me with sisters
Me, my twin sisters Judith and Sharon on Mom’s lap, and my older sister Doris


“Home is wherever I’m with you.”
“HOME
by Edward Sharp
and the Magnetic Zeros


“Home,” by Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros

“Home is whenever I’m with you.”
Edward Sharpe*


Beginning where we left off in “Pt 27: More Memories of My Mama Esther LeBaron-McDonald and My Papa Floyd Otto Spencer:”

In early 1947, Pa was lying incapacitated in a Texas hospital. In order to be near him, Ma hurriedly packed up all her belongings, including me and Doris not quite potty-trained, and moved back to the United States — with two stowaways in her belly besides ... Twins!

On April 18, 1947 I turned a year old, “big” sister Doris 2.5 years old, and Ma 25.8 years old … her hands full and her belly too. She was expecting but NOT twins! Nonetheless, June 21st, 1947 — ready or not — they popped out headfirst to greet everyone. Fourteen months my junior, these twins — darling though they were, a novelty, and an attention-getter — quadrupled Ma’s handful during her time of crisis.

To lighten pressures, Pa’s first wife Eva divorced him Oct. 30, 1944 — a month before my parents’ first child Doris was born November 27 (Thanksgiving Day), 1944. So Pa no longer had to fear being tossed in jail for bigamy. This lessened my parents’ load immensely! No longer polygamists, except in belief, now they lived in the United States without worries of prosecution. It was persecution they had to worry about from then on, being Mormon fundamentalists.

As mentioned earlier, before my parents left Mexico, they turned over to Grandfather and Grandmother LeBaron the land they had bought there in Galeana, Chihuahua — land Pa bought in Ma’s name as she was born in Mexico.

Heretofore unnable to afford to move out of mainstream-Mormon Colonia Juarez, now, thanks to my parents, in 1944 my maternal grandparents were able to finally leave their homestead of 20 years, leaving with it the many years of rejection they’d suffered and halfway survived in the Mormon colonies.

Settling on Ma and Pa’s “ejido,” my scrabble-farming grandparents and their children who still remained at home began building a new life and world. It was indeed a struggle. (You shall hear how they fared in Mexico down past the Rio Grande!) But The Mexico LeBarons (Dayer, Maud, their kids, and extended family) at long last had escaped the rejection and ostracism they’d painfully endured while living in the mainstream Mormon townsites.

Once Mother’s brothers born in Mexico (Ervil, Floren, and Verlan) reached the age they could each own a “parcela” (i.e., government land parcelled out to Mexican citizens to homestead on), they acquired surrounding pieces of property that joined the land my father had bought and registered in American-Mexican Ma’s name. That’s how “Colonia LeBaron” came to be … how it got its start! Many pieces/parcelas came together to make this pie.

By the time my family, “the Spencers,” moved back to Mexico in August 1960, Pa had turned sixty-five, Ma thirty-nine, and I fourteen. Ma’s pa, Grandpa Dayer, died nine years earlier so of Ma’s parents only my Gramma Maud remained. (Born in 1892, Gramma was but three years older than Pa. Just thought you’d like to know!)

Given this bit of backstory, you now know how, when my parents returned to their agrarian Chihuahuan desert home now called Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico, they “landed” on property they already owned. It was within walking distance of Gramma — though Pa and Gramma didn’t get along so we didn’t see much of her at our house. But some of Mother’s brothers and extended family homesteading in Mexico also lived near us, including Uncle’s Joel, Ervil, Floren, Verlan, their wives and children, and my Aunt Lucinda’s three children.

Soon after my Ma’s repatriating to Mexico, the land of her nativity, Ma and Pa bought another piece of property in her name* “The Galeana Springs.” It was located within a few miles of our homestead in Colonia LeBaron and had a natural running spring on it!

Once back in Mexico on her Motherland, Ma shed joyful tears, crying, “It’s so wonderful to finally be back with my family again — back home where I belong in Old Mexico with my kids and Pa … on our own ‘rancho’ !”


*My pa, being an American, wasn’t allowed to own real estate in Mexico. Ma had dual citizenship, having been born in Mexico in 1921 of American parents; therefore, she could own property in Old Mexico.


  • Thanks, cousin Dena McLean, for sending me the YouTube link to this lovely theme song “HOME” !

Continued November 20, 2018, “Pt 29: My Ma Esther LeBaron Spencer and My Grandma Maud

~ Pt 26: More Memories of My Mom Esther LeBaron Spencer​

Pt 26: More Memories of My Mom Esther LeBaron Spencer

ma at 14

My mother Esther LeBaron-McDonald Spencer at age 21



“You can never go home.”
Sinclair Lewis

Another variable in the equivocation, as to Mom’s virginity on her wedding night, is the following (Perhaps I’m throwing a hand grenade into the equation?): When I was about fourteen, Momma told me how girls she knew, when she was growing up, used things like bananas, carrots, and broomstick handles to put up “the place where babies are born.” Also used these and other devices to try to achieve an abortion!

I barely knew what she was talking about … and didn’t know masturbation or the need for such existed. Don’t know why Mum told me this stuff. I assume she was expounding on thoughts she had at the moment. Or was she suggesting I use the same tools, should the need arise — only don’t tell anyone the idea came from her?

That’s questionable, given part of virginity means an unbroken hyman. I think she was simply telling me some of the “worldly” things she knew “bad girls” used to do — but things she thought I wouldn’t do because I was her girl so “wasn’t worldly.” She believed I was better than they: I was “born a Saint.”

Such are the things my pure, perfect … perfectly-fanatic Mormon mum told me on the sly in moments of weakness and reverie. I suppose they were things too interesting to keep to herself. And I was Mum’s confidant.

Here’s another piece of juicy information Mumma shared with me after I asked her to explain what a “dirty joke” was. A couple of my sixth-grade classmates used the term but laughed at me when I asked what it meant. They said, “Go ask yer mom!” So I did.

At first, Mum told me “Johnny fell in a mud puddle”  was an example of a dirty jokeBut I was dissatisfied with that answer, so she caved in — but only after securing from me a promise I’d never repeat what she told me! Then she quickly recited the following bawdy rhyme she’d learned as a youngster. I admit I’m breaking my promise for I’m repeating what she said:

“Mary had a little lamb;
It wasn’t worth a Tinker’s damn.
She took it to bed with her to sleep.
The sheep was found to be a ram,
So Mary had a little lamb.

“When Mary had a little lamb,
The doctor was horrified.
But when Old McDonald had a farm,
The doctor almost died!”

Mum had to explain what this “dirty joke” meant — but I had no trouble converting the rhyme to memory.

