in to see Miss Naegle saying:

 “Sammy tries so hard to get an “A,” but no matter what he does, he never gets into the top section so as to come home with an “A” in English like his older brother in High School always does!”

(Sammy, Jr.’s father was Sammy, Sr., better known as “Bishop Sam Johnson” (Not his real name) — the most important position in a small Mormon town.)

Our teacher could only give so many “A’s,” “B’s,” and so forth, or our school would lose its accreditation. So little C-average-Sam got his first “A” that semester, or probably ever — and was so happy – and I got my first B+ — and was so unhappy … and Miss Naegle stayed in good with all the Saints in “Little Mormon Town.”

It was not a good example to let us “polygamists,” or so-called “apostate Mormons,” outdo “the Saints.” So the rest of the LDS faculty (after finding out who I was) also did their utmost to keep me from shining– did their utmost to put the Saints’ kids above me, whenever possible. Allowing Mormon fundamentalist children to be shining examples did not set a desirable president for the “little Saints.”

A few months later, as luck would have it, the second semester was looming to a close and Miss Naegle’s final Report Card grades were due to be given out again at any moment … when suddenly she gave us the most formidable homework assignment I’ve ever experienced or could ever hope to experience again in my born days:

While peering over the horned rims of her 1950’s cat-eyed, rose-colored glasses, she stared sternly down at us, the way she always did when she wanted to punctuate her words.

Then, that little blond haired, red-necked, red-faced spinster in the little red-brick schoolhouse, Hurricane High, assigned us the whole 105 Prepositions of the English language, vociferously stipulating:

“These words are to be memorized in alphabetical order by Friday!” Knowing that our last day of 8th Grade was only four days away, she boomed,And whoever doesn’t memorize the whole list in order gets an “F” as their final grade!!”

I had already committed to memory her list of Helping Verbs: Is, are, was, were, has, have, had, does, do, did, am, be, been, being, may, must, might, can, could, shall, should, will, would.

And I had memorized other lists of words she had assigned us to learn, such as all the Conjunctions, Subordinate, and Coordinate Conjunctions. And rules like: “Adverbs tell: How, when, where, why, affirm, deny.”  And “Adjectives tell: What kind, which one, how many, whose.”

As I hung out the wash that Monday evening, I began the daunting task of memorizing the whole monotonous mass of Prepositions — on top of doing all the other homework from my other classes!

An hour passed as I painstakingly pinned wet clothes on the lines while concentrating on trying to commit to memory those meaningless long lines of nonsense words.

Big raindrops began to roll from my eyes. I was about to be hung out to dry myself.  For having only memorized the first forty words, the Prepositions beginning with “A” and “B,” I found myself wishing language had never been born. And my mind took a downturn as I decided this was going to be the first assignment in my life I wouldn’t complete.

Which meant I was finally going to fail: The “F” word, mind you! The thought curdled my brain! I could picture being spurned again as Miss Naegle and the class cried, “Beulah, go to the bottom of the class!” — a hard thing for an “A” student to have to do.

So heading for the house before I had a full-blown nervous breakdown, I cried, “Mama! I can’t do this! It’s driving me insane!! “I can’t memorize this inane, boring list of propositions! I can’t stand even trying to!!”

Mama saved the day. In her wise-beyond-years demeanor, she smiled and said,“Why don’t you put it to music?”
“Yeah, but what song shall I use?!” I wailed.
Oh, just any song that fits. You could even make up a tune if you wanted.”

Having memorized the most difficult Piano Concertos, Mother knew about memorizing! And she surmised I could create tunes. So we were on a roll. What’s more, her advice worked! I was back out there with a bang, clothes flying out of my hands onto the clotheslines faster than I banged out tunes fitting particular lines of the preposterous Preposition homework:

“At, about, above, aboard, across, according to, along, alongside, against — And so on and so forth. I’ve long since forgotten the tunes I used and abused to help me memorize each section of the alphabetical list. But like muscle memory, the one-hundred-five Prepositions have stuck!

PART FIVE:

Come Friday morning, I was ready — except for burnout. Seems I almost met my Maker, and it was a daunting experience. Even so, I was wondering if Billy Nickerson, my secret sweetheart, would do better than I.

hurricane-and-colorado-city-sign
The beautiful Vermilion Hills of Utah  and Arizona, leaving Hurricane, Utah, heading toward Short Creek: Colorado City, Arizona, Hilldale, Utah, and Centennial Park


Billy Nickerson was a gorgeous thirteen-year-old, highly-gifted Hispanic-American whose father worked as a Physicist on the Hurricane Mesa.

(“Mesa” means “table”/a flat surface.”) On this Mountain tabletop near Hurricane, Utah, a large part of the scientific work and testing of the first Sputnik was being done. Testing to improve the H-bomb was also going on there. So were other top-secret defense projects to do with our country’s race with Russia to win the Cold War and be first to send a man to the moon.)

As it turns out, bright Billy thought the homework silly. So did his parents. Therefore, he memorized the first two groups of prepositions: The A’s and B’s. Then went outside to participate in his favorite sport: Winning all the High School boys in tether-ball — the way he usually did after school.

I often stayed after school to watch these boys’ intense, exciting “matches” between the short 8th Grader, Billy, and the tall 9th through 12th Grade boys. For Billy would beat them every time — one right after the other! Such energy, strength, endurance, and genius I have never since seen in sports — though I  seldom watch Sports! My love for Billy was my motivation to watch this after-school competitive game.

My preferred “games” mostly involved things to do with words, music, and other intellectual or artistic and creative pursuits. Therefore, when Friday came, our last day of school for that year, Billy was at the top of the class, so was first to recite what he had memorized of the 105 Prepositions, which was forty of them. So let the games begin! Now I knew I would win!

It being my turn next, the words popped out of me like clothespins being pinned to a clothesline at break-neck speed! I only stumbled a few times out of nervousness, anxiety, and an exhausted mind.

I was literally brain-dead, pale, and worn out that last day of school, after four intense days of angst and effort put into memorizing this horrendous mass of monotonous, meaningless nonsense words — along with doing my after-school housework chores and the homework for my other five classes to get ready for my final grades and tests that came in four days — the last day of school.

I still can’t believe mean Miss Naegle forced me, a straight “A” student, to memorize all those petty Prepositions in order to avoid taking home an “F” as the Final Grade on my year-end Report Card!

This Report Card was the most important of the year for it would delineate the top students that year at the little red-brick schoolhouse that housed the Hurricane Jr. High and High School students. And these top students would be big news in the town’s newspaper.

That would explain Miss Naegle’s all-out attempt to come up with something to help the LDS Saints win the Cold War against the FLDS Saints– something so atrocious and audacious as to assign her captive 8th-Graders to memorize, the last four days of school,  the whole 105 English prepositions!

This assignment would have been bad at any time. But it was sadistically treacherous to assign it when we had but four evenings of homework days left before the last day of school when our Final Grades were due — grades so important to us!!!

But it was the witch-bitch’s effort to move me out of the “A” section that made her act so outrageously! LOL! But no, it really was not a laughing matter. I almost had a nervous breakdown under the stress and unfairness of this senseless homework assignment!

But Miss Naegle’s wicked act backfired on her. Not only did I recite from memory the whole one-hundred-five prepositions, exchanging places with Billy Nickerson to sit at the top of the class and get my “A+,” but none of Miss Naegle’s other eighty-three eighth-grade students had succeeded at all in doing this over-the-top homework task.

So Miss Naegle had to give me, “Miss Pliggie,” her “A” … But she didn’t have to make a big deal of it –- And she didn’t! She totally ignored my feat — my exceptional workmanship and memory, as though I were insignificant … didn’t exist. And as though what I did wasn’t amazing and worth acknowledging!

She was perturbed and angry that I had surmounted her impossible homework assignment, using it to rise to the top again. The schoolmarm couldn’t believe I had memorized all those ridiculous words, and in order, too, within four short evenings of homework-time before the school year ended.

But even more unbelievable and unforgivable is this LDS Mormon teacher never gave me ANY encouragement or recognition in anything I EVER did, despite my outstanding achievements for the past two years in hers and every other teachers’ classes at Hurricane Junior High.

It’s an oxymoron and a conundrum that LDS Mormons do so much missionary work to gain converts, yet fail to see how they could win many Mormon fundamentalists over to their sect were they to treat them humanely and without singling them out for ostracization and ruination.

My memory of my four-and-a-half years in two-faced Mormon Hurricane, Utah was enough to turn me away from ever wishing to become a part of mainstream Mormonism. I would vomit first. I  lost respect for them and their smallness and ungodliness. Atheism was preferable.

In all my years in Hurricane, I definitely encountered a few saints, however. And I had a few wonderful life-giving experiences in Hurricane. But only two of my many Mormon teachers ever treated me fairly and with respect. The same goes for my classmates and the rest of the people in Hurricane, in general.

Many of my teachers treated me the same way Miss Naegle had: Entirely unfairly and like I was invisible, though I was not only an innocent and highly sensitive child but also diligent, conscientious, and hard-working.

For example, at the end of the Preposition recitations, Naegle pretended to never have threatened anyone with an “F” as their final Report Card Grade should they not memorize that whole list in order and without errors!

In fact, the measly monster simply dropped the whole frickin’ nightmare, as if she’d never heard of it. Because both her 8th-Grade classes failed the assignment miserably — Everyone, that is, but me, “Miss Plygie”! You would think she would at least have complimented me in private on my feat if she couldn’t do it in front of the class  — or better still, in front of the whole school!

But she never showed me one ounce of acknowledgment or appreciation for my success, my amazing achievement–especially given how the rest of her eighty-four students thumbed their nose at her assignment! But what else could she do when all the Saints were brilliant and all the rest were outcasts — and I had failed to fail her manipulative assignment?

She intended this homework assignment to be her winning hand. It was targeted for the last day of school. She thought for sure I’d be had and she would get to give me an “F,” or at least get me out of the “A” section.

With it being the last day of school, she thought I wouldn’t have time to work my way back up — back into the “A” section again before she pulled out her BIG black grade book to assign our final grades. But it turned out she “got had” BAD instead:

Sammy, Jr.’s dad, the Bishop, had called her — as had other parents — to inquire about this horrendous homework task that was leading to mental breakdowns among the Saints’ kids!

So once again, I, the leperous Mormon fundamentalist “Short Cricker,” was the talk of the town and the school! Word went out all over about how I had managed to memorize the whole 105 prepositions in only a short time while doing all my other year-end school homework and after-school housework chores!

Being the second to the oldest of eleven children by then, I had big chores for sure. This added to my feat’s monumental-ness! Most of the kids came from very small families, had TV, Radio, phonographs, magazines, and other modern inventions, and conveniences–as well as a chance to read, a better education, and so forth.

But my family was still using an outhouse, pots to piss and crap in at night, a galvanized tub to bathe in — using water we heated on a wood stove. Yes, I was a deprived child with many disadvantages, such as lost schooling, yet I was somehow the outstanding student, at least at my grade level, in that little agrarian town.

For example, none of Miss Naegle’s other eighty-four students were able to memorize much more than fifteen or twenty of the monotonous, brain-frying, outlandishly-long list of boring words — except for Billy Nickerson who memorized forty Prepositions in order, without much faltering.

Therefore, the rest of Miss Naegle’s eighty-four 8th Graders totally failed the assignment. None of them had memorized even close to the forty prepositions Billy had memorized, let alone the whole hundred-five prepositions I had memorized in order and without any mistakes!

I later checked with my classmates, after they got their Report Cards: NOT ONE of them had gotten an “F” on their report card, despite all Miss Naegle’s threats!! But why am I so sure she would’ve followed through with her threats and given ME an “F” as my year-end final Report Card grade, had I not memorized the whole list in order and without any mistakes?

