“Narcissists make me melt down and cry like a child.
It is a remarkable trick Narcissists pull.
They are petty and acquisitive — and have no scruples.
They value themselves by how much they can
steal from someone else through cunning, manipulation,
or simplybelieving they are entitled: ‘What is mine is mine; what is yours is mine.’
They get you to give up the goods with
some very clever lies and manipulations.
They are conmen, plain and simple.
Sooner or later, inconsistencies emerge,
but even the most educated mind can be towed under.
I have reached for help, and there is never anyone there.”
Taking up from my last blog, My Memoir: Part 20-E: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy On-The-Down-Low:”
When my amazing Mummy became disillusioned with her brother Joel LeBaron’s Mormon fundamentalist cult and Mormonism too, she and my sister Mary joined Rev. Moon’s organization for some time. Marytold me: Mumma even married Rev. Moon as one of his wives.
Later on, both Mummy and Mary left The Moon Organization — The Unification Church. That took some doing! But after that, Mummy was a desperate dummy: She returned to the doomsday Messianic Mormon cult in which her brother Joel LeBaron had been “The One Mighty and Strong” prophet. But Joel had died years earlier. I guess she’d had another one of her revelations? Or was waiting for “the prophet Joel’s” successor? Or a “successor” Mummy could believe in had laid claim to the position by then. I was long gone so don’t know all the details.
I only know how difficult it is to have nothing but the abyss to wake up to every morning because you have lost your faith, direction, and purpose — your explanation that gives meaning to life. This helps explain why, historically, most people, when they leave one cult, end up in another.
In a world where we don’t know where we came from, why we are here, or where we’re going, desperate people do desperate things. At best, we prove who we are by who we are not. For example, “We are God’s chosen people,” so we are not “the wicked world.” Or: “We are Christians so we are saved “– and so on and so forth.
My sister Judas (pseudonym) who died in 2012 at age sixty-four due to a brain tumor and ALS (ALS: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – Signs and Symptoms | Muscular …), was never one to mince words. She explained Mummy thus: Though quite gifted intellectually, somewhere along the line, all Mother’s marbles rolled to one side and got stuck … never to get unstuck!
Judas, herself, had joined the LDS or mainstream Mormon church a number of years after she and her husband Hector Spencer* left the LeBaron cult and Mormon fundamentalism. Her marriage to Hec, when she was 18 and he around 42, started out as a polygamous marriage — again, totally orchestrated by Mother.
That’s one of the problems with religious polygamy: It leads to manipulating especially the young girls’ lives because they become pawns in a huge power play whenever men can have more than one wife — not to mention, it leaves no wives for the young men in the cult. They, too, are pawns in the hands of the authoritarian, totalitarian, theocratic leaders: Sadly, they’re often simply used to help support their father’s many wives and children!
Mother had good qualities. But her belief in Mormon fundamentalism and her weakness for wanting popularity and power, coupled with the faults and temptations inherent in mandated polygamy, taught her to believe she was doing God, her daughters, and the priesthood holders a great service when she placed them — her ten bright, beautiful, talented young daughters — as polygamous wives with the most prestigious men in the cult, namely older married men she liked and wanted to please and gain favor with.
However, Judas’s marriage she arranged with Hector, so he could enter “The Principle,” soon became monogamous: His first wife, a mainstream LDS Mormon, divorced him immediately when she discovered he’d secretly taken a plural wife — 24 years his junior, no less! What’s worse, he couldn’t even support her and her children worth a darn, let alone a plural wife and her children.
Judas and Hec’s marriage lasted about twenty-three years before it crumbled: Judas had begun to rove. Around age 40, she fell in love with and married her Mormon boss, owner of a successful Real Estate business in southern Utah. At 56, he was fifteenyears her senior. “But he’s young in comparison to ‘that old bag-of-bones’ Hector,” she told me. “Hec’s going on 66 now!“
To add to the drama, her new husband left his first wife — though they had been married in the Mormon Temple — to marry Judas in the Mormon temple! (Talk about a marriage made on earth!)
Let’s tell it for what it was: My sister Judas took another woman’s husband, whatever the justification. And, of course, she couldn’t do it alone. All’s fair in love and war? But being raised in orthodox Mormonism certainly affects one’s values and actions, even after one has “escaped polygamy” — as in the case of my sister Judas — the perennial Judas. But she explained it thus: “My marriage to Hector was arranged. I was never really in love with him. But I definitely experienced true love in my second marriage!”
As for my now-deceased sister Mary Spencer, she was married at the tender age of 15 as the second or plural wife of a much older man, Siegfried Widmar — another catastrophic polygamous marriage arranged by Mother,although Daddy may have colluded.
But Siegfried totally abandoned my sister Mary and their three darling little sons when she became ill with a life-threatening bone marrow disease brought on by radiation poisoning due to fallout from the H-bomb testing, tests that took place in the Nevada Flats area close to where my family lived in St. George, Utah when Mary was a baby.*
As regularly happens with polygamous marriages where the plural wife was a freebie, deprived and poorly educated child-bride Mary was left to raise her three little boys all by herself.* No financial support whatsoever came from Sigfried! What’s worse, he never even visited his precious fatherless sons when in the United States — where Mary fled after she left the Mexico LeBaron cult!
Once again: Whenever there is an abundance of something, it’s not much appreciated — an abundance of wives and children, in this case. (By this time, I don’t know how many more wives and children Sigfried had acquired. He was an important man in the cult. He had even become the leader of one of the cults that split off from Joel’s sect after Joel was killed by his competitive brother Ervil!)
Mary told me even our own mother became a plural wife (for a while) of HER ex-husband, Siegfried — despite how “Sig,” her Ex-son-in-law, had abused and abandoned her/Mary and her three sons/ Mumma’s grandsons!! (Polygamy breaks down all barriers and boundaries, in some people, in the name of “having a priesthood head,” if you’re a woman.)
Sadly, Mary died alone in a Utah hospital of cervical cancer on October 6, 2017, one month before her sixty-ninth birthday. The last I knew, she was a fervent follower of Marianne Williamson.
Hector Spencer was the Bishop of the LDS Mormon Church in Colonia Dublan when he left the mainstream Mormon church to join the LeBaron cult around 1964. He was close to Mother’s age and was one of the pals Mother and her brothers grew up with there in the Mexican Mormon colonies.)
Mother proudly left Mary outside in her baby carriage so she could watch the radiation clouds from the H-bomb tests as they floated overhead because we people living in the area had been propagandized to believe we were lucky to get to see history in the making — lucky to be living in the area where we could see these radiation clouds passing overhead!
As it turns out, “these lovely clouds” were radiating all the grass and alfalfa the cows and goats ate — among other foods and things — later to be passed on into the milk and milk products babies and others ate. (We are what we eat ate.)
Check out this radiation-poisoning of the people in our area that started, say some, in 1951 (some articles I read say it started at least by 1945 — and I believe that is more like it):
I believe Mary was around 19 or 20 years old when Siegfried dumped her and her/his three little boys. At the time, Mary was lucky if she had five years of formal education. It’s amazing, therefore, what my sister survived and achieved in the years to come, despite her life of abuse, poverty, deprivation, illness, heartaches, and more.
(Continued July 5, 2018: “Pt 20-G: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy Parasites
** NOTE: The following Essay by blogger Bruce Holt posted here by permission:
The BITE model: The specific methods that cults use to recruit and maintain control over people.
“B”: Behavior Control
Promote dependence and obedience
Modify behavior with rewards and punishments
Dictate where and with whom you live
Restrict or control sexuality
Control clothing and hairstyle
Regulate what and how much you eat and drink
Deprive you of seven to nine hours of sleep
Exploit you financially
Restrict leisure time and activities
Require you to seek permission for major decisions
To me, a former member of the LDS Church, these are self-evident. To a current member, they may not be so evident. Why? Confirmation bias. Obedience to authority, depending on authority for the current word of God, behaving in accordance with proscribed actions, paying tithes and generous offerings in order to receive anticipated rewards (blessings, status, ability to participate in ordinances not available to those who don’t), sexuality (including modes of dress, abstinence until marriage, heterosexual only, personal arousal, etc.), “busy work” (Ministering – formerly Home/Visiting Teaching), time-consuming callings and assignments, recommendation to date and marry within the Church, Word of Wisdom, etc.
These are methods to control behavior! Period!
Members will protest, saying they choose these things and are not forced. However, each of these things has a reward, if they are chosen, meaning they ARE, absolutely, forms of control! Sure, one does not have to follow or comply with these things, but where does that leave this member? What will happen? Will he/she be left alone?