You get the idea, though: The jury is still out on whether Mumma was indeed a virgin on her wedding night — and it will always be out. So your guess is as good as mine. And my guess is she wasn’t — despite the fact she and Pop had raised me to believe suicide was preferable to losing my virginity. Had I lost my virginity before my wedding night, I would have committed suicide. It was that serious!

But I was raised on triple standards! I didn’t know it then. I know it now. Little ears have big listening capacities. During my growing years, I learned many things my parents had no idea I was picking up on. I recall illicit things I experienced and heard before I could barely babble. But I had the adults fooled. So take my advice: Never assume a baby who can’t talk, can’t understand and remember what YOU are talking about or doing!

Well, I’ve said my piece for now, so peace to you till next week’s blog — or “journal jog.” My head’s beginning to nod. ‘Tis time to get some sleep ‘n’ roll some rrrr’s before the sun peeps under my window sill.

Continued October 30, 2018, in “Pt 27: More Memories of My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer”


The following video gives insight into how I was raised and what my blog today depicted concerning virginity and Mormon Fundamentalism.

~ Pt 25: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, Pa, Me ‘n’ Polygamy

 Pt 25: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, Pa, Me, ‘n’ Polygamy

dad-ma-9-kids-1

My parents and nine of their then 10 children in 1956 or 1957. I’m around 10 or 11 years old in this picture–just got back from cherry-picking in a friend’s orchard so my hair is all mussed up.


Never complain about
what your parents couldn’t give you.
It was probably all they had.”
“Strong Mind”



I left off on “Pt 24: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, Pa, Me, ‘n’ Polygamy.”

Let’s change the topic a bit and go back to when I was twelve and we inquisitive LeBaron-Spencer siblings — 11 of us by then — were once more huddled in the living room around our loving, peaceful parents. Those who could manage to get there first were sitting on the colorful rag-rug Mama had made and spread out in front of our warm fireplace hearth Daddy designed and built.

The periphery of the fireplace was artfully decorated with shades of variegated vermilion petrified-wood — beautiful rock-work laid by my artisan father’s own skilled hands.  I loved to study its eye-catching splendor while listening to our parents’ religious lessons.

It was Family Home Evening again — our Monday-night Mormon family get-together my parents held sporadically. As was customary in our family during these times, we older children were taking advantage of the time together with our seemingly Godlike mom and pop to pump them for information about their past. After we’d heard about how they met and married, I couldn’t help but interject the all-important question:  “Mama, were you a virgin when you married Daddy?”

I don’t know what prompted me to ask that question. I should’ve “known” Mama was a virgin, given how she so strictly instilled within us children that it was a matter of life or death that we be virgins on our wedding night. That was good old Mormon fundamentalist doctrine!

A man could have lots of wives … But the man had to be a virgin too … on his first wedding night, anyway! (After that, he could marry any number of women though he was no longer a virgin! Still, each of his wives had to be a virgin! But there were exceptions to this rule, too, such as in the case of divorce.)

But it was an all-important question to me, given Momma and Papa had so fervently impressed upon me and my siblings that we be chaste virgins when we married. We were not even to kiss a man till we were at the marriage alter! I repeat: We were not to KISS our loved one till we were at the marriage alter!!

Therefore, I was taken aback when Mama flushed, then exchanged with Papa an embarrassed equivocal half-grin implying, “Don’t ask; don’t you tell.” Then, having established an unspoken agreement and understanding with Papa, Mama carefully chose her words as she formed her response: “Why … of course, I was a virgin on my wedding night!”

But I sensed the look exchanged between her and Papa suggested a special and personal secret held between the two. It left me with the impression the jury was still out on the Ma-plus-Pa virginity equation.

Given their equivocation, I only wonder: Was Pa on the bottom or the top? And was their “wedding night” in the back of the pickup bouncing toward Ma’s parents’ home? That’s all I want to know! It’s more than I could know at the tender age of twelve … You have to know a little to ask a lot. At that age, I barely knew how babies were begot … and wished I knew NOT … if it was what I thought.

But I certainly wanted to believe my parents abided by the chaste rules they taught from the time I was a tot: People must NOT lose their virginity! And, I repeat, Shouldn’t even kiss until they were at the marriage alter!

Older and wiser now, I suspect some of that bouncing of the pickup bed that carried Mommy and Poppy from Mesa, Arizona to Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico was created by more than the bumps in the rutted, rugged 1944 roads those many hours the truck sped along at top speed towards Mama’s parents’ home. (Perhaps Uncle Ben was doing his utmost to get these two lovers — my future parents — to his father’s presence while his sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law were still “chaste”?)

Oh, well. What the hell! Nature has purposely made the attraction between two people in love too difficult for abstinence — especially when they’re snuggled up alone together on a freezing January day in the back of a secluded pickup “getting to know each other better.” At least, that’s what I surmise. What’s your opinion?

I also suspect (from what I learned when Mother let me read her diary she wrote when she was in her late teens) other activities also had something to do with whether Mother’s hymen was still unbroken. I’ll tell you what I mean in an upcoming blog. Meanwhile, who knows what else may have passed between Ma, Pa, and those five years following the incident she wrote about in her diary!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Continued September 28, 2018: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, Pa, Me, ‘n’ Polygamy — Part 26

Pt 20-D: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy On-The-Down-Low

Norman Vincent Peale

 


 

Law 27
“People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a clause, a new faith to follow. Keep your words vague but full of promise; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking. Give your new disciples rituals to perform. Ask them to make sacrifices on your behalf. In the absence of organized religion and grand causes, your new belief system will bring you untold power.
The 48 Laws of Power
Robert Green, 1998


Taking up where we left off in “My Memoir: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And Polygamy On-The-Down-Low — Part 20-C:

Other than my Honeymoon, a one-day trip to Chihuahua City, Mexico, and a five-day trip to Guadalajara, Mexico — all with my husband Bill — plus a trip up to the mountain town of Nico Las Bravos, Mexico, to visit relatives, from 1960 till 1967 I was pretty much stuck in the little windswept Colonia LeBaron, Mexico, a secluded Chihuahuan mountain desert enclave if ever there was one. I didn’t know Spanish, had a baby, no money, and couldn’t drive. Had no car if I could’ve.

And there were no means of public transportation. I was lucky if I could hop a ride, now and then, with somebody who lived in the LeBaron colony, to go to Casas Grandes, the small, quite dilapidated — at least in the 1960’s — Mexican town where our colony members usually shopped for most of their groceries and other needs.

In other words, I was cut off from the outside world and its influences. Our small primitive colony had no electricity, telephones, telegraphs, newspapers, magazines, schools, libraries … the list gets longer! So it precluded TVs, or any other news or information source, of course, though a few people had radios — a luxury I could not afford.

