Pt 27: More Memories of My Mom Esther LeBaron and Dad Floyd Spencer
“One I love with all my heart, Mother, dear, it’s you; And I want to make you glad; Yes, indeed, I do! I will help you every day, Smiling as I go, And I’ll never make you sad Because I love you so.” (Author unknown)
We left off in “Part 26: More Memories of My Mom Esther LeBaron Spencer” with me questioning Mom about her early years. As I continued to query her about her early life and how she met and married Pop, she moaned: “I NEVER wanted to leave my family and Old Mexico. But yer pa wasn’t allowed to make a livin’ in Mexico, being a US citizen. By marryin’ him, I was forced to live in “The States” … far from my family for thirteen years!!
“I was always homesick for my family in Mexico. Yer pa knew this so his favorite song was, ‘I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.’ (See: https://youtu.be/TEHnzFC7M9A ) He would tear up when I played it for him on the piano … or sang it to him while accompanyin’ myself on the guitar.”
Dad kept his word to Mum. Soon as he turned sixty-five and could retire with full Social Security and Veterans Pension benefits, he moved Mum back to Mexico. We eleven kids went along for the ride!
One more stowaway sneaked along too … hidden in Mum’s belly! Well, everyone knows it’s cheaper by the dozen. At least that’s what Mumma always told everyone. (US dollars went further especially back then– if you lived in Old Mexico as opposed to the United States.)
So in August of 1960, my family returned to Old Mexico to settle in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua on their homestead my grandfather and grandmother had continued to build and enlarge upon — on land Dad bought in 1944. (Dad and Mum turned their “parcela“ over to my grandparents Dayer and Maud LeBaron in 1947 when they decided to take their budding family and move back to the US.)
Grandpa Dayer and Grandma Maud could never afford to move out of Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. But once Dad married Mum (secretly) on Feb. 17, 1944 — as a plural wife* — he’d had to “Get the hell out of Dodge:” ** Moving to old Mexico to live near my mother’s family was the perfect “get away” hideout for my parents to dodge the law for about three years — just long enough for me and my older sister to be born in Chihuahua, Mexico — thereby becoming American-Mexicans.
My parents’ days living in Old Mexico ended in early 1947 when Daddy was involved in a devastating near-death incident: While working to repair a flour mill in Colonia Dublan, Mexico, his leg accidentally slipped, fell into the mill’s grain grinder, and was badly chewed up before he could regain his balance. Being a World-War-I Veteran, Daddy was taken to the Veterans’ hospital in El Paso, Texas where he remained for nearly three months while doctors and nurses struggled day and night to save and repair his leg so he could walk again.
What he did! Their dedicated efforts and peoples’ prayers paid off. Daddy’s leg was not only saved but he was able to even run on it. However, the immense amount of scar tissue in the damaged leg was to hurt him for the rest of his life — or the next 18 years. Poor Daddy!
This excruciating pain didn’t slow down the industrious hard worker he was. However, it added to his temper already compromised by aging, physical pain from his bad back, arthritic pains, and post-traumatic-stress issues brought on by his World War I Army Service. Add to that his emotional pain that included loss of his first wife Eva and his eleven children he had with her — and my mumma’s poor housekeeping and cooking — and you’ve got a walking volcano ready to errupt at any moment!
Nonetheless, this stalwart, dedicated, religious man, my papa, never gave up for a moment! He hung in there like a true soldier, holding fast to his beliefs and values till the end when, on April 18, 1965, a heart attack took him precipitated by an incident in late 1964 some like to call a “work accident.” (More on that in my upcoming book.)
Continued November 9, 2018: “Pt 28: My Ma ‘n Pa, Esther LeBaron and Floyd Spencer”
*They were married by the Mormon fundamentalist leader Joseph W. Musser. This was kept a great secret: Polygamy was illegal and so was Musser’s performing such marriages/ sealings. (See: Joseph White Musser: Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_White_Musser)
** Daddy told me he had to flee with Mama to live in old Mexico because his first wife Eva, a mainstream Mormon, had created a huge public stink and gotten him in trouble with the law and LDS church for taking a plural wife and becoming a Mormon fundamentalist. Can you blame her? (See my previous writings on this in blogs about my father and Mother.)
So, in 1944 Daddy sold in a hurry — at a loss — his belongings in Arizona and bought cheap land — a parcela — in Chihuahua, Mexico, not far from Colonia Juarez where Mama grew up. But he had to work in the United States to earn a living. It was illegal for Americans to earn a wage in Mexico — part of Mexico’s efforts not to lose more of their land to the USA — as they had in the war of 1846. Mexican–American War – Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican–American_War)
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”)
My Memoir: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy on Parade — Part 23
“People see what they want to see
till they want to see.” Dena McLean
I left off in blog, “Pt 22: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy on Parade,” saying: Mama preached polygamy and told people they would go to hell if they did not live it, but other than her first six months of marriage to Daddy, she never shared/ had to share her own husband/my father in the whole twenty-two years she was married to him.
But not long after Daddy died, she once again “helped save” a man by becoming his plural wife — as she had with Daddy. I mentioned this man in a previous blog: This new husband was an attractive LDS Mormon man around fifty years of age: Mel Orchard. He was as big a windbag as Ma! But a bigger kicker is his legal wife, a mainline Mormon, didn’t know the marriage took place! Mother was around forty-six or so, then.
She was not married to windbag Mel for long. In an effort to become his favorite wife, Ma manipulated a sixteen-year-old virgin into becoming old-man Mel’s third wife. To make a long story shorter, word has it she told this young girl and her family she’d had a revelation their daughter was to marry “her” husband Mel. But Ma’s ploy backfired on her.
After helping old-man-Mel secure his child bride, much to her ire, he neglected Mama. As you might imagine, her efforts and sacrifice to please her new husband did not bring in the appreciation and favoritism from him she believed and preached was supposed to happen when a woman got her husband another wife “to build up his kingdom.” (Mormon fundamentalism has all kinds of pie-in-the-sky, not-down-to-earth beliefs about plural marriage and how it’s supposed to work!)
My dreamer but let-down Ma was too jealous, hurt, and aggravated to remain married to her heart-throb Melvin after procuring for him a nubile maid only to find her manipulations ended up losing more of his love and time, rather than gaining her more of it. The old gentleman spent most of his time and energy trying to please his new teenage wife — trying to get it up and on with this adolescent “fawn”!
Not long after that, Ma took up with an old High School flame, a handsome Hispanic hunk — Catholic, charming, and very married — who lived in Chihuahua City, a-few-hours-drive from her residence in Colonia LeBaron. When she was in her teens, Mother’s parents would not allow her to marry him: He was of the wrong religion and race. But she and this stunningly gorgeous Mexican man had never fallen out of love.
Now, many years later and a lot of water under the bridge and despite his being married, his wife not knowing about it, and hisnot being Mormon, Mama carried on a back-room bedroom affair with him — perhaps hoping she could convert him to Mormon fundamentalism in time (?). I witnessed a part of that affair when, while visiting her in 1973, he chanced to drop by.
Mama told her kids and me she was taking her “friend” into her den “to discuss the gospel.” But I was an astute twenty-seven-year-old who had been around the block a few times by then. The sounds coming from her lioness’s den — squeaking springs combined with climactic screams — were not the sounds of discussing the gospel, no matter how exciting the discussion was!
(Continued in: “Pt 24: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy on Parade”)
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!
My Memoir: Part 19-P — Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — More Perils of Polygamy
“As I sifted through my memories,
my life came to me in bits and pieces,
often disconnected, just like my dreams. Even normal memory has gaps,
but traumatic memory is even more discontinuous.
This is my story, which put me back together.” Lost Boy Brent W. Jeffs
Continuing where I left off in “My Memoir: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer– And More Perils of Polygamy — Part 19-O”:
As I said previously, my sixteen-year-old first cousin Jenny Lou LeBaron’s parents weren’t around to snoop into her private diaries. So my uncle Ervil LeBaron won the second time around in his efforts to get Homer Babbitt a child bride in exchange for a parcel of his land.