And why did I feel I had won but had also somehow lost as I sat in that envied seat at the top of the class sobbing a silent sigh of relief that I had “made the grade”?

I had not only avoided the “F” meant for me but beat out all the other eighty-four 8th Graders besides — Thanks to my musically-trained, gifted mother who had saved me from a mental breakdown by suggesting I use music to help me memorize that torturous, maniacal homework assignment.

To this day, about all that list of memorized prepositions has been good for, besides inadvertently winning Miss Naegle at her own game, is to entertain a captive audience till their eyes bug out — so here goes: Are you ready? (This is what I tell audiences when I am going to entertain them by reciting the whole hundred-five prepositions aloud by memory — which I still do from time to time — to this day.)



          Here is the list of prepositions I memorized in order:

At, about, above, aboard, across, according to, along, alongside, against, among, amongst, amid, amidst, around, after;

Before, behind, below, beneath, beside, besides, between,  betwixt, beyond, but, because of, by, by way of, by means of, by reason of, by virtue of;

Concerning, considering;   down, during, despite, due to;   “ere, except, excepting;

For, from;    in, into, instead of, in care of; in case of, in front of, in place of, in spite of, in accordance with, in reference to, in preference to, in regard to, in regards to, in respect to, in addition to;    like;    ‘mid, ‘midst;    near,’neath, notwithstanding;

Of, off, on, onto, on account of, on top of, over, o’er, out, outside;   past;
’round, respecting, regarding;   since, save, sans;   to, towards, through, throughout,’till;    unless, until; up, upon, unto, underneath;   via, versus, Vs.;

With, within, without, with respect to or for, without respect to or for, with reference to, without reference to, with preference to, without preference for.”

                                          *********************
Having committed all these 105 Prepositions to memory, at least I know to never say, “Between you and I” — But it still slips out now and again! However, I even heard President Bill Clinton say that once!

But for all I know, to say “between you and I,” instead of “between you and me,” is now considered correct … and to say “between you and me” is now considered archaic — as in the case of saying, “It is I.

That’s the way things are when it comes to language: It’s subjective. We may have to unlearn things we thought were correct because new customs determine them incorrect. Language is a living thing. It is born, grows up, gets old, and dies — just like people.

This concludes the news from the 1960’s little red-brick schoolhouse where all the Saints’ kids were above average, all their parents were proud members of the only true church on earth — and all the rest were going to hell!


 *Thanks, again, for your valuable feedback, Caroline. You continue to be the wind beneath my sales. I wish others would leave me their feedback. And that they would leave it on my Website in the “Comment” box, as you do. Some leave their comments on social media where it is soon lost.
Take care,
Stephany

 


 

ABOUT

  Bio of Stephany Spencer

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~ Stephany Spencer is a retired teacher on her endless summer — and a Creative: An artist, lyricist, poet, performer, and musician. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico of American parents, she spent most of her life in the Western U.S., married young and was widowed at twenty-one.

Left with a three-year daughter, she raised her while putting herself through the University, graduating from East LA College in 1970 with an AA in Music; UCLA in 1973 with a BA in Sociology. Did Post-graduate work in Liberal Arts at California State University, Northridge, obtaining a Teaching Credential in 1976.

A born teacher, Stephany Spencer taught Elementary School for thirty years, specializing in Bilingual Education and Music. Then took Early Retirement in 2001 to pursue other creative interests.

Multi-talented, a multi-instrumentalist in music, the “Multies” multiplied, to where they’re now crying, “Which interest is on ‘first’?!” Because in 2006 the Muse kindly led Stephany to the California Writers Club where she was Programs Chair and also helped with Hospitality for over a year while testing her “wannabe” possibilities of being a published author, this having been one of her dreams since age
ten.
She is presently working on three different books: A book of poetry, aphorisms, and maxims; a children’s novel — And a memoir, being a proud direct descendent of such as Dr. Francis Le Baron, MD. (See: “The Nameless Nobleman,” by Jane G. Austin,” a cousin).

Though fascinated with her heritage, she was not born to privilege, other than having inherited a bit of giftedness for such as writing verse, for better or worse. This is her double-edged sword: A gift and a curse. But Life goes on, comes and is gone …

Sail On,” says the emblem of her California Writers Club. Now if you look closely you may see her sailing on, “writing” on a song “write” now!

Dwell in possibilities,” said Emily Dickinson. And these possibilities are all that keep Stephany from falling off!

 



Media on My Extended Family, Friends, and Fundamentalist Mormon Cults



prophet-of-evil-dvd  This is a movie done some years ago about my infamous Uncle Ervil LeBaron, my mother’s brother. He is now known as “Evil Ervil,” and “The Mormon Manson.” I knew, respected, and loved him before he went off the deep end with his sociopathy and psychosis.

The film was very well done. I love how brilliantly Brian Dennehy played the part of my Uncle Ervil. But no film can possibly portray the depth of suffering and lunacy that went on in this man’s life that also affected the lives of all his brainwashed, true-believing followers and children.

You will have to get the film from wherever you get movies and find out the rest of the story for yourself; though I will be telling my experiences with my Uncle Ervil later on down the line in my memoir blogging.



https://thetrueprophetfilm.com/proposed-cast/

THE TRUE PROPHET is an independent film written and directed by Scott Hillier and executive produced by…
THETRUEPROPHETFILM.COM

*NOTE: This movie was planning on its release in 2014. It was never released due to lack of funding. However, there is some interesting information on the site that you may find useful. For example, on this Website are some of Ervil’s writings and more. Must see.

*You may also read books written about him. I have listed here, below, some of these books. Wikipedia and other such sites relate a history of him also –– as well as a short history of the rest of the LeBaron family: His parents and siblings.



prophet-of-blood-book-cover
A Documentary about the LeBaron’s, especially Ervil LeBaron and his Cult

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

But hats off to him! Till I recently read his chronicle, I had no idea just how devious and wicked was the cult Uncle Ervil spawned; not to mention the people who followed him hook, line, and sinker/stinker!!



blood-covenant-by-r-blood-blood-covenant-by-chynoweth-1
Rena’s story about Ervil LeBaron and his cult

This Memoir, written about thirty years ago, seems merely an immature, biased, apologist’s cold hearted revisionist tale written by the infamous Rena Chynoweth wherein she could brag about the part she played in the sad and dirty story of her husband’s bloody, violent, and psychotic cult. All is not fact-checked nor factual, much is omitted, and she writes more about her girlish romantic escapades and herself than anything.

In other words, it appears to be, largely, an attempt to be in the limelight and cash in on the notoriety of Ervil LeBaron, so as to make money and be a starlet — albeit a notorious one. We were lucky to get two paragraphs about her cold-blooded murder of Dr. Rulon Allred. And the best apology she could come up with, as to the “Lambs of God” atrocities and murders is, “This did not need to happen.”

But you may find her book worth a perusal just to see how a member of Ervil LeBaron’s murderous cult used to think. I say “used to think”  because recently I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Gabriela LeBaron, a first cousin, and one of Uncle Ervil’s more than fifty children! She brought me up to date on how Ervil’s ex-cult is doing now — and that includes Rena!

Please see my Menu Bar to read about this important update and Info I have included in my full book review of Rena’s thirty-year-old Memoir The Blood Covenant.” 

If you want to get more of a chronicle of Ervil’s old mafioso cult, and its demise, read “The 4 O’clock Murders” by Scott Anderson, published in 1993And “Prophet of Blood” by Ben Bradlee and Dale Van Atta, published in 1981.

These two documentaries are not always exactly right, in some of the history of this cult they wrote about, but hats off to them for doing as well as they did with a subject that was often hard to get “the truth” about.



*For much more information on anyone or anything I mention on this site, you may use your search engine to look up these people and topics. Also check YouTube, Wikipedia, and other sites.



Both Doris Hanson and Aunt Rebecca Kimbel are success stories of brilliant and determined women — who are also escapees from Mormon Fundamentalist cults!

They are each now Independent TV Producers who also host their own YouTube sites, among other things. Each of them interviews, among other outstanding leaders and people, escapees from dangerous Mormon cults.

 



My cousin, Donna LeBaron Goldberg (as seen below with her sister Barbara LeBaron on their website header) is interviewed a number of times by Producer Aunt Rebecca Kimbel on YouTube, for example. I hope you check out these YouTube interviews.

donna-and-barbara-website




Doris Hansen and Rebecca Kimbel also each interviewed Authors Irene LeBaron Spencer (See: IreneSpencerbooks.com) and Susan Ray Schmidt (see her website). Both are my Aunts. And Aunt Irene is Donna LeBaron Goldberg’s and Barbara LeBaron’s mother, as seen in the photos above.



Aunt Rebecca Kimbel and Doris Hansen also interviewed, on their TV and YouTube sites, other relatives and friends of mine from my days in the cult — people such as my cousin, Carolyn Jessop, a memoirist who wrote the bestselling,”Escape,” and other books.

 

 





Also, check out Aunt Rebecca Kimbel’s excellent and adamant speech on YouTube’s TED-X Talks. (In around only 18 minutes, she did a genius presentation on all the main issues to do with Mormon cults, including White slavery.


See also (on Goodreads.com) her novel, “A Savage Wild,” published in 2013. I have yet to get and read it




See the film: “The Childbride of Short Creek.” It was on YouTube, among other places, the last time I checked. (To get Info for their Script, my sisters were interviewed by the writers of this film.)




Banking on Heaven is a Documentary my cousin Laurie Allen and her cohort, Dot Reidelbach, created. (It gives a good overview of life as a Mormon fundamentalist female in Short Creek, Arizona, and Hilldale, Utah.

I went online a few years ago and ordered a copy of their DVD. I don’t know if you can find it on YouTube or the Internet now. But give it a try.)
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 Some Recommended Books and Films Written Mostly by My Relatives and/or By Fellow Ex-Mormon Fundamentalists

(Many can be found in Public Libraries, on Amazon.com, etc., and on the Authors’ website. A number of them are in audiobook form also):

Shattered Dreams” and Cult Insanity” by Best-Selling Author Aunt Irene LeBaron Spencer, at IreneSpencerBooks.com. Her books are also in audiobook form. (Irene is my Aunt, through marriage, as is Rebecca Kimbel, Irene’s half-sister.)

*Note: I took the picture featured on Irene’s book cover,”Cult Insanity. (See it below in its original form :
Uncle Ervil LeBaron is holding my eight-year-old daughter, Asenath Marie Tucker, the little girl in the yellow dress. I took this photograph before I had any idea that Uncle Ervil was a psychotic sociopath.

ervil with marie
Uncle Ervil LeBaron, Brother-in-law Dan Jordan, & my daughter, Asenath Marie Tucker



 



One of my favorite books on the subject of my relatives and my past is the following book, written by a very talented writer, Aunt Susan Ray Schmidt. (I took care of her for five days when she was around nine years old (long before she married my Uncle Verlan LeBaron, of course, and thus became my aunt) while her parents were out of town, and we were still living in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico).

His Favorite Wife,”  by Susan Ray Schmidt (Another Aunt of mine,  her book reads like a novel. My family is mentioned in it.)




kimbel and kocielaplygs-book-cover

TWO EXCELLENT BOOKS:PLYGSand “PLYGS 2 by Ed Kociela,  available for sale on Amazon.com

*(He calls his book “Fiction,” to protect the innocent and himself, I suspect. It’s not fiction!

~ Also see Rebecca Kimbel’s YouTube interviews with this amazing journalist who spent many years writing news reports on the infamous polygamist town, Short Creek/AKA Colorado City.)




Another must read is Prophet’s Prey, by Sam Brower (also an audiobook).

A film came out September 2016: Prophet’s Prey. It is based on his book and was playing in theaters. I haven’t seen it yet.



Another “must read” is “God’s Brothel, by Andrea Moore-Emmett. (Also check out her super interviews with Rebecca Kimbel, and possibly also with Doris Hanson, on YouTube.)