If they are noticed, no (have you ever attended a Ward Council meeting??)!
“You have to have standards, no matter how low!” Anne Lamott
Picking up from the previous blog, “Part 20-D: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy On-The-Down-Low:“
Previously I said William Preston Tucker/ AKA: Bill, the 26-year-old polygamist I was pawned off on, was commonly two-faced. It was too important for him to be liked. And in order to be liked, he couldn’t possibly let people know how he really felt, what he really believed, and who and what he really was — for example, gay/ bisexual, and a nonbeliever. If the “True believing” orthodox Mormons knew this stuff, Bill would have been run out of the cult and colony on a steel rail, with one up his ass!!
But duplicitous Bill worked amazingly well the trusting crowd of naïve sect followers. His charisma, good diplomacy, and clever deceptions were only outdone by his charm, cunning cons, mastery of the Scriptures — and his good looks and lies.
Part of Bill’s above package was he couldn’t stand confrontation. That means he couldn’t say “No.” So when push came to shove, he caved in to all the arm-twisting and married adolescent me though he didn’t really want me. Yet, there were perks in it for him, some of which I mentioned in earlier blogs.
But I didn’t mention that Uncle Ervil LeBaron convinced his buddy Bill that one perk to having a third wife was it would help him handle his first two waring wives. Bill told me, soon after we were married, they fought like cats and dogs! Well, marrying me certainly solved that problem. I was such a threat to Bill’s first two wives, they quickly bonded and banded together to keep himaway from me! That’s a story in itself.
But getting back to where I left off a few blogs back saying Mummy, besides sneaking into my diary, reading that I was in love with Bill Tucker, and then falsely claiming she’d had a revelation I was to marry him, further exhibited lack of integrity by incessantly preaching and promoting “The glorious principle of holy matrimony;” i.e., “Plural Marriage” — though she could not live this “holy principle” herself! Not much anyway. But, again, what’s new? She often didn’t practice what she preached. (Sorry, all you Esther-idolizers.)
Yes, this fearful, fanatic Mormon fundamentalist preached and wrote numerous articles teaching the glories and importance of living the law of plural marriage — as if she were some authority on it!But almost everything she had to say about it was simply hearsay.
As far back as I can remember, she incessantly discussed with others “The Principle” — Joseph Smith’s mandate to live polygamy or be banned from the highest degree of glory in heaven. It was a typical topic among intellectual well-meaning orthodox Mormons.
But Mother led all the rest when it came to pushing polygamy — other than perhaps Rhea Kunz, a well-known independent Mormon fundamentalist in my time. She was my Aunt Charlotte LeBaron’s mother — my Uncle Verlan LeBaron’s mother-in-law … one of his many mothers-in-law: He had ten wives.
It’s a blast from the past to remember jealous Ma and zealous Rhea exuberantly and fervently going on and ON about the virtues and principles of polygamy.In fact, Rhea had designs on becoming my father’s plural wife! But Daddy couldn’t stand strong, outspoken women who “wore the pants.” So, in no time, Daddy, with his razor-sharp tongue, put intellectual and scholarly Rhea in her place and sent her packing. And Mother was SO relieved she didn’t have to share her husband with Rhea!
But, nonetheless, Mother ever and always worked overtime to get her kids, converts, and others to live “This highest and most heavenly, God-given principle of Polygamy,” as well as “Thethe law ofChastity” … all thewhile not living either, herself. But people didn’t notice she was not living “The Principle” — only talking about it! Far less did they know she wasn’t living The Law of Chastity either.
My twin sisters, who shared the common wall between our parents’ bedroom and their’s, told me they regularly heard springs squeaking and squawking — and other “squeaks and squawks” going on at night in Ma and Pa’s sanctuary, though Mother was pregnant. And when wasn’t she pregnant during the whole 22 years she was married to Pa before he died at about age 69?! To cut her some slack, though, perhaps she was but constantly procrastinating when it came to practicing what she preached.
To defend her “springs-squawking,” she told me (when I was around 20 years old): “Beulah, when a woman is a man’s only wife, she’s obligated to break The Law of Chastity, as the lesser of two evils. Because if a man doesn’t have sex regularly, he can become impotent and then not be able to have any more children — and that would be terrible! One of the advantages to polygamy” she continued “is a woman can more easily abide by “The Law of Chastity,” and doesn’t have to have sex as often!”
She made sex sound like an evil ordeal to be endured — all the while getting her fair share of it, it appears, with her old man 26 years her senior. (Once, after I was married, she told me, “Your pa seems mean and gruff but he is so kind and tender when we are all alone together in bed at night.)
Wow! You can bet Mama sure never preached nor wrote about that stuff in her severe sermons to others on living “The Law of Chastity.” To repeat what I’ve said in previous blogs, living “The Law of Chastity” includes having sex only while fully clothed in your white Temple garments and ONLY, and I mean ONLYto get the female pregnant. And to enjoy it even then is considered unspiritual, lustful, and lecherous! (Talk about obsessive-compulsive, perfectionistic, and control-freak thinking!)
Rhea Kunz also got off on incessantly and piously preaching The Law of Holy Matrimony and The Law of Chastity. This stalwart sanctimonious fanatic even wrote rather virulent books and pamphlets on these subjects as if she were some great saintly leader and the perfect female example who stood above all the rest of us when it came to living plural marriage and all the other “righteous” principles of early Mormonism.
But, like Mother,Rhea also never married into polygamy again after her polygamous marriage went on the rocks,even though living polygamy and the law of chastity were the hallmarks of a good, faithful, high-standing Mormon fundamentalist! What it boils down to isMa and Rhea said one thing, did another: They were great windbags — big frogs, in a little pond, that intimidated and worried all the rest.
They told others how to live but were all talk; not examples. Still, people looked up to them and revered them — and yearned to have their “calling and election made sure” the way Mother claimed she had hers made sure!
In other words, Mother went around telling people in the cult she knew for sure she was going to the highest degree of glory when she died! And people believed her! (Can you believe that?!) Well, these people believed Joel LeBaron was “the one mighty and strong prophet,” and Mother was his sister. So in their eyes, she was practically a prophet!
Even so, neither Mother nor Rhea were living “Celestial Marriage,” the very thing they were preaching to everyone else they had to live in order to have their “Callings and Elections” made sure. Is there a message here or what? People, wake up!
(Psychologists say what people talk most about is what they most want to cover up. They are smoke-screening — hiding their shadow-self … what they are most ashamed of or guilty of … what they cannot deal with in themselves and don’t want others to know about or see.)
So, though Mama held herself as more righteous and holy, above all others, and the leader of God’s chosen handful of faithful women, she remained monogamous in her twenty-two-year marriage to Papa … except for her first six months (As written about in previous blogs, Poppy’s first wife left him six months after he took Mummy as his plural wife). Was there a double standard in Mormon fundamentalism or what?
But, let it be noted, during Mummy’s adult life, though she was too jealous to endure Poppy taking a plural wife, she definitely did “endure” being a plural wife to other women’s husbands — though none of these flirtations or marriages lasted long.
For example, in her early 20s, before she met Poppy, she dated polygamist Rulon Jeffs, the now-infamous Warren Jeffs’ father!! One of my sisters once quipped, “He could’ve been our brother by a different mother!”
Some years after Poppy died, Mommy had a short-lived plural marriage as secret second wife to LDS Mormon Mel Orchard — another windbag like herself. (Mel’s LDS Mormon legal wife did not know about this polygamous wife her husband had taken!) After that illicit liaison failed, Mother joined Rev. Moon’s family and cult, “The Moonies.” More on that in next week’s blog.
(Continued June 28, 2018: “Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy On-The-Down-Low: Part 20-F”)
Law 27 “People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a clause, a new faith to follow. Keep your words vague but full of promise; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking. Give your new disciples rituals to perform. Ask them to make sacrifices on your behalf. In the absence of organized religion and grand causes, your new belief system will bring you untold power.
“The 48 Laws of Power Robert Green, 1998
Taking up where we left off in “My Memoir: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And Polygamy On-The-Down-Low — Part 20-C:
Other than my Honeymoon, a one-day trip to Chihuahua City, Mexico, and a five-day trip to Guadalajara, Mexico — all with my husband Bill — plus a trip up to the mountain town of Nico Las Bravos, Mexico, to visit relatives, from 1960 till 1967 I was pretty much stuck in the little windswept Colonia LeBaron, Mexico, a secluded Chihuahuan mountain desert enclave if ever there was one. I didn’t know Spanish, had a baby, no money, and couldn’t drive. Had no car if I could’ve.