After getting Jenny married to Homer, he set to work to convince his bosom-buddy Billy Tucker to follow through with marrying me — the way my parents wanted him to.
But let’s back up a bit. At first, Ervil (one of Mother’s younger brothers) didn’t know what hit when he found I was suddenly being given away to Billy! Like how was he, Ervil, going to explain to Homer that, despite the revelations he got that I was supposed to marry him, Homer, his sister Esther (my mother) had her own “revelation” I was supposed to marry Billy/William Preston Tucker?
But, Ervil, as usual, wormed out of his having promised me to Homer by coming up with a new revelation for Homer as to whom he was to marry when the first “revelation” fell through.
Nonetheless, “Evil Ervil” was blindsided in his own shenanigans and misuse of power because he had no idea my parents knew about his secret attempt to marry me off to Homer Babbitt! I had no idea my parents knew about it either. I found that out far down the line — after I was already Bill’s concubine.
So, despite Ervil’s efforts to keep “the adversary” (the devil) from finding out about his plans, lo and behold, “the adversary” — in the name of my parents — did find out about the self-proclaimed-profit Ervil’s latest priestcraft! And in a most unexpected way. But Mother, with Daddy’s help, had me convinced it was “through a dream — a revelation” she “came to know” I was supposed to marry Bill Tucker!
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I had not told my parents what Uncle Ervil LeBaron (The Second Grand Head in the Priesthood of the LeBaron cult) was directing me to do, because Uncle Ervil, who practically stood as God to the people, had told me, “God doesn’t want your parents to know till you’re already married to Homer.”
“Let’s keep this a secret between me, you, and Homer,” Uncle Ervil had adamantly whispered to me. “We don’t want “the adversary” to get wind of what’s going on here and try to stop God’s work — God’s desire you marry Homer to help build up His kingdom on earth.” (Replace “God” with “Ervil.”)
(Continued in: “My Memoir Backstory: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And More Perils of Polygamy — Part 19-Q”)
*Anna LeBaron, in the following video, is one of my many first cousins, and one of my Uncle Ervil LeBaron’s almost 60 children:
NOTE: Weeks ago I published a compilation of Parts 1-10 of “My Memoir: My Mother, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And Mormon Polygamist Cults Unmasked.” The following is the rest of that 18-part series on my mama.
My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer: Ma Meets Pa … Or Was It the Other Way Around?
My daddy, Floyd Otto Spencer, around 1917
History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. Winston Spencer Churchill
“It was love at first sight!” exclaimed Mama. ” On October 13, 1943, while I was visiting my brother Alma’s friend, in walked a tall, dark, and handsome stranger [Floyd Otto Spencer]. I knew, the moment I laid eyes on him, he was the man for me!
I was about twenty-three, then, in my second year at Tempe State University — And quite sure I didn’t want to live polygamy! But all that changed after I saw yer pa because I knew, the minute our eyes met, he was the man I was supposed to marry!” [NOTE: See “Spencer Family Album and Scrapbook,” compiled by my sister Nola.]
“So the following day, while your Pa was up on the roof in sunny Mesa, Arizona, helpin’ my brother Alma re-roof my brother Ben’s house, I took advantage of the chance to be up there on the roof, too, so I could get to know ‘the tall, dark, and handsome stranger.’ ”
It didn’t matter that my future Daddy was twenty-six years her senior, already married to a beautiful woman, Eva Bowman, and together those two had ten gorgeous children — and another on the way. None of that mattered because Mama was a Mormon fundamentalist.
What did matter in Mormon fundamentalist eyes is Ma was “an old maid” at the time she met future Pa. Now, how had she, an attractive, gifted, and accomplished young woman, existed so long under the radar without being “married up”? For “Plygs” are generally married off as children — because, to them, marriage and having all the kids one can have is what Life is all about.
All that matters to Mormon fundamentalists, in general, is having all the kids and wives they can have — so as to bring all the little spirits they possibly can into “good Mormon fundamentalist homes.”
These homes are the best homes in the world, they believe. They simply sacrifice their ALL to serve God by bringing as many as they can of these little “foreordained spirits” down into “good Mormon homes;” i.e., homes that live the “fullness of the gospel,” as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught it — Homes where not one jot nor tittle of these early prophets’ words and teachings have been changed! (Is that obsessive-compulsive or what?! Well, they don’t think so.)
But getting back to where I got sidetracked, I’ll tell you what Mother was doing still single at twenty-two: This “catch” was “a Mexico LeBaron.” Now if you’re a Mormon fundamentalist, you know what that means: There was mental illness in Mama’s Family — “The Mexico-LeBaron Family.”
Let me give you some backstory — if I have the story right. (LeBaron stories are/ were wont to change from time to time): Ma’s big brother, my Uncle Ben, was not only bipolar/schizophrenic, but had recently let the various Mormon fundamentalist groups know they were to follow him as their “Priesthood Head,” because he was the “One Mighty ‘n’ Strong.” Uncle Ben further quipped: “I get revelations from God regularly … Thus sayeth the Lord! “
He claimed his father had given him a special priesthood mantle — the “Scepter of Power,” or “The Right of the Firstborn.” (My maternal grandfather, Dayer LeBaron, taught his family this mantle of priesthood power was given to him, Dayer, by his own grandfather, Benjamin F. Johnson — who got it from the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith. Crazy? And how!)
In today’s blog, it’s not my intent to go into Mormon fundamentalist and LeBaron doctrine, other than to say all this above crazy business meant Uncle Ben claimed to hold the priesthood keys to the kingdom of God on earth. So he was, therefore, “The one Mighty ‘n’ strong, come in the last days to set the house of God in order” — as prophesied in Mormon scriptures.
Mormon fundamentalists believe “The house of God” (the mainstream Mormon church) had gotten out of order and lost the keys to the priesthood and, thus, favor with God when they signed away plural marriage in the Manifesto of 1890. For polygamy was the highest commandment their Prophet Joseph Smith had given them.
Trust me, that’s all we have time to tell about these fundamentalist doctrines and beliefs, at the moment. We’ve already gotten far off the subject of “Ma Meets Pa.” But at least now you know why Mama did not feel she was a home-breaker … Instead, believed she was a “home-maker.”
My parents, Esther LeBaron-McDonald and Floyd Otto Spencer
Home Sweet Home
Sweet, sweet home!
There’s no place like home —
There’s no place like home
‘Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though I may roam,
Be it ever so humble,
There’s no place like home.
A charm from the sky
Seems to hallow us there,
Which seek thro’ the world,
Is ne’er met with elsewhere
To thee, I’ll return,
Overburdened with care;
The heart’s dearest solace
Will smile on me there
No more from that cottage
Again I will roam;
Be it ever so humble,
There’s no place like home.
NOTE: “Home Sweet Home” was one of Daddy’s favorite songs. (When I was ten years old, he taught me to play it on the harmonica).
This classic folksong and hymnwas written by American lyricist John Howard Payne and English composer Sir Henry Bishop for an opera that was first produced in London in 1823. The song became hugely popular throughout the United States, and was a favorite of both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.)
Let’s continue where we left off in Part 11 of “My Mama,” where she was saying: “I didn’t feel I was a home-breaker … The thought never entered my mind. I believed I was a ‘home-maker’ because I brought your Pa into ‘the glorious Principle of Plural Marriage.’
“I knew his living this holy principle, as laid down by Joseph Smith, would ensure he would not only have a chance to obtain a home in heaven with God — but he’d also be able to become a God, himself, in the hereafter … and create worlds of his own … and, thus, many homes throughout eternity. Therefore, I was not a ‘homebreaker’ … I was a ‘home-maker.’ ”
So here we have fervent Mormon fundamentalist homewrecker, lovestruck Ma, instead of perched upon a chair doing her college homework, perched upon the housetop doing “home-maker” homework … flirting in a “pretty-please” position irresistible to future Pa — the guy Mama’s ma said, “had one-foot-in-the-grave.” (He was forty-eight years old — twenty-six years older than Mama.)