But, eight months after I was married, and sharing a home with Bill’s second wife Lolita, thanks to an old box of magazines and books Serendipity and Synchronicity joined hands to leave on my front porch by way of a disgruntled member — an apostate who fled LeBaron — I found myself with informative and investigative things to read — thanks be to God, Goodness, and my Higher Power! I was seventeen years old and no longer under the watchful eye of my parents. But even Bill’s other two wives were careful to report me to him if they caught me reading! I was to spend all my time working!

But, before anyone could see what was in the box, I hastily gathered it up and hid the inflammatory material, magazines, and pamphlets. Though I was supposed to burn the “Godsend,” I secretly devoured its contents. Ever a God-fearing, yet intellectual and curious person — a bookworm — I couldn’t resist the temptation! I was hoping it would have answers to some of my probing questions. I wasn’t disappointed.

One book in the box, “The Power Of Positive Thinking,” by Norman Vincent Peale, was a most influential work in my developing the ability to think for myself and to see through things such as the fallacies of polygamy — though common sense helped me see through that anyway. But Peale’s work created the means of a breakthrough for me.

Along with Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy, my husband Bill Tucker’s influence and input, and my own experiences and reasoning, at age 17, Dr. Peale helped me to see through the glittering generalities and other mumbo-jumbo of mind-controlling religions.

He taught me how to put into down-to-earth terms scriptural verses, catchphrases, and other terminologies and clichés religions and cults commonly use to control their followers and keep them brainwashed and fearful.

I’ve forgotten more than I ever knew in this area — threw it out with the bathwater when I flew the coop and fled the cult. So, 55 years later and after the fact, I’m unable right now to come up with a good example of what I’m talking about. Soon as I think of one, I’ll clarify what I mean.

But another wonderful bonus that came from reading Dr. Peale’s book is he taught me how to overcome my worst problems: Shyness and fear of being around people. His book taught me how to face my fears and overcome them! Before his “blessing” arrived on my doorstep, I was a teenager and still unable to go knock on the door of even an aunt I really wanted to visit! And I would even cross the street so I wouldn’t have to say “Hi” to my own cousins! That’s how timid and bashful I was.

But getting back to Colonia LeBaron in 1963 — back to where I was before I sprouted wings and flew over the prison walls that bound me —  after four years of watching for my chance, a loophole opened where I could finally escape the LeBaron cult, Mormonism — and all other cults that have presented themselves ever since.

The “cult of doubt and disbelief” is the only one I have not been able to fully escape since then. But after 40 years of “wandering in the wilderness” literally, I’ve finally gathered enough input and Info to know that, among other things, making no choice is also a choice, as is indecision.

So I’ve chosen to “Let go and let God.”  That is, some years ago, I finally realized that fear of believing in something (for fear another cult would be able to overtake me) was actually a “cult of fear.” I’m happy to say that now I have at least finally been able to regain a spiritual basis. For example, I now know there is some kind of hereafter. And I firmly believe we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. And we have probably lived many lifetimes — and will continue on where we leave off in this life.

To my credit, within five months of escaping polygamy and Mormonism in 1967, I realized the philosopher Ayn Rand, herself, was a cult leader! She was my husband Bill Tucker’s new-found philosophical leader, shortly before he died — your philosophy of life being your religion.

Although my husband hadn’t seen it before he died at age 31, I, at age 21, was able to comprehend the above and to also see that Ayn Rand and other atheists had no more proof that God does not exist than religious people have proof that God does exist. Quite a conundrum? I’ll leave you this yummy-gummy gumdrop to chew on till I come up with a new dewdrop containing more oxymorons to gum up your reasoning … and drop you on your head. Just kidding!


  Pretty City Chick
  By Stephany Spencer

Dearest friends and fans: Please note:
This “sorta” silly song I wrote
Is half-finished so I won’t gloat —
And pray my poem won’t get your goat.

But it’s late — my blog’s due “mañana.
If you check this song later on … uh …
You may find it partly “re-wrote.”
It needs work,” is my last quote.
Even so, enjoy what I wrote,
As I humorously emote:

Pretty City Chick

 

 NOTE: The following is a tongue-in-cheek song I wrote: 

 Intro:
Hi! I’m a Hack Who’s
Written a Hit
Called “Pretty City chick,”
A Hee-ha Comedy Song —
A Bi
t o’ Bio in Verse,
Fer Better or Worse —
With Truth ‘n’ Exaggeration
Interspersed:

Hey, they say I’m a pretty city chick
And Hillbilly music makes some sick;
But my Hillbilly ways are here to stick,
So you may as well get over it —
And join in ’n’ sing a bit,
‘Cause I’m a city chick
And shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.

Born in Mexican sticks in 1946.
I’ve dual citizenship,
And that’s pretty hip —
And now I’m a city chick.

I’m an all-American-mongrel,
Apple-pie girl
 —

Hines-57 mixed-up mutt,
With apple pie stickin’ to my gut ’n’ butt;
But red-necked reactionary ignoramuses

Ain’t my thing.
I’m here for music and to sing!

Yeah, I’m an All-American-Mexican,
Scotch-Irish “Mick”
,

With Welch ’n’ English,
So sure, I’m a Brit,
With French, German,
And Mohawk Indian a bit.
If there’s no Tom Slick hidin’ in the pit,
Far as I know, that’s about it —
That‘s my story
And I’m “shitickin” to it!

My father was a proud Veteran
Of World War I.
Those Vets were well-appreciated
For what they’d done!
Pa was an artist, creative,
And Jack-of-all-trades;
Master of a few —
Good at so many things,
There seemed little he couldn’t do.

Ma was a creative, author,
And artist, thru ’n’ thru;
Poet, performer,

Trained concert pianist — Whew!
She loved to discuss religious principles
And read religious Lit, old ’n’ new —
Long as it agreed with
What she already “knew.”
She graduated with a BA
In Journalism too;
Quite an accomplishment
‘Cause Ma was sixty-two!

She was runnin’ me competition then,
For I was still in College too,
Strugglin’ to make it up
From the cult she’d put me thru …
If she only knew!
But her motto was:
Anything you can do,
I can do better;
I can do anything better than you!”
(And she meant it too!)

Refrain:
Hey, they call me a pretty city chick,

But Hillbilly music is my “shtick,”
And my Hillbilly ways are here to stick;
So you may as well “git” over it
And join in ‘n’ sing a bit
With this pretty city chick,
‘Cause shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.

Born in Mexican sticks in 1946,
I’ve dual citizenship
And that’s pretty hip.
Well, that’s my story
And I’m “shtickin’ ” to it:
“I’m a pretty city chick.”