And there were no means of public transportation. I was lucky if I could hop a ride, now and then, with somebody who lived in the LeBaron colony, to go to Casas Grandes, the small, quite dilapidated — at least in the 1960’s — Mexican town where our colony members usually shopped for most of their groceries and other needs.
In other words, I was cut off from the outside world and its influences. Our small primitive colony had no electricity, telephones, telegraphs, newspapers, magazines, schools, libraries … the list gets longer! So it precluded TVs, or any other news or information source, of course, though a few people had radios — a luxury I could not afford.
But, eight months after I was married, and sharing a home with Bill’s second wife Lolita, thanks to an old box of magazines and books Serendipity and Synchronicity joined hands to leave on my front porch by way of a disgruntled member — an apostate who fled LeBaron — I found myself with informative and investigative things to read — thanks be to God, Goodness, and my Higher Power! I was seventeen years old and no longer under the watchful eye of my parents. But even Bill’s other two wives were careful to report me to him if they caught me reading! I was to spend all my time working!
But, before anyone could see what was in the box, I hastily gathered it up and hid the inflammatory material, magazines, and pamphlets. Though I was supposed to burn the “Godsend,” I secretly devoured its contents. Ever a God-fearing, yet intellectual and curious person — a bookworm — I couldn’t resist the temptation! I was hoping it would have answers to some of my probing questions. I wasn’t disappointed.
One book in the box, “The Power Of Positive Thinking,” by Norman Vincent Peale, was a most influential work in my developing the ability to think for myself and to see through things such as the fallacies of polygamy — though common sense helped me see through that anyway. But Peale’s work created the means of a breakthrough for me.
Along with Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy, my husband Bill Tucker’s influence and input, and my own experiences and reasoning, at age 17, Dr. Peale helped me to see through the glittering generalities and other mumbo-jumbo of mind-controlling religions.
He taught me how to put into down-to-earth terms scriptural verses, catchphrases, and other terminologies and clichés religions and cults commonly use to control their followers and keep them brainwashed and fearful.
I’ve forgotten more than I ever knew in this area — threw it out with the bathwater when I flew the coop and fled the cult. So, 55 years later and after the fact, I’m unable right now to come up with a good example of what I’m talking about. Soon as I think of one, I’ll clarify what I mean.
But another wonderful bonus that came from reading Dr. Peale’s book is he taught me how to overcome my worst problems: Shyness and fear of being around people. His book taught me how to face my fears and overcome them! Before his “blessing” arrived on my doorstep, I was a teenager and still unable to go knock on the door of even an aunt I really wanted to visit! And I would even cross the street so I wouldn’t have to say “Hi” to my own cousins! That’s how timid and bashful I was.
But getting back to Colonia LeBaron in 1963 — back to where I was before I sprouted wings and flew over the prison walls that bound me — after four years of watching for my chance, a loophole opened where I could finally escape the LeBaron cult, Mormonism — and all other cults that have presented themselves ever since.
The “cult of doubt and disbelief” is the only one I have not been able to fully escape since then. But after 40 years of “wandering in the wilderness” literally, I’ve finally gathered enough input and Info to know that, among other things, making no choice is also a choice, as is indecision.
So I’ve chosen to “Let go and let God.” That is, some years ago, I finally realized that fear of believing in something (for fear another cult would be able to overtake me) was actually a “cult of fear.” I’m happy to say that now I have at least finally been able to regain a spiritual basis. For example, I now know there is some kind of hereafter. And I firmly believe we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. And we have probably lived many lifetimes — and will continue on where we leave off in this life.
To my credit, within five months of escaping polygamy and Mormonism in 1967, I realized the philosopher Ayn Rand, herself, was a cult leader! She was my husband Bill Tucker’s new-found philosophical leader, shortly before he died — your philosophy of life being your religion.
Although my husband hadn’t seen it before he died at age 31, I, at age 21, was able to comprehend the above and to also see that Ayn Rand and other atheists had no more proof that God does not exist than religious people have proof that God does exist. Quite a conundrum? I’ll leave you this yummy-gummy gumdrop to chew on till I come up with a new dewdrop containing more oxymorons to gum up your reasoning … and drop you on your head. Just kidding!
Pretty City Chick By Stephany Spencer
Dearest friends and fans: Please note: This “sorta” silly song I wrote Is half-finished so I won’t gloat — And pray my poem won’t get your goat.
But it’s late — my blog’s due “mañana.” If you check this song later on … uh … You may find it partly “re-wrote.” It needs work,” is my last quote. Even so, enjoy what I wrote, As I humorously emote:
Pretty City Chick
NOTE: The following is a tongue-in-cheek song I wrote:
Intro: Hi! I’m a Hack Who’s
Written a Hit
Called “Pretty City chick,” A Hee-ha Comedy Song —
A Bit o’Bio in Verse, Fer Better or Worse —
With Truth ‘n’ Exaggeration
Hey, they say I’m a pretty city chick And Hillbilly music makes some sick; But my Hillbilly ways are here to stick, So you may as well get over it — And join in ’n’ sing a bit, ‘Cause I’m a city chick And shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.
Born in Mexican sticks in 1946. I’ve dual citizenship, And that’s pretty hip — And now I’m a city chick.
I’m an all-American-mongrel,
Apple-pie girl — A Hines-57 mixed-up mutt, With apple pie stickin’ to my gut ’n’ butt; But red-necked reactionary ignoramuses Ain’t my thing. I’m here for music and to sing!
Yeah, I’m an All-American-Mexican,
Scotch-Irish “Mick”, With Welch ’n’ English, So sure, I’m a Brit, With French, German, And Mohawk Indian a bit. If there’s no Tom Slick hidin’ in the pit, Far as I know, that’s about it — That‘smy story And I’m “shitickin” to it!
My father was a proud Veteran Of World War I. Those Vets were well-appreciated For what they’d done! Pa was an artist, creative, And Jack-of-all-trades; Master of a few — Good at so many things, There seemed little he couldn’t do.
Ma was a creative, author, And artist, thru ’n’ thru; Poet, performer, Trained concert pianist — Whew! She loved to discuss religious principles And read religious Lit, old ’n’ new — Long as it agreed with What she already “knew.” She graduated with a BA In Journalism too; Quite an accomplishment ‘Cause Ma was sixty-two!
She was runnin’ me competition then, For I was still in College too, Strugglin’ to make it up From the cult she’d put me thru … If she only knew! But her motto was: “Anything you can do,
I can do better;
I can do anything better than you!” (And she meant it too!)
Hey, they call me a pretty city chick, But Hillbilly music is my “shtick,” And my Hillbilly ways are here to stick; So you may as well “git” over it And join in ‘n’ sing a bit With this pretty city chick, ‘Cause shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.
Born in Mexican sticks in 1946, I’ve dual citizenship And that’s pretty hip. Well, that’s my story And I’m “shtickin’ ” to it: “I’m a pretty city chick.”
*The following is an iPhone video of me in 2017 at age 71 performing the above lyrics at the California Writers Club — fifty years after escaping polygamy & Mormon fundamentalism. It’s a standup-comedy song I wrote called “I’m a Hit.” I recently “re-writ” part of it and renamed it “Pretty City-Chick”:
(Continued July 23, 2018: “My Memoir: Ma, Pa, Me — And And Polygamy On-The-Down-Low: — Part 20–E”
Theodore Roethke, “My Papa’s Waltz” from Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke. Copyright 1942 by Heast Magazines, Inc. Used by permission of Doubleday, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
All rights reserved.
Source: The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke (1961)
My Memoir Backstory “My Daddy” takes up where I left off writing “My Memoir Introduction: I Was Born a “Saint.” After I wrote this blog, I realized I’d put the cart before the horse — started my Memoir bass-ackwards: I got myself born before I told you anything about how I got here.
Since we all come from the past, my readers ought to know what it is that went into my making. So I’ve decided to present a bunch of backstory, beginning with my father, Floyd Otto Spencer. Ending with my mother, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer and her LeBaron backstory.
After this backstory, I’ll continue with my Memoirs. But it will include more tales about Mother and Father as they intertwine throughout my life.
Now for a bit of how I got here from the past. And some of what went into my making.
