~ My Song: “A Happy-New-Year Medley”

 

 HAPPY NEW YEAR!
TWO-THOUSAND-EIGHTEEN IS HERE!!

new-years-day
(By Stephany Spencer, to tune of Auld Lang Syne)

1-  Two-thousand-eighteen is here,
We are another year older;
Everyone has grown,
And we are bolder
As we enter this new year.

2-  Let’s make a resolution
To never be the problem —
Only the solution
To our problems … 
every one.

3-  And let us spread hope and good cheer
From here, on through December;
‘Cause, when it is all said and done,
That is what people remember.
Chorus:
So Happy New Year, everyone!
Happy New Year, everyone!!
Let’s spread good cheer and have some fun —
Another new year has begun!


Scott’s air, Auld Lang Syne, by Robert Burns:

4- Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?

For days of auld lang syne, my jo,
For days of auld lang syne;
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For days of auld lang syne.

~ My Review of My Cousin Anna LeBaron’s “The Polygamist’s Daughter”

 

 

 

 

By Stephany Spencer: My Book Review of my cousin Anna LeBaron’s Memoir: “The Polygamist’s Daughter”

Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., I was honored with a complimentary ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of cousin Anna LeBaron’s bravely written book, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” published March 21, 2017.

Regarding Anna’s Memoir, I was disappointed she didn’t tell us more about her miscreant father, “Evil Ervil,” (the murderous “Mormon Manson”). Also wish she had gone more into the details of her “running away from home.” (I would not have cared if the book were longer!)

As it was, her book said very little about her colorful father. And her “running away” was simply to call her married sister to take her in — a sister within walking distance, no less. Still, I have to give her credit for having had the sense and courage to run away at the tender age of thirteen, no less! For having run away, she might even very well have been killed by the cult she fled!

Even so, in essence, her book was milquetoast for me, in comparison to what was really going on in her family and father’s violent cult that drove her to flee the abusive and corrupt lifestyle. However, I realize she was between a rock and a hard spot when it came to relating this treacherous past.

Furthermore, she was so very young when much of the treachery happened within her family’s cult that she apparently didn’t know much about it — and maybe still doesn’t know that much — and doesn’t want to know that much. But there are a number of good books on the subject. They are just hard for my Uncle Ervil’s children to take in and accept. I do understand that!

I, an old veteran of much of that history, also realize that if she were totally up front, it would possibly compromise her present and future — and her amazing success and redemption in surviving her malevolent past. To give Anna credit, she is such an example of the human spirit and its ability to survive and rise above every adversity handed it.

Her father is my mother’s brother. And was my husband’s buddy/ boyfriend for ten years — so  I knew him well … as well as you could know a devious and manipulative man like my Uncle Ervil LeBaron for whom I had felt much love, respect, and reverence till he went off the deep end in his jealous and murderous power-pushing psychopathy.

Presently, I feel mostly pity, shame, and disgust for my dangerous but now-deceased charismatic zealot evil uncle who, though mentally ill, sociopathic and revengeful, nonetheless, had a lot of people convinced he was a prophet.

To better understand that whole scenario, read Cult Insanity” by Irene Spencer;” “Prophet of Blood,” by Ben Bradlee, Jr. and Dale Van Atta. And “The 4 O’clock Murders,”  by Scott Anderson — among other books on this history.

Also, here, on my Website, you might want to read my book reviews of these above books. Plus, listen to YouTube documentaries and interviews on Ervil, the LeBarons, and Mormon fundamentalist polygamists. They give great background and insight into what Anna LeBaron was brought up in. But you won’t find it in her book.

To further understand this whole bizarre LeBaron crime family mafia scene, check Wikipedia and other online Info about Ervil LeBaron, including my Website Menu bar underMedia About my Family, Friends, and Mormon Fundamentalist Cults.” And “Famous ‘n’ Infamous Relatives of Mine.” You could, as well, watch the excellent film,Prophet of Evil,” starring Brian Dennehy.

Getting back to Anna LeBaron’s Memoir, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” everyone in the LeBaron Colony in the 1960’s saw how Uncle Ervil went about preaching and “doing missionary work,” totally indifferent toward his nine neglected children he had already born at that time by his first wife, my beautiful but bipolar Mexican peasant Aunt Delfina.

