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 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 Ava (Eva?).
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; and even sooner, snuggled up in the bed of/ the back of Pa’s pick-up truck, with Uncle Ben — or Uncle Alma? — in the cab at the wheel, hitting the unpaved rocky rutted road at top speed, while the vehicle bounced ‘n’ bumped up-‘n’-down (‘n’ humped ‘n’ pumped?) as they spead 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, LOL!)
But Daddy didn’t get much permission from his legal wife Ava (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 Daddy’s long-time wife Eva, in short time and short order, damned their marriage to hell by asking for a damnable divorce! And, in even shorter order, ordered Daddy out of her house because, in her book, he was a bastard who had basically badly bungled.
In other words, he’d left his first wife mentally and mortally wounded, which culminated in her making a bumble-beeline straight for the Maricopa County Courthouse line,* dragging along, behind, hers and Pa’s ten or eleven kids — the youngest still in the womb?
She’d stuck out six-suffering months with her handsome, hardworking husband. But at around forty-two years of age, betrayed, and unable to bear any longer the heartbreak, jealousy, and loneliness, due to his bedding and abetting his nubile new twenty-two-year-old polygamist bride, 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 her and their kids’ from then on … and quite well forever! (Tears!!) So Daddy never saw again, other than when she was a small baby, his and Eva’s last child, Vonda* (I am not sure if she was born before or after they were divorced), till she was around sixteen!
I was fourteen at the time and present when they met. Daddy had to pull a lot of sneaky strings, behind Eva’s back, to see her, even then. And he felt lucky they got to meet at all — for Vonda was truly a beautiful but reticent doll!
His son, Jimmy, whom he’d not seen since a baby, was there also. But Daddy’s kids thru his first-wife Eva had been so turned against him, it wasn’t a warm welcome; only a short reunion … but better than no reunion.
Continued in: “My Memoir: My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer: Ma Meets Pa … Or Was It the Other Way Around? Part 14”
*From my recollection, Daddy’s first wife’s name was “Eva.” But online records show her name as “Ava.” If you have correct information, please inform me. Otherwise, I can only go by my recollections … that go back many, many years. So I could have forgotten or was told incorrect details. Who knows?
- I’m not sure if it was the Maricopa County Courthouse. If you know for sure, and it matters, would love it if you would send me the correction.
*I am not sure if Vonda, my half-sister, was born before or after her parents were divorced. Vonda, if you are reading this, I would really appreciate it if you would be so helpful as to leave me any better information than what I picked up as a youngster. It is certainly not my intention to “lie,” if you know what I mean!