No Man Knows My History, by the late UCLA researcher and professorFawn McKay Brodie (niece of David O. McKay, a former President and Prophet of the mainline  Mormon church) This book is a well-researched history of the so-called “Prophet Joseph Smith” — a must read!)

My great-great-grandfather, Benjamin F. Johnson, was sealed to Joseph Smith as a son. Beginning at the tender age of eighteen, he became one of Joseph Smith’s Scribes. (I recently read,  in a questionable place, that his son, Benjamin F. LeBaron, was also sealed to Joseph Smith as a son! But given the references for this claim, I’d say the jury is still out on this one!)





* This concludes my present most-recommended books and media on the subject to do with my Mormon fundamentalist past. However, there are plenty more books, films, and TV shows published on this subject of Mormon fundamentalism, polygamy, and cults.

Check libraries, bookstores, Youtube, your online search engine, and “Media” in the Menu of my own website for more material on these subjects. I own around one hundred books and also some films and TV productions about Mormonism, its past, and Mormon polygamist cults. Many of the books and scripts are written by former Mormon Fundamentalists who have left/escaped their cult.

I found all one hundred or more of my books worth reading, but have gleaned from them the ones I most recommend to start with. If I think of any other books or media, I will come back and add them later. But I’m sure this is more than enough to start with.

Again, you can always check the public libraries and online Book Stores like Amazon.com, also, if you want even more books and Media presently available on the subject.

I am open to questions or feedback on this material, should you wish to make comments on my site. Till then, happy reading, listening to, and watching films, YouTube interviews, and TV shows on this informative media.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you and to your following my site. Thank you in advance for your most appreciated feedback. It’s what we Authors thrive on.

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September 26, 2016:  

The following books and films, etc., I also recommend, if you are interested in learning more about my extended family, or/and other things to do with Mormon fundamentalism:

(*By the way, this Romney insert is not a book, but I thought it interesting. Also wanted to say, my mother (born 1921 in Colonia Pacheco, Mexico) grew up with Gov. Romney’s (George Romney, et Al) family, there in the Mormon colonies in Mexico.romney-and-polygamy 


 



“The LeBaron Story” is truly a “Vanity Book” — not only because my uncle Verlan LeBaron paid a publishing company in 1981 (back when self-publishing was far from the norm) to publish the book — but also because it is a revisionistic, apologetic, and biased history of some of my grandparents Maud and Dayer LeBaron’s rather grandiose offspring.

What’s more, my Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Verlan are largely NOT the authors of this book though they have taken all the credit for it. Truth is, Uncle Verlan was FAR too busy to write a book — even if he knew how — too busy working, traveling around from country to country visiting his ten wives and fifty-plus kids — and running from his brother Ervil who was out to kill him! And Aunt Charlotte was about this busy too!

Fact is, my mother/Verlan’s sister Esther LeBaron-McDonald de Spencer (with a BA in journalism) is the one whose idea it was to write “The LeBaron Story.” She wrote a large part of this book, then turned her manuscript over to Verlan, along with her journals and notes, telling him he could finish and publish her work — could even have all the proceeds from it!

It was Mother’s effort to help her brother Verlan “build up the kingdom of God” — her way of paying tithing and defending “God’s work” because Verlan had taken over for her brother Joel LeBaron, “The One Mighty and Strong,” after Joel was murdered by his brother Ervil!

The work of finishing and compiling Mother’s book was largely done by my Uncle Verlan’s first wife Charlotte who relied on Info from my mother’s journals and notes to help her.

About 2/3 of “The LeBaron Story,” therefore, came directly from my dear Mom’s manuscript as well as her journal entries. I remember when she was writing this history. She talked about it a lot at the time. I recognize her writing and input. It’s mixed throughout the text — makes up a large part of it.

You may want to note the two different writer’s voices used in the book! Anything with the more beautifully written structured writing, defined paragraphs, quotes, and sources listed at the back of the book, etc., is my mother Esther LeBaron Spencer’s writing voice — her contribution. Whereas Aunt Charlotte, Uncle Verlan, et Al’s writing voices are in the chapters where everything is run together and there aren’t structured paragraphs, footnotes, etc.

Although Uncle Verlan and Aunt Charlotte used large parts of what my Mother wrote, word for word — used her material exactly as she had written it — no editing at all — they gave Mother not one BIT of credit — not one speck of acknowledgment, let alone so much as a howdy-do-dee or thank-you. It’s tantamount to plagiarism — shameful how Charlotte and Verlan took all the credit for this book!

But getting to the body of the work, if you were to take the authors’ word for everything, for sure the Mexico LeBarons are/were “a saintly people with a Godly mission.” But I beg to differ: Wishing doesn’t make it so. In other words, wishful thinking, such as self-proclaiming oneself as “The One Mighty and Strong,” and claiming one comes from “A Godly people with a Messianic mission” doesn’t make it true.

Much of the book’s lore takes place in Chihuahua, Mexico. Unfortunately, the authors tell the story in the words of true-believing, fundamentalist-Mormon-LeBaron cult members. In other words, it’s a highly biased history with a Messianic purpose.

True to their fanatic religiosity, as I said above, the book was mainly written to proselytize and promote Uncle Joel LeBaron’s cult, “The Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times.” This presupposes a revised and rewritten history, then — and a white-washing of the LeBarons … It’s myth in the making, to be sure.

Nonetheless, I was able to glean a bit of useful information from it. I’m glad the book was written, despite the biased viewpoint, because nobody else in the immediate Mexico LeBaron family has written any first-hand history about themselves.

But suffice it to say, the book could use a good Editor’s service, if nothing else — although, even as it is, it was a big endeavor and accomplishment for my aunts and uncle to pull off. For they were very busy people who had done little reading in comparison to Scholars and those Majoring in Journalism or such. Plus they were laboring under great pressures and disadvantages like raising huge families of small children while living in backward, primitive conditions. But book-buyer beware …  be wary! That’s all I can say!

I was given a copy of this book many years ago when it first came out in 1981, fourteen years after I escaped the LeBaron cult in 1967. After reading the book, the preaching, plus the white-washing and grandiose fabrications throughout the chronicle of the LeBaron family got my gut so badly I was about to toss the book in the dumpster when my Uncle Verlan’s daughters Rhea and Donna dropped in. They still believed their father was a prophet, back then, so were very happy to be gifted with my book, “The LeBaron Story.” And I was very happy to get rid of it.

But thirty-six years later, for purposes of my own writing, understanding, and research, I had to re-buy the book on Kindle! Argh! It’s going for around $45.00 or so in hardback, no less, on Amazon.com. Wonders never cease to amaze me … so I wonder! Well, to each his own. Read on!



escaping-polygamy


stolen-innocents-book-imageElissa Wall was raised in the FLDS cult, the same cult that I was raised in for around eight years, as a child, before my parents left this fundamentalist group and joined another, the LeBaron group.



escape-from-polygamy-book-cover




Anna LeBaron is my cousin, one of  Uncle Ervil’s daughters.

Her above book, The Polygamist’s Daughter, is presently available in bookstores as of March 21, 2017. (See her website,  AnnaLeBaron.com.)





flora-jessop-church-of-liesThe is a wonderfully and intelligently written memoir by Flora Jessop, who was born and raised in the FLDS cult — there in Short Creek, Arizona (now called “Colorado City,” on the map) and Hilldale, Utah, where I lived for some time, as a child.




My sister, Lenora Spencer (mentioned in the credits of this book) gave Jon Krakauer a lot of the good information included in his book about Short Creek/Colorado City, Hilldale, and Centennial Park, Utah.

And then, in turn, he helped her a lot — with advice, etc., that would help her escape the bonds of White slavery, polygamy, and Mormon fundamentalism.

My niece, Vicky Rogers LeBaron, filled Krakauer in on some of the details, also, that have made up part of the research that went into writing this outstanding documentary.





the-sound-of-gravelMemoirist and Author Ruth Warinerruth-with-her-memoir Ruth (LeBaron) Wariner Centofante, a daughter of my mother’s brother, Uncle Joel LeBaron, published her memoirs Feb. 2016.
A best-seller, it’s in public libraries, audiobook is also available.




 

 

 

 

 

 

The book largely consists of a collection of some of my grandmother’s letters — and some vignettes Grandma wrote that are run together in often hard-to-decipher paragraphs.

More to be said on this later. I’ll only say, for now, she’s done a revised version/ a rewriting of the history of the “Joel LeBaron: Prophet” saga, turning it upside down, and him into a martyred prophet. (Thus, she shows, though not intentionally, how religious myths are made.)


*Note: It’s now 2017, and I’ve written a much longer Review of Aunt Charlotte’s “Maud’s Story,” posted below:

Maud Lucinda LeBaron is my maternal grandmother, of whom I am “the spittin’ image,” I was always told growing up. In fact, the above photo of her looks so much like me at that age, I look at it and think it’s me. I can’t tell the difference!




Still, I resent she used my grandmother Matriarch Maud Lucinda LeBaron’s story to draw in her progeny and relatives, as well as others, so as to promote her’s and Uncle Joel’s Church of the Firstborn doctrine — a la Charlotte LeBaron’s viewpoint. So “Maud’s Story” really should be “Charlotte’s Story.”


But to give Aunt Charlotte credit, though I was disappointed “Maud’s Story” wasn’t imbued with more of Grandmother’s colorful history, she includes in her booklet numerous short vignettes that are: “Quotes from Grandma’s Notes.


Perhaps, to get more of Grandmother’s history, Charlotte expects us to read “The LeBaron Story,” which she also authored with her husband, my Uncle Verlan. (This book is another apologists’ chronicle largely written to preach the Church of the Firstborn religious doctrine.)


I find its covert preaching of the Church of the First Born dogma distasteful — especially the revising of its doctrine and history to make it more palatable than it was when my Uncles Ervil and Joel LeBaron first spawned this sect/cult in 1953.







This is an excellent memoir written by a nephew of Warren Jeffs, Brent Jeffs. It is a very informative and bravely written memoir of one of the unfortunate and abused (sexually, physically, emotionally, and mentally) boys raised in the FLDS/Mormon fundamentalist cult. He has been interviewed on TV a number of times.

You go, Brent! More people need to follow your example and bring to light what is really going on in Mormon fundamentalist cults in the name of religion.




ervil-in-another-film  This film is/was about my Uncle Ervil LeBaron. Did a Google search and found it was scheduled to be released in 2014, but was canceled for lack of funding. But am told a new film on Uncle Ervil is due to be released in 2017 or 2018.




 

 

 

 

 

 

Joanne Hanks Memoir is one of the best books written on what life in polygamy is like, and why she eventually fled it. See my book review on her memoir. It’s posted on my Website.






My Poem: “In Mexico, Down Past the Rio Grande”

    rocks-near-colonia-le-baron

*In Mexico, down past the Rio Grande,
I buried my diaries in the desert sand;
Now they lie lost in a foreign land —
Lost in LeBaron when I left the clan.

Buried my poetry in the desert’s brew, too.
It’s now lost in sandstorms that blew.
With each new windstorm, more sands would accrue,
So adios, muse babies! Adios and adieu!

You lie where I was born and grew,
There, in LeBaron, the home I once knew.
I couldn’t find you when I fled and flew.
So part of me’s left now buried in you.

Slowly the tears trickle, two by two,
Down my cheekbones like drops of dew,
Ever homesick but can’t ties renew,
It’s adios to my past — adios and adieu.

When will my loneliness finally end?
When will this pain fade away, my friend?
And where are my Journals and the poems I penned,
Then buried in the earth to protect them back then?

They’re buried where my past lies buried and dead,
Hidden with my heart that broke when I fled,
‘Cause all I’d believed and held dear, instead,
Suddenly collapsed and had to be shed.