Now, while beautiful future Mother was ardently gazing into gorgeous future Father’s eyes, Mother’s brothers were arduously and assiduously helping lay new shingles as fastidiously as they were waxing unwise in converting future brother-in-law to polygamy, Mormon orthodoxy … and all its lies!
The re-roofing while preaching gave gorgeous Ma multiple moments to be with handsome Pa … Moments in which they got to know each other — up on the rooftop in sunny Mesa, Arizona.
All during this time, Uncle Ben wasted no time showing my future father, mainstream Mormon Floyd Spencer, Scriptures that would convince him the Mormon church was out of order.
However, he was unable to convince future Father that he, Benjamin Teasdale LeBaron, was the one mighty ’n’ strong — come to set the the Mormon church/ the house of God back in order — despite Uncle Ben’s constantly hearing voices from within while relating to future Father his “Thus sayeth the Lord!” revelations. “The word of God” came to my schizophrenic uncle on a regular basis … And on a stepped-up basis while working with and trying to convert future Father to his, Uncle Ben’s, new church.
Floyd Otto Spencer and Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Robert Frost
We left off where Uncle Ben wasn’t able to convince my future Pa, Floyd Spencer, that he, Benjamin Teasdale LeBaron, was The One Mighty ‘n’ Strong come to set the house of God in order. However, Uncle Ben had convinced Floyd Spencer the only way he could be saved was to enter into Plural Marriage; i.e., polygamy/ polygyny/ bigamy.
In fact, betwixt Ma and her brother Ben, my handsome mainstream Mormon pa, Floyd Spencer, was quickly converted to “Plural Marriage” and “the fullness of the gospel;” i.e., Mormon fundamentalist gospel.
It wasn’t hard: My young sexy “future Ma” was regularly looking, with eyes aglow, into the eyes of my middle-aged “future Pa” — and the countenance of the man she “knew” she was to marry — And “Pa” had a reputation for being a womanizer — said a half-brother of mine I met years ago — one of Daddy’s sons by his first wife.
But what finally cinched Floyd’s conversion to polygamy was Uncle Ben’s reading him the 132nd sec. of The Doctrine and Covenants — the Mormon scriptural revelation wherein J. Smith commands his followers to live Plural Marriage or be damned to hell.
After future Pa’s conversion to Mormon fundamentalism, it wasn’t long thereafter before he and future Ma were lovers. Having first met on October 13, 1943, in cold January—three months later—the two were snuggled up in the bed of future Pa’s pick-up truck with Uncle Ben — or Uncle Alma? — in the cab at the wheel hitting the unpaved 1944 rocky rutted road at top speed while the vehicle bounced ‘n bumped up-‘n-down (‘n humped ‘n’ pumped?) as they sped along towards the Mormon town, Colonia Juarez, Mexico — so Pa could get permission from Ma’s pa to marry Ma — while they were still hopefully chaste?! Hmmm! (I would’ve loved to have gone along for the ride!)*
But Daddy didn’t get much permission from his legal wife Eva to take a ride — let alone a second wife. She could “take a hike,” as far as he was concernedbecause Joseph Smith’s commandment to “live polygamy or be damned”came ahead of everything else — and he’d be damned if he’d be damned!
So Eva, his wife of 23 years and mother of their 10 children — and one on the way — agreed to go along with Joseph Smith’s teachings that required a man live polygamy. I’m getting ahead of the story a little, now, when I tell you that after six-suffering months with her handsome, hardworking husband, she couldn’t take plural marriage anymore.
Feeling betrayed, and unable to bear any longer the heartbreak, jealousy, and loneliness brought on by her husband bedding and abetting his nubile twenty-two-year-old polygamist bride, on October 31, 1944, Eva divorced him on the basis of Adultery, Assault and Battery, Abandonment, Emotional Abuse, and Incompatibility.
While at it, she obtained a Restraining Order … barring him from their younger kids still at home with her. (Tears!) So Daddy never saw his youngest children again till they were in their mid to late teens. I was fourteen at the time and present when he met his two youngest, Jimmy and Vonda, for the first time since they were babies.
Daddy had to pull a lot of strings behind Eva’s back to get to see them. But he felt lucky they got to meet at all! These two children who did not know him had been so turned against him, it wasn’t a warm welcome, only a short reunion … but better than none.
*[NOTE: On January 15, 1944, in Colonia Juarez, Mexico, my mother was married to my father as a plural wife. A month later, on February 19, 1944 they went to Salt Lake City to be sealed by Joseph White Musser. Neither of these marriages were legal: Daddy was still married to his first wife Eva. But on June 22, 1945, they were legally married in Mexico because by then Daddy’s first wife had divorced him. (See “Spencer Family Album and Scrapbook” compiled by my sister Nola.)
A collage of Daddy’s two families, et Al
“That which does not kill you will make you stronger.” Nietche
Let’s go back to Part 13 where my “future ma and pa” lay or sat on a makeshift bed of blankets in the back of “future Papa’s” pickup. The blankets padded their backs and butts as they bounced and bumped along in a rough and rickety ride over 1944s rutted roads in their 1930s vehicle that soon left Mesa, Arizona far behind as they bounded for the Mexican border making lickety-split time!
Like bandits, they had to get out of Dodge to dodge the law that would like to put Pain jail for practicing polygamy. My young uncles Ben and Alma participated in the excitement and the anticipation as they sat in the truck’s cab taking turns at the wheel while conversing excitedly about their soon-to-be brother-in-law’s recent conversion to Plural Marriage and “the fullness of the gospel;” i.e., Mormon fundamentalism.
They were proud of themselves and their ability to preach the gospel — their ability to be good missionaries. Felt they had done “a good day’s work” by bringing another soul into “The Work” — That is, “The work of God, in God’s only true Church upon the face of the earth.”
This “accomplishment” heightened their sense of self-esteem and self-worth — puffed them up a bit as they continued making a beeline for their hometown, the Mexican Mormon colony, Colonia Juarez … so their sister, Esther, could get their papa’s permission to wed — ASAP!
To make a longer story shorter, my parents Esther and Floyd easily obtained permission from Mother’s father to marry — though her parents weren’t particularly happy she was marrying a man over twice her age who already had “one foot in the grave,” as my maternal grandma liked to say.
Nevertheless, “future Mama’s” Mormon fundamentalist parents were relieved their middle child and youngest living daughter Esther LeBaron-McDonald had finally “come to her senses” … had, in the end, chosen to marry into polygamy.
I confess, they had been very worried about her salvation and her entering the highest degree of glory, once in heaven, because, for some years there, Esther had professed (to their dismay) not to believe in nor want to live plural marriage:
“Part of what changed my mind ‘n’ convinced me to accept ‘the holy and righteous Principle of Plural Marriage,’ Mama said, “is I had a marvelously inspired revelation — a dream that showed me plural marriage was right. It even outlined exactly how it should be lived … And how glorious it could be … if participated in correctly.”
Daddy, likewise, believed he had done the right thing to take a plural wife. But sometimes I wonder if he wondered if he’d chosen wrongly. For, not long after he’d married Mom to his dismay, his hair suddenly turned from Salt-and-Pepper gray to pure white … And thinned … as he turned “blue” and thinner under the unexpected stresses, losses, devastation, and sorrows that followed his new Mormon fundamentalist faith and lifestyle.
Especially devastating to him was losing his eleven children — not to mention his beloved wife Eva. Then, for all his sacrifices and attempts to live “The Holy Principle of Matrimony/Plural Marriage,” he was soon, again, a monogamist, anyway!! And remained that way till the day he died — was never able to take on another plural wife, so as to live “The fullness of the gospel.”
