Pt 25: 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 complain about
what your parents couldn’t give you.
It was probably all they had.”
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 — beautiful 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 Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, 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 snuggled up alone together on a freezing January day in the back of a secluded pickup “getting to know each other better.” 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!
Continued September 28, 2018: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, Pa, Me, ‘n’ Polygamy — Part 26