These indigent kids were left to roam the streets, starving, and unkempt —  not to mention his fifty or more other deprived, depraved, and abandoned children he bore by his additional thirteen way-out wives he added to his harem as time went on and the LeBaron cult grew and developed — and he and his wives taught their children to be murderers!

So it hurt to the quick to hear, firsthand, in Anna’s Memoir how it felt for her to be so badly neglected and used by her non-empathetic, uncaring, sense-of-entitlement, narcissistic father!

But when I then read how Ervil’s unloved and abused daughter Lillian died, I grieved for days. She was one of Aunt Delfina’s darling children whom, when Aunt Delfina was depressed and mentally ill, I had helped look out for while I lived near them in the LeBaron Colony in Mexico before I escaped the cult in 1967 at age twenty-one.

Sweet Lillian was only around five or so, then. And I don’t believe Anna had been born yet. But I had lived across the street from her jolly mother with the beautiful singing voice, Aunt Anna Mae Marston/ AKA LeBaron.

I had taught her older siblings (including gorgeous David Marston — see his life’s story I have posted on my Website: DAVID M.’S LIFE STORY: (Anna LeBaron’s Half-Brother –The story you are about to read is true)) in my Colonia LeBaron Preschool I started in my home at age fifteen.

Therefore, though I wish Anna had gone more into depth about her very colorful past life, I’m proud of her efforts and the work she put into writing and publishing all that she did of her Life Story. The world benefits by knowing “The unspeakable.”

I’m sure her tragic memories were anything but easy to have to relive in order to put into print. But I get a sense she is protecting her 50+ siblings and other relatives by not revealing more of her early upbringing and beliefs. (There is much meat only she and her siblings could tell an amateur social-psychologist like me. But she kept it from us.)

As for her story, I felt it finally picked up in the latter part where she began to shoot a little from the hip. I especially found it enlightening and helpful when she went into detail about how she overcame a bout of deep depression.

I benefited, also, when she told of her epiphany that gave her a new lease on life — a greater purpose for living. She is presently a Life Coach. And works to help improve the world — just the opposite of what her father did!

Though her father preached that he was “Here to set the house of God in order, to prepare it for the second coming of Christ,” in reality, he did just the opposite of everything he preached and claimed: He was really here “to set the Devil’s house in order” … and prepare the world for a living Hell!

Like her father Ervil, Anna LeBaron is bright, a writer, and a leader. Unlike her father, she exhibits integrity, sanity, empathy, and a loving, giving spirit. So my hat goes off to Anna! She has come a long way, met redemption, made a lot of good choices, and overcome a lot.

I look forward to her next book — but only if she is deep enough and feels safe enough to shoot from the hip — all the way — and “tell all.”

For me, a person that grew up in the LeBaron cult her father helped build, that would be a much more helpful, healing, and insightful sociological study and book — not mishmash but well worth my precious time and money to buy and read.

An afterthought: Possibly, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” given its book cover and all, was mostly meant for the children’s and “Young Adults” section of the library.

In that case, it didn’t need great depth of insight and information — the likes of which an older informed and astute adult like me (who’s read over one-hundred books about/ written by Mormon fundamentalist cult escapees and authorities) would likely be looking for.


 



~ Memoir Poem: A Letter to My Art Teacher — And 6th-8th Grade Artwork

 

“Civilization is social order
supporting cultural creativity.”
Will Durant


 

*The following picture elicited the poem
“A Letter to My Art Teacher.”


my-art-xmas

This is a poem I wrote to Mr. Webb, my Hurricane Jr. High eighth-grade Art teacher (because he said he was going to lower the grade on our Christmas-scene assignment if he saw erasures!)

I always got an “A” on my art work. But was very worried I would end up with a “B” on the picture you see below because I had to erase a number of times in an effort to correct the airplane wings. I didn’t succeed, as you can see! But the strong emotion involved in the whole project elicited the following poem: “A Letter to My Art Teacher:

Dear Mr. Webb:

If you’ll take mercy on my age,
You’ll excuse the mistakes on this page;
But look at it and like it not,
The blood in my veins will be running hot!

I thought and I drew to get an “A,”
And I expected it to be that way.
The smudges and the creases that you see
Were made because I didn’t want a “B.”