My ma was too jealous to let him take another wife — never mind that she, herself, took Pa from Eva! That’s what polygamists do, you know. It doesn’t enter their mind that they are taking somebody else’s husband or spouse. They are too busy believing they’re only serving God and abiding by Joseph Smith’s Commandments to live polygamy or go to hell.)
Ah, what travesties and travails life doth present us … And how much of our pain and sorrow do we bringeth upon ourselves because, though we may think we are doing what is right, we are, in reality, holding our fingers on a hot stove; i.e., We’re doing what is wrong. Pain is our warning that we’re doing something not good for us.
However, not realizing this, Daddy concluded: “I couldn’t allow Eva to wear the pants in the family, pussy whip me, and carry me down to hell with her ‘cause she wouldn’t abide by the higher laws of God.
“She was too weak to follow me, her husband and priesthood head — too rebellious to live the fullness of the gospel. So, instead of doing what was right, by following God’s command to live plural marriage, she chose to do wrong — to get revenge … causing me no end of trouble with the law and the Mormon church. Even kept me from ever seeing my kids!!!*
“Nonetheless, I had to put God’s Commandments first … That is, to give my life for God and the truth. I knew I could not let her stop me from doing what I believed was right; I had to continue to follow the Prophet Joseph Smith’s commandment to live ‘The Holy Principle of Plural Marriage’ … or die trying … or I’d be damned.” (And he’d be damned if he’d be damned!)
* Bear in mind that I’m trying to present Daddy’s point of view. To be sure, it didn’t include such things as his violence – his physical and mental abuse towards Eva and her kids. I suspect this was sufficient reason to provoke betrayed Eva to obtain a Restraining Order against him to keep him away from her and her kids … and off her property.
He was of the old-country thinking: Thought it his position and right, as man of the house, to beat his wife and children into submission; that is, control them by “whipping them into shape.” Mama was of this mindset, also! (She bent to her husband’s/ her priesthood head’s will, as good Mormon fundamentalist wives do … “so she wouldn’t deserve his wrath.”)
And, of course, when it comes to his first wife Eva, Daddy didn’t admit to his betrayal of her, nor the hurt he caused her and her/his family when he took on another wife and family.
Unfortunately, Mormon fundamentalists follow their early founders to the hilt (when it comes to some things) – leaders who told them living plural marriage was God’s highest and most holy law. Being stoics, they believed they had to put aside their own feelings and needs … as well as the feelings and needs of all others … in order to live polygamy! Ridiculous? And how! But that’s how they believed.
My Memoir Backstory: Esther LeBaron Spencer de McDonald– Ma Meets Pa … Part 15
“Home isn’t home anymore.” from Olivia Newton John’s song
We left off in last week’s blog where Daddy said:
“I couldn’t allow Eva to wear the pants in the family, pussy-whip me, and carry me down to hell with her ‘cause she wouldn’t abide by the higher laws of God and Joseph Smith. Instead, sEva was evil: She was rebellious … not spiritual enough to follow her priesthood head, do what was right, and live the fullness of the gospel.
“She turned my kids against me! Even took out a Restraining Order to keep me from seeing them ever again.* So I had to divest myself of her in order to follow the Prophet Joseph Smith’s commandment to live ‘The Principle of Plural Marriage’ or be damned.
“Before I married yer ma, Eva had agreed to go along with my takin’ a plural wife. But she soon changed her mind, betrayed me … and went to the law to get me in trouble.
“Because of her treachery, I had to sell out and flee the country. And set up a totally new homestead in Old Mexico — though I knew no Spanish! As an American, I wasn’t allowed to get a job and make a living there, either!
“Eva even had the Mormon church cut me off as an apostate! That was vengeful … traitorous! She couldn’t wait to get me into all kinds of legal fixes.
She ruined my estate. Due to her actions, I lost a lot of money. Had to sell, in too big a hurry, my home and almost everything I owned, to go into hiding in Old Mexico.
“Putting it succinctly, she was a revengeful ingrate. Her treachery and rebellion knew no bounds. It was unforgivable! She was, for so many years, my wonderful wife and helpmate — only to turn against me and do me in!”
Under these conditions, Daddy chose to stay with his new, twenty-years-younger-than-Eva wife, my Mama Esther LeBaron-McDonald.
Mom said, “After he married me, he had far fewer migraines than he’d had livin’ with Eva. She was a perfectionist, an immaculate housekeeper. And always pressured him too much.
“Yer pa could never please her enough. Her continuous and unending demands on him to make more money so they could live a better lifestyle stressed him out.”
Well, Papa got quite the opposite with Mama! She was a lay-back, easy-going creative and dreamer — never much concerned about what others thought of her housekeeping.
She lived in a dream world — believed she was high class and the greatest woman in the world … among other things. Believed she was above cleaning house and other such menial chores.
He must have missed Eva’s, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” for, in that way, Daddy was like Eva: He kept his shop organized and immaculate.
Born with the gene that enables people to organize things, each one of Daddy’s tools hung proudly and neatly on the wall in its own place when he wasn’t using it.
Not only that, his artistic placement of them formed a beautiful design, relaxing to the eye and pleasing to behold.
It was such a change from Mama’s disorganized, dirty home — which got increasingly worse over the years as she became more and more inundated and overwhelmed with the responsibility of too many children and all else that goes into managing a well-run household.
But to add to her distress and tiring, unending chores was, true to stoic Mormon fundamentalist ways, she was in a constant cycle of being either pregnant, nursing, or becoming pregnant again. And to be sure, women’s work never ends! And Daddy never helped out in the house. “That’s women’s work,” he said!
What’s worse, no matter how Mother’s state of health and energies declined, she and Daddy believed it their fervent, foot-washing duty to God to put childbearing first. Their family’s and their own needs and comforts were secondary when it came to bringing another little “fore-ordained special spirit” into their “righteous Mormon home.”
Mother and Daddy would give their life for any one of their yet unborn babies. That was Mormon fundamentalist doctrine. (It was more like putting the cart before the horse!)
I just wish they would’ve “given their life,” that is, their attention, love, care, and money more to the kids they already had. But Mama loved to tell people her dream was to have twenty-six kids or die trying! Instead, Daddy died “trying” at about age 70 — his last son was born not long before that.
But Mother remained ever the artist, as long as she lived … never much of a homemaker — though she designed beautiful clothes for us kids, curtains for the house, rugs for the floor — that sort of thing. She should’ve had servants, but we could not afford them.
But, after moving to Mexico, where labor was cheap, she would hire a cleaning lady, when the place got too dirty, the dishes, ironing, and laundry piled too high — and she couldn’t get one of her kids to do the menial maintenance work because they had grown up and flown the coop, or other such.
As for Daddy’s migraines, they generally let up, anyway, as people age. However, I’ve always wondered why Mother’s generally messy home didn’t give him a Full-blown migraine every time he walked in the door. Actually, Mummsy would hustle us all into the house to quickly clean up messes, as much as possible, just before Dad got home from work.
The house was still far from immaculate, but that helped keep him from flying into a rage because the place was a mess again and his meal was once more not on the table when he got home after a hard day’s labor in the fields — or doing construction work, handyman work, clock and watch repair. He was a Jeweler. He could have been doing myriads of other chores and jobs too. He was an industrious, hard-working man, gifted at so many things.
But what helped keep peace in the home most was Daddy knew Mummsy was in love with him. And so proud of him and all his accomplishments, talents, and abilities. He could not have been more appreciated and valued.
And, since Mummy believed she was the greatest woman on earth, it went without saying she believed he was the greatest man on earth — next to the Prophet! Papa liked that feeling of importance … of being cared for and honored — priesthood-Pappy … King of the roost.
On top of that, Mumsy felt rich due to how well Daddy/ Floyd O. Spencer supported her and her family. But “Rich” is relative. I suppose she was rich, in comparison to the dire poverty with which she and her indigent, scrabble-farming family grew up in Old Mexico — Not to mention, the pitiful want and starvation she saw all around her among many of the poor Mexican peoples! So I’d like to say Ma and Pa lived happily ever after … but did they?