My Daddy: Part 1
My handsome five-foot-10.5-inch, black-haired, black-eyed, dark-skinned (when tanned) father was a hot-tempered, strict, shy, witty, sharp-tongued, short-fused, highly gifted man. “Daddy,” as we called him, was also a sensitive Artist and Creative.
Born July 27, 1895, in Marion, Michigan, he died on my birthday, April 18, 1965, in Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico. I had just turned 19 years old that day. His death was the outcome of a freak “accident.” I believe my Mother Esther LeBaron Spencer and her brother, my Uncle Ervil LeBaron, had a hand in it. (I will relate this whole incident in my upcoming Memoir.)
Born in a backwoods frontier town, Daddy was very much of pioneer stock. His parents were mostly of English descent, he believed. He was unable to track his full genealogy. But knew his mother was one-half Indigenous American — Mohawk Indian to be exact.
One Sunday afternoon, in our small living room, lit only by light from the windows and fireplace, Mother was giving Daddy his monthly expert-looking haircut when we children, catching Daddy captive, saw a good chance to gather around his knees and pepper him with questions about his parents, grandparents, and past.
He was a shy man, of few words, and usually busy working. One of his favorite sayings was: “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and look like a fool than to open your mouth and prove you’re a fool.” Even now he was hesitant to answer all our forward questions. But when asked about his bloodline (for bloodlines are very important to Mormons), he sheepishly responded:
“My grandmother on my mother’s side was a full-blooded Mohawk Indian squaw. I used to visit her in her Hogan from time to time.” He was embarrassed to admit this. But then he added:
“She was a typical Indian … Sweet, poor, and no furniture to speak of. I can still see her squatting on the floor as she did her routine work in her dark little Hogan that had only one window and a fire burning in the middle of the room — smoke rising up and out through a hole in the ceiling.”
This helps to explain why Daddy used to chide Mother when he saw her squatting on the floor sorting beans or such. He’d cry: “You look like an old Indian squaw! Get up and sit on a chair at the table to sort your beans — like a civilized person!!”
However, after joining the LeBaron cult and learning from my uncles the Mormon beliefs Joseph Smith taught about the American Indians — that they “were part of the lost ten tribes of Israel, and were going to play a very important role in the last days,” Daddy made an effort to get in touch with the indigenous American Indian side of himself.
He even began to exhibit pride in being at least one-quarter American Indian. I say “at least” because he was not sure of his full heritage — only that his mother was half American Indian.
But one day he took a trip to visit the Hopi and Navajo Indian villages in Arizona and New Mexico, returning home feeling very exhilarated, uplifted, and more proud than ever of his Indian heritage. It rubbed off on me: I’m at least one-eighth American Indian, and proud of it.
My Daddy(around ages 19 & 53 consecutively)
“Show me someone who
believes you can’t change history, and I’ll show you someone who
hasn’t tried to write their memoirs.” Mark Twain
My Daddy, Part 2
Daddy was his parents’ only child. They divorced when he was three years old. When he was 14 years old, his mother bore a daughter, Doris, by her second marriage. Sadly, when he was 27, she died of rheumatic fever, leaving Daddy his mother’s only child again — though he had half-sisters from his father’s second marriage that he eventually got to meet and spend some time with.
He was raised Methodist and held White Anglo-Saxon Protestant values, including their strong work ethic. Daddy was always a hard worker. You might even say he was a workaholic. That figures: His father was a “raging alcoholic.” Going to extremes in any area is indicative of addiction. God is a drug for religious addicts –– religious fanatics. Daddy gave up alcohol and tobacco when he joined the Mormon church at around age 28. Religion then became his drug of choice.)
“Twelve-Steppers,” especially ACA’S/ Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families — a 12-step program — know what I’m talking about. If these terms are new to you, it may be worth looking up 12-step organizations in your area. They were very valuable in my development, given the dysfunctional family I was brought-up in — I mean brought-down in!
Now back to more bio about Dad: “At around age four,” Daddy told me, “my mother gave me away to her sisters to raise. Years later, Mother wanted me back. But I refused to go back because I was so hurt and angry at her for what she’d done!! I was happier living with my aunts and cousins,” remarked my father.
Then he continued, “I often had to dig tunnels in the snow during winter time to get to school because the snow piled up so high. Sometimes it was up higher than the schoolhouse door. My school consisted of one room and one teacher teaching all the grades from 1st through 12th.
“I didn’t do very well in her classroom— Didn’t get along with that didactic, strict, bossy teacher. She regularly humiliated me in front of the class … often made me sit in the corner with a dunce cap on … partly because I was the clown of the class — always making the students laugh due to my witty wisecracks and cutting up.
“In fifth grade, I couldn’t take any more of this mean, punishing teacher I’d had since first grade. So I dropped out — refused to go to her one-room school anymore — though it was the only school around. I just couldn’t learn under her tutelage.
“However, from then on I felt I was a failure in many ways — not to mention that my parents divorced, then Mother gave me away when I was so little. That affected my self-worth. But due to my one and only elementary school teacher, I further questioned my self-worth, because I kind of believed it was due to my lack of brains that I wasn’t getting better grades in this teacher’s class.”
That bad impression of himself as a student and person went with him throughout his life. It affected his self-confidence and self-esteem, further adding to his shyness and his oftentimes not feeling very good about himself … in some ways.
But lack of a good supporting education, in and of itself, is enough to affect anyone’s self-confidence and achievement in life. They see many people able to accomplish things they cannot accomplish, often not realizing their only drawback was they had no competitive foundation — as in Daddy’s case where he had only a poor, one-room classroom education typical of the early 1900’s in backwoods pioneer towns. Education was not mandatory in those days. It was a privilege to go to any school. Families worse off than my fathers’ didn’t go to school at all.
It wasn’t till after 1918 and World War I had ended that our country realized public education must be made free, mandatory — and paid for by our tax dollars. It would not only prepare better future soldiers for our country’s defense system, but The Industrial Revolution, then in full swing, also required that people be able to read, write, do math, follow the Employer’s directions, show up for work on time, and be dependable. Mandatory education developed these skills and habits in an otherwise unruly, unschooled person.
But, despite a poor preparatory education, Daddy accomplished much more in life than many people with far better education and advantages. He was a proud and confident man in various ways, therefore. His being gifted, talented, and successful at things he attempted helped build his self-esteem, despite the negative aspects of his early education and childhood. This confidence exudes in his photos.
His teacher and that old-fashioned, backward school system had branded him as “Not Smart, a bad person, and a poor student — a DUNCE!” How sad, because he was a bright, gifted boy. I, having taught school for thirty years, should know what I am talking about!
It grieves me that there are teachers who can be so judgmental they brand children for life, thinking they know what they’re doing. They don’t! I’ve experienced this branding firsthand. It only shows the ignorance of the teachers who would do such a thing to any student.
Their ignorance, arrogance, ego, and the need to control gets the best of them. If they looked at and treated every student as if that child were the son or daughter of the school Superintendent, Principal, or President of the United States, I guarantee you that would take any judgmental Educator down a notch or two — and their students up a notch or two!
“Whatever you can do,
or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, magic,
and power in it.
Begin it now.”
The year was 1958. The setting: Our home in Hurricane, Utah. The place: Around our average-sized family-room fireplace:
While the flames flickered and leapt, warmed and lit our cozy little living room, we Spencer kids (there were eleven of us then) sat huddled around our parents on the colorful rag rug Mother crocheted.
I was twelve, second to the oldest, and seventeen months younger than my oldest sibling, Doris — one of my rivals! While sixty-three-year-old Daddy sat situated on a high stool with a towel wrapped around his neck and shoulders, my talented, artistic thirty-seven-year-old Mother was at her routine task of trimming his white hair with the hair clippers he’d bought for this purpose.
As was often the case during such times, we kids were once again peppering Papa with personal questions about his intriguing boyhood, family, life … and white hair!
” I discovered my first gray hair when I was only fourteen years old!” Daddy explained. “Gray hairs really stand out when your hair is pitch black like mine used to be!”
My siblings and I were further enlightened when Mother got out Daddy’s scrapbook and a photo album so he could explain the pictures and keepsakes in them. There was a picture of my paternal grandmother dressed to the “T” in the high fashions of the early 1900s:
“My mother was a socialite,” he opined disapprovingly. “She was more concerned about her appearance and joining social circles than she was about staying home and being a good homemaker and mother. She always decked herself out in the latest grand styles of the day — as you can see in this picture,” continued Daddy, pointing to a photo of his attractive mother in a hat.