Still, I long for my family and old friends too,
Who could not see things the way I do,
They wouldn’t allow me to have my own voice —
They didn’t respect my freedom of choice.

Still, I long for my life that lies buried with you —
For the part that split when from there I flew,
When I tried to find life in the US anew,
To follow my dreams and my hopes renew;

Now in deep abyss, I traverse this earth,
Looking for meaning to renew life’s worth;
Looking for Mother’s long-gone mirth,
Though now she sleeps in Mexican earth.

No sooner had I almost found rebirth,
Then signs of death came, bearing no mirth —
Bouncing and banging on my back door,
While backing me up downhill more and more.

 But part of me already died years ago —
That part I left when I escaped Mexico —
Back where my heart lies half-buried alive —
Back where my past took a nose dive.

Perhaps that other half’s in my hometown,
Buried in Chihuahua, Mexico’s ground,
But I can’t go back, can’t traverse the Rio Grande,
The river’s too wide so I stay on dry land.

Remaining in my new world on this other side.
Still, so many lonely rivers I have cried;
And though most tears have finally dried,
Many old rivers are still left inside.

Too many rivers between me ’n’ those I know;
Gulfs too wide since I let them go.
Yet, part of me’s buried there in Mexico,
Down past the Rio Grande I love so.

Part of me’s there, though put to the test,
‘Cause that’s where my many dear ones rest:
Part’s with my past, while part’s here with me,
Longing for home, wherever home may be.

Divided and torn by the Rio Grande
Flowing between me and LeBaron land.
I wonder, is half my heart buried there,
In Mexico, down past the Rio Grande?

(By Stephany Spencer,  4/2008)

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

*NOTE: I revised this poem (see below)
— Did surgery on it: Cut out over half its verses. (My writers’ club doesn’t accept, for their newsletter, poems longer than 45 lines. I submitted and had published this poem in the California Writers Club’s November 2016 newsletter, “The Scribe.“)

Also, when it comes to singing this narrative poem, forty-five lines makes for a three-minute performance — plenty for a poem this deep and full of story. Just to verify this, I sang my song yesterday at Songmakers’ Saturday Song-Circle. The group agreed that forty-five lines is plenty if I sing it rather than read it. (I read it to them, also — the five-minute version — just to get their helpful critique and feedback. And they kindly sat through the whole thing!)

*The following is the shortened version: (But I have since done even more painful surgery on this poem — I’ve now cut it down to a twenty-eight line poem to perform as a song. (I only have that version in my song folder.) @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

  coyoacan-more-21-of-39
In Mexico, Down Past the Rio Grande

In Mexico, down past the Rio Grande,
I buried my diaries in the desert sand;
Now they lie lost in a foreign land —
Lost in LeBaron when I left the clan.

Lost my poetry in the desert brew too.
It’s now buried in sandstorms that blew.
With each new windstorm, more sands would accrue;
So adios, muse babies! Goodbye to you.

You lie where I was born and grew —
There, in LeBaron, the home I once knew.
I couldn’t find you when I fled and flew.
So part of me’s left now buried in you;

Buried where my past lies buried and dead,
Hidden with my heart that broke when I fled,
‘Cause all I’d believed and held dear, instead,
Suddenly collapsed and had to be shed.

Still, I long for my family and old friends too,
Who could not see things the way I do,
They wouldn’t allow me to have my own voice —
They didn’t respect my freedom of choice.

Now, in deep abyss, I traverse this earth,
Looking for meaning to renew life’s worth;
Looking for Mother’s long-gone mirth,
Though now she sleeps in Mexican Earth.

 But part of me’s buried in Mexico,
The part that died when I escaped years ago —
Back where my heart lies half-buried alive —
Back where my past took a nose dive.

Perhaps that other half’s in my hometown,
Buried in Chihuahua, Mexico’s ground,
But I can’t go back — can’t traverse the Rio Grande,
The river’s too wide so I stay on dry land.

Remaining in my new world on this other side.
Still, so many lonely rivers I have cried,
And though most tears have finally dried,
Many old rivers are still left inside.

Too many rivers between me and those I know,
Gulfs too wide since I let them go.
But part of me lies there in Mexico,
Down past the Rio Grande I love so.

Divided and torn by the Rio Grande
Flowing between me and LeBaron land,
I wonder: Is half my heart buried there,
In Mexico, down past the Rio Grande?

(By Stephany Spencer  ,2008)



  Hi, friends, family and relatives: This is the Rendition I did today at my California Writers Club get-together and Open Mic –- a performance of my song I wrote in 2008 called “In Mexico, Down Past the Rio Grand.”
 Comments
Dena McLean

Dena McLean It’s great that you can sing and play an instrument all in front of an audience. It’s not easy.

 

Steph Spencer

Steph Spencer Thanks for your feedback, Dena. Yes, you are right when you comment that it’s not easy to perform in front of a live audience. One Actor put it this way: “To be a Performer is to scare yourself to death for the rest of your life.” Because almost always, at least one thing unexpected happens.

For example, this time the Mic setup at the California Writers Club was not amenable to me and my guitar, so I was unable to have my written lyrics in front of me in case my mind went blank. I had to walk over to the podium when I needed to double check the next verse I was to sing.

Of course, that didn’t go over so well in the video. But now I know I need to always take my music stand along wherever I go to perform — just in case the setup is different from when I performed there the month before.

But, once again, it proves what speakers and other performers already know: No matter how many times you perform, you always learn at least one new thing with each and every performance.

I was not proud of how the video came out, either, but I posted it anyway, for practice, and so people could hear the music that goes with my lyrics posted above, “In Mexico, Down Past the Rio Grande:”

The lighting was poor and the video should have been done closer up. In the end, it all made my dark apparel look dismal. It’s hard to get anybody, on the spot, to know how to take a good video with my iPhone! But with this experience, I now know, next time, to look for a better amateur photographer, LOL!



My Memoir: Should Polygamy Be Legalized?

escaping-polygamy

 

MY EXPOSE ON POLYGAMY

Was It really a Divine Revelation from God to Joseph Smith that people had to live this so-called “principle” in order to attain the highest degree of glory in heaven?”*

The above question was on the Discussion Board of a mainstream LDS Mormon blog site I happened to run into on Facebook.

Get ready for a mouthful! I couldn’t resist giving these innocent people and true believers a piece of my mind, I, having had first-hand experience the first twenty-one years of my life living within this morbid, backward lifestyle.

But first, if you are not familiar with Mormon doctrine and history, do you know why LDS mainstream Mormons began living polygamy in the first place in the early history of their church? And do you know why many mainstream Mormons still believe it will be lived in heaven?

My intent right now is not to give you a history of this whole rancorous debate and bizarre belief. You can find plenty about it in such books as Todd Compton’s well-researched book, “In Sacred Loneliness,” and Fawn Brodie’s documentaryNo Man Knows My History.”

My intent in this blog is to simply present to you my response to a Mainstream Mormon online site, where members were discussing their feelings and beliefs about the idea of having to live polygamy in the hereafter.

In response to their questions and concerns, I dared to post on their Discussion Panel my very honest Ex-polyg perspective. You can imagine it went over really well with devout followers of Joseph Smith – I’m being facetious of course because the following is what I posted:

“It is common for cult leaders to use their power to sow their wild oats! And Joseph Smith, the so-called “Prophet,” was no exception. And it’s human nature for women to want to be married to the greatest and strongest male in the pack — common in the rest of nature, too.

So let’s not kid ourselves that Joseph Smith was “simply restoring a practice from the Bronze age in which the Bible was conceived!” That polygamy is a predatory, territorial, male dominance, and prestige practice is more like it — among other reasons FOR WHY many men, given the power to do so, love to “experience” and go from one woman to the next — like a bumblebee tasting each flower.

It’s a testosterone thing if nothing else — Nature’s way of propagating the human race and making sure it doesn’t die out. And it’s Nature’s way of also propagating a stronger, better human race when it comes to women wanting the most outstanding man on the totem pole. Take a look at how apes, et Al, and their alpha-male system works in Evolution’s procreation, for example. 

By the way, please note that my comments come from personal experience. And I am a writer/blogger presently writing my memoirs, my story of having been raised a fourth-generation Mormon Fundamentalist polygamist who then became a fifth-generation polygamist wife. 

Of note is that Carolyn Jessop, best-selling author of, “Escape,” is my cousin. Best-selling authors Irene LeBaron Spencer (“Shattered Dreams,” and “Cult Insanity”) and Susan Ray Schmidt (“His Favorite Wife”) are my Aunts. Anna LeBaron, Author of the memoir, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” is my first cousin —  daughter of my Uncle Ervil LeBaron. And Ruth Wariner, best-selling Author of “The Sound Of Gravel,” is also my first cousin, daughter of my Uncle Joel LeBaron.

Also, the amazing Ex-Mormon Fundamentalist TV and YouTube Producer, Rebecca Kimbel, is my aunt through marriage. And the late “Evil Ervil” LeBaron,  the Mormon Manson, and Ex-Mormon mafioso leader of one of the LeBaron crime families is my mother’s brother. (See: Wikipedia, and my Website Menu for more information on Ervil LeBaron, and my extended family.)

To add to my Mormon lineage, my Great-great-grandfather Benjamin F. Johnson was one of Joseph Smith’s personal Scribes —and sealed to him as a son. That’s how far back my roots in Mormonism go. As a Mormon, I was part of the “Royal blood!”

When polygamy was done away with, in the mainstream Mormon church, devout but wayward, laws-unto-themselves Mormon followers, who believed this action was against the teachings and prophecies of Joseph Smith, broke away and formed Mormon Fundamentalist splinter groups.

Let me now segue into my own experience of having lived polygamy, by first stating that it’s a well-known fact that most Mormon Fundamentalists are strongly against homosexuality – at least in word. (I’m not so sure about some of them when it comes to actions. I don’t think “some of them” are sure either, LOL!)

But it’s not unusual, in my experience, to find that Mormon fundamentalists often preach one thing and do another “under cover” (Pun intended). No doubt God revealed to them that it was okay? My experience is that they justify everything with some kind of revelation.

Growing up in Mormon fundamentalism, I had no idea that homosexuality existed, let alone what the term meant, when I was given away in a prearranged marriage at age sixteen, to a man ten years my senior.

I only “knew” I was being married into “The Holy Matrimony of Plural Marriage,” in the name of the revelation given to Joseph Smith and recorded in the 132 Sec. of the Doctrine and Covenants (Mormon scriptures). Now hold on to your sandal straps, for I suspect this revelation was really revealed by his “small head,” not his large. (Sorry, all you devout Mormons.)

Anyway, it was many years later, after I escaped this cult in 1967 at age twenty-one, that I began to piece everything together. Only then did I realize the man I was married to for going on five years had been bisexual, as were his wives.

However, they went to great measures to make sure I never found this out. For they would be cut off “The Church,” (and maybe even beat up or killed) if word got out they were bisexuals. And involved in threesomes, and even orgies at times.

They had very subtly tried to bring me into “the family.” But when I did not respond to such things as the foot one of the wives laid on my foot (the night I was invited to spend with her in her bed) she and the other wife realized I would be getting “their” husband all to myself — on my nights.

This caused the first two wives lots of jealousy and resentment towards me. They felt threatened and “turned down,” among other things, I suspect. I just did not fit into their little love nest.

You can’t even imagine the rest of what I went through in that marriage because of this. They said I had ruined Bill’s “family”  — because I only wanted a one-on-one relationship with my/our husband!

It wouldn’t have been as bad had I not been so in love with my/our husband — and had I not been still a very trusting, overprotected, deprived, poorly educated girl with, at best, only an eighth-grade education. I was but an innocent and naïve sixteen-year-old child who had not been properly prepared for the realities of polygamy.