* Bear in mind that I’m trying to present Daddy’s point of view. To be sure, that point of view didn’t include such things as his violence – his physical and mental abuse towards Eva and their kids.
Violent, tyrannical Dad believed it his right to dominate and administer physical abuse when his wife or kids were in rebellion, made a mistake — or irked him. But sadly, Daddy was probably following the example he was raised with, didn’t know any better, and was only venting his anger, frustration, and pain.
But domestic abuse was certainly more than sufficient reason to provoke betrayed Eva to obtain a Restraining Order against him to keep him away from her and her kids … and off her property.
He was of the-old-country thinking: Thought it his position and right, as man of the house, to beat his wife and children into submission; i.e., control them by “whipping them into shape.”
Mama was of this mindset, also! (She bent to her husband’s/ her priesthood head’s will, as good Mormon fundamentalist wives are taught to do … so she wouldn’t “deserve” his wrath.)
Daddy didn’t admit to his betrayal of Eva, nor the hurt he caused her and her family when he took on another wife and family. Unfortunately, Mormon fundamentalists follow their early founders to the hilt – leaders who told them living plural marriage was God’s highest and most holy law.
Being Stoics, they believed they had to put aside their own feelings and needs … as well as the feelings and needs of all others involved … in order to live polygamy! Ridiculous? And how! But that’s how they believed.
Esther LeBaron-McDonald & Floyd Otto Spencer family in 1958
“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” Blaise Pascal
Picking up where we left off last week, I find it reprehensible Mormon fundamentalist dogma encourages women to intrude upon established marriages, break them up (as Mother did when she went after Father, who was already married and had nine or ten children at the time — and another soon on the way) — all in the name of polygamy; i.e., “living a higher law.”
In other words, it encourages adultery: It “legalizes” a woman’s going after a man she’s attracted to, though he is another woman’s “Contracted property.”
It’s altogether barbaric, ludicrous, deplorable, and inexcusable that a religion could teach doctrines and laws that break up marriages and families — doctrines and laws that leave the wife broken-hearted, betrayed, her home downtrodden, and her life and that of her kids smashed to smithereens.
Often, thanks to problems with trying to live polygamy, children are left to grow up fatherless. And the now-single wife is forced to be mother and father to her large family of small children – A sure way to invite misery, poverty, deprivation and under-class living.
That’s exactly what happened in my father’s case. His Junior-High-School-age kids even had to quit school and work to help support the large, abandoned family! My father’s betrayed wife Eva, now a sad, grieving, and lonely mother of eleven fatherless children, had to leave the home and go to work too.
So who was left to tend home and babies? Obviously, the older children had to play mama. And become premature homemakers.
That’s what happened! Unfortunately, all the above is a typical scenario that broken families endure, thanks to evils like Mormon polygamous doctrines that put “celestial marriage” ahead of everything else.
I’m not proud of the part Mum played in the dire suffering and hell Daddy’s first wife and children endured, even if it was part of Mummy’s fundamentalist Mormon religion to break up marriages.
I only know she could never stand to have done to her what she did to others. She never practiced what she preached. When it came to polygamy, she was too jealous to allow Daddy a plural wife.
And Daddy wasn’t about to take a plural wife unless Mom was in agreement. He’d already suffered, almost beyond endurance, after losing his first wife and eleven children.
Having learned his lesson the hard way, Dad wasn’t about to stumble, bumble, and ramble into another briar patch — wasn’t about to gamble again on whether taking a plural wife would or wouldn’t work — womanizer or no womanizer.
In other words, he wasn’t wandering down any more poison-ivy-bedecked garden paths — without his legal wife’s agreement and encouragement. Even then, he might hesitate.
For Eva had been in agreement, to begin with, when it came to her husband taking a second wife — to fulfill Joseph Smith’s commandment to live plural marriage or be damned. But within six months of Daddy’s having wedded Mummy — bedded Mummy, Eva could bear no more. She packed up kids and all and divorced him.
Though Mother probably didn’t know what she was doing, at age twenty-two or twenty-three, when she went after somebody else’s attractive father and husband “in order to live plural marriage” (that is, have the man she wanted) in the end, she herself was unable to share her handsome husband once Eva had left him.
She never encouraged Father to take another wife — never lived polygamy … never did anything but talk about it. Just as she talked about herself being the most perfect, holy, and righteous woman on earth — the most-Godly example of how to live “the gospel;” i.e., Mormon fundamentalism. Again, it was all talk.
Ma even wrote and disseminated articles on the subject of how to live plural marriage — and the importance of this “holy law of matrimony”!
Followers follow, so the Mormon fundamentalists she put pressure on and talked into going into plural marriage never took into account Mama had never lived it, herself, to speak of.
Anyway, Mother had, as the power behind her “punch,” the Prophet Joseph Smith’s commandment to live “the holy law of matrimony” or be damned to hell. So her followers drank the “punch” — and were damned to hell … till death do us part?? I damn well think so!
Even so, Mum had a following … admirers … true-believing people who idolized and lauded her — because she told them she knew she had her “calling and election made sure!”
If asked how she was sure she was going to the highest degree of glory when she died, she invariably vouched: “My Patriarchal Blessing told me so!” … as though she were so much more special than the rest of us.
The following link is a YouTube presentation done by my Aunt Susan Ray Schmidt (formerly Susan Ray LeBaron, one of Uncle Verlan’s former wives who left him), wherein she tells the audience how much she had longed to know that she was saved; i.e., had her “calling and election made sure” … “like Esther LeBaron Spencer:”
1964 LeBaron–Spencer family photo (one Sis not in Pic)
“A wise man learns from other man’s experience. A fool cannot learn even from his own. Will Durant
Taking up from last week’s blog: Since Mother did not/would not live polygamy when it came to sharing Daddy with another woman, I resent that she maneuvered and manipulated me into a harem — a life she could not live herself.
But what’s new?! Ma operated on a double standard: What was not good enough for her was good enough for her daughter. Or she and Daddy were hoping I would be able to live the “highest law of God,” even though “Perfect” Mother was not able to.
I’m sure she wasn’t duplicitous on purpose, but her actions showed a lack of integrity and forethought, not to mention, empathy. But what can you expect from a true-believing “Saint” trapped mentally, spiritually, and physically in a world of evil, lies, perversion, fraud, and fantasy — and unable to find a way out?
Perhaps, her lack of feelings and integrity was at least partially brought on by her splitting from herself due to not only subconscious guilt because she was not living all the gospel precepts she taught and believed in, but also because her artistic and other deep human needs were not being met.
All these needs conflicted terribly with her crazy Mormon fundamentalist beliefs she’d been so indoctrinated and brainwashed with since birth — such as having to have all the kids she could have, one after another, no matter what the condition of her health was! And having to live “The law of chastity” (I’ll explain this in a future blog) — just two examples of the strict fundamentalist beliefs her “profits/Prophets” had instilled in her.
She dared not do what was best for her or her family. She was taught that she had to do only what was best for “God” and “His gospel.” But when you remove the glittering generalities, you realize “God and the gospel” really referred to the “Profit” of the cult — he was “God and the gospel.” He was the one who benefitted from all the cult indoctrination, guilt, and fears he instilled in his followers.
Since Mummy dared not think for herself nor question “the truth,” she wasn’t aware of her two-facedness — if only because she couldn’t admit to herself she was “not good enough” to be able to live up to what she considered “the highest laws of God” … she who lived in a dream world, and told everybody she was the greatest, most righteous woman upon the face of the earth.*
So, though Mum raised me to believe I would go to hell if I didn’t live polygamy, she never lived it during her twenty-two-year marriage with Father — that is, after his first wife divorced him within six months of his marrying Mama as his polygamist wife. But, hey, fourteen children and one wife were more than enough for one old man — or young man!