I never got to meet my paternal grandparents nor Daddy’s aunts who raised him. Daddy was about fifty-two when I was born. I was around five years old when, in her nineties, his last aunt died. At that time, she lived in Michigan and we lived in St. George, Utah. Lack of time and money precluded Daddy’s going to her funeral, though he had wanted to attend.
Before she died, I recall how elated he would be whenever a letter arrived from this aunt. Sometimes she would include a photo of herself, so I at least got to see what she looked like as a ninety-year-old woman … And I recall, too, the tears in Daddy’s eyes (a man who seldom showed any sign of tears) when he read the letter that said she’d died.
One of the many disadvantages of having a father old enough to be your grandfather is his parents die before you’re old enough to meet them — that is, if he even kept in contact with his parents at all — which he did little of.
Continuing with Daddy’s pictures: In another photo, his handsome “half-breed” entrepreneur mother stood on the porch in front of a wooden building. Daddy recounted: “My mother owned a hotel or boarding house. I helped her with the work there, oftentimes … sweeping the big porches, fixing things, and helping at the front desk.
“In my free time, I loved to create things that really worked … like miniature model windmills I carved and devised myself, where the blades of the windmill could actually turn if you blew on them … or when there was wind.”
He was very proud of his ingenuity and creativity — the things he was amazingly able to build or sculpt though only a young boy — a child … things nobody else around him devised or created, not even adults. He loved to draw, too — funny caricatures and so forth.
“I also loved to design and create things like little wagons and cars with wheels that could roll — and even little houses and buildings. And I loved to carve whistles, wooden ducks, dogs, and other toys that had wheels on them so they could be pulled around with us wherever we went — which was how we made our toys move back in those days.
“My dream was to be an Engineer — How I longed to be in the driver’s seat of a train and to work on trains. Trains were the big thing then — an invention just coming into existence when I was a young boy. It was back when most people did not own a car and Model T Fords were barely becoming the big rage among the rich.
“One of the first cars accessible to the masses was the 1908 Model T, an American car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. I was thirteen years old when that car came out. Henry Ford was my idol! I loved that he was an Inventor. I wanted to be an Inventor myself — to design and create things like Ford and other Creators of my day.
“If I could’ve had my way and I’d had the advantage of money ‘n’ a good education, I would’ve been an Engineer. But instead of goin’ back to school ‘n’ workin’ for years to get the education I needed so as to go to college ‘n’ get an Engineering Degree, I married ‘n’ had a bunch of kids — to help build up God’s kingdom. Then spent my time workin’ to raise ‘n’ support my families — My first family with Eva. And now this one with yer ma.” Then Daddy changed the subject:
“As a youth, I never liked to sit around wastin’ time, nor to play silly games like the rest of the kids … liked to put my time to good use … to create things. Silly, noisy kids got on my nerves.* But being an only child was a very lonely life. That’s one reason I chose to have lots of kids when I got married.”
*Explanation: Daddy was an Introvert — a creative like me. If you do not know the characteristics of the different and unique special Introvert brain and personality, there are a number of good books on the market that explain this valuable and wondrous trait.
If you are related to Floyd Otto Spencer, chances are you and some of your children and posterity are also Introverts. Most Creatives, such as artists and writers, are Introverts or at least Ambiverts, as opposed to Extroverts. The world needs all these personality types.
The following are titles of three excellent books on this subject that you may be interested in reading or at least skimming. If you can’t find some of these in your library or online, there are other books on the subject.
1- “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World,” by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.
2- “Party of One:The Loner’s Manifesto,” by Anneli Rufus
3- “The Highly Sensitive Person:How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You,” by Elaine N. Aaron, Ph.D.
“You own everything that happened to you.
Tell your stories. If people wanted you
to write warmly about them,
they should have behaved better.” ~ Anne Lamott
Going back to where we left off with Daddy saying he wanted to have a large family of children, let me tell you that this is one dream he fulfilled. He had eleven beautiful children with his first wife Eva Bowman Spencer. And fourteen more beautiful children with his second wife, my mother Esther LeBaron Spencer. Thus, he was not only guaranteed to never be lonely again but to never have a moment’s peace or quietude, either.
More often than not, there was even a new baby crying, keeping him up at night. But he finally learned how to pretty much fix that: He would waterboard them (not that uncommon, at least among the Mormon fundamentalists). At times, he would even beat the tiny new babies incessantly for crying. (Tears!!)
But mainly, he mostly held his big strong hand over their mouth and nose till they were suffocating, all the while yelling at them:
“Shut up the goddamned crying!! Do you hear?! Shut up, I said, or you’ll getmore to cry about!!”
After he did that consistently a number of times, it generally taught most of his babies not to be caught dead crying — if they could possibly help it. (Then you wonder why Morman fundamentalist children are so well-behaved?!)
He, like many fundamentalists, believed the Bible’s “Spare the rod and spoil the child” meant to literally beat the devil out of the kids so as to make them submissive to adults and thus to God. They believed the sooner they were made submissive, the better.
But I have since learned that some spiritual leaders believe “the rod” is only a metaphor for “the gospel.” In other words, if you don’t teach your children the gospel, they will grow up spoiled, wayward, and rebellious.
I believe force and brutality toward children — or anyone … or any animal — does just the opposite of beating the devil out of them: It beats the devilinto them; i.e., can make them angry, hateful, emotionally disturbed, mean, and devilish. It also can cause them to split from themselves, and to lose their will, give up, and become zombies or such. It breaks their spirit.
In fact, one of the best ways to hypnotize a hyperactive, incorrigible, misbehaving child is to plant yourself right in his/her space and yell vociferously in the child’s face: “Behave!!!! Stop that!!!” Or whatever else it is you wish of the child. The child will do what you tell him/her after that … at least for a while.
I wonder what kind of abuse my father suffered at the hands of adults when he was growing up since violent and abusive ways of parenting are generally passed down from one generation to the next.
Unless one is able to recognize, then intercept and stop this abusive cycle and pattern learned from one’s upbringing and teachings, it will be passed on to one’s own offspring ad infinitum!
But thank God/Goodness, there are now laws in our country that carry stiff penalties for abusing children — as well as women, animals — or anyone … thanks to coalitions of good people who have worked diligently together throughout our society and other civilized parts of the earth to make this world a better and safer place for everyone.
However, reclusive families, such as in cults, often remain backward when it comes to improvements in behavior norms. Believing they are the only ones with “the truth,” and lead by poorly educated, narrow-minded leaders, they learn nothing much from “the world” that, nonetheless, continues to change and improve as it strives to learn how to make a better world for all through education, college, books, publications, educational T.V., films, computers, and social media.
That said, one reason Daddy and Mother were so anxious to move to the LeBaron colony in Old Mexico in 1960 was that shortly before their decision to move, a Federal law was passed against Child Abuse. It stipulated dire legal penalties for parents who hit, beat, or otherwise physically abused their children. Daddy proclaimed vehemently, in regards to that law:
“What the hell right has the government to step in and tell me how to raise my children?! I am the Priesthood head of my family! The Bible says, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child.’ In other words, parents are to ‘bend the twig’ correctly. We do that by beating the devil out of our children while they are still young enough to be taught how to behave and grow up as straight vines, not twisted, warped ones.
“Once a seedling is warped, you can’t change it. You can observe an example of that in plants and trees that weren’t supported and staked properly so they would grow straight rather than deformed. I can’t wait to get out of this wicked country and gather with the Saints in Zion, there in Colonia LeBaron where I’m free to exercise old, time-honored Biblical laws when it comes to raising my family!”
“A good memoir is born from that uniquely important place in your personal history.” “Writing Your Hot-Topic Memoir” Dr. Scott
Daddy was an autodidact.In other words, he was self-taught in many areas. He would get books on auto mechanics, carpentry, building construction, watch and clock repair, farming, health — you name it — and learn how to do these things … How to eat healthfully, for example. Sometimes he took Night School classes too.
By the late 1940s or early 1950s, he was a Singer Sewing Machine salesman and repairman. He went from home to home selling and setting up this newfangled, popular electric sewing machine that had quickly outdated the old treadle sewing machines.
He taught the proud owners how to use their new modern electric Singer sewing machine and its many attachments — such as the attachment for making buttonholes. And he maintained the machines, should they need servicing.
Later on, he morphed into a self-employed entrepreneur — a General Contractor, capable of building homes and commercial buildings from the ground up, including creating the blueprints.