*The following is an iPhone video of me in 2017 at age 71 performing the above lyrics at the California Writers Club — fifty years after escaping polygamy & Mormon fundamentalism. It’s a standup-comedy song I wrote called “I’m a Hit.” I recently “re-writ”  part of it and renamed it “Pretty City-Chick”:


 



 



(Continued July 23, 2018: “My Memoir: Ma, Pa, Me — And And Polygamy On-The-Down-Low: — Part 20–E”



~ Short Creek/ Colorado City, Arizona-Utah: “They Changed the Name of Our Hometown”

me-shortcreek
Photo of my Short Creek, Arizona/Utah Elementary School mixed-grade class of 1st-5th graders, taken when I was in first grade — two months before the 1953 Short Creek Raid.


Sing your song,
Dance your dance,
Tell your tale.
—Frank McCourt,
 Modern-day Dickens,
Author of best-selling classics:
Angela’s Ashes, ‘Tis, and Teacher Man




They Changed the Name of Our Hometown*

1— They changed the name of our hometown the other day,
But in the hearts of some Short Creek will always stay;
The cliffs so high, the valleys filled with memories —
How can they change a hometown’s name or verse to trees?

2— Oh, I’ve been asked a thousand times or more, I guess,
If from the town Short Creek I came; I answer Yes;
With head erect, I proudly say my hometown’s name;
But, since the change to Colorado City it ain’t the same.

3— When I was ten, my family left my dear hometown;
For Colonia LeBaron, Mexico, we were bound.
But Hurricane, Utah became our four-year camping ground;
Still, throughout the years, I can’t forget Short Creek, I’ve found.

CHORUS:
 I’ve been asked a thousand times or more,
If from Short Creek I came;
With head held high, I answer Yes,
So proud to say the name;
But since the change to Colorado City,
It’s not the same;
So in my heart, the name Short Creek
Will still remain.
Tag:
And, in my heart, they’ll never change
My hometown’s name!


*NOTE: Original lyrics by David Stubbs.
~Verse 3, plus line & word changes by Stephany Spencer
~~ Melody borrowed from Joe & Audrey Allison’s Classic Country song:
“He’ll Have to Go” — 
First line: Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone.

 


*In the following video, recorded March 3, 2018, I’m performing the above song, “They Changed the Name of Our Hometown,”  at the California Writer’s Club. Between nerves and lack of practice, I’ll be the first to say the rendition could use some work. I plan to eventually re-record and repost it. But this video gives an idea of how the melody goes.


 

 

~ Fred Morrow Plumbing, and Super-Savings on Sewer Sub-Meters!

Fred Morrow
Fred Morrow

Poets for Fred Morrow Plumbing,*
A
nd super-savings on Sewer Sub-Meters:
(He’s installed hundreds of these meter readers!)

First class, first choice
Contractor’s corporation —
In my humble opinion,
Best plumbing Co. in the nation!

I hired Fred Morrow
So I wouldn’t be sorry tomorrow;
Did my homework;
So I don’t repent in sorrow!

On April 4, 2018,
Morrow’s super-plumber Stal
Installed my sewer sub-meter “machine;”
‘Twas some of the best work I’ve ever seen!
If you want a good job done overall,
Fred Morrow Plumbing’s the company to call.
Want to save, all-in-all? Then I say, “Don’t stall”:

Call Fred Morrow services:
 You save on dollars plus time
And energy lost on disservices;
Because you can expect to get:

1- The best PRICE in town yet!
2- No scams, shams, nor sharks around:
3- The job done right when they hit your ground!
4- Savings on DWP’s secret sewer-service slam!
5- A no-problem-no-fault City Inspection!
  6- On-time arrival, completion, and job perfection!
7- PLUS timely follow-ups from friendly Fred!

Now, with all that said,
Fred Morrow gets an “A”
In my grade book today,
For doing his homework
The old-fashioned way:
His company doesn’t shirk;
They get high marks
for first-class work.

Yes, Fred’s a leader — a keeper;
His work ethics couldn’t be neater!
What’s more, Fred and his men
Are friendly, fit, trim, and thin.

You don’t believe me?
Do your homework on DWP
Sewer Sub-Meter Regulations and see.
And interview the whole Plumbing lot
Recommended for this job on Next Door and Yelp.
Then, like me, you may yell and cry, “Help!!”
Because you’ll get the opposite of what I got
With Fred Morrow’s Plumbing
Whom I ultimately sought.

He started his company in late 1970;
 Has around twenty-two employees presently;
I say, “Hire this incredulous hot entity!”
 He’s the only plumbing company with high integrity
That I’ve found around in years —
The only one lately that hasn’t left me
With problems, fears, and tears.

Hats off to Fred Morrow Plumbing,
And a BIG round of cheers!!
May this company be around
For many more years!

By Stephany Spencer
StephanySpencer.com

*Fred Morrow Plumbing: 818-376-6538
 FredMorrowPlumbing.com
16137 Valerio Street,
Van Nuys, California 91406


  • NOTE: I found the following book online. Am posting it here because a guy by the name of “Fred Morrow,” who owns “Fred Morrow Plumbing” — an attorney turned plumber — I thought was one of the protagonists in this story.

    After buying and reading the book on Kindle, I discovered my Google search had found the names “Fred” and “Morrow” in the novel and had somehow linked them with “Fred Morrow Plumbing,” the company I was doing research on.

    But a coincidence: The protagonist in the book IS much like Fred Morrow. However, his name is “Nate Morrow,” he owns his own plumbing company, has high integrity — and the “Fred” in Pemberton’s novel, it turns out, is the protagonist Rita’s uncle!

    I’m leaving this Book recommendation on my blog because I think anybody who knows Fred Morrow would find this book a fascinating read, to say the least! See the book’s title and a clip from the novel listed below:

    Regarding Rita – Google Books Result
    https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1459274555

    Morrow was supposed to meet her at her apartment, five minutes ago. Couldn’t these people … No point in activating Uncle Fred’s antenna, she told herself, but in the back of her mind, she knew Fred had little to do with it. She didn’t want … Fred wasn’t sitting on the front porch, and neither was the plumber. Suddenly fatigue …

    [PDF]

     

~ Do You Dig?

 

Do You Dig?
To find enlightenment
and better succeed in life’s journey
toward individuation and edification,
We might participate in
an inner archaeological dig.

Workshops to assist are found under
Soul-Searching Archaeology.
And are offered free at The College of Life
and Hard Knox University.
Do you “dig”?

These workshops include
a certain kind of digging
into our inner archaeological rigging
to discover, then uncover our intrinsic self —
our weaknesses, specialness, and gifts.

We may group these traits together
with other abilities, liabilities, and values
and map a course of action and direction
to weather our outer archaeological dig.

During our life’s exploration —
our search for purpose, meaning, and self —
We’ll often need to go within
to visit our inner “archaeological workshop”
and remove layers of crud,
sediment, and debris
as we make our way through
life’s University,
pursuing our goals to discover,
uncover, and achieve
self-fulfillment, individuation,
and self-actualization.

