Pt 26: More Memories of My Mom Esther LeBaron Spencer
My mother Esther LeBaron-McDonald Spencer at age 21
“You can never go home.” Sinclair Lewis
Another variable in the equivocation, as to Mom’s virginity on her wedding night, is the following (Perhaps I’m throwing a hand grenade into the equation?): When I was about fourteen, Momma told me how girls she knew, when she was growing up, used things like bananas, carrots, and broomstick handles to put up “the place where babies are born.” Also used these and other devices to try to achieve an abortion!
I barely knew what she was talking about … and didn’t know masturbation or the need for such existed. Don’t know why Mum told me this stuff. I assume she was expounding on thoughts she had at the moment. Or was she suggesting I use the same tools, should the need arise — only don’t tell anyone the idea came from her?
That’s questionable, given part of virginity means an unbroken hyman. I think she was simply telling me some of the “worldly” things she knew “bad girls” used to do — but things she thought I wouldn’t do because I was her girl so “wasn’t worldly.” She believed I was better than they: I was “born a Saint.”
Such are the things my pure, perfect … perfectly-fanatic Mormon mum told me on the sly in moments of weakness and reverie. I suppose they were things too interesting to keep to herself. And I was Mum’s confidant.
Here’s another piece of juicy information Mumma shared with me after I asked her to explain what a “dirty joke” was. A couple of my sixth-grade classmates used the term but laughed at me when I asked what it meant. They said, “Go ask yer mom!” So I did.
At first, Mum told me “Johnny fell in a mud puddle” was an example of a dirty joke. But I was dissatisfied with that answer, so she caved in — but only after securing from me a promise I’d never repeat what she told me! Then she quickly recited the following bawdy rhyme she’d learned as a youngster. I admit I’m breaking my promise for I’m repeating what she said:
“Mary had a little lamb; It wasn’t worth a Tinker’s damn. She took it to bed with her to sleep. The sheep was found to be a ram, So Mary had a little lamb.
“When Mary had a little lamb, The doctor was horrified. But when Old McDonald had a farm, The doctor almost died!”
Mum had to explain what this “dirty joke” meant — but I had no trouble converting the rhyme to memory.
You get the idea, though: The jury is still out on whether Mumma was indeed a virgin on her wedding night — and it will always be out. So your guess is as good as mine. And my guess is she wasn’t — despite the fact she and Pop had raised me to believe suicide was preferable to losing my virginity. Had I lost my virginity before my wedding night, I would have committed suicide. It was that serious!
But I was raised on triple standards! I didn’t know it then. I know it now. Little ears have big listening capacities. During my growing years, I learned many things my parents had no idea I was picking up on. I recall illicit things I experienced and heard before I could barely babble. But I had the adults fooled. So take my advice: Never assume a baby who can’t talk, can’t understand and remember what YOU are talking about or doing!
Well, I’ve said my piece for now, so peace to you till next week’s blog — or “journal jog.” My head’s beginning to nod. ‘Tis time to get some sleep ‘n’ roll some rrrr’s before the sun peeps under my window sill.
Continued October 30, 2018, in “Pt 27: More Memories of My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer”
The following video gives insight into how I was raised and what my blog today depicted concerning virginity and Mormon Fundamentalism.
I joined Songmakers organization in 1987. Music has always been an important part of my life. A multi-instrumentalist, the following link is a fun recording of the cut I made in 2004 accompanied by Vic Brandriff and Steve Durfee on a Songmakers’ CD: “Tune Town:”
To learn more about the wonderful Songmakers organization, its history, and venues, click on the following link:
Pt 25: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, Pa, Me, ‘n’ Polygamy
My parents and nine of their then 10 children in 1956 or 1957. I’m around 10 or 11 years old in this picture–just got back from cherry-picking in a friend’s orchard so my hair is all mussed up.
“Never complainabout whatyour parents couldn’t give you. It was probably all they had.” “Strong Mind”
I left off on “Pt 24: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, Pa, Me, ‘n’ Polygamy.”
Let’s change the topic a bit and go back to when I was twelve and we inquisitive LeBaron-Spencer siblings — 11 of us by then — were once more huddled in the living room around our loving, peaceful parents. Those who could manage to get there first were sitting on the colorful rag-rug Mama had made and spread out in front of our warm fireplace hearth Daddy designed and built.