People hired him because he could save them money, time, and trouble by doing everything himself: He could do the blueprint, foundation, building’s frame, cement work, flooring, roofing, electrical, plumbing, brick and rock work, landscape, carpentry, painting, and whatever else the new building required.
Provided they had time to wait for a one-man job to be finished, he was your man. Hiring a bunch of contractors and construction workers to do the job all at once was much more expensive and time-consuming, but would get the job done a lot faster if that was what one needed to do.
Because he was an introvert (or ambivert?) he preferred to work by himself. It’s a good thing because he didn’t get along well with most people. He had an artistic, fastidious, and perfectionistic personality, topped off with religious fanaticism, a high-strung, short-fused temper, and a sharp tongue. What’s worse, he regularly called to repentance people in his presence he saw doing things that were against his religion!
For example, he would tell mainstream Mormons they were headed for hell because they had given up plural marriage, practiced birth control, and had “mutilated” the holy temple garments Joseph Smith “ordained of God” and said should never be cut nor otherwise changed. This foot washing fundamentalist father of mine took his religion very seriously!
That said, he would regularly worry, harass, and chastise women in the Mormon fundamentalist groups, too, for doing things like cutting their hair, sporting “worldly hairdos and makeup” — and for wearing their hemlines too high and their necklines too low! (Hemlines were supposed to be about down to the ankle, and necklines about up to the collarbone.)
“That tight sweater and skirt you’ve got on is exactly what leads men to rape women! You look like a goddamned Delilah!!” he swore at me one day when I was thirteen years old and dressed to go to school. That sure “learnt” me a lesson!
Though I took off the sweater and skirt, so popular in the 1950s, and never wore such clothing again (during my life in the fundamentalist cult) I now know there is no excuse for men to rape women under any condition!
If how women look or dress determines whether they get raped or not, then what about Aborigines and other Indigenous societies who go/went around, as a way of life, stark naked, half-naked — and “half-baked“? (Pun intended.)
It’s all a matter of culture, style, and one’s values, really. Women are not to blame if some all-brawn-no-brains men choose to dominate and use women to their own advantage.
A man’s being more muscular than women doesn’t make him superior to women. It certainly doesn’t give him the right to brutalize them or run them. Only backward people adhere to that old-world way of thinking.
In general, men aren’t superior to women, other than muscularly. (When I was young and in shape, I was able to win more than one out-of-shape man in an arm wrestle, LOL!) Women are not objects, either, as some men seem to think. Men don’t own them — nor do they have the right to strong-arm nor otherwise control women — despite what some fundamentalist Mormons, et Al, believe.
But getting back to Daddy, his regularly chastising others and setting them straight led me to believe he, himself, was pretty perfect. He must be, it seemed, if he could call others on the carpet for not adhering to our extremist sect’s strict dress code or other such. If he could call others to repentance, he must be doing everything right himself, yes?
However, in hindsight (always the best sight) I see he needed to lighten up, simmer down, mind his own business — and quit projecting his own fears and faults onto others. In other words, like so many of us, he needed more patience and persistence, and less pestering of others; i.e., He needed to exhibit more charity. He just didn’t know it yet.
My Memoir: My Daddy, Floyd Otto Spencer PART 6
“Like all the arts, the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study,
nor is life long enough to allow any mortal to attain
the highest possible perfection in it.” Arthur Conan Doyle
Shortly before Daddy died, I saw a change in him. His visage fairly glowed, and he had become much more loving, relaxed, patient, kind, and happy — such that I no longer feared so much being in his presence. He had become more pleasurable to be around.
It was as though he’d undergone an epiphany — a life-changing experience, though I was not around him enough nor on comfortable enough terms with him to inquire as to any such experiences he might have had. Furthermore, I was married then, and very busy taking care of my six-month-old baby at the time he was nearing death … then died.
During his lifetime he had always done a lot to help others. Being an all-around handyman and Jack-of-all-trades and Master of a few, people often came to him for advice or called on him to help them fix something.
He never turned them down, that I know of, much to Mother’s frustration and dismay. More than once I heard her complain, “Daddy, why don’t you turn some of these people down?! There are things piling up around here to be done while others impinge on you to work for them for free!” (Mother generally called him “Daddy” just as we kids did.)
Yes, he had plenty of his own work around the house waiting to be done. But people appreciated and respected Daddy for his knowledge and know-how when it came to being “Mister-Fix-it-Man,” and he enjoyed his revered reputation, too. He was no Scriptorian, though … unlike my mother’s brother, Ervil LeBaron, who often called on Daddy to fix things for him.
Uncle Ervil, who many of my readers may know of or will soon hear about, was just the opposite of Daddy. He spent most of his time studying Scriptures and Mormon religious works, writing some — and preaching a lot. I don’t recall him ever doing any manual labor. He managed to get my father and others to serve him, instead.
I don’t know how much money religiously-stalwart Daddy also put toward supporting Uncle Ervil and all Ervil’s many wives and children, as well as my other uncles and their families, at times, when they were hard up for money and food.
I only know he certainly paid much more than his 10% in tithing, despite the large family he, himself, maintained. And he did this right up until the day he died at about seventy years of age! There was never any retirement for him — my hard-working papa!
Like everyone else, dedicated and diligent, conscientious Daddy liked feeling special and needed. And he enjoyed serving God, all the while being able to put to use his skills and ingenuity as he helped repair others’ broken equipment, or advised them on how to build something — or taught them how to do some of these things for themselves. Thus, he employed many of the things he had learned how to do … right up until the day he died.
So where he lost favor with people due to his judgmental temperament and sharp tongue, he gained respect and popularity by being otherwise naturally unassuming and willing to lend a humble, helping hand. And he benefitted from that respect, acceptance, and connection. It was a wonderful interchange of mutual love and appreciation.
*Other facts about Daddy that I didn’t bring up earlier:
*He was very sensitive, astute, and strong-willed. Therefore, as a young man, he abandoned his parents in Michigan, due to fallings-out with them — never again to contact them nor to return home for a visit.
His aunt had raised him since he was around four or five, I believe, as I related in an earlier blog. I’m not sure how young he was when he left his aunt’s home and took off to make it on his own. I’m only sure he was a true survivor. And what didn’t kill him made him stronger!
*Once he proudly told me: “At age twenty-eight, I gave up smoking and drinking when I joined the Mormon church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). I was able to quit “cold turkey!” I simply decided to quit. And I never smoked again!”
And Daddy said, of his past smoking habit: “People who will smoke will drink, and people who will drink will chase women.”
He also informed me: “I gave up square dancing, too, because I found that it led to fornication when men and women danced with other than their own spouse or partner.”
*Once, when I was twelve years old, he caught me looking up the word “sex” in the dictionary. He reproachfully admonished me, proclaiming: “The words “sex” and “fun” should be cut out of the dictionary!! Sex is only for procreation! And people shouldn’t be wasting their time playing/ having fun. The Lord’s Kingdom won’t get built up that way!”
I disagree with him in some of his misconceived conceptions. But we all are in a process of learning and growing during our lifetimes. I bring up these above points to simply show what a stoic life he, I, and other true-believing fundamentalists lived.
But other points in his favor are that while Daddy was living in Arizona, and raising a large family with his first wife Eva, he was a Boy Scout Master, which position he enjoyed and was very proud of.
And he was even Mayor of a small city for some time, I was told. But I’m not sure what city that was, let alone the dates. My daughter checked and couldn’t find his name listed as having been Mayor of the city where I thought my parents said he’d been Mayor. So who knows! More family lore?
The Writer’s Prayer:
“Make this tale live for us
in all its many bearings, oh Muse.” Steven Pressfield The War of Art
While married to his first wife Eva,* for some time Daddy owned a small Mercantile shop. Then World War II removed his main source of income, rubber tires:
“The war efforts needed all the rubber to build war equipment. Selling tires for the Model T Ford, and other such, was how I covered my overhead. So I was run out of business when I couldn’t sell rubber tires anymore,” he explained.
“While I still owned my store, a woman would come in daily and hit on me. I finally told her, ‘I haven’t got caught up to home yet!’ That sure put a damper on things!”
Daddy loved to tell that joke. One great thing about him is he was good at ad-libbing jokes and getting a laugh — a natural comedian, he had a wonderful sense of humor. Sadly, he tried to curb this special talent once the LeBaron cult started cracking down on light-mindedness — considered a sin. (They didn’t know “Laughter is the best medicine.”)