It’s responsibility and work,
an endeavor I’d like to shirk;
But seems a course worth taking,
a workshop in the making
for avid, tripping, soul-searching
archaeologists like me.
Do you “dig”?

~ Pt 19-C: Esther LeBaron Spencer, Me, and More Perils of Polygamy

My Memoir, Part 19-C: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer —
 And More Perils of Polygamy

me-in-red-blouse-15
Beulah Stephany Spencer-LeBaron in 1962, age 16, on our “ranch” in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico.


cactus-and-adobe-hut



“Nearly all men can stand adversity,
but if you want to test a man’s character,
give him power.”
Abraham Lincoln


I left off in “My Memoir: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And More Perils of Polygamy — Part 19-B” commenting:

In Homer Babbitt’s kiss
There was no connubial bliss,
Though that was my very first kiss!
And my very first date …
Yet, barely a kiss and barely a date.
Still, Ervil prophesied he was my fate!

And now I wax into half-assed poetry,
Because no matter how “Homely Homer” kissed me,
I would’ve missed marital bliss, believe me,
Because despite Ervil’s wheelings ‘n’ dealings,
I felt no friendly feelings
For this pockmarked Mormon Mister.
He could go marry my sister!!

In reality, my love-sick stomach was reeling:
Because, when it came to my “celestial” sealing,
I longed to be kissing Bill Tucker,
Not this pock-marred, scarred-faced fucker!

Talk about an upcoming frigid Miss
In a marriage devoid of connubial bliss,
Because she was stuck in bed with
A man she couldn’t kiss
And a marriage missing luster,
Thanks to Ervil, the fuckin’ fuck-Buster!

But, to further forward his meddlin’,
While my present and future peddlin’,
Evil Ervil, chief head of “Cult LeBaron,”
Called my parents to a meetin’ wherein
I could secretly slip out the back
To meet my soon-to-be “quack”/spouse
Without my parents about the house
To smell the lousy “louse” trap
Set behind their manipulated back
To catch ‘n’ mate their poor little “mouse,”
And to a polygamist male espouse!

All I remember about my miserable meet-up
With my arranged husband-to-be, in this secret prenup,
Is being surrounded by a desert mesquite-cacti outback,
In homely Homer’s hidden black Cadillac,
And both of us blushing to beat the band
As we self-consciously took each other’s hand —

The first time I’d ever been alone with a man!
And now we were expected to take a stand
And solemnly join our compromised lives …
By telling each other conjured-up lies —
Expected to make our wedding vows …
But I could not my passions arouse.

With heated and flushing countenance
Completely bathed in moonlight intense,
We couldn’t hide how uncomfortable we felt
As Homer stood near me and then knelt.
Being together alone that night
Simply and completely did not feel right!

Homer was unable to utter a word
In this setting so “utter”-ly absurd:
I, a naïve sixteen-year-old,
But soon a child bride to be;
He a marred-faced American-Mexican
Going on forty-three.

We two didn’t even know each other.
We felt more like sister and brother.
We’d never been together before,
Nor even been introduced afore
That secret evening rendezvous
When this man I never even knew
Suddenly showed up at my door.
… And now I’ll close down; I’ll say no more,
But promise next week more trivia galore!

(Continued in “My Memoir: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And More Perils of Polygamy — Part 19-D”)



The following video is an excellent depiction of my upbringing in Mormon fundamentalism.

~ My Poem: Life’s Dash

LIFE’S DASH

My cousin, the famous Eddie Le Baron


“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 Beulah Stephany Spencer-LeBaron

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,
O
r 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.

~ by Alton Maiden, 1995 ~

Visit Alton Maiden on Twitter

 *Don’t be so quick to judge a player by his 40 time.

Print

  • Front Office View
  • Published: Feb. 24, 2011 at 02:58 p.m.
  • Updated: Aug. 3, 2012 at 10:31 a.m.
  • 0 Likes  |  0 Comments
    Ben Liebenberg / NFL
    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.
    Fastest 40s at combine since 2006 (top five)
    Player Year Time
    Chris Johnson 2006 4.24
    Jacoby Ford 2010 4.28
    Yamon Figurs 2007 4.30
    Darrius Heyward-Bey 2009 4.30
    Tye Hill 2006 4.30

    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.

    Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi.

    Print


    Spotlight

    Another Dash Poem/Song:

    ~ My Review of the California Writers Club Anniversary Anthology, “Cascade of Pearls”

     

    Product Details
    California Writers Club Anniversary Anthology


    writing-man-with-pen-etc

      Ode to The California Writers Club:
    The California Writers Club is our oyster, 
    And we writers the pearls being polished within her.
    Stephany Spencer  2016 

    pearl in oyster

     2016 marked the 30th anniversary —
    The Pearl Anniversary of the California Writers Club,
    San Fernando Valley Branch.
    For thirty years, this club has been our oyster ranch,

     And we members pearls growing within her dance.
    Polishing and developing daily our word-writing romance,
    Some works now fairly sparkle and glimmer,

    Like well-crafted word pearls enhanced till they glitter,
    Reflecting our club’s lively oyster-shell shimmer.
    So thanks, California Writers Club —
    Thanks for letting us join your Oyster-Ranch “dinner.”

    Stephany Spencer 2016



    I’m so excited to tell you my California Writers Club, San Fernando Valley Branch, has produced another Anthology, this one in honor of our club’s 30th anniversary. 

     The following quote, taken from the Anthology’s Introductory pages, sizes up our Anniversary Anthology well:

    “This collection is a testimony to the power of words, and to those gifted writers who have run them together like strands of precious pearls. Essay, poem, short story — each one sings out and captures our imagination … and our heart.” Victoria Zackheim (Author, Anthologist, Playwright, Educator)

    “Through this anthology of short stories, imaginings, and poems,” says CWC Editor, Rita Keeley Brown, “our current members share their adventure of writing.” 

    A quote from Truman Capote, taken from the back cover of the  anthology, aptly sums it up: “What I am [we are] trying to achieve is a voice sitting by the fireplace telling you a story on a winter’s evening.”

    I’m so proud to say, I, myself, got my act together, followed my poem’s advice, “Dare to fail, or fail to dare do well,” and submitted three poems for this Anniversary Anthology.

    When you buy our work of wonders, you’ll see these entries, as well as many more pieces written and submitted by our club’s gifted and creative writers.

    Below is the cover of our Anniversary Anthology, “Cascade of Pearls,”  sold on Amazon.com.