To make matters worse, one wife was fifteen years my senior. (When I was fifteen, she was thirty!) The other wife was six years my senior. Both were not only far older, but much more worldly-wise, experienced, and educated than I. And both had been married to “my husband” for numerous years before I came into “the family.”

So they knew what my/our husband liked and how to manipulate and run him. Plus the first wife was about five years older than my/our husband and held the purse strings. He had to rely on her for money to support his families! It only gets worse from there. I bring this out because it has to do with some of my outlook on polygamy — like who does it work for and who doesn’t it work for?

I am now an Ex-polygamist wife, Ex-plyg, Ex-FLDS, Ex-Mormon fundamentalist, an escapee from the LeBaron cult, and a recovering Mormon. My testimony is that Mormon polygamy continues to be sustained only under the umbrella of the almighty “Religious freedom’s rights”!! 

But there are no rights for the children born and raised in Polygamy — often a cesspool lifestyle if ever there was one. (Mormon fundamentalist sects are nothing but syndicated organized crime groups cloaked and protected under the guise of religion.) 

I mean, this lifestyle stinks — especially for the children born into polygamy. And for the innocent, uneducated, and naïve childbrides married off to older or aged men and their harems! ‘Tis a hell on earth for the majority of people in it!

But masochists get pleasure out of pain. They consider it wicked/worldly to have a nice, enjoyable life. So these foot-washing fundamentalists smear a fake smile on their face to “keep sweet.” And feel successful that this is at least one area they have some control over — one thing at which they may succeed.

And sure: There are good things in every bad. However, polygamy is mostly bad — especially for the children who did not ask to be born into this crazy, convoluted, depraved, abusive, unfair, bizarre, and secluded, cult lifestyle.

To begin with, it’s reminiscent of the old feudal-style systems of the Middle Ages … Except most people didn’t even live polygamy back then — and most churches had outlawed it!

It is a lifestyle forced upon Mormon fundamentalists through brainwashing — from the day they are born … because their own parents were brainwashed with these concepts, too, from the day they were born — unless of course, they were converts to this convoluted,  extremist, reprehensible lifestyle.

Put another way, most Mormon-Fundamentalist polygamists were born into the polygamist indoctrination. Or they joined it in the time of Joseph Smith’s leadership and teachings, in the early to mid-1800s — teachings that convinced Smith’s devout followers God commanded them to live polygamy or be damned to hell.

But other than the polygamist man, mostly only some lesbians may benefit at all from a man having plural wives. To be blunt, I’m referring to “Big Love” nests.

I have known a few lesbian women who swear by polygamy! But my experience is: If you want over-all bad, enter polygamy and find out for yourself, the hard way, what polygamy is all about.

Many inductees, as well as converts to plural marriage, have soon discovered for themselves what polygamy is all about. That is, they found out the hard way why polygamy should never be legalized!

More on this in my upcoming blogs. I recently published a Book Review on my Website called “It’s Not About the Sex” My Ass! Written by Joanne Hanks, it’s my first recommended and wonderful read if you want to get an insider’s first-hand view of life in polygyny. I hope you are able to either check it out at the library or buy it on Amazon.com or such. It is available in audiobook form also.

Check my other blogs on my Website, too, plus my Menu for more excellent Media on polygamy and the Mormon fundamentalist history and lifestyle. See listed there, for your edification, films about Mormon fundamentalists, as well as a host of other excellent and best-selling books written by Ex-polygamist wives and other experts on the subject.

Till then, tell me, are you of the persuasion polygamy should be legalized? Why or why not? I would love to read your comments concerning this controversial subject. Till then, cheers and have a wonderful life. And thanks for visiting my blog site at: https://StephanySpencer.com.

Image may contain: 3 people, text

Mormon Reformation DayLike Page

LDS Theses #52: It [the LDS Church] hypocritically claims that polygamy has no place in the contemporary LDS Church even though Joseph Smith’s revelation on polygamy (Doctrine & Covenants 132) is still canonized scripture and “Celestial Polygamy” (being eternally married to at least one more woman after being widowed or divorced) is practiced. Currently, three widowed Mormon Apostles (Dallin H. Oaks, L. Tom Perry, and Russell M. Nelson) are Celestial Polygamists.
http://mormonreformationday2013.wordpress.com/…/the-95-lds…/#95LDSTheses

SUPPORTING EVIDENCE:
From “What is Celestial Polygamy?” by Bill McKeever:

‘Having more than one wife in the “here and now” is grounds for excommunication from the LDS Church; however, the possibility of having more than one wife in the “hereafter” is still very much a part of the Mormon culture. According to an article in the April 20, 2008 edition of the Salt Lake Tribune:

“Though the LDS Church had disavowed polygamy, it is still enshrined in Mormon scripture (Doctrine & Covenants 132) and some believe it will one day be re-established, if not on Earth, at least in heaven. In his quasi-official 1966 book Mormon Doctrine, which remains in print, the late LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote that `the holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming and the ushering in of the millennium.’ And by policy, men can be `sealed’ for eternity in LDS temple rites to more than one wife, though women are permitted only a single sealing. Three of the church’s current apostles, for example, were widowed and remarried. Each will have two wives in the eternities.”
(“Modern-day Mormons disavow polygamy”; http://www.sltrib.com/ci_8989865 )

Note carefully the last sentence, “Three of the church’s current apostles, for example, were widowed and remarried. Each will have two wives in the eternities.”

The three Mormon Apostles referred to in this article are Dallin H. Oaks, L. Tom Perry, and Russell M. Nelson. All three men are widowers, and all three men have been “sealed” to a second wife.

During a devotional address Mormon Apostle Dallin H. Oaks gave at Brigham Young University on January 29, 2002, he confirmed that he fully anticipates spending eternity with Kristen M. McCain, whom he was sealed to in the Salt Lake Temple on August 25, 2000. Oaks’ first wife, June Dixon Oaks, was sealed to him in marriage on June 24, 1952. She died in 1998. In his BYU talk, Oaks said, “When I was 66, my wife June died of cancer. Two years later I married Kristen McMain, the eternal companion who now stands at my side.”
(see http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=229 )

What is the point of being “sealed” for eternity? Speaking in General Conference in 1994, Seventy Charles Didier stated:

“This [marriage] union is solemnized by the authority of the everlasting priesthood into a holy and sacred ordinance, the temple sealing. It is also called the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, and its purpose is to bind couples together on earth and bring them to a fulness of exaltation in the kingdom of God in the hereafter.”
(“Remember Your Covenants,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1994, p.42; http://www.josephsmith.net/ldsorg/v/index.jsp…).

In a January 28, 1999 City Weekly article titled “Only for Eternity,” author Andrea Moore Emmett quoted LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills who said, “We have to see sealing ordinances as a promise pending faithfulness and yes, some will live polygamy.”

Mormon women who find the teaching of celestial polygamy unsettling will probably not find comfort in a May 31, 2006 LDS Newsroom statement that reads:

“Question: Is polygamy gone forever from the Church?

We only know what the Lord has revealed through His prophets, that plural marriage has been stopped in the Church. Anything else is speculative and unwarranted.”
(see http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/…/polygamy-questions-and-answ… )

If it is really speculative and unwarranted, what is the point of Mormon widowers being sealed in Mormon temples? If temple sealings of this nature have significance in the hereafter, how can the LDS Church honestly say “plural marriage has been stopped”?’
(source http://www.mrm.org/celestial-polygamy )

2015 UPDATE: L. Tom Perry died on May 30, 2015 leaving Dallin H. Oaks and Russell M. Nelson as the only remaining living Mormon Celestial Polygamist Apostles.



 


Short Creek, Arizona (Credit: iStock)

The polygamous town facing genetic disaster

In a remote region of the US, a town is struggling with a chilling health crisis caused by a recessive gene. The reason? Here, polygamy is still practised.

“We are to gird up our loins and fulfil this, just as we would any other duty…” said Brigham Young, who led the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), or Mormons, back in the mid-19th Century. It was a sweltering summer’s day in Provo City, Utah and as he spoke, high winds swirled dust around him.

The holy task Young was speaking of was, of course, polygyny, where one man takes many wives (also known by the gender neutral term polygamy). He was a passionate believer in the practice, which he announced as the official line of the church a few years earlier. Now he was set to work reassuring his flock that marrying multiple women was the right thing to do.

He liked to lead by example. Though Young began his adult life as a devoted spouse to a single wife, by the time he died his family had swelled to 55 wives and 59 children.

Salt Lake City (Credit: iStock)

Brigham Young founded Salt Lake City in Utah (Credit: iStock)

Fast-forward to 1990, a century after the LDS abandoned polygyny, and the upshot was only just beginning to emerge. In an office several hundred miles from where Young gave his speech, a 10-year-old boy was presented to Theodore Tarby, a doctor specialising in rare childhood diseases.

The boy had unusual facial features, including a prominent forehead, low-set ears, widely spaced eyes and a small jaw. He was also severely physically and mentally disabled.

In every case, the child had the same distinctive facial features, the same delayed development

After performing all the usual tests, Tarby was stumped. He had never seen a case like it. Eventually he sent a urine sample to a lab that specialises in detecting rare diseases. They diagnosed “fumarase deficiency”, an inherited disorder of the metabolism. With just 13 cases known to medical science (translating into odds of one in 400 million), it was rare indeed. It looked like a case of plain bad luck.

But there was a twist. It turned out his sister, whom the couple believed was suffering from cerebral palsy, had it too. In fact, together with colleagues from the Barrow Neurological Institute, soon Tarby had diagnosed a total of eight new cases, in children ranging from 20 months to 12 years old.

In every case, the child had the same distinctive facial features, the same delayed development – most couldn’t sit up, let alone walk – and, crucially, they were from the same region on the Arizona-Utah border, known as Short Creek.

Even more intriguingly, this region is polygynous. In this small, isolated community of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) – a group that split from the LDS in the early 20th Century – the likelihood of being born with fumarase deficiency is over a million times above the global average.

“When I moved to Arizona that’s when I realised that my colleagues here were probably the most familiar I’d ever met with this disease,” says Vinodh Narayanan, a neurologist at the Translational Genomics Research Institute, Arizona, who has treated several patients with fumarase deficiency.

Sign for Colorado City (Credit: iStock)

Colorado City is one of the two towns where the remote community live (Credit: iStock)

What’s going on?

The disease is caused by a hiccup in the process that provides energy to our cells. In particular, it’s caused by low levels of an enzyme – fumarase – that helps to drive it. Since it was perfected billions of years ago, the enzyme has become a staple of every living thing on the planet. It’s so important, today the instructions for making it are remarkably similar across all species, from owls to orchids.

For those who inherit a faulty version, the consequences are tragic. Though our brains account for just 2% of the body’s total weight, they are ravenously hungry – using up around 20% of its energy supply. Consequently, metabolic disorders such a fumarase deficiency are particularly devastating to the organ. “It results in structural abnormalities and a syndrome including seizures and delayed development,” says Narayanan.

Faith Bistline has five cousins with the disease, who she used to look after until she left the FLDS in 2011. “They are completely physically and mentally disabled,” she says. The oldest started learning to walk when he was two years old, but stopped after a long bout of seizures. Now that cousin is in his 30s and not even able to crawl.

Fumarase deficiency is rare because it’s recessive – it only develops if a person inherits two faulty copies of the gene

In fact, only one of her cousins can walk. “She can also make some vocalisations and sometimes you can understand a little bit of what she’s saying, but I wouldn’t call it speaking,” she says. They all have feeding tubes and need care 24 hours a day.

Fumarase deficiency is rare because it’s recessive – it only develops if a person inherits two faulty copies of the gene, one from each parent. To get to grips with why it’s plaguing Short Creek, first we need to back to the mid-19th Century.

Brigham Young was a busy man. In addition to leading the Mormon church, he also founded a city – Salt Lake City, Utah – which flourished from a sparsely populated desert valley into a full-blown polygynous utopia in the space of a few short decades.

