ma in pink skirt, 1
My Mother Esther LeBaron Mcdonald de Spencer in her 40s

“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.

Bill couldn’t stand confrontation. So he couldn’t say “No.” Therefore, when push came to shove, he caved in to the arm-twisting to get him to take me as his third wife. In other words, he married adolescent me though he didn’t want another wife. Nonetheless, there were perks in it for him, some of which I mentioned in earlier blogs.

Something I didn’t mention yet is my 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 him away 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 hearsay.

As far back as I 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 of these well-meaning Mormons, when it came to pushing polygamy — other than perhaps Rhea Kunz, an influential 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 of 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. Need I say, Mother was SO relieved she didn’t have to share her husband with Rhea!

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 asThe the law of Chastity” … all the while, 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 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!” (Mother was ever a Machiavellian: The ends justified the means.)

She made sex sound like an evil ordeal to be endured — all the while getting her fair share of it 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 ONLY to get the female pregnant. And to enjoy it even then is considered unspiritual, lustful, and lecherous! (Talk about obsessive-compulsive, perfectionistic, 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 fundamentalist 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 is Ma and Rhea said one thing, did another: They were great windbags — big frogs, in a little pond, who intimidated and worried all the smaller frogs.

They told others how to live. But they 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 that 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, too, 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, 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 Papaexcept 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.

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 in “Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy On-The-Down-Low: Part 20-F”)

2 thoughts on “Pt 20-E: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy On-The-Down-Low

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