Don’t see the badness; the goodness instead.
I drew it all with a pencil lead.
The idea didn’t come from brain,
But I drew it’s all just the same.

Isn’t it wonderful? I think it is.
The dolly was made for sister Liz;
The drum was made in honor of Ted —
He does so admire purple and red.

The rest was made because the idea was that way;
I think it’s the very image of a Christmas Day.
I know, myself, the airplane is queer,
But to leave it out would ruin the design so dear.

Of course, if you don’t give me an “A,”
It only means you didn’t see it that way.
But I spent a very long time on it.
For hours it seems that I did sit,
Trying to make the whole scene perfect.

If you knew how hard it was to do,
You’d take mercy on my age —
My inexperience too;
You’d think of it my way,
And in your grade book
 You’d mark another “A.”


Note: It seems my lyrical letter worked:
Mr. Webb gave me an “A.”
Then wrote a little poem of his own to say:

You’ve been an outstanding student every day;
Your pictures are good and well worth an ‘A’.”
Mr. Webb
(That made my day!)

(The following is the original poem, written on the back of the above picture. Following this handwritten lyrical letter are some of the pictures I did in art classes, from ages twelve through fourteen.)

 

my-art-poem-to-art-teacher

 

my-art-girl-in-sweater

 

my-art-girl-model

 

 

my-art-blonde

 

my-art-airplane-1

 

my-art-moonlight

 

my-art-stormy-weather

 

 

 

my-art-cave

 

 

my-art-my-clothes

my-art-comic-strip

 

my-art-bull

 

my-art-bookcase-1

 

 

my-art-boy-fails

 

 

my-art-fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

my-art-snowman

 

 

my-art-squiglies

 

 

 

my-art-witch

 

 

 

 

my-art-pilgrim-indian

 

 

 

my-art-child

 

 

scan

 

 

 

 

my-art-jackolantern

 

~ My Memoir: Chapter 1, My House of Cards

 





newborn-baby-on-an-arm




The Cards of Life

Life dealt me cards — I played my hand
With confidence — I had it planned …
When, later, life revealed the score
It shook me to my very core!
I wondered then — still wonder now:
Could I have changed my life somehow?
And — if life dealt this hand again —
Would I repeat my life of pain?
Or would my hand, ignoring me,
Repeat this life and destiny?
Hiding in a Cave of Trunks
By Ester Benjamin Shifren
2012

@@@@@@

I learned that even when
life deals you a bad hand,
you can still have a happy life
if you are willing to take a chance
and put the past behind you.”
Illegitimate
Brian Mackert
2008

@@@@@@



 Intro
I was born some time ago,
Away out in the sticks,
In a valley of old Mexico,
In nineteen forty-six.

By the time I was eleven,
We were a family of twelve;
For everything I ever got,
I had to dig and delve.
by Beulah Stephany Spencer
1959, age 13

(*See my other four or five Blogs/ poems on this topic — to see/ read the rest of this Memoir poem. These poems usually begin with “Bio in Verse,” or some such rapacious title. I wrote a number of renditions — take-offs from the above two stanzas.)

 



Chapter 1                         My House of Cards                                 12/6/2016

My troubles all started when I was born … Actually, while I was being born. It seems from the moment I entered the “tunnel/canal” that leads to this world, I began suffering pain. And gave my mother a lot of undue pain, tears, and stitches, too — leaving her with scars, both figuratively and physically:

For I was born a “breach” baby. That is, I came butt first, “bass-ackwards, and upside down.” One could only wonder what would come next, then, in the cards for me — what next “breach” of contract or unexpected event I would bring with me — or life had in store for me.

One didn’t have to wonder long — The cards continued to be dealt. When the midwife found I was coming breach, she worriedly and hurriedly sent for the town’s noted obstetrician, Dr. Hector Reyes Tirada. By the time he arrived, there wasn’t a minute left to wait, for Mother had begun to fully dilate. Therefore, expediency was of the essence:

Once any part of a baby’s body has been in touch with oxygen more than twenty-five minutes, it begins to breathe. It would strangle to death if not delivered in time. Therefore, after sterilizing his hands, and though twenty-five-year-old Mother screamed — out of her mind with excruciating pain as he tore her — Dr. Reyes rapidly and urgently forced his huge expert hand up into Mother’s small birth canal. (You see, he had to quickly turn me around in her womb so he could gather me up by my feet and pull me out safely without breaking my neck.)