I never spent much time around Daddy. Highly sensitive me avoided being in the same space with him whenever possible.When I had to be around him, I hid in the shadows. When I could do so without being noticed, I would escape to my attic room, especially after I became a teenager because his anger and abuse doubled toward me by then.
I already mentioned a little about this in previous blogs: He had a terrible temper that I got the brunt of more than all the rest of his children put together. I was the scapegoat of the family, so was glad he was usually away from the house working all day. That lessened the stress I endured because of him — and because of Mother. She would get me in trouble with him every chance she got — like every day, once I became a teenager!
But on Sundays, he did not work — which meant he was always home keeping the Sabbath. After our daily morning prayers were said in the big family circle, breakfast, and our family Sunday School service was over, Daddy would sit in his overstuffed armchair in the living room and read the newspaper and comic strips in front of the fireplace he had built and decorated with petrifiedwood rock work.
Hidden out of his view and reach, I loved watching how he would sometimes laugh till he teared up reading the Little Orphan Annie comic series. As a child, I especially loved it when he would throw me the “Funny Papers” after he got through reading them.
Then I would lie on my stomach on the carpet, a distance from him, and try to read and understand The Funnies. But try as I may, as a kid, I never could figure out what Daddy found so funny about his favorite comic strip, Little Orphan Annie.
I lacked the maturity and experience to comprehend such things. Daddy was twenty-six years older than Mother, and about fifty-two years older than I — old enough to be my grandfather.
But other than being around him on Sunday mornings so I could get the funnies once he was through with them, mostly I avoided being in the same room with him. I was afraid of him.
By the time I was 14, almost every day he would lash out at me, both physically and verbally. And, often, he would make fun of me and put me down in front of my family or friends … or whoever else happened to be around when he found a reason to ridicule me and “put me in my place.”
Because of this, I developed a confused love-hate feeling for him, though I never realized it till much later. Mother always told us what a saint Daddy was and that he was the very best man in the whole wide world! Needless to say, I never got to learn a whole lot about my father, due to it being so miserable for me … so threatening to be around him.
But I remember, when I was four years old, he took an oil painting class. I recall him sitting out under the backyard trees with his easel and paints, copying some nature scenes that included our house he had bought around two years before when it was not much more than a shack.
He was remodeling it to make it a livable home. He would buy a run-down ramshackle of a place, fix it up into a fairly decent abode, then, before we had much time to enjoy the better living conditions, we’d end up moving, for one reason or another, to a new ramshackle abode. And the whole damn scene would start all over again — we Spencers living in a mud adobe abode or whatever, till he fixed it up into a half-decent place to live — and then we would move. “Why couldn’t we ever stay in the home once it got fixed up and had running water, a shower, electricity, and a flushingtoilet?” I used to wish and wonder.
We moved around twelve times from the time I was born in a mud adobe abode in Mexico till I turned fourteen! Then we moved back again, “fool” circle, to another mud adobe abode in the Mormon fundamentalist cult where I first started out: Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico!
Then, wouldn’t you know, no sooner did Daddy do a complete makeover of our new mud adobe abode in Colonia LeBaron, but what I was married off at age sixteen in an arranged polygamous marriage! And that entailed moving again, this time to my own home … and another mud adobe abode!)
“An unexamined life is not worth living.” Plato … quoting Socrates
In the Previous blog, I mentioned that when I was around four years old, Artist Daddy, with easel and oils, used to sit beneath the big green shade tree in our front yard and paint the nature scenes around about him. Often he used our home as a backdrop for his paintings. Mother kept these “Masterpieces” hanging on the wall in our home, proudly showing them off to visitors.
But, sadly, Daddy didn’t continue for long with his oil painting hobby and venture. Though oil painting had been a lifelong dream and yearning of his, he was in his late fifties when he’d finally had the where-with-all to try his hand at it. But, sadly, he soon discovered oil painting or water coloring pictures — or even sketching — took a lot more time and money than he could devote to his beloved hobby, Artist though he was … better still, “frustrated Artist”!
What it boiled down to was he had to give up his artistic drive and dream because it conflicted with what he believed was his higher calling: To bring little spirits up in heaven down into good Mormon fundamentalists homes; i.e., to have all the kids he could have! He was devout, to be sure. Whatever his faults, there was a lot of good and good intentions in this man.
After he sacrificed his painting hobby, due to conflicts of interests — God, his family, and religious beliefs came first — Mother gave him piano lessons because around about that time he had finally bought trained–concert-pianist Mama a piano!
But when he saw four-year-old me couldsit down and play by ear whatever I heard him practicing as he struggled to learn to play by note, he was humiliated and felt cheated that it should come so easily to me, a little kid, what he had to work so hard for as an old man.
So, just like my older sister … and for the same reasons, I suspect … they both soon gave up for good and forever any attempt to learn to play the piano. But Daddy qualified it with some truths when he said:
“Bein’ an artist and playin’ musical instruments is for rich people. It takes an awful lot of time. And I have to spend my time and energy makin’ a living to support my family.” Then he added, as an afterthought,“Rich people get rich off the backs of the poor.”
However, I would qualify it with: “The Haves” and “The Have-nots”
can usually be traced back to
“The Did’s” and “The Did-nots.”
For example, the “Haves” did not have a lot of kids and wives! They chose “Quality over Quantity.”
Even so, Daddy had learned to play the harmonica as a young man. When I was 10, he taught me how to play “Home, Sweet Home” on it. From there, I was off and running, easily picking out by ear other tunes on the harmonica.
But something I could never do was whistle, though Daddy could whistle like a Pro — the only one in our family that could ever do that, far as I know. Though we all really tried hard to learn how to whistle.
In fact, when I was nine years old, it was quite a funny sounding scene around our home and yard, there for a while: All of us kids and even Mother went about trying to “whistle a happy tune,” when, at best, we weren’t blowing much more than our lips, hot air, and a lot of strange sounds!
But whenever Dad was at home and working around the place, he was his own radio — and ours too! His whistling could be heard throughout the home and yard. And I loved it — loved his beautiful whistling of tunes that were always right on pitch.
In fact, one breezy spring morning in Hurricane, Utah, when I was around eleven, I was blown away when I heard Daddy out in the barn milking Bossy, our auburn Jersey cow, exquisitely whistling the hit tune from the 1950s Musical Oklahoma!: “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!”
Mother was a trained concert pianist. But Daddy’s musicianship was that of a gifted, born Whistler! I never realized, back then, what an asset and talent it truly is to be able to whistle — whistle any melody beautifully! Oh, how I would love to be able to do that myself.
“In the course of my life,
I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have
always found it a wholesome diet.”
Winston Spencer Churchhill
In the previous blog, we were talking about some more of my father’s accomplishments and sacrifices. Among other such memorabilia is the following: He was a proud Veteran of World War I. He fought with the 308th Engineersfrom Ohio to the Rhine. There are videos of his Platoon on YouTube, showing them constructing a bridge, among other things.
While with his Platoon in France, during his WWI Service, Daddy got to meet Winston Spencer Churchhill! So he had double the reason, on January 24, 1965, for taking three days off work to keep his ear tuned to the radio all day and into the night when Churchhill died.
Yes, for three days he listened to the constant end-to-end radio broadcasts about world-famous leader Winston Spencer Churchhill as Radio Broadcasters expounded upon the many great accomplishments and services this icon had performed for society. Daddy could especially relate to Churchill’s accomplishments when it came to World War I and World War II. Sadly, I didn’t even know who Winston Spencer Churchill was!
It figures, as, at the time Churchill died, I was eighteen years old, had been married off in an arranged marriage at age sixteen, and held captive in the LeBaron doomsday cult in Mexico since August 1960.
August 1960 was the unfortunate date my parents uprooted our family, locks, stocks, shocks, and barrels, to move to Zion “to gather and mingle with the Saints and avoid the calamities that were coming very soon to wipe out the wicked. (Colonia LeBaron was “Zion.”) In hindsight, I see it was really quite the other way around: Gathering to Zion was nothing but a calamity!
I had barely graduated from eighth grade, in Hurricane, Utah, before we left for this “Zion.” My parents walked us right into a ready-made viper’s den and cult calamity, thinking they were doing just the opposite — preparing for the end of the world that was due any week … if not sooner.
Well, it WAS the end of my world! Their man-made CALAMITY wiped out and ruined my hopes for “The good life.” I have been trying to do catch-up ever since.
As cult-fate would have it, there was plenty of wickedness going on in so-called Zion “to mingle with.” It turned out to be quite a little colony of “Saints” — or a “Little House of Horrors”!