    Here’s hoping you enjoy it as much as I who am presently snuggled up by the fireplace in the process of reading and reaping the rewards of time well spent within its pages.  ~ Stephany Spencer

     



    Product Details

    Cascade of Pearls

    May 15, 2017

    by San Fernando Valley, California Writers Club

    Paperback

    Get it by Tomorrow, Aug 3
    FREE Shipping on eligible orders
    More Buying Choices

    $14.95(12 used & new offers)



    Here are two samples of work composed by Nance Crawford, one of the amazing authors and poets in our California writers club. Enjoy!




     

    ~ Pt 1–18: My Mother Esther LeBaron Spencer, Me, and Mormon Polygamist Cults Unmasked

    PART 1

    My Memoir:

    My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer

    My Maternal Grandparents:

    Maud Lucinda McDonald & Alma Dayer LeBaron



    “Mother! For love of thee it was begun;

    In thy most honored name today ’tis done.

    And though all earthly cares must cease

    In that fair land of everlasting peace,

    Love aye is one, and they who love are one;

    Time cannot end what God in time begun;

    And thou wilt joy e’en in thine endless rest,

    To know thy child obeys thy last behest”

    A Nameless Nobleman

    Jane G. Austin 1881*

    *(I was told Jane Goodwin Austin is a great-grand-daughter a-number-of-places-removed of Dr. Francis LeBaron, and is my distant cousin.)





    The world called her “Plyg.” We called her “Mother,” or “Mama” — Daddy called her “Esther,” “Mother,” or “Ma” — as in “Go ask yer Ma.”

    My mama, Esther LeBaron Spencer, was born August 1, 1921, in Colonia Pacheco, Chihuahua, a small Mormon colony in Old Mexico. And died in 2013, at age 92, in Cancun, Mexico — I believe.

    She was the middle child of thirteen children born to Mormon fundamentalist Americans Maud Lucinda McDonald and Alma Dayer LeBaron — my maternal grandparents.

    Colonia Pacheco was colonized around the turn of the 20th century by American Mormon polygynists/ polygamists who crossed over the United States’ border to Mexico seeking refuge from prosecution when in 1862 the US government passed a law against polygamy.

    When Brigham Young said, “This is the place,” the land of Utah belonged to Mexico. Polygamy was not prosecuted there unless the first wife filed a complaint.

    But the Mormons’ new “safe haven” didn’t last long: The United States went to war with Mexico in 1846, won the battle in 1848, and the Utah Territory was ceded to the US in 1850 as part of the spoils.

    This meant Brigham Young’s polygamist Mormon church, much to their dismay, was once again under US law! So once again under fire to discard the practice of polygamy.

    In fact, by this date, the US Government was set to confiscate the Mormon church’s lands, property, money, and even their right to be called a church if they didn’t remove from their religious tenants this illegal, barbaric institution!

    So Wilford Woodruff, the presiding President/Prophet of the The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS church, was utterly forced to draw up “The Manifesto of 1890,” a mandate and “revelation from God” outlawing polygamy in the Mormon church.

    This explains why, then, before Mother was born, her parents/ my grandparents had left the United States to raise their family in Mexico: They intended to live “the law of plural marriage.” So this required, for their safety, they leave the Victorian Americans and join other Mormon fundamentalists in Mexico.

    My grandparents would not discontinue the practice of polygamy, despite the “Manifesto of 1890,” because they believed it was wrong for the Mormon church to have outlawed polygamy, no matter what, given their Prophet Joseph Smith had said that it must be lived to attain the highest degree of glory in the hereafter.

    With this stance, Mother’s parents became outlaws/laws unto themselves, because they, along with a few other zealot Mormons, thought the Mormon church had fallen away from Joseph Smith’s true teachings.

    Therefore, they didn’t intend to go along with the new “revelation” and mandates regarding plural marriage set in 1890 by the Mormon church Prophet, Wilford Woodruff, and his Quarm of Twelve Apostles.



     NOTE: The following lyrics consist of a tongue-in-cheek poem/ song I wrote. It is posted on my Website, but I’ve included it in this blog because it has a couple of stanzas about Mama: 

     Pretty City-Chick

    The following is

    A Hee-ha Comedy Song —

    A Bit o’ Bio in Verse,

    Fer Better er Worse —

    With Truth ‘n’ Exaggeration

    Interspersed:

    Pretty City-Chick

    (By Stephany Spencer C 2016)

    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

    in 1946.

    I’ve dual citizenship,

    And now I’m a city chick.

    I’m an all-American-mongrel,

    Apple-pie girl —

    Hines-57 mixed-up mutt,

    With apple pie stickin’

    To my butt ’n’ gut;

    But red-necked

    Reactionary ignoramuses

    Ain’t my thing.

    I came for music

    And to sing!

    Yeah, I’m an

    All-American-Mexican,

    Scotch-Irish “Mick”,

    With Welch ’n’ English,

    So, sure, I’m a Brit;

    With French, German,

    And Mohawk Indian a bit.

    If there’s no Tom Slick

    Hidin’ in the pit,

    Far as I know,

    That’s about it —

    That’s my story

    And I’m shtickin’ to it!

    My father was

    A proud Veteran

    Of World War I.

    Those Vets were

    Well-appreciated

    For what they’d done!

    Pa was an artist, creative,

    And Jack-of-all-trades;

    Master of a few —

    Good at so many things,

    There was little

    He couldn’t do.

    Ma was a creative,

    Author and artist,

    thru ’n’ thru;

    Poet, performer,

    Trained concert pianist —

    Whew!

    She loved to discuss

    Religious principles, too,

    And read religious Lit,

    Old and new —

    Long as it agreed

    With what she

    Already “knew.”

    She graduated with a BA

    In Journalism too;

    Quite an accomplishment

    ‘Cause Mom was sixty-two!

    She was runnin’ me

    Competition then,

    For I was still in College too,

    Strugglin’ to make it up

    From the cult

    She’d put me thru …

    If she only knew!

    But her motto was:

    Anything you can do,

    I can do better;

    I can do anything

    Better than you!”

    (And she meant it too!)

    Refrain:

     Hey, they call me  

    “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 hip chick,

    And shit-kickin’ music

    Is my shtick.

    Born in Mexican sticks

    In 1946,

    I’ve dual citizenship

    And that’s pretty hip.

    Well, that’s my story,

    And I’m shtickin’ to it;

    I’m pretty city-chick.

    (By Stephany Spencer C 2015)



    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 edited and re-wrote part of it):





    PART 2

    My Memoir:

    My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer

    LeBaron passport pic

    1920 Passport Picture of Alma Dayer LeBaron & Maud Lucinda McDonald Emerson de LeBaron & family: Children, from left to right: Ben, Alma, Wesley, Irene, Lucinda, Jenny



    “My mother was the source

    from which I derived

    the guiding principles of my life.”