It was a blessing in disguise, I realize, now that I have escaped the polygamist cult, that Daddy didn’t have more wives and kids for our family to contend with and have to share our parents’ attention, energies, and already meager income with. As for attention, what was that? About the only attention I ever got was when I was in trouble or they were piling on me more slave labor.
But, actually, as a Mormon fundamentalist, I didn’t think in terms of attention, being a slave, etc. That would’ve been “selfish and evil.” We were happy masochists in our misery as we denied ourselves in order to make any necessary sacrifices to bring more little spirits into “good Mormon fundamentalist homes “– such as ours. (LOL!)
We believed we were serving God by doing this. (We told ourselves a lot of stories!) But now that I look back on it, in reality, we were serving the self-proclaimed prophet/ profit, not God/Goodness:
The more kids we produced, and the more sacrifices we made, the more power and profit for the Prophet — and the more little girls available for him and his favorite priesthood members. As I’ve said before, it was all about quantity, not quality.
The cult leaders taught if we even dared question what they told us and whether polygamy and “the gospel” was correct, we would be turned over to the buffetings of Satan. That meant we would lose our mind and our soul — a very real concern for my Mother and for me.
*Please keep in mind: Throughout my blogs and Memoirs, I am talking only about the years I knew Mother. Everybody changes as they age. I had no contact with her the last few years of her life before she became riddled with dementia, then died at ninety-two.
So I’ll cut her some slack and say that she must’ve been doing something right or she wouldn’t have had so many people who loved her till the end and still have fond memories of her.
Bigamy Is “BIG LOVE” Literally
“One’s a plenty, two’s a crowd, Three on the sidewalk Is not allowed.” (Anonymous)
(But have you noticed in “Big Love” They may be doing it behind your back … As in behind closed doors? Step on a crack And try to keep track! Stephany Spencer
As mentioned in previous blogs, Ma raised me to believe I would go to hell if I didn’t live polygamy. Yet, she didn’t practice what she preached: She never lived Plural Marriage during her twenty-two years with Father.*
I resent this duplicity: How she incessantly preached “The Principle” and maneuvered others into it/polygamy as if she were a saint, Priestess, and the greatest example and authority on the subject — Though living “The Sacred Principle” was something she could not do herself — At least not while she was married to her own man.*
Maybe she felt she could vindicate herself for not having lived it – not having shared Daddy – by getting everybody else, instead, to share their husbands and live polygamy, “The Celestial Principle/Law of Marriage.”
But how I remember her ranting on about this “Principle” all the while I was growing up! And talking about how great “The Law of Celestial Marriage” was. Then she’d go on about the dream she had wherein God showed her how “wonderful and glorious” plural marriage is “when lived correctly.” I believe she got off on the power of pushing “The Principle.”
Pushing Plural Marriage as though she were the prime epitome of how to live it, is only one example of how she wasn’t honest with herself as to who she was and what she was doing by meddling in others’ marriages; i.e., directing others to live P.M., under the threat of going to hell if they did not — as if she, herself, were living polygamy!
That, perhaps, was her greatest downfall – not being strong enough to be honest with herself and others about who she really was. Instead, she sank into a “wannabe” fantasy and con world where she believed her own lies — that she was something she was not and so perfect she had her “Calling and Election” made sure.
In other words, Mother was basically telling people she was going to the highest degree of glory without having, among other things, lived “The Law of Plural Marriage” during her twenty-two years with Father before he died. Truth be told, she never could share him with another woman.
The high road would have been to have accepted herself as she was and for who and what she was, warts, worms, and all, instead of trying to fool others by putting on that she was perfect and was the supreme example of how to live. And was blessed above all others. I guess she did not feel secure enough to live without pretense.*
Apparently, not understanding she needed to accept and portray herself as she was, lack of integrity became “the best policy — that is, pathological lying — she believed her own stories.
Perhaps, believing she wouldn’t have nearly the influence and glory she had when carrying on as if she was God’s greatest daughter, she claimed to be above all others: “The Best,” Number One,” and “The most perfect woman in the world — God’s favorite female.”
In other words, she chose to live in a dream world of delusional thinking rather than be herself, a Mexico LeBaron whom many despised. But maybe one of the reasons the Maud and Dayer LeBaron family was largely despised, among other reasons, was because they lacked integrity — not to mention they didn’t fit in.
All the while I was growing up, being a “mundane commoner” was an anathema in Mother’s eyes. The last thing she wanted was to fit in and be average. She felt she was above others. And thrived on the attention and respect she got by going about like she was royalty and “the main one.”
But, at the same time, she would remind me, “Where much is given, much is expected.” And she meant it. She was good at doing community service and charity. She would leave her older children to take care of the home and family while she went out to advise and help other families.
She once told me, “I never turn down a beggar — a wayfarin’ stranger. It could be God in disguise testing to see whether I am following His admonitions to feed the poor and needy.” So delusions of grandeur reigned hand-in-hand with dualism, duplicity, and fear of God’s retributions.
*Note: Again, please keep in mind: Throughout my blogs and memoirs, I am talking only about the years I knew Mother. Everybody changes as they age. I had no contact with her the last years of her life.
*I know of at least six different times wherein Mother courted married men she was interested in. One of those men was Rulon Jeffs, Warren Jeffs’ father — before she met, courted, then chose to marry Daddy.
(Continued in: “My Memoir: My Mother, Esther LeBaron Spencer de McDonald — And Mormon Polygamist Cults Unmasked — Part 19”)
*The following sermon is a perfect example of some of the stuff Mother preached in order to get people to live polygamy. And this is a perfect example of where she got her Mormon fundamentalist doctrine and authority:
(Sermon by Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol.4., pp.55-57; also printed in Deseret News, Vol.6, pp.235-236):
“I wish my women, and brother Kimball’s and brother Grant’s to leave, and every woman in this Territory, or else say in their hearts that they will embrace the Gospel — the whole of it….say to your wives, ‘Take all that I have and be set at liberty; but if you stay with me you shall comply with the law of God, and that toowithout any murmuring and whining.
You must fulfil the law of God in every respect, and round up your shoulders to walk up to the mark without any grunting.Now recollect that two weeks from tomorrow I am going to set you at liberty.
But the first wife will say, ‘It is hard, for I have lived with my husband twenty years, or thirty, and have raised a family of children for him, and it is a great trial to me for him to have more women;’ then I say it is time that you gave him up to other women who will bear children.
If * wife had borne me all the children that she ever would bare,the celestial law would teach me to take young women that would have children….
Sisters, I am not joking, I do not throw out my proposition to banter your feelings, to see whether you will leave your husbands, all or any of you.ButI know that there is no cessation to the everlasting whining of many of the women in this territory;I am satisfied that this is the case.
And if the women will turn from the commandments of God and continue to despise the order of heaven, I will pray that the curse of the Almighty may be close to their heals and that it may be following them all the day long….
Prepare yourselves for two weeks from tomorrow; and I will tell you now, thatif you will tarry with your husbands after I have set you free, you must bow down to it, and submit yourselves to the celestial law.
You may go where you please, after two weeks from to-morrow; but, remember, that I will not hear any more of this whining.”
(Sermon by Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol.4., pp.55-57; also printed in Deseret News, Vol.6, pp.235-236)
Comments fromMormon Think: Obviously Brigham was motivated to give this speech because the women were not happy with polygamy.From searching records and reading various published stories from faithful polygamous wives, we have found many women that were very upset practicing LDS polygamy and not one account of a truly happily married polygamous woman from the 1800s but obviously, there must be some.
A few quotes from polygamous wives:
“Here was my husband,” she said, “gray-headed, taking to his bed young girls in mockery of marriage.Of course, there could be no joy for him in such an intercourse except the indulgence of his fanaticism and of something else, perhaps, which I hesitate to mention.”