Alas, it didn’t last. By the 1930s, the practice had been abandoned by the church and banned by the state of Utah, making it punishable by imprisonment and a hefty fine (equivalent to around $10,000 (£7,675) in today’s money). Followers needed somewhere to go.

Monument valley road (Credit: iStock)

Followers of polygamy fled here after the practice was banned in Utah (Credit; iStock)

They settled on the remote ranching town of Short Creek, which formed part of the Arizona Strip. This was an area larger than Belgium (14,000 sq miles, or 36,000 sq km) with only a handful of inhabitants – the perfect place to hide from the prying eyes of federal marshals.

Today it’s home to the twin towns of Hildale and Colorado City – either side of the Utah-Arizona border – and some 7,700 people. It’s the headquarters of the FLDS, which is famous for its conservative way of life and polygyny. “Most families include at least three wives, because that’s the number you need to enter heaven,” says Bistline, who has three mothers and 27 siblings.

In the end, the link to fumarase deficiency is a numbers game. Take Brigham Young. In all, his children begat 204 grandchildren, who, in turn, begat 745 great-grandchildren. By 1982, it was reported that he had at least 5,000 direct descendants.

This sudden explosion is down to exponential growth. Even with just one wife and three children, if every subsequent generation follows suit a man can have 243 descendants after just five generations. In polygynous families this is supercharged. If every generation includes three wives and 30 children, a man can – theoretically – flood a community with over 24 million of his descendants in the space of five generations, or little over 100 years. Of course this isn’t what actually happens. Instead, lineages begin to fold in on themselves as distant (and in the FLDS, not so distant) cousins marry. In polygynous societies, it doesn’t take long before everyone is related.

In Short Creek, just two surnames dominate the local records – Jessop and Barlow

This is thought to be how one-in-200 men (one in 12.5 in Asia) are descended directly from super-fertile Mongol warrior Genghis Khan, who died nearly eight centuries ago. As Brigham Young said himself: “It is obvious that I could not have been blessed with such a family, if I had been restricted to one wife…”

In Short Creek, just two surnames dominate the local records – Jessop and Barlow. According to local historian Benjamin Bistline, who spoke to news agency Reuters back in 2007, 75 to 80% of people in Short Creek are blood relatives of the community’s founding patriarchs, Joseph Jessop and John Barlow.

This is all very well, but we now know that most people are walking around with at least one lethal recessive mutation (one that would kill us before we reach reproductive age) in their genome, around the same number as in fruit flies. Humans haven’t gone extinct because, being recessive, they’re only unmasked if we have children with someone who also just so happens to carry a copy of that exact same mutation too.

Statue of Gengis Khan (Credit: iStock)

Mongol warrior Genghis Khan took so many wives that one-in-200 men may be related to him (Credit: iStock)

This is where the system starts to become unstuck. “With polygyny you’re decreasing the overall genetic diversity because a few men are having a disproportionate impact on the next generation,” says Mark Stoneking, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany. “Random genetic mutations become more important.”

In isolated communities, the problem is compounded by basic arithmetic: if some men take multiple wives, others can’t have any. In the FLDS, a large proportion of men must be kicked out as teenagers, shrinking the gene pool even further.

“They are driven to the highway by their mothers in the middle of the night and dumped by the side of the road,” says Amos Guiora, a legal expert at the University of Utah who has written a book about religious extremism. Some estimate that there may be up to a thousand so-called “lost boys”. “Often they spend years trying to repent, hoping to get back into the religion,” says Bistline, who has three brothers who were discarded.

Conservationists have known for years that a population’s “mating system” – the fancy word for sexual behaviour – can have a profound impact on its genetics. In wild deer and sage grouse, as in Mormon cults, polygyny is associated with high levels of inbreeding, because it shrinks the number of males contributing to the gene pool and increases the relatedness of the entire community.

Today polygyny is more widespread in Africa than any other continent

The fumarase deficiency gene has been traced to Joseph Jessop and his first wife, Martha Yeates (14 children). One of their daughters went on to marry co-founder John Barlow – and the rest is history. Today the number of people carrying the fumarase gene in Short Creek is thought to be in the thousands.

The FLDS are not alone. Today polygyny is more widespread in Africa than any other continent. In March 2014, Kenya’s Parliament passed a bill allowing men to marry multiple wives, while in many West African countries it’s been practised for thousands of years.

Village in West Africa (Credit: iStock)

Polygamy has also been widely practised in West Africa – also leading to unusual clumps of diseases (Credit: iStock)

Intriguingly, it’s associated with rare disease here, too. In Cameroon, scientists recently reported a polygynous community with abnormally high levels of stuttering. By comparing local genomes with those from sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and North African populations, the researchers identified “exceptionally rare” gene variants among this community, which appear to be responsible – though the authors do not speculate about whether this is a consequence of polygyny.

Which brings us to the good news. Since inbreeding tends to uncover “recessive” mutations that would normally remain in hiding, studying these communities has helped scientists to identify many disease-causing genes. That’s because genetic information is useless on its own. To be meaningful to medical research, it must be linked to information about disease. In fact, more human disease genes have been discovered in Utah – with its Mormon history – than any other place in the world.

It’s not the legacy Brigham Young expected, but in the end, it’s possible that the controversial practice might have some unintended positives.

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Experimenting with Theme:

             My emurging self

       “My Emerging Self”

Hi and welcome! This is my first theme and header that really spoke to me when I started my fledgling Website and Photoblogging June 27, 2016.

I borrowed it from niece Dana Jordan’s Facebook picture for lack of time, in the beginning, to find my own idea and Header. Tried it out for size, posting it on my Photoblog Website Home page to see how it looked and worked.

I’ve since found my own theme, one more suitable for my Photoblogging. But I’m keeping the above image on my Website for Auld Lang Syne — and because I love the design — the beautiful painting and the theme, “My Emerging Self.”

My Introductory Blog

My Introductory Blog

 

IMG_3642

Beulah Stephany Spencer-LeBaron, 2016, age 70

Hello and welcome to my Photoblog site — My own little corner of the World-Wide-Web!

 

My name is Stephany Spencer/AKA Beulah Spencer LeBaron de Tucker.

My goal is to share personal stories, essays, prose, poetry, artwork, and other creative works and opinion, in hopes you will not only give me your feedback but may also gain insight, inspiration, and enlightenment to help you in your journey through life. If you are creative and curious, then this blog is for you.

I have been posting blogs at least once per week for going on fourteen months, as of July 29, 2017. But starting August 4, 2017, I will be posting blogs sporadically, so as to devote more time to writing my books.

 And I don’t intend for this to be a monolog but a dialog. I want you to give me your feedback in the “Comments” section. I will read every comment and respond as I’m able.

*If you want me to address, please leave a comment below. I am looking forward to connecting with you.

My First Blog

My First Blog

with-sunglasses
Beulah Stephany Spencer-LeBaron, 2015, age 69

7/2016          Hi!  I’m Stephany Spencer/AKA Beulah Spencer-LeBaron de Tucker.

Welcome to my own little corner of the World-Wide Web — My “Virtual” piece of valuable Internet Real Estate!  Yes, I being “Creative Aboard,” say welcome aboard!  And please feel free to click around and see what’s useful to you. How may I help you?

I am a Creative: Author, Artist, Poet, Performer, Lyricist, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Speaker — Just a professional Jackalynn-of-many-trades — And a retired teacher on her endless summer.

At the moment, I’m excited about this recent launch of my first Website/Photoblog site! My URL is: https://StephanySpencer.com. It serves as my Scrapbook, Blog site, and a connection to you and the rest of the world.

My email address is StephSpencer10@gmail.com, should you wish to contact me.

Over time I’ll be sharing with you a variety of topics and poetry, but mostly my miserable Memoirs (I love alliteration!), along with some happy and redemptive stories of how I escaped a dangerous, fanatic, Mormon fundamentalist foot-washing cult I  was born and raised in and lived to write about; i.e., to tell why and how I made it out of there and up to here. 

I’ll also be sharing with you poetry and songs I’ve written, as well as videos of my performances, artwork, and more. I’m looking forward to your input, honesty, and ideas. I promise I’ll read all your comments, and will respond as time allows. For I mean for each blog to be a dialog, not a monolog.

Through my Website, I’ll test the waters and heed your input. It will be of import for if and when I decide to finish writing my shoot-from-the-hip Memoirs: the surreal saga of how I survived stunting child abuse as a White slave while growing up poor and deprived. 

Seven years of my life (the years between 1960 and 1967) were spent in my Uncle Joel and Ervil LeBaron’s secluded, backward, extremist Mormon Fundamentalist cult, headquartered in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico.

I escaped this self-righteous and controlling cult in 1967, at the age of twenty-one, with only my three-year-old daughter, one suitcase, and $5.00 to our name — plus an 8th Grade Diploma received in 1960, after only around six years of rather poor public education, mostly from Utah’s small-town 1950s schools.

Part of that education took place in infamous Short Creek, Utah’s one-room schoolhouse that housed grades one through five under the tutelage of brave Mrs. Verda Lartzen.

The rest is “her-story” or “my-story” — But with much credit going to our good ole USA’s government, people, and God — though at the time, I no longer believed in God — my understanding of God.

Now I see “God“(meaning anything that is “Good”) has been with me all along. Though the going has been far from easy, I see the tracks where God carried me when I could no longer make it on my own! The help showed up in ominous ways, such that I cannot question that a Higher Power exists — a Loving Energy overlooking my life.

So, to be sure, all glory goes to God/Goodness that I’ve made it through so well, these many years, since escaping the devastation and setbacks of my cult upbringing.

Within five months of escaping the LeBaron cult at age twenty-one, for example, I miraculously started college — though all I had was about six years of public education, an eighth-grade diploma, and had not been inside a classroom for about eight years … And was limping along on culture shock and post-traumatic stress syndrome, besides.

However, College was a dream come true! Thanks to California’s Junior Colleges (mostly funded by taxpayers’ dollars back then), Scholarships, Work-study, Grants and Loans — and the Welfare system, — I was able to take the GED test, then start studying at East Los Angeles College, in California.

Amazing too is, though I had been out of school since age fourteen, barely had six years of public education, and only an eighth-grade Jr. High School diploma, I was on the “Dean’s List” for top grades by my second semester!

I, sadly, had not had the chance for an education in High School’s 9th, 10th, 11th, nor 12th Grades, yet within two years, I earned an Associate of Arts degree in Music, then graduated from UCLA in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. And attained a Teacher’s Credential and Post-graduate work from California State University, Northridge, in 1976, specializing in Liberal Arts and Bilingual Ed.

Presently I am a member of the California Writers Club (https://cwc-sfv.org) where I was Programs Chair and also helped with Hospitality. (*See the above CWC Website for some of my  pieces published over the years in “The Valley Scribe, newsletter of the California Writers Club.)

I was a member of Champagne Toastmasters (https://ChampagneToastmasters.com). And am a longtime member of Songmakers, Inc. (https://Songmakers.org).

Ever a Creative, the world is my oyster and I a pearl forming within her. Life is my canvas on which I purposely paint with gusto, all the while it takes me along to new destinations and dimensions — and hopefully, right on through to the “pearly” gates!

 I have learned: “If you rest, you rust;” You either live or you die. Bob Dylan so aptly reminds us of this in his lyrical line borrowed from the late great singer-songwriter, Woodie Guthrie:
“If you aren’t busy livin’,
You’re busy dyin’.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 So here’s to life!
I’m tryin,’ yes, I am.
Though I ain’t thru cryin’,
“L’ Chaim,” and cheers! 
(by Stephany Spencer-LeBaron)

My Memoir and Poem: Bright Childhood a Gift

 

Me, Bill and baby: Side views
 28-year-old Bill Tucker and 18-year-old Beulah Stephany Spencer-LeBaron de Tucker with our Six-month-old baby Asenath Marie

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
William James


In July 1967, three months after my/our husband, William Preston Tucker/AKA: Bill Tucker (I say “our” husband because I was one of Bill’s three wives), announced to the “church” he was leaving, he died from a burst appendix. Up until then, he had been one of the two top leading priesthood members of my Uncle Joel LeBaron’s Messianic Mormon fundamentalist cult.