The periphery of the fireplace was artfully decorated with shades of variegated vermilion petrified-wood — rock-work laid by my artisan father’s own skilled hands. I loved to study its eye-catching splendor while listening to our parents’ religious lessons.
It was Family Home Evening again — our Monday-night Mormon family get-together my parents held sporadically. As was customary in our family during these times, we older children were taking advantage of the time together with our seemingly Godlike mom and pop to pump them for information about their past. After we’d heard about how they met and married, I couldn’t help but interject the all-important question: “Mama, were you a virgin when you married Daddy?”
I don’t know what prompted me to ask that question. I should’ve “known” Mama was a virgin, given how she so strictly instilled within us children that it was a matter of life or death that we be virgins on our wedding night. That was good old Mormon fundamentalist doctrine!
A man could have lots of wives … But the man had to be a virgin too … on his first wedding night, anyway! (After that, he could marry any number of women though he was no longer a virgin! Still, each of his wives had to be a virgin! But there were exceptions to this rule, too, such as in the case of divorce.)
But it was an all-important question to me, given Momma and Papa had so fervently impressed upon me and my siblings that we be chaste virgins when we married. We were not even to kiss a man till we were at the marriage alter! I repeat: We were not to KISS our loved one till we were at the marriage alter!!
Therefore, I was taken aback when Mama flushed, then exchanged with Papa an embarrassed equivocal half-grin implying, “Don’t ask; don’t you tell.” Then, having established an unspoken agreement and understanding with Papa, Mama carefully chose her words as she formed her response: “Why … of course, I was a virgin on my wedding night!”
But I sensed the look exchanged between her and Papa suggested a special and personal secret held between the two. It left me with the impression the jury was still out on the Ma-plus-Pa virginity equation.
Given their equivocation, I only wonder: Was Pa on the bottom or the top? And was their “wedding night” in the back of the pickup bouncing toward Ma’s parents’ home? That’s all I want to know! It’s more than I could know at the tender age of twelve … You have to know a little to ask a lot. At that age, I barely knew how babies were begot … and wished I knew NOT … if it was what I thought.
But I certainly wanted to believe my parents abided by the chaste rules they taught from the time I was a tot: People must NOT lose their virginity! And, I repeat, Shouldn’t even kiss until they were at the marriage alter!
Older and wiser now, I suspect some of that bouncing of the pickup bed that carried Mommy and Poppy from Mesa, Arizona to Chihuahua, old Mexico was created by more than the bumps in the rutted, rugged 1944 roads those many hours the truck sped along at top speed towards Mama’s parents’ home. (Perhaps Uncle Ben was doing his utmost to get these two lovers — my future parents — to his father’s presence while his sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law were still “chaste”?)
Oh, well. What the hell! Nature has purposely made the attraction between two people in love too difficult for abstinence — especially when they’re alone and getting to “know each other better” in the back of a secluded pickup. At least, that’s what I surmise. What’s your opinion?
I also suspect (from what I learned when Mother let me read her diary she wrote when she was in her late teens) other activities also had something to do with whether Mother’s hymen was still unbroken. I’ll tell you what I mean in an upcoming blog. Meanwhile, who knows what else may have passed between Ma, Pa, and those five years following the incident she wrote about in her diary!
PS: Mother told us she and Daddy had gone to Mexico to get permission from her parents to be married — and were also married in old Mexico. I’ve recently learned that was not the case. They were married by Joseph White Musser in Salt Lake City, so I suspect they didn’t even get permission from my mother’s parents before they got married! But they sure did want us to get permission from them before we got married — is probably the moral of the story she told me!
Continued September 28, 2018: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, Pa, Me, ‘n’ Polygamy — Part 26
Life’s Highway To everyone their openeth A way, ways, and a way; And the high soul takes the high way, The low soul takes the low; While in between on the misty flats The rest drift to and fro. But to everyone their openeth A high way and low. And everyone decideth The way his soul shall go. (I memorized this poem when I was 13) Author unknown
Taking up where we left off in: “Pt 23: Mom, Dad, Me, and Polygamy on Parade:”
Today, let’s expand on a disturbing theme I mentioned earlier: My sister Mary told me Mother made advances toward her ex-husband polygamist Sigfried Widmar. (He already had a number of plural wives at the time.) Ugh!