The miracle is he succeeded. That was a good card! He didn’t have to pull me apart to get me out — which actually sometimes happens in such “breach” home deliveries. But Mother didn’t fare so well. I’m not sure you want me to go into the details, so I won’t. Other than to tell you that she was in bed with phlebitis/”milk leg” for the next six months, due to complications from this birth.

Needless to say, breach births create a very painful and dangerous delivery — especially for the mother! But to add to our pain, the doctor was holding me upside down by the feet, slapping my tiny bare bottom, and crying loudly, in his accented English, “Breathe!! Breathe!!!”

Having just been pulled through a too-tight tunnel into a world of hell, I didn’t want to breathe. But it wasn’t just that trauma. The minute it was announced I was a girl, suddenly I heard a boomeranging, ill-tempered male voice taking the Lord’s name in vain as he vehemently cursed, “ God dammit!! Another girl!!  Breathe!! Dammit, breathe!!”  

NOTE: See my Blog and poem posted October 2016, “I Entered the World Foot First,” for more of the details concerning this part of my story. But for my present purposes, the above paragraph stands as my first example of how Mormon fundamentalist fanatics often preach one thing while doing another.

For example, they claim to totally want and value all the many babies they have, —“all those little spirit children up in heaven just waiting to come to good Mormon fundamentalist homes.” That is their ideal — their ideology. But in reality, they aren’t as righteous and forthright as they let on they are — or convince themselves they are.

Add to this that from the day I was born, I never was a favorite in my father’s eyes, and it wasn’t just because I was not a boy: I was literally and vociferously “cursed,” you might say, right from the start! (I’ve always kind of thought so … or wondered … sometimes. But all my cards haven’t been bad, by any means. So that leaves me to wonder some more. Hmmmmm!

You shall hear what I mean, in my upcoming blogs, when I tell some of my earliest memories of being raised a “Saint” — just more contradictions and ironies to come, that is, wherein my seemingly pious parents said one thing while doing another. E.g., Daddy commonly used profanity; i.e., He broke the commandment that says,”Thou shalt not take the Lord, thy God’s name in vain.”

But in his/their self-righteousness, he/they did not see nor acknowledge their contradictions … nor have the integrity nor strength to even admit it to themselves, often — all the while claiming to be Saints when they were really just humans. 

The hypocrisy was palpable! And their shadow-self hidden even from themselves. They were taught that they were God’s chosen people; therefore, were better than others — especially if they lived God’s highest laws: Plural marriage and not practicing birth control. They were going to “the highest degree of glory” for sure then!

Mormons believe Heaven consists of three degrees of glory, and each of these is broken down into three more degrees of glory — the highest degree being called the “Celestial Kingdom.” The middle degree is called the “Terrestrial Kingdom,” and Hell is called the “Telestial Kingdom.”

I was taught we Mormon fundamentalists were fore-ordained to return to heaven — that only all those people “out in the wicked world” — those who didn’t convert to Mormon fundamentalism and live God’s highest laws — would be excluded from heaven … due to their wickedness.

It was a double bind because at the same time my parents and our leaders taught this, I, for one, was constantly excoriated to the point I felt I was born to go to hell. Such inconsistencies in the belief system’s practices versus their teachings were and are problematic in themselves.

My parents and other Mormon fundamentalists were unable to understand or accept their shadow side. They have no idea they even had a shadow side. Such a concept certainly didn’t fit the beliefs handed down to them by their prophets. So they tried to hide their downsides, slip-ups, and sins. They were ashamed and afraid of their “shadow“/ their dark side.” But did bad things anyway … and covered them up by projecting their faults onto others, while pretending to be perfect themselves; i.e., Saints.

They fooled most people. But hindsight shows me the people who pretended to be most righteous were actually living the most sinful secret lives — all the more sinful because they pretended to be perfect saints living the Gospel.

Heavy religious social pressures within a sect, as they demand perfection of their conscientious members, may elicit this two-facedness — for the members’ survival, if nothing else.

But social misfits and imposters also use this guise of perfection within a  group to get away with things like rape, pedophilia, and you name it. You shall hear what I mean as my story unfolds in future blogs.

* Continued in “My Memoir” blogs.