My Uncle Ervil LeBaron, Joel’s eighteen-months-younger brother, was the other top-ranking priesthood member of Joel’s “church,” “The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times” — a Mormon Fundamentalist doomsday cult headquartered in Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico.

When Bill died, most of the true-believing members of this apocalyptic extremist group believed God had taken him because he left “The Church.” In their minds, he had apostatized from the only true religion upon the face of the earth. Therefore, half the people who had followed my/our husband out of Joel’s cult of polygamists, just three months before, returned to his cult — now more fervent followers than ever!

Bill’s dying was all the sign they needed to convince them Joel’s “church” was true, after all. And Bill had simply been led astray by Satan and his minions. It didn’t carry much weight with them that Bill died because he was allergic to Penicillin — the wonder drug that cures peritonitisthe fatal infection that sets in when the appendix burst.

The following poem was written shortly after my husband’s death. I was barely twenty-one, had just escaped the LeBaron cult two months before, had a three-year-old daughter, no money, no home, no support system — “No nothing” but the legacy of having spent my past seven years held captive in a secluded, backwards, and abusive polygamist cult, where I was married at sixteen, in a prearranged marriage, to a man (William Preston Tucker) ten years my senior who already had two other wives — the oldest one, Marilyn Tucker, fifteen years my senior and immensely jealous of me — not to mention his other wife who was six years my senior.

During my seven years — from age fourteen to twenty-one — living in the LeBaron cult in Mexico, I was deprived of an education and every modern convenience — plus any type of contact with the outside world. That meant, among other things, no telephone, radio, television, newspapers, magazines, or books. And the motto was: “Keep them barefoot ‘n’ pregnant.”

Most of us were living a religiously-fanatic, backward, poverty-stricken lifestyle worse than many people lived in the feudal systems of the Middle Ages — the Medieval Period; i.e., the period from 500 AD to 1500 AD — or the 6th- 16th centuries.

I used a bucket tied to a rope to draw water from a well about half a block from my kitchen, scrubbed laundry on a washboard or my knuckles, bathed in a small galvanized metal tub, and had no indoor plumbing.

For most of us in LeBaron, “toilet” meant a rickety old unpainted wooden outhouse — and a “stink” pot or can kept under our bed … that needed frequent emptying and cleaning. It was like camping out, except I lived in a cinderblock or adobe abode instead of a tent — depending on which period of my seven years I spent in LeBaron.

We had no electricity, either. I lit a coal oil lamp for light when evening fell and didn’t have the luxury of a cook stove, let alone a fireplace. This is but a glimpse of the background I left behind upon entering “Babylon” — as the cult called it.

Yes, within a month or so after my husband’s death, I had left the LeBaron Colony behind, and moved to “the foreign country of California, USA.” Grief-stricken and shorn of my previous religious foundation and security system, needless to say, in every way, California was culture shock and post-traumatic-stress syndrome/PTSD in three-quarter time — except I was only waltzing to keep from crying.

To make matters worse, though I was twenty-one, I barely had six years of a mostly Utahan country-school education — which I was lucky to have gotten before my parents moved me and the rest of their family to Mexico in 1960 to “gather with the Saints” in the LeBaron Colony — a backward, secluded “get-away” in the Rocky Mountain Range that extended from Western Canada, the Southwestern United State, and on into Mexico. Once there, my education ended and dire deprivation began.

My teaching career also began: I hadn’t been there in that corner of The Rockies’ — that desolate little LeBaron Chihuahuan-desert dump more than three months but what my parents volunteered my 16-year-old sister and me, an extremely shy, fourteen-year-old, to teach the colony’s kids. I was suddenly, and with no preparation, handed the adult responsibility of a group of twelve kids, ranging from ten years to my own age! And I hadn’t the slightest understanding of pedagogy and its centuries-year-old precepts!!

I’d never had a reason to think about teaching theories before, let alone think about why and what youngsters should learn — other than when I played house and pretended I was a schoolteacher teaching my dolls – or my little siblings! And fantasized about growing up and being a teacher someday.

But now, I had to figure out everything on my own — and without the benefit of books or paper — and all within a day or two! Had to figure out such things as “Why Schools? And why teach, anyway? And if education is important, how, why, and what should I be teaching?” I had never had any reason to think about such lofty adult ideas and ideals. And why should I? Children simply take these things for granted, having grown up with education being “a given,” and going to schools given by grown-ups.

But now I was thrown this — another unbelievable whopper — while still suffering culture shock, due to the isolated, bleak little boring, backward, wind-swept desert colony — an utterly sweltering, desolate, dry, sandy oasis, as compared to what I had barely left behind in the small agrarian town Hurricane, Utah, USA!

Now, on top of this, suddenly I was deluged with the role of “responsible adult” to add to my PTSD and the other emotional distress and loneliness I was dealing with, but could hardly endure. The distress included my raging adolescent hormones, the loss of my home, bedroom, most of my toys, friends, teachers, lifestyle, and the school I so loved back in Utah. But there were also many other strange things and changes I found and had to adjust to in this Third-World, foreign country. The Mexican peoples, different customs, and Spanish, itself, were monsters for a shy, introverted teenager to adjust to. And to add to all of it, my siblings and I were crammed into a temporary one-room windowless adobe hut with a dirt floor, where we lived for a year or more while Daddy built our family a residence of our own.

But there were also many other strange things and changes I had to contend with and adjust to in this third-World, foreign country. The Mexican peoples, different customs, and Spanish, itself, were monsters for a shy, introverted teenager like me to adjust to. To add to it all, my siblings and I were crammed into a dark, cramped, one-room adobe hut with a dirt floor and the only one window that was covered by, not glass, but see-through plastic! There we lived for a year or more while Daddy built our family a residence of our own.

To add to it all, my siblings and I were crammed into a dark, stank, one-room adobe hut with a dirt floor. Its only window was covered by oiled butcher paper! There we lived for a year or more while Daddy built our family a residence of our own.

To put it succinctly, the LeBaron colony was utterly not what my mother had built it up to be –– Not at all what I was expecting or looking forward to! My parents got us kids all excited about leaving our home and many of our belongings, etc., in exchange for this rugged pioneer life — this primitive existence in Old Mexico —  “to live with the Saints and help build up the kingdom of God”!

But we were fleeing there, also, to avoid the famine and destruction one of Ma’s dreams showed her was soon to rain down upon “the wicked and worldly United States” — the country that was going to finally be punished by God for having persecuted and killed the early Mormon Saints — especially Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum!

But be that what it may, to add to my disappointment, despair, and distress, I was now expected to carry an adult job … to be a teacher, no less! Well, I almost lost my mind trying to deal with this sudden responsibility thrust upon me. It was just one more security blanket pulled off me.

Trying to figure out the answers to all my queries about why and what to teach … and a lot more … was mind-boggling beyond words! What were my parents thinking?! They had to be dreaming … certainly, they weren’t rational!

Fortunately, before I went crazy with the stress of this stupendous responsibility I hadn’t been given even the least preparation for, Daddy caught me, the evening after my first strenuous day of teaching, lying face down on the couch in the living room, and thrashing around in a fetal position., trying to smother my sobs so nobody would hear.

I continued wreathing in agony, as Daddy, deeply concerned, tenderly inquired of me, “What’s wrong?” And I wailed, in response: “I don’t know how nor what to teach … And I’m too nervous to talk in front of those kids!

I never before saw him so worried. He couldn’t locate Mumma quickly enough. Finding her in the kitchen, he had some anxious words with her; whereupon, she dropped what she was doing and came to my rescue. It’s amazing what a few words of consolation from your mumma can do:

For starters, she told me she’d had some teacher-training classes during her couple of years of college. Then quieted my worries by telling me she would take over my classroom the following morning, to demonstrate how to educate and to control the unruly kids.

Well, all I can say is it was about time! With her Teacher Training, she should’ve been teaching the class! But after her Teacher Demonstration, that following morning, she even gave me a book for beginning Educators that taught some teaching theory and explained how to prepare and organize lesson plans (Apparently, it was a book left over from her College days). Again, all I can say is, “It was about time!” But better late than never.

Need I say, my parents sure could put the cart before the horse! For I was somehow expected to already know how to teach, of course … in this little cult where everything was perfect and God would simply drop the knowledge you needed into your mind during one hour of sleep — “like Joseph sold into Egypt, where God gave him a dream filling him in on everything he needed to know.”

Mama actually and truly believed if God thought you needed the knowledge, he’d give it to you in a dream. So education and study weren’t even needed, really. I’m not kidding! That’s what Mother believed … and told me!

But it’s her double standards, and living in a fantasy world, once more — for here she also had thrown me, at age fourteen, into my own classroom of students I was expected to teach — without the least preparation — And certainly no dream came that night from God to fill me in on “Everything I needed to know to do this job!”

But, fortunately, after the one-time teaching Demo, and the other bit of help Ma provided me, a light bulb switched on in my beleaguered and overwhelmed brain. I was off and running from then on! This fourteen-year-old child-teacher/”idiot savant” was back to playing school with a bang and a bounce! But now it was the real deal — hardly make believe anymore.

And not only did my students love me, and I them — and teaching, too — but I got called “Miss Beulah” … or “Miss Booyah” … all over town, from then on, as I ran into my students after school or during the weekends. This show of affection and respect was an unexpected dividend — a wonderful bonus; an uplifting experience for me. It made the whole thing worth it. But “Beulah” is a very difficult name for tiny tots and even first and second graders to pronounce.

I recall secretly struggling to learn to pronounce “Beulah,” myself when I was three or four. I wanted to be able to correctly tell people what my name was when they asked. But no child should have to go through the embarrassment of not being able to say their own name correctly. So I recommend simple nicknames  for “Simple Savants”… or “Simple Simons.” Save the difficult names for when small children are old enough to confidently pronounce each syllable of their “Handle/ Moniker/ John Henry.”

But names aside, I soon became pretty good at creating lesson plans in my mind, on the fly, or by the seat of my pants … creative that I am. I mean, “When there’s a will, there’s a way”!

But my lesson plans didn’t come close to what I was able to do after some maturity, a college education, and the numerous teachers’ training courses, and other studies I pursued, after escaping that backwards, bizarre, conceited cult — Escaped it at twenty-one to “get a life,” a college degree, and a teaching credential.

But getting back to “the little adobe schoolhouse,” in LeBaron: The following year, they had me teaching a group of twenty kids, ranging from ages five to fifteen, many of whom needed to learn how to read — or were there to simply learn English.

And I, fifteen years old by then, was expected to work miracles — though I didn’t even know Spanish, let alone the pedagogy behind Bilingual Ed. Furthermore, I was expected to do all this without even a decent chalkboard or chalk, let alone the benefit of other teaching supplies … not even books and paper, to speak of.

And, of course (other than Mother’s one-hour amateur teaching demonstration) there was not the least teacher preparation nor training. And if there had been such a highfalutin thing offered, you can be sure it would’ve been me, fresh off the streets, they’d have dragged or roped in to teach others how to teach what I had not been taught myself — and Mother and other adults were too busy to teach, LOL! Except it wasn’t a laughing matter:

They were very busy reinventing the wheel and “The Little Red Schoolhouse” … in “Zion, the gathering place of the Saints,” where people took themselves most seriously as they diligently strove to build up the kingdom of God and prepare a place of refuge “for when the calamities started in the US, and people had to flee over the border to Old Mexico — no less! – to save their lives.”