Not sure if Mumma married Siegfried. But it’s disgusting to court, let alone marry your own daughter’s ex-husband — especially given that he verybadly mistreated her daughter, my sister Mary, while she was married to Sig. Not only that, Sig had greatly neglected and maltreated his three sons Mary bore him (Mom’s grandchildren), including never visiting them nor sending child-support after the divorce!
Mother was taking care of herself and lacked a sense of boundaries. But messy Mormon fundamentalism and religious polygamy leave ample space for disgrace — ample justification for fornication. Incest is common. Mothers and daughters married to the same man, in some polygamist cults, is but one example.
While Daddy was still living, Mother had designs on MY husband William Preston Tucker! She was in love with him, idolized him, and fantasized that she would be married to him in the celestial kingdom (if not sooner!) — one avenue Mormon polygamy allows! (Orthodox Mormons believe righteous Mormon men will have any number of wives in heaven — so it doesn’t matter that here on earth they are your own mother, mother-in-law, daughter, et Al!
Ma would turn on like a Christmas tree fawning over MY husband polygamist Billy Tucker whenever he came around! She literally preened about like a peacock in heat waving her fan along with her tailfeathers to wow my “cock” — showing him she was his fan … wanted him to be herfan.
As a part of her courting fanfare, peacock-hen Ma performed for my lover Bill her fanciest piano pieces — difficult classics like Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto in C Sharp Minor,” “The Swan” by Saint-Saens, (https://youtu.be/zNbXuFBjncw), and Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” Oh, Mum knew how to impress — knew how my beloved Billy took toclassical music!
Bill fancied himself classy when he listened to and appreciated such music. Thank God Mum’s mom, my Pianist/piano-teaching Grandma Maud LeBaron saw to it Mummy got ample years of private piano lessons and plenty of time to practice and perfect her pretty fancy piano pieces; otherwise, Mumma wouldn’t have had much to impress others with — fat ‘n’ 40 with her fourteen beautiful kidlings straggling along behind her fantastic fan feathers!
Though Bill had a Bachelor of Science degree with honors and an Honorary Masters degree from UCLA and had also taught for a while at Texas Western University, he was always conscious of the fact he grew up poor (He was born during the Depression era). He was ashamed of his father, who, though an artist and talented musician, was never well-to-do and made his living as a machinist and Foreman in a factory.
But that’s only the half of it when it comes to Mumma flying in, in her fantasy world (for let it be known that Mumma lived in quite a dreamworld) and coming on to my hubby like a peacock spreading its fantastic fan feathers! She was strutting her stuff while fantasizing about being Bill’s favorite wife in the hereafter — if not in the here-and-now — while I was still married to and greatly neglected by my Billy … and she was still married to my daddy!!
She was having her problems with her hot-tempered, tyrannical spouse — my mean, aged papa twenty-six years her senior. But I was having my troubles with Bill too! He was no saint! Just an Alpha Male many women and men were in love. They, like me, idolized and adored gifted “Charming Billy.”
(Remember the song: “Oh, where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Oh, where have you been, charming Billy?) People in the cult couldn’t get enough of Billy Tucker. Many wanted to mate with him to get even closer — wanted to be a part of this amazing creaton … wanted to connect sexually. (Not sure how many ever did but they wanted to.)
Fuck! As luck would have it, much to my grief, Bill, my spouse the louse, left me after four-and-a-half trying years. That is, he “put me aside” — separated from me because, after too much suffering and disappointment, I had dissociated — had withdrawn bodily feelings for him. I had told him I no longer felt anything — was numb during conjugal relationships — no longer even felt when he fondled my once highly sensitive breasts! I’d managed to shut off physical feelings for him so as to distance myself from the eternal emotional pain caused by him and polygamy.
His “putting me aside” — that is, separating from me — though it devastated me, didn’t bother Mama at all! She saw it as a windfall for her! So it goes without saying, she didn’t sympathize with me and my sorrow, let alone did she try to help her twenty-year-old me patch things up with my precious hubby. Instead, Ma gleefully licked her chops for her chance to top me and take up with Billy in my place; i.e., displace me! (How would you like to have your mom as your competition — as if Bill’s other wives, boyfriends, and suitors weren’t competition enough!)