    John Wesley



    left off in Part One where Mama’s parents, Alma Dayer and Maud Lucinda McDonald LeBaron, didn’t agree with the mainline Mormon church’s new mandate regarding polygamy. Why?  Because the Prophet Joseph Smith had given a commandment from God (stated in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132) that the Saints must live Plural Marriage or be damned. In other words, Joseph Smith had set his followers up to suffer a life of hell — which, for most people, is all living polygamy is: A living hell.

    Said Mama, in reference to my grandparents’ stance on the Mormon Manifestos of 1890 and 1904:

    “Ma ‘n’ Pa didn’t believe it was right for the Mormon church to outlaw polygamy, given the Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied it must be lived to attain the highest degree of glory in the Hereafter! So they joined ranks with a fledgling Mormon fundamentalist movement that insisted on followin’ the Prophet Joseph Smith’s revelation commanding they live polygamy or be damned.

    “They’d follow this commandment even if it meant they and the rest of their Mormon brethren would once more be driven from their homes and lands, tarred ‘n’ feathered, stripped of their financial assets, and thrown out of the country, jailed, or killed. You see, Ma ‘n’ Pa were stalwarts who’d lay down their lives for ‘the gospel’ … as would I,” proclaimed Mama.

    As I said in last week’s blog, I only wish my self-righteous, stoic grandparents, parents, and the rest of the rebel Mormons who chose (and still choose) to continue living polygamy would’ve been/ would be half as strict about living Christian and other Scriptural doctrines taught by their self-proclaimed Prophet Joseph Smith as they were/are about living polygamy!

    It makes me wonder what it was about the original many thousands of Mormon people who chose to follow such as Joseph Smith! In that same vein, I also wonder what it was/is about the zealot Mormon fundamentalists who believe they are “God’s chosen handful” and who were/are so determined, still, to continue to have more than one wife, come hell or high water!

    Because most Mormons saw the wisdom and practicality of giving up plural marriage and abiding by US law. And they also saw the practicality of following their Prophet Wilford Woodruff’s new “revelation” that discontinued polygamy in the LDS church … for the time being, that is … unfortunately, however, not for the hereafter!!

    Getting back to the main story, Mama told me: “My parents, left the US and moved to the Mormon colonies in Old Mexico before I was born ’cause they intended to live ‘the Holy and God-ordained law of Plural Marriage’.

    “However, after I was born, in 1921, due to financial circumstances, they had to move back to ‘The States.’ There, Pa bought us a home in the small, southern, agrarian Mormon town of La Verkin, Utah, — one where we could plant our own orchard ‘n’ garden … and keep a goat too. I was still a baby then.

    “While there, Pa found the plural wife he’d been lookin’ for — pretty eighteen-year-old Onie Jones. He married her soon after he convinced Ma of the righteousness of taking Onie as his plural wife. Though the three of them did their best to keep this plural marriage a secret, word soon got out in that small Utah town.

    “Not long after that, a friend informed my father a Mormon mob was gatherin’ to lynch him! So he, Ma, ‘n’ Onie grabbed us kids in the dead of night ‘n’ fled back over the Mexican border to live in the Mormon colonies in Old Mexico again.

    It was 1923 by then. If my parents hadn’t fled when they did, it’s said the mainline Mormons would’ve done them in … because they felt my parents had done THEM in by ignorin’ their church’s mandate against polygamy.

    “You see, in 1904, to please the US government and its citizens, and to show they respected the laws of the land, the LDS church had finally instigated a second Manifesto outlawing polygamy in their church:  From ‘The Manifesto of 1890’ to ‘The Manifesto of 1904,’ there’d been a moratorium on polygamy in the LDS church, which allowed Mormons to get used to the new anti-polygamy regulations.

    “But,” continued Mama, “by 1904, those still livin’ polygamy had to either get rid of their plural wives or get out of the country; i.e., move to Old Mexico. Anyone takin’ a plural wife after 1904 would not only be excommunicated from the LDS church ‘n’ considered an apostate, but they’d also be jailed.

    ” My father was one of the first men to disregard the Mormon church’s new Manifesto of 1904: He took a plural wife in 1923 (because he believed God’s laws came ahead of the laws of the land). So Ma ‘n’ Pa were excommunicated and disfellowshipped from their beloved church.”

    You see, by 1923, polygamy was more than ever frowned upon among the mainstream Mormons: It threatened the safety and solitude they had finally gained, among other things.

    Therefore, they wanted Dayer LeBaron and his two wives OUT of their midst — if only to show other Mormons what would happen, should they choose to follow Dayer’s example — The insurrection wherein he continued to take plural wives despite the Mormon church’s modern, updated doctrinal revelation and mandate regarding Joseph Smith’s “Holy Principle of Plural Marriage.”



    PART 3

    My Memoir:

    My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer

    Mormon colonies

    A family of Mormon colonists around the turn of the 20th Century

    “Mother is the bank where we deposit

    all our hurts and worries.”

    Author unknown



    As I mentioned in Part Two of “My Mama,” by the advent of the 1900s, the US government had resorted to extreme pressure to get the Mormon church to discontinue its institution of polygamy — a relic of barbarism and a threat to our country that was unfortunately and inadvertently introduced by Joseph Smith in the mid 1800s, as delineated in the “Doctrine and Covenants,” Section 132 (Mormon Scriptures).

    In reference to this, Mama, years ago, explained to me: “To avert further travails, the LDS church had begun implementin’ stringent measures to wipe out plural marriage within its membership so as to protect its people, church, and Mormon church properties.

    “Passin’ of the second Mormon Manifesto in 1904 meant Pa, ‘n’ his two wives, ‘n’ children, were no longer welcome in the Mormon colonies where my family had fled for refuge in 1923 — after barely outsmarting a mainstream Mormon mob, arrest, ‘n’ bein’ thrown into a Utah jail for havin’ entered into polygamy. 

    “My Ma, Pa, ‘n’ family had lived in various Mormon colonies in Mexico previously, goin’ back ‘n’ forth between them and the US a number of times, over the years. 

    “But this time, when we come back, my parents had gone against the Mormon Manifestos of both 1890 and 1904: They’d taken a plural wife, ‘n’ thereby were considered by the church to be ‘In a state of apostasy.’ 

    “That meant our family was now considered apostates. So we was disfellowshipped from our Church ‘n’ social activities in the Mormon colonies,” continued Mama.”

    “Instead of bein’ accepted with open arms, as he was in the past when he was with his grandfather Benjamin F. Johnson [who was a key figure in developing the Mormon colonies in Mexico], Pa was now an enigma.

    “So our family became persecuted ‘n’ ostracized — The church’s way of discouraging other men from followin’ my father’s example of takin’ multiple wives.”

