Floyd Otto Spencer and Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer, my parents —perhaps around the time they were married in 1944
“Home is the place where,
when you have to go there,
they have to take you in.”
We left off where Uncle Ben wasn’t able to convince my future Pa, Floyd Spencer, that he, Benjamin Teasdale LeBaron, was The One Mighty ‘n’ Strong come to set the house of God in order. However, Uncle Ben had convinced Floyd Spencer the only way he could be saved was to enter into Plural Marriage; i.e., polygamy/ polygyny/ bigamy.
In fact, betwixt Ma and her brother Ben, my handsome mainstream Mormon pa, Floyd Spencer, was quickly converted to “Plural Marriage” and “the fullness of the gospel;” i.e., Mormon fundamentalist gospel.
It wasn’t hard: My young sexy “future Ma” was regularly looking, with eyes aglow, into the eyes of my middle-aged “future Pa” — and the countenance of the man she “knew” she was to marry — And “Pa” had a reputation for being a womanizer — said a half-brother of mine I met years ago — one of Daddy’s sons by his first wife.
But what finally cinched Floyd’s conversion to polygamy was Uncle Ben’s reading him the 132nd sec. of The Doctrine and Covenants — the Mormon scriptural revelation wherein J. Smith commands his followers to live Plural Marriage or be damned to hell.
After future Pa’s conversion to Mormon fundamentalism, it wasn’t long thereafter before he and future Ma were lovers. Having first met on October 13, 1943, in cold January—three months later—the two were snuggled up in the bed of future Pa’s pick-up truck with Uncle Ben — or Uncle Alma? — in the cab at the wheel hitting the unpaved 1944 rocky rutted road at top speed while the vehicle bounced ‘n bumped up-‘n-down (‘n humped ‘n’ pumped?) as they sped along towards the Mormon town, Colonia Juarez, Mexico — so Pa could get permission from Ma’s pa to marry Ma — while they were still hopefully chaste?! Hmmm! (I would’ve loved to have gone along for the ride!)*
But Daddy didn’t get much permission from his legal wife Eva to take a ride — let alone a second wife. She could “take a hike,” as far as he was concerned because Joseph Smith’s commandment to “live polygamy or be damned” came ahead of everything else — and he’d be damned if he’d be damned!
So Eva, his wife of 23 years and mother of their 10 children — and one on the way — agreed to go along with Joseph Smith’s teachings that required a man live polygamy. I’m getting ahead of the story a little, now, when I tell you that after six-suffering months with her handsome, hardworking husband, she couldn’t take plural marriage anymore.
Feeling betrayed, and unable to bear any longer the heartbreak, jealousy, and loneliness brought on by her husband bedding and abetting his nubile twenty-two-year-old polygamist bride, on October 31, 1944, Eva divorced him on the basis of Adultery, Assault and Battery, Abandonment, Emotional Abuse, and Incompatibility.
While at it, she obtained a Restraining Order … barring him from their younger kids still at home with her. (Tears!) So Daddy never saw his youngest children again till they were in their mid to late teens. I was fourteen at the time and present when he met his two youngest, Jimmy and Vonda, for the first time since they were babies.
Daddy had to pull a lot of strings behind Eva’s back to get to see them. But he felt lucky they got to meet at all! These two children who did not know him had been so turned against him, it wasn’t a warm welcome, only a short reunion … but better than none.
*[NOTE: On January 15, 1944, in Colonia Juarez, Mexico, my mother was married to my father as a plural wife. A month later, on February 19, 1944 they went to Salt Lake City to be sealed by Joseph White Musser. Neither of these marriages were legal: Daddy was still married to his first wife Eva. But on June 22, 1945, they were legally married in Mexico because by then Daddy’s first wife had divorced him. (See “Spencer Family Album and Scrapbook” compiled by my sister Nola.)
Continued in: “My Memoir: My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer: Ma Meets Pa … Or Was It the Other Way Around? — Part 14″