But a few months later, as Lady Fuck fanned her cards, Mother’s aces in the hole fell like dumped dominoes: After Bill separated from me, he secretly skipped out of Colonia LeBaron and Mom’s life! Then, safely hidden from Mom’s brother my uncle Ervil LeBaron — and his Danites — Bill announced he had left the LeBaron cult and Mormon fundamentalism for good and forever.
Then, three months after that, Bill died! “God took Bill!” said the true-believing cult members. “It’s payback for his leaving the one and only true church!“
Actually, Bill died of a ruptured appendix — payback for years in a cult where he couldn’t afford physicals even if he would visit a doctor. Sadly, Bill was allergic to the wonder drug Penicillin, the modern miracle medicine that has wiped out most deaths these days due to a burst appendix. (Penicillin cures the once-fatal infection, peritonitis, that quickly sets in following a ruptured appendix.)
You should have seen Mother at Bill’s funeral! It was held in Southern California. But she made sure to catch a ride leaving Mexico to go to the United States though she couldn’t afford it. Esther LeBaron-McDonald de Spencer simply had to attend her son-in-law (fantasy lover) Bill’s burial!
At the graveside, Ma was so caught up in her “poor me” misfortune of losing her fantasy lover Bill that her daughter, myself, was insignificant in her eyes. She wanted everybody to feel sorry for HER because SHE lost her “son-in-law.” So caught up in her attention-getting drama and trying to get in touch with her own feelings was Mama that she never once acknowledged me and mine. Never walked over to say hello to me, her grieving girl, let alone did she show me any other sympathy or empathy — never inquired as to how I might feel about my adored husband’s suddenly and unexpectedly dying! Of course, I had left her church by then so perhaps she was simply shunning me. (?) But so had her “Billy” apostatized from her church! Go figure.
At the Memorial Service, immature Mama hadn’t comforted me, either. She was probably unnerved that I was there! And it seemed I was supposed to be fawning over her! Go figure again. I already have … long since: The poor lady had a narcissistic personality disorder. 20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists Use to Silence You I was only an appendage swinging off her like a pendulum: If she was okay, I was okay. She didn’t totally see me as a viable and dynamic entity separate from herself. (We’ll discuss this topic more in a future chapter.)
(Continued September 18, 2018: in “Pt 25: Mom, Dad, Me, and Polygamy on Parade”)
“The LeBaron Story” is truly a “Vanity Book” — not only because my uncle Verlan LeBaron paid a publishing company in 1981 (back when self-publishing was not the norm) to publish the book — but also because it’s a revisionistic, apologetic, and biased history of “the Mexico LeBarons;” i.e., my grandparents Maud and Dayer LeBaron and their offspring.
What’s more, though my Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Verlan finished and got the book published, they are largely NOT the main authors of it. Truth is, Uncle Verlan was FAR too busy to write a book — even if he knew how — too busy working, traveling around from country to country visiting his ten wives and fifty-plus kids — and running from his brother Ervil who was out to kill him! Aunt Charlotte was about that busy too!
Fact is, MY mother/Verlan’s older sister Esther LeBaron-McDonald de Spencer (who possessed a BA in Journalism) is the one who birthed and did the groundwork for what is now “The LeBaron Story.” She wrote a large part of this book, then turned her “baby” — her manuscript over to Verlan, along with her journals and notes, telling him he could finish and publish her book — could even have all the proceeds from it!
Did she tell them they could have ALL the credit for it too? I know Mother could be ridiculously magnanimous and philanthropic at times. But was she this magnanimous and philanthropic? Even if it were the case, too bad those who published her “baby” didn’t return ANY of her magnanimity and philanthropy. That is, they gave my mother NOT a bit of thanks nor credit for all the work she put into initiating then writing most of “The LeBaron Story” — her gift to Verlan LeBaron and “God’s work.” Nowhere do you even get a suggestion that anyone other than Verlan and Charlotte had anythong to do with writing this text! How sad!!
Turning her book idea and all her manuscript work over to the new head of “The Church of The First Born of the Fullness of Times was Mother’s loving and conscientious effort to help her brother Verlan look good and thereby better “build up the kingdom of God.” And it was her way of paying tithing to extend and defend “God’s work” because Verlan had taken over for her brother Joel F. LeBaron, “The One Mighty and Strong Prophet,” after Joel was murdered by his brother Ervil!