Crazy? Yes, and how! Because they could barely save their own lives, let alone help anyone else’s, once the sky started falling.  About all they could do was continue to follow Chicken Little; i.e., “The Prophets Joel and Ervil.”

When I escaped that cult in 1967, I didn’t know how to drive, use a telephone, nor count change — let alone exchange American money. I could barely use Mexican money, having had so little script allowed me during my childhood or married life.

Our cult, like most Mormon fundamentalist cults, believed women shouldn’t be allowed to have or manage money. Therefore, you can be sure I didn’t know how to write a check, let alone open a bank account, get on a bus or train … or take a taxi.

So at my/our husband’s funeral, my oldest sister told me I could come stay with her in San Diego, California, and she’d help me get situated in my new life and find a job … given that I had no money, Basic Education, nor work experience, to speak of, and couldn’t drive — plus had a toddler to look after, besides.

And who should know, better than she, all the disadvantages and back sets I’d just left behind, such that I wasn’t prepared for this  “foreign country” and frightening life of single motherhood.

On top of that, I had recently announced to the cult that I no longer believed in their religious dogma and had left their secluded colony for good. So my “big” sister (seventeen months older than I) knew she was all I had to turn to for help in getting started in my new world.

Looking back on it now, I guess it sounded pretty impressive and good to my “big” sister that she should invite me to come live with her and “she’d help me get set up.” After all, she’d heard and seen other people around her say and do such a benevolent thing.

So I guess it seemed to this twenty-three-year-old, average-minded ingénue like the thing any normal and sensitive sister in her right shoes would say to any normal and helpless sister in my wrong shoes, I being her younger and destitute widowed “apostate,” social-scientific-thinking sister.

But, much to my disappointment, let down, and dismay, in the two to three weeks my toddler and I were there, she never did one thing to help me find a job!

Even worse, food began to gradually dwindle then disappear from her abode, ultimately leaving the cupboard bare but for some canned orange juice. That’s all she left for my baby and me the last five days we lived with her and her husband Stephen Silver … who was usually away visiting his other wives.

I suppose she was trying to give me the “hint to git”? That she really hadn’t meant for me to take her up on it when she invited me to come live with her “till I got started on my own”?

Like, was her husband/ my brother-in-law Stephen Silver put out with her when I actually showed up on their doorstep  … or what? Obviously, there wasn’t … and still isn’t … much communication going on between me and her. I’m supposed to pretend things didn’t happen the way they did, I guess.

But, for sure, she has apparently never taken a look at what she did. All I’m certain of is she sure didn’t/ doesn’t think she owed/owes me any apology. At least I’ve never gotten one — and fifty years have passed since then. That was just how people, at least in my family, did things.

They weren’t dependable. Didn’t keep their word — Didn’t follow through on what they promised. We simply took each other for granted, didn’t expect too much — and usually got less. People weren’t/aren’t valued so much when there are an awful lot of them — as in huge families. I was simply grateful for the few times, over the years, my older sister had come through for me!

But, though there has been no communication between me and her about that time, by now, I’ve figured out she and Stephen weren’t starving like my baby and me. And it was NOT a common thing for my sister to have no food in her house: The louse was eating out to avoid feeding me and my baby!

But she never told me what she was up to. I simply thought they were low on money. And was just as naïvely still trusting my sister would eventually help me find that all-important job!

But, to add insult to injury, Stephen learned from her I had $18.00 pocket change. Even in 1967 that didn’t go very far — especially when I had a child to support! So I was taken aback when he asked me to give him all the money I had — even asked me if I was sure I didn’t have any dimes or pennies left in my apron pocket!

Now, wouldn’t you think the right thing for such a “saint” (and future “profit”!) to do (since I couldn’t drive and and there was no transportation within walking distance of their apartment) would’ve been to take me shopping so I could use that money to buy some food for my malnourished baby and me! (Or maybe even get me set up with Welfare?)

But, apparently, he thought I owed him some money for having stayed at his wife’s place a bit. So he was simply exacting all he could get from me. And maybe he thought it was too dangerous to have me go to the Public Welfare Dept. to get assistance: They might find out about him, a Plyg, and he’d be thrown in jail.

But, fortunately for him, I didn’t know how to use a phone, let alone that a Department of Social Services existed; i.e., a Public Welfare System that offered aid to starving families with dependent children. I didn’t know anything because he and my sister never explained anything … nor did anyone else.

They apparently had too many of their own problems to worry about to consider me. Plygs are extremely busy people. Just trying to make ends meet and stay out of jail is more hell than most can handle.

So, instead of helping me in any way, get what followed next — a  story so shocking and inhumane I can still barely relate it to this day: Without ANY warning, in the dead of night the two took off, abandoning me and my toddler.

Yes, unbelievably, and without any word to me that they were going to leave, these “Saints” fled, leaving my baby and me to further starve to death. We literally went five full days with only water, till we were rescued. But that’s another gory story for a later line.

Over time, I realized these Mormon fundamentalist Plyg “Saints”  had fled their apartment, while I was sleeping, to not only dump me and my kid but to also avoid paying the many months’ back rent they owed! But what can I expect from my older sister? I had always been a thorn in her side.

She had never gotten over my being born! I guess my parents hadn’t properly prepared her, at the tender age of seventeen months, for my sudden arrival on the scene and “her” territory.

To make matters worse, I immediately began to take her place and nurse at my/HER mama’s breast! And, later on, to use HER potty … without anyone’s permission: I potty trained myself at age one. I saw how much attention my older sister got for using her potty and leaving a turd. So I copied her … And left my own turd. Then properly got Mother by the hand and took her to show her what I left in the pot, expecting she would really praise me, too.

But I will never forget how upset my twenty-nine-month-old Sis was. Oh, the dismay she showed when I’d usurped her very special potty chambers. I recall Mama tenderly trying to convince her of how important it was to share her special new potty chair with me. “Do-do,” as I called her at that age, never did agree. She simply put up with me, an intruder on her territory, because she had no alternative.

And when it comes to “interlopers,” she didn’t have much more use for the US government and the rule of law, either … Other than it afforded her and her husband and his other wives a living, a welfare check, and more. Thank God for the good ole Americans that do respect the rule of law so as to create wonderful things interlopers (such as bleed-the-beast “Saints”) can benefit from.

Ah yes, these self-proclaimed Mormon saints were simply bleeding the beast … including me and my baby. To add insult to injury, these same self-righteous “saintly beasts” actually proclaimed themselves to be better than my/ Bill’s “apostate” kid and me!

What’s more unbelievable, given their behavior, is Stephen had been my/ our husband’s “best boyfriend.” Of course, I didn’t know this at the time. Over many years, I pieced the puzzle together. It started back when they’d met in France’s mainstream-Mormon mission field where they spent about two years in close quarters as missionary companions — even sharing the same bunk the whole time!

So Bill was no doubt turning over in his grave as he saw how his secret lover Steve (i.e., wife?) had ultimately vented his uncontainable jealousy towards me — And also vented his feelings of betrayal and grief he’d long since harbored towards Bill because he could never marry Bill and have him all to himself. 

So how did he get even with Bill and me? He simply abandoned us … me and the baby I’d had with Bill; i.e., He left us to expire once his lover Bill had expired.

But what a wickedly proverbial betrayal it was that Steve would actually leave me and my/ Bill’s baby unprotected and “without a pot to piss in,” given that Bill had helped Steve often — So many times he’d come to Steve and his family’s rescue, over the course of the twelve years he and Steve had remained “Best Buddies”!

What’s worse, as it stood for me, after Bill died, his first/ legal wife got all the monthly Social Security money the US government paid to Bill’s family upon his death. She even took all the money from our chicken business in Mexico — though she shared some with Bill’s second wife — her “best girlfriend” and sidekick.

But those two left me and my child to the wolves — because I wasn’t “really” part of “the family;” i.e.,”the love nest.” And they made that choice, not Bill. But Bill went along with whatever choices his two oldest wive’s made, more often than not. Life with a harem was more peaceful for him when those squeaky hinges/”hens” got the grease; i.e., He let these first two jealous wives wear the pants and have the power… usually.

Actually, they thought (as I had) that my sister was going to help me get a job and get situated in the United States after my/our husband’s demise! But that was still no excuse for them to take for themselves and their kids all the money and gifts that came into our family, after Bill’s death, leaving me and Bill’s baby he impregnated me with, helpless and hopeless once he died.

But what was new, when it came to me and them? This was how it had always been — my having to sink, think, then swim — or die trying. No help from them, to speak of. They did the bare minimum … to save face, and not a farthing’s fart more! Bill wasn’t much help either.

But, getting back to Stephen Silver: To top off ALL else he did and didn’t do, later on, that narcissistic nut case started a Mormon fundamentalist cult of his own — after he spent some years in the country of Israel, no less, trying to convert the Jews to the idea that he, Stephen (half Jewish), was the Messiah prophesied of old!!

When that didn’t work, that’s when Steve returned to the United States, got a perm, sported a redheaded Afro, and set himself up as a self-proclaimed prophet — “The one mighty ‘n’ strong,” if you will, as spoken of in Mormon Scriptures. And that’s only the half of it when it comes to Steve and his crazy, nitwit shit!

I got side-tracked with this backstory. Let’s continue with my story about why and when I wrote the following poem, “Bright Childhood a Blessing.” At the time my muse brought this poem to me, I was without even a religious base, having left my religion — The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times. I had left it, in my mind, a year before I knew my husband had left it.

He had secretly left it, in his mind, too, a year or so before he dared tell me he’d quit believing in my Uncles, Joel and Ervil LeBaron and their priesthood claims and doctrine! Anyway, needless to say, when he passed away, my baby and I were left without any support system whatsoever. 

Add to this that, because I had left “The Church of the First Born,” I was being maligned and ostracized by many people in the cult … including my mother, older sister, and most of my other siblings.

My toddler and I were considered basically “bad” because I was no longer a “true believer.” So we were left to rot and be forgot … Conveniently abandoned by God’s self-proclaimed chosen handful … who always claimed to be so full of love, charity, and goodness!

But, wouldn’t you know, these self-righteous self-proclaimed Saints left me and Bill’s baby to die: They considered us “Daughters of Perdition” … simply because I had chosen to use the God-given brain I was endowed with to make my own choices in life. (God forbid I should do such a thing!) And it is with this backdrop the following poem came to me … came to be:

Bright Childhood a Gift
(
By Stephany Spencer, age 21)

 Bright childhood was a gift on loan.
Today I wander back, wondering
Why that gift has flown.
Now I’m abandoned, on my own

Steeped in drudgery to the bone,
Helplessly, hopelessly I groan.
What am I now? Who took away
That life I once had known?

Who caused me to be so flung
When hope had almost grown?
Who finds it wise to lend me loss —
This misery once unknown?

Filled with heartaches made of stone –
Who took me here to moan?
Who left me here, greatly lost —

With people but alone?

Come end this anguish fierce!
Put justice in its place!
Don’t tarry long, I pray —
I cannot bear this pace.

You gave me once a mother dear,
A father who did care,
Plus friends and sisters near;
They helped to pave each stair.

But quick You took that life;
Left me dangling in the dearth
Of helpless stress and strife —
Still a mother, no longer wife.

Once I asked to be made strong
A soldier in Your crew.
I hadn’t dreamt this was what
My energies were due.

Now I pray to bring me up
From out a crushing pain; 
Bring back hope, bring back joy,
Bring heaven once again.
 (By Stephany Spencer, age 21)


In the following video, my cousin Donna LeBaron Goldberg is interviewed by her aunt (my aunt-in-law) Producer Rebecca Kunz Kimbel. Donna was born and raised in Colonia LeBaron and the LeBaron Mormon fundamentalist cult where I was raised and spent eight years of my childhood and young adulthood.