-Sarah Pratt speaking of her husband, the apostle Orson Pratt who dated a 16-year-old girl (and then married her) when he was 57.(Van Wagoner 1986, pp.92)
“God will be very cruel if he does not give us poor women adequate compensation for the trials we have endured in polygamy.”
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young would have been a millennial blogger, but she died in 1901. The wife of Brigham Young, and prior to that Joseph Smith, and prior to that Henry Jacobs, who was sent on a mission by Brigham before he married her, Zina loves writing, long walks on the beach, and playing the field.
My Memoir, Part 19-K: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — and More Perils of Polygamy
“True leadership must be
for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders.” Warren G. Bennis
Taking up where we left off in “My Memoir Backstory: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And More Perils of Polygamy, Part 19-J”:
In a very short time after being married into Bill Tucker’s family/”love nest,” I found I had simply been catapulted out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-flames. I’d thought I was escaping my hellish home life with my family of origin for a heavenly love life with the man I was deeply in love with, idolized, and adored. It turned out just the opposite:
In fact, over time I came to realize I was nothing but a Mormon fundamentalist sex slave — a concubine in a harem where I wasn’t wanted. And in a cult with no Dr. Phil to fill me in on the whys and wherefores of monogamy, let alone polygamy — though I needed advice, understanding, and help in the biggest way and to the endth degree.
My parents had told me they’d had a revelation Bill was the man I was supposed to be married to for all eternity. And that I would be Bill’s best, most righteous, and favorite wife — and that was only the beginning of the bunk they filled me full of before I married Bill.
And Uncle Ervil, a “prophet,” had also really pushed this marriage — Plus I’d been so indoctrinated with a bunch of other garbage about plural marriage — that, as a teenage bride, I was up to my forehead in shit, but so full of crap, I couldn’t see past it!
But I found a whole different scenario and “crap” once I became Bill’s third “wife.” For the purposes of this short blog, I will simply say: What went on in my new family was done in secrecy. I did not realize, till years later, many significant things, including why my new family forbade me to go home and visit my mother and father, let alone talk about the troubles and travails, problems, loneliness, and grief my marriage brought me, their bereft teenage daughter.
I was not allowed to talk to anyone else such as sisters or friends, either. And forget counselors. Uncle Ervil was my only source for counseling. And some counselor he was!
All he, my narcissistic and calculating, power-pushing uncle told me, when I went to him in torment and travail at age nineteen, was: “Any problems a woman has in her marriage are her fault. If you buckle down, submit to, and serve your husband unquestioningly and fervently — doing everything he tells you to do — this will cure all your marriage problems!!! (As if I wasn’t already a slave to my husband, serving him with all my heart in hopes of winning his heart!)
Now I realize there was good reason for why the second wife told me (paraphrasing): “Bill hates when we go home to visit our parents. And will put any wife aside if he should find she told her parents or ANYONE about ANYTHING going on in our marriage OR Bill’s household!! And remember: Bill is NOT one to forgive transgressions! Once he puts you aside, he will never forgive you nor take you back. He’ll be THROUGH with you!!!”
I sure did not know it then but know now reasons why my new family was adamant I didn’t visit my family-of-origin — especially my parents: They were hiding bisexuality, among other things — even from me! (In the LeBaron cult in the 1960s, homosexuality was a sin punishable by the death penalty — and that’s but the beginning of it.)
(Continued November 16, 2017: “My Memoir: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And More Perils of Polygamy — Part 19-L”)
The following is one of the many excellent informative interviews you can find on YouTube that reveals many truths about the Mormon fundamentalist cult lifestyle I was raised in.
Here Aunt Rebecca Kunz Kimbel is interviewing her sister, my Aunt Irene Kunz LeBaron/Spencer, formerly a wife of my Uncle Verlan LeBaron, one of my mother’s eight brothers:
“There’ll be two dates on your tombstone And all your friends will read ‘em; But all that’s going to matter- Is that little dash between ‘em.” Kevin Welch
LIFE’S DASH by Stephany Spencer 1- Between the date of birth and death, There’s always a little dash — To me, it depicts life’s run-time, So I call the line “life’s dash.”
This dash mark on a gravestone, As in football’s forty-yard dash*, Represents our life’s game, That’s over in a flash.
2- So ‘Midst the trauma ‘n’ melodrama, Strum, ‘n’ strife, ‘n’ stress, Let’s take time, now and then, To review our life in progress.
During the period of our dash, Let’s consider our one-act scene; Are we a human-doing,
Or are we a human being?
3- While busy making our mark in life, Let’s enjoy our jaunty trip — Our journey through this cosmic world. But here’s a timely tip:
There’ll be two dates on our grave plaque Separated by a dash, But it’s how we live life’s dash that speaks, Not silent sod nor ash.
CHORUS: Those we’ve known may forget, After we’ve done life’s “splash,” Our date of birth and death,
But not how we lived life’s dash.”
TAG: Don’t forget, they won’t forget How we lived “life’s dash.”
* Since the following video recording was done, I’ve rewritten part of my “Dash” song I performed at the California Writers Club 11/4/2017 — the day before “All Saints Day.”
Coach Lou Holtz read the following composition
to his players in 1996 at a team meeting:
From “A Teen’s Game Plan for Life” by Lou Holtz:
“A few years ago Notre Dame went over to Dublin, Ireland to play the Naval Academy in football.
“When we were over there, we went to a twelfth-century cemetery. All we saw was a group of dilapidated walls and huge tombstones. One of our players, Alton Maiden, sat down at this cemetery and wrote the following poem:”
The DASH (By Alton Maiden, 1995)
I’ve seen death staring at me with my own eyes
In a way many cannot know. I’ve seen death take lots of people
But leave me here below.
I’ve heard many mothers’ cries
But death refused to hear. And in my life, I’ve seen many faces
Filled with many tears. After death has come and gone
A tombstone sits for us to see. It’s not more than a symbol
Of a person’s memory.
I read the person’s name, Read date of birth, see the dash —
And the date the person passed. Then, thinking about the tombstone,
Realize the important thing is the dash.
Yes, I see the name of the person
But that I might forget. I read the date of birth and death
But even that may not stick.
But thinking about the person
I can’t help but think of “the dash.” Because that represents one’s life
And that will always last.
So when you begin to charter your life
Make sure it’s a positive path. People may forget your birth and death But always remember: They’ll never forget your dash.
It’s one thing to run a fast 40-yard dash in shorts on a fast track, but does that speed translate to the football field?
INDIANAPOLIS — Paul Brown started this whole mess. But I bet the man who invented the use of a 40-yard dash never thought it would become this big.
How big? So big that when I worked with the Oakland Raiders, the 40 dictated everything we did — and I mean everything.
Brown, the former Cleveland Browns head coach and Bengals founder, wanted to determine how fast his players were covering a punt, so he chose 40 yards — the distance most punts traveled — as a measuring stick. Little did he know that a 40 time would become such a huge phenomenon.
Michael Conroy / Associated Press
Chris Johnson has the fastest 40 time since 2006. His speed has translated to the NFL, but that’s not the case for everyone. Check out the entire list here.
Think about it: What’s the one question every single prospect leaving the NFL Scouting Combine this year will be asked? “What was your forty time?”
Maybe Brown should have patented his idea.
The 40 time has become the measuring tool for most teams and, yes, I have to admit, I relied on knowing the times of each player. And if I was building a team I would want specific requirements of height, weight, and speed for each position. My goal would be to have a big, fast football team — not a track team that forced me to rely solely on the 40-yard dash in shorts.
Back in his day, Brown’s 40-yard test looked vastly different than the one being utilized at the combine today, even though the distance traveled is the same. In today’s 40, players work on their start from an elongated three-point stance — unlike the one used in football — trying to gain yardage with their first step. The runners stay low for the first 10 yards, not raising their head, and finish 10 yards past the end line.
Little did Coach Brown know that agents would one day send their clients to speed camps hoping to improve their 40-yard times and their draft status.