The work of finishing and compiling Mother’s grandiose book was largely done by my Uncle Verlan’s first wife Charlotte who did not know enough of the LeBaron family history to write it without relying heavily upon Info from my mother Esther LeBaron-McDonald de Spencer’s journals and notes!
Therefore, about two-thirds of “The LeBaron Story” came directly from my dear Mum’s half-completed manuscript, notes, and journal entries. I was around when she was writing part of her family history — the Mexico-LeBaron history. Delusional Mumma was so proud of her heritage she thought it MOST mportant the world know about her “saintly family” — the greatest and most holy family ever born into the world — next to Christ … perhaps — through whom “The One Mighty and Strong Prophet Joel LeBaron” was born. (Does this smell of megalomania?)
Mumma talked much about her writing endeavors — the “LeBaron History” she was birthing. Having read part of her manuscript and journals, I recognize her writing voice and input throughout “The LeBaron Story” that makes up a large part of this book.
Therefore, note the two different writer’s voices in “The LeBaron Story”! Anything with beautifully written structured writing, defined paragraphs, quotes, sources listed at the back of the book, etc., is my mother Esther LeBaron Spencer’s writing voice — part of her contribution. Whereas Aunt Charlotte, Uncle Verlan, et Al’s writing voices are in the chapters where everything is run together and there aren’t structured paragraphs, footnotes, etc.
But, even though Uncle Verlan and Aunt Charlotte used large parts of what Mother wrote, word for word — used her material exactly as she had written it — no editing whatsoever — as I said before, they gave my creative, ambitious, giving Mom not one BIT of credit — not one speck of acknowledgment … let alone so much as a howdy-do-dee or thank-you! It’s tantamount to plagiarism … and shameful how Charlotte and Verlan took ALL the credit for Mama’s talent, initiative, education, writing, and hard work!
But getting back to the body of the book, if you were to take the authors’ word for everything, the Mexico LeBarons are/were “a saintly people with a Godly mission.” Well, I beg to differ: Wishing doesn’t make it so. In other words, wishful thinking, such as self-proclaiming oneself as “The One Mighty and Strong,” and claiming one comes from “A Godly people with a Messianic mission” doesn’t make it true.
Much of the book’s lore takes place in Chihuahua, Mexico. Unfortunately, the authors tell the story in the words of true-believing, fundamentalist-Mormon-LeBaron cult members. In other words, it’s a highly biased history with a missionary purpose.
True to their fanatic religiosity, the book was mainly written to proselytize and promote Uncle Joel LeBaron’s cult: “The Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times.” This presupposes a revision — rewritten history, then; i.e., a white-washing of the LeBarons. Thus, it’s myth in the making.
Nonetheless, I was able to glean a bit of useful information from it. So I’m glad the book was written despite the biased viewpoint because nobody else in the immediate Mexico LeBaron family has written a first-hand history about themselves — and it shows how biased they were, some of what their bias was, and how they used it to portray and supplant themselves as God’s only emissaries of “the truth,” His Work, and His Plan. It’s a bias that supports their grandiose sense-of-entitlement and efforts to achieve power, control, and position in the world. Suffice it to say, despite
Suffice it to say, despite “The LeBaron Story” needing a good Editor’s service, it was quite an endeavor and accomplishment on the part of my not well-educated nor well-read but extremely busy country uncle and his wives. All the while they were compiling Mother’s notes and manuscripts, then finishing this chronology, they were ever laboring under heavy pressures and disadvantages such as raising huge families of children while living in backward, primitive conditions–and running for their life. But book-buyer beware … be wary! That’s all I can say!
I was given a copy of this book many years ago when it first came out in 1981– fourteen years after I escaped the LeBaron cult in 1967. After reading the text, the obvious Messianic preaching and purpose, plus the revisionism, white-washing, and grandiose fabrications throughout the chronicle of “The LeBaron Story” got my gut so badly I was on my way to toss the book in the dumpster when two of Uncle Verlan’s daughters dropped in. They believed their father was a prophet, so were very happy to be gifted with “The LeBaron Story.” And I was very happy to get rid of it.
But thirty-six years later, for purposes of my own understanding and research, I had to re-buy the book! Argh! It’s going for around $45.00 in hardback on Amazon.com now. Wonders never cease to amaze me … so I wonder! Well, to each his own … and read on!