I’m just glad it wasn’t another Jonestown! At least my self-proclaimed Prophet Uncle Joel never asked us to drink the Kool-Aid. However, self-proclaimed Prophet Uncle Ervil was quite another story.
As my Memoir unfolds, you shall hear what I mean. Because I intend to unmask the Colonia LeBaron Mormon fundamentalist cult life I endured while stuck living eight years in Mexico down past the Rio Grande — a life I barely survived to blog about. It was about fifty-eight years ago, as of March 2018, that my family “gathered to Zion.” I have been trying to get over it ever since.
Their prophet, my Uncle Joel LeBaron, had prophesied: “The destructions foreseen in the Book of Revelations are coming any day now to rain down upon the United States! Mexico is the land of refuge for the Saints.” Mother claimed she, too, had seen this “end of days” in a dream!
Go figure: The sky was falling … another Chicken-Little story … or LeBaron story? If you want to get power, claim you’ve had a revelation, a dream that shows the world is coming to an end. You’ll most likely get some followers.
The truth is, yours and my world IS coming to an end: We never know the hour of our death … the end of our OWN world. (Maybe that’s what scares people to death so much!) But the world, itself, and new life will continue on, as it has for thousands of millenniums.
If you claim “the sky is falling/ the world is coming to an end, some Millennial’s (i.e., Messianic apocalyptic dooms-dayers who believe the end of the world and “the Millennium” is imminent) will likely believe and follow you. Chicken Little sure got his following … if you recall that children’s fairytale.
But now back to reality: After being pulled out of school and moved to that secluded and barren, Chihuahuan Desert wilderness, I had no chance for further education.
That was a calamity in itself! Quite the end of my world — at least as I had known it. I, a Bookworm, wasn’t even allowed to read, let alone have any contact with the outside world, in any way, shape, or form. So, no: I wouldn’t know who Churchhill was.
Before I was married, while living in LeBaron’s “Zion,” all my family-of-origin had, as far as connections with the outside world were concerned, was Daddy’s little battery-run radio — which only he was allowed to use!
Even worse, all we ever heard about from Mother was mostly cult dogma and propaganda. And how great she and her family heritage was: Her father, mother, brothers — especially her brothers, Joel and Ervil, the “prophets” of the cult! Mother had to be number one. So, sadly, I never got to know how special my father’s Spencer heritage was. For some reason, Daddy never mentioned it either. Or maybe he did but I wasn’t around to hear.
NOTE: Though there is more to relate, as to my father’s history, I will relate it in the context of my own continuing Memoirs.
For now, I conclude my nine-part series,”My Daddy,” (Renamed with the lyrics of the following comical song I wrote. There is a verse in it about my amazing father. But first this Intro:
Dearest friends and fans: Please note:
This “sorta” silly song I wrote
Is half-finished so I won’t gloat, And pray my poemwon’t get your goat.
But it’s late — blog’s due “mañana.”
If you check this song later on … uh …
You may find it’s been partly “re-wrote;”
“I know it needs work” is my last quote.
Even so, hope you enjoy what I wrote. And, now, I humorously emote:
Hi! I’m a hack who’s written a hit Called “Pretty City Chick.” It’s a Hee-ha comedy song —
A bit o’bio in verse, Fer better er worse —
With truth ‘n’ exaggeration
Pretty City Chick (By Stephany Spencer)
Hey, they say I’m a pretty city chick. And Hillbilly music
makes some sick,
But, my Hillbilly ways Are here to stick;
So we may as well Get over it — And join in
And sing a bit,
‘Cause I’m a city chick, But shit-kickin’ music
is my shtick. Born in Mexican sticks
I’ve dual citizenship, And I’m a city chick.
I’m an all-American-mongrel,
Apple-pie girl —
A Hines-57 mixed-up mutt, With apple pie stickin’
To my butt ’n’ gut. But red-necked
Ain’t my thing.
I came for music And to sing!
Yeah, I’m an All-American-Mexican,
With Welch ’n’ English,
So, sure, I’m a Brit;
With French, German,
And Mohawk Indian a bit.
If there’s no Tom Slick
Hidin’ in the pit,
Far as I know,
That’s about it —
That’s my story
And I’m shtickin’ to it!
My father was
A proud Veteran
Of World War I.
Those Vets were
For what they’d done!
Pa was an artist, creative,
Master of a few —
Good at so many things,
There was little
He couldn’t do.
Ma was a creative,
Author and artist, thru ’n’ thru; Poet, performer,
Trained concert pianist —
She loved to discuss
Religious principles, too,
And read religious Lit,
Old and new —
Long as it agreed
With what she
She graduated with a BA
In Journalism too.
Quite an accomplishment
‘Cause Ma was sixty-two!
She was running me
For I was still in College too,
Strugglin’ to make it up
From the cult
She’d put me thru …
If she only knew!
But her motto was:
“Anything you can do,
I can do better;
I can do anything
Better than you!” (And she meant it too!)
Refrain: Hey, they say I’m a Pretty city chick;
Though Hillbilly music
Makes some sick,
My Hillbilly ways Are here to stick.
So you may as well
“Git” over it
And join in And sing a bit!
‘Cause I’m a city chick, And shit-kickin’ music
Is my shtick.
Born in Mexican sticks
I’ve dual citizenship
And that’s pretty hip.
Well, that’s my story
And I’m shtickin’ to it:
“I’m a pretty city chick!”
The following is an iPhone video of me at the California Writers Club, March 2017, performing the above song I wrote, “Pretty City Chick (before I recently re-edited it):“
NOTE: This concludes my nine–part Series, “My Daddy,” renamed “Pt 1-9: My Father Floyd Spencer, Fundamentalist Mormon LeBaron Cult Member.”
Thanks for visiting and sharing my blog site with me.
I love to write. But it’s icing on the blog when I have readers who devour it on top of my cooking it up!
In future blogs, I’ll tell you a little about my maternal grandparents and Mother — How she and Daddy met, some of their adventures together, etc. —
That is, I may tell you about the beginning of my father’s Mormon fundamentalist cult saga that culminated with his bringing me into the world — along with many other kids and events — which culminated in my creating this Blog. Chain reactions? That’s life!
Advice on How to Handle Overt/
Covert Narcissists: Saying “I do not consent”
won’t work with narcissists: They don’t care about boundaries.
They will keep coming at you.
Look up “grey rock,”
quietly let authorities know
of the toxic person, and,
so you are taken seriously,
allude to the narcissist
your willingness to go to court
on grounds of harassment.
Otherwise, ignore the person
unless communication is unavoidable.
Learn not to take the
narcissist’s behavior personally.
Keep in mind the overt/ covert narcissist
is a delusional, mentally ill person”
Emphasizing what I said previously in “My Memoir: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And Polygamy On-The-Down-Low — Part 20-B:”
Had Dad, Mom, and her brother, my Uncle Ervil, left me alone, I would’ve had a chance to grow up and learn to think for myself. That’s precisely what they didn’t want. They wanted to use me to their advantage … to run my life as it best suited them.
But they did it in the name of making sureI go to heaven. That is, Mormon fundamentalists believe you have to live polygamy to go to the highest degree of glory. They don’t realize you can’t force anyone to be saved: It doesn’t work that way: “A person convinced against their will, Is of the same opinion still.”
My parents and Uncle Ervil at least should have waited to see if Bill showed interest in me before they pawned me off on him! They didn’t care: In plural marriage, it’s easy-come-easy-go.
Bill Tucker, like the rest of the single and married men in the LeBaron cult, was attracted to me from the day I arrived there in the colony at age fourteen. Two years later, when Bill and I married, he told me: “I was always in love with you but I didn’t ask to marry you because I thought you were too young!” Yeah, right!
What he didn’t tell was the whole truth: He was gradually and quietly pulling up stakes, preparing to leave the LeBaron cult and colony in the dead of night, burning his bridges behind him, the first chance he got without being caught and killed. Bill Tucker knew too much to be let out alive!
Had things been done properly, I would not have been an adolescent thrown to the wolves in a marriage where the man had both arms twisted till he gave in to taking a plural wife he didn’t want. He didn’t want wife number-three. Two was plenty, thank you! Nevertheless, Uncle Ervil LeBaron was twisting one arm, my parents the other. Worse yet, Bill’s harem didn’t want another wife — at least, not one who wasn’t bisexual — wouldn’t fit into their Big Love nest/fest!
(Continued June 21, 2018: “My Memoir: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And Polygamy On-The-Down-Low, Part 20-D