With time comes improvement, so naturally the 40 times have improved as players have gotten stronger, highly trained and in peak condition. But the essential value of this quick dash as a measuring stick has not changed. The most fundamental question that must be asked after knowing a player’s time and what makes the 40 a valued tool: Does he play the game of football with that speed?
For example, Deion Sanders was lightning fast at the combine in New Orleans in 1989. By more than one account, he ran the 40 in 4.19 seconds, thought to be the second-fastest ever run at the combine (Bo Jackson has the fastest verifiable combine 40 time of 4.12 seconds in 1986). And Sanders just kept on running, Forrest Gump-style, right into the locker room. However, the key validation came when Sanders showed he was fast on the football field, as well. His speed translated to his game, which then validated the 40-yard dash.
There have been players that time fast in the 40, but when watching them play football they don’t look nearly as fast. Jets defensive end Vernon Gholston ran extremely well at the combine, but when he was evaluated on tape from Ohio State, his speed never translated to the field. Little wonder he has played three years in the league and has yet to record a sack. He isn’t the only one. There have been countless workout warriors who have shown well at the combine and failed in the NFL.
Some players are fast, but do not play fast, while others time slow, but play fast in pads. And that is the key for finding the right balance when using the 40 times as a measuring stick. Like all things, when evaluating college players, everything falls back to the evaluation of playing the game. Does this player play fast? Can his 40 time be seen when he puts on his pads?
Surfaces can be deceiving, too. When Coach Brown started running his 40s, grass was the only surface he had his players run on. Today, with many different surfaces available, it becomes a challenge to adjust the time correctly. It is widely understood that a player is much faster on a track and turf than grass, but the question remains how much faster. When I worked with the Raiders, and even now, they adjust every time from the combine slower. If a player runs 4.47 at Indy, the Raiders will adjust it to around 4.51. For the Raiders, the 40 is everything, so they make it difficult for prospects to run a great time.
Adjusting the times can create a problem. What happens to a player who runs bad at the combine but improves his time at his campus workout? Does he move up the board? If he does, then why should players even run in Indy? And is the adjustment the right number or a number arbitrarily picked out of a hat?
When I headed the Browns‘ personnel department, we would always use the natural Indy time as our official 40 times. Jim Schwartz, a scout of ours at the time and current head coach of the Detroit Lions, kept a database of times run at Indy and those run at the school’s pro days. Believe it or not, some of the 40 times were actually slower on the home surface than at Indy. We wanted to have some consistency of adjustments.
But even with the consistency of adjustments, all these variables made the 40 time extremely difficult to use as the sole measuring stick. In Cleveland, we knew it was an important tool, but it can’t be the only tool because the playing speed must match the time speed.
When sitting at home this weekend watching the combine, remind yourself of two critical points when making an evaluation. The first, never begin with the end in mind, and secondly, never believe the 40 time unless you can see the speed during a game.
If you follow those two rules to the end, then even from your couch you can pick the right players.
Investigative Journalist Scott Anderson, Author ofThe 4 O’clock Murders
Scott Anderson’s “The 4 O’clock Murders,” published in 1993, is a must-read for those interested in a documentary of America’s most bizarre but now apparently defunct crime family. The Doc chronicles the history of this extremist cult initiated in the late 1960s by the sociopathic serial killer, Ervil LeBaron. (He was my uncle, no less.)
The cult was largely made up of Uncle Ervil’s fourteen wives and about sixty children, plus a few other staunch followers and their wives and children. He called his cult organization the “Church of the Lamb of God.” But it was, in reality, anything but lamb-like. Ervil LeBaron’s cult was a fundamentalist Mormon-mafioso syndicated crime family cloaked under the guise of religion.
Anderson’s text is the most up-to-date book on this cult. Thanks to his dedicated and daring work, we have an amazing wealth of information and insight to further our research, awareness, and understanding of “Evil Ervil,” and his avenging angels.
I’ve been told the “Ervilites” no longer exist. But that’s not to say another extreme cult of “avenging angel’s” couldn’t or hasn’t risen from its ashes to take up where the “Ervilites” left off. You are with me in hoping that isn’t the case and never happens.
Recently, I read Scott Anderson’s “The 4 O’clock Murders,” only to have my hair stand on end when I realized how little I had ever really known about this horrifyingly horrific, dangerous, and devious band of outlaws.
I’m not proud to say most of them were my relatives. And that it was all spawned by my charismatic and brilliant, but lunatic Uncle Ervil and his treacherous teachings — that included hearing God regularly tell him to “Killthose sons of bitches!”
But maniacal “Mormon Manson” Ervil couldn’t have succeeded in his reign of terror without the dastardly group of mislead miscreant, autistic-like, demented people who followed his violent, crazy, megalomaniac, and malevolent religious philosophy.
The majority of Uncle Joel LeBaron’s Church of the Firstborn followers couldn’t stomach his brother Ervil LeBaron’s violent, threatening, and far-fetched Philosophy of life. Nor did they want anything to do with his domineering, devious, and deceptive ways.
Ervil’s overbearing, self-centered, presumptuous, pseudo-authoritative sense-of-entitlement was hard for most to take — not to mention his nonstop talk, wayward religious doctrines — and his bad breath.
Uncle Ervil’s priestcraft and manipulations drove some of my peaceful Uncle Joel’s followers into frenzied frustration, rebellion, and disillusionment — such that they left Joel’s cult Uncle Ervil had a large role in helping Joel build.
In other words, most of Uncle Joel LeBaron’s followers (myself included) wouldn’t leave Joel’s sect to join the violent renegade, retrograde cult Ervil LeBaron started. (Ervil initiated it after Joel excommunicated him from the “Church of the First Born,” a Mormon-offshoot cult.)
Therefore, you have to wonder about the adults who did choose to follow Uncle Ervil, hook, line, and sinker/stinker (Pun intended) — and even to murder for him!
In 1967, at age twenty-one, I escaped Uncle Joel LeBaron’s cult — just as Uncle Ervil, his right-hand man, and brother, was beginning to preach his own violent, subversive civil-law and blood-atonement doctrine, along with all its mafioso underpinnings.
A few years after I fled “The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times,” Uncle Joel, as I mentioned above, finally disfellowshipped his brother Ervil from his “church,” due to, among other things, Ervil’s insurrection, insubordination, aggrandizement, and blood-atonement philosophy.
You must read the following books, “The 4 O’Clock Murders,” “Prophet of Blood,”and my recently-deceased Aunt Irene Koonz LeBaron/Spencer’s book, “Cult Insanity,” to know what I’m talking about — if you aren’t already familiar with the LeBaron-Madmen story.
I wish there were an update of this bloody LeBaron Documentary, “The Four O’clock Murders.”Written over twenty-five years ago, much has taken place among the Ervilites, LeBarons, and Joel’s cult since Scott Anderson went out on a limb, putting his life on the line,to chronicle and publish this incredulous history of a vengeful crime family that makes Manson and his “family” seem tame in comparison.
I’m grateful Anderson scribed this well-written Doc. Without his honesty and dedication, I and the world would never have known the extent to which this bloody, Satanic, and ill-begotten cult was willing to go — although we do have the earlier and equally well-written and researched documentary, “The Prophet of Blood,“ chronicled and published in 1981 by Ben Bradlee, Jr. and Dale Van Atta.
These Documentaries may not always be right-on-the-button. But they’re close enough to “Who’s got the button?” The Authors did well, given the difficulty involved in obtaining information. Even ex-cult members usually don’t talk — especially to outsiders. If bits of Info were circumspect, blame the cult members they interviewed!
That said, “The Prophet of Blood,” is a recommended read. It contains historical data not in “The 4 O’clock Murders.”
Scott Anderson’s Documentary published twelve years later, chronicles updated history of the bloody and loony legacy spawned by the maniacal “prophet,” Ervil LeBaron. It’s a pathetic legacy of a “Prophet out for Profit” … out of his mind.