    “In other words, since the Mormon moratorium on polygamy was o’er by 1904, my parents’ havin’ gone against the LDS church’s updated marriage law now meant their raisin’ us kids in a terrible atmosphere of mainstream Mormon scapegoatin’ ‘n’ rejection — wherever they chose to settle in ‘Mormonland.’

    “It was during the Great Depression ‘n’ World War II era. Them two calamities affected our family, ‘n’ also Pa’s ability to get enough well-payin’ work in “The States.” 

    “So our family was endurin’ extreme poverty, ” Mama opined. “Ma ‘n’ Pa couldn’t afford to move their large family somewhere else, even if they’d decided to remove us kids from the terrible ostracization ‘n’ persecution they found the small Mormon colonies now meted out on ‘specially my eldest siblings!”

    So the Mormon colonies that had once been a place of refuge for Mormon polygamists had, by 1923, become the opposite: A place of persecution and ostracization for polygamists — if they had entered into polygamy after 1904, that is.

    “Those who already had more than one wife BEFORE the Manifesto of 1904, were NOT rejected ‘n’ persecuted as my Pa, Dayer LeBaron, ‘n’ his family was!” Mother explained.

    “We were ostracized ’cause my father was the only man in the Mormon colonies,” she continued, “who went ahead ‘n’ took a plural wife after 1904, despite the church’s mandates.”

    So that was the situation my grandparents found themselves in when they took their family back to Colonia Juarez, Mexico, thinking they were settling in the best place possible to raise their kids. As it turned out, it was the worst place possible!!

    But at least, having moved to Old Mexico, their polygamous family was protected by tolerant Mexican marriage laws, when it came to polygamy — just not by tolerant LDS Mormon marriage laws.

    That said, being “Plygs,” my grandparents simply should not have been bringing up their children in a mainstream Mormon colony where polygamy was no longer tolerated — if they knew what was best for them! But they didn’t.



    PART 4

    My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer

    LeBaron homestead.jpeg

    Mama’s home in Colonia Juraez, Chihuahua, México


    “God could not be everywhere,

    so he made mothers.”

     (old Jewish proverb)



    As I related in the previous blog, Mama’s family returned to settle in the Mormon colonies in Mexico in 1924. Mama was around two-and-a-half years old at the time my grandparents and Aunt Onie fled the United States, barely outsmarting a mainline Mormon mob, arrest, and being thrown into a Utah jail for having broken the law by entering into polygamy.

    “My family had lived in various Mormon colonies in Mexico previously,” Mama told me, “goin’ back and forth between them and the United States a number of times over the years.

    “By our return in 1924, Pa had been able to buy a large fixer-upper home in the poorest section of Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. It was one of the homes abandoned by Mormon colonists who fled back to the United States to avoid the catastrophes of the Mexican Revolutionary War of 1910.

    “Bein’ a pretty good handyman, Papa, along with the help of my three young brothers, Ben, Wesley, and Alma, and some cheap Mexican laborers, was able to soon fix the home up enough to live in.

      “We were lucky we could afford even that piece of property to house Papa’s two wives and soon-to-be ten children — for your Grandma was expectin’ her ninth child, Ervil … and Aunt Onie was pregnant too.

    “In 1929, five years after our family moved to Colonia Juarez, the United States’ Stock Market crashed. Many people lost all their money, and huge numbers of people were out of work. It was hard for Pa to find any payin’ jobs in the terrible economic depression that had set in. 

    “So our family was stuck livin’ in the Mormon colonies where we were excoriated and rejected. Every day, on the way home from school, mainstream Mormon kids would call us Mormon fundamentalist kids horrible names, throw rocks and sticks at us, and chase us home, tryin’ to beat us up.

    We didn’t understand why they would do this, because some of them, though not excommunicated from the Mormon church, were kids of polygamists, themselves! Or their grandparents had been polygamists — before The Manifesto of 1890 outlawed polygamy in the Mormon church.

    “Most adults in town just looked the other way and let it happen … Let their kids beat us up and call us horrid names. Some adults even encouraged the children to harass and molest us. 

    But, despite all this,  Mama and Papa had hoped their children would eventually be accepted back into the social setting in Colonia Juarez, thinkin’ it was still the best place to raise their kids.

    “Unfortunately, not till I was in eighth grade did the Mormon colonies let up on some of their ostracization toward the LeBaron family … Partly ’cause they’d seen what this terrible persecution had done to my older siblings.

    “But by then, my elder siblings had suffered from seven to eleven years of heavy rejection and intolerance — the treatment given the worst outcasts and scapegoats in Mormondom,” Mama moaned.

    Really sad, I say! One of those things that should never happen to any child! And unfortunately, it only added to what Mother and her siblings already had suffered growing up in their stoic, fanatically religious Mormon orthodox family — with a crackpot father at the helm, besides.

    But to top it all off, Grandpa Dayer was often absent months at a time, struggling to make a living working in the United States doing odd jobs, and painting houses — or whatever else he could do to bring in money. (As I mentioned before, Mexican law does not allow Americans to earn a wage in Mexico, even though they have children born there!)

    It was extremely hard for Grandpa Alma Dayer LeBaron to support his two huge, constantly expanding and growing young families, especially between the years of 1929 and 1946 — the years of the Great Depression in the United States and World War II.

    Needless to say, what happens in the US also affects its neighbors south of the border. And so, against this backdrop of dire economic straitjacketing, Grandpa, his two wives, and their swarm of young children and teenagers were all living under the same roof for seven years.

    I don’t know how many children the two wives ultimately had, during the seven years they lived in “the big house.” I only know that Grandmother already had eight children and another soon to be on the way when Grandfather married Onie as his plural wife in 1923.

    Among Mormon fundamentalists, the practice of birth control was a mortal sin. So altogether, Grandma bore Grandpa thirteen children, and Aunt Onie bore him six — before she left him. (More on that later.)

    I’ll leave you to a guesstimate of how many adults, children, and babies in diapers were housed altogether, under one roof, before Grandfather could finally afford to buy a separate “roof” for his second family!



    PART 5

    My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer

    IMG_6326

    My beautiful mother, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer


    Juarez Stake Academy

    (Jr. High/High School of Colonia Juarez, México)



    “My mama is so good to me,

    She works for me each day,

    So She can buy me food and clothes,

    And many toys for play.

    I love my mama,

    Yes, I do, my mama good and kind;

    And if I looked and looked,

    No better mama could I find.”

    (Author unknown — Children’s song)




    As a kid, I used to ask Mama what her life was like when she was a kid. Fundamentalist Mormon “Saints” believe they are/are supposed to be perfect. So Mama mostly only told me about the many good things in her life as she was growing up. But she sometimes would admit to some bad things that happened too.

    For example: In answer to my questions about her childhood, Mama exclaimed: “I loved my life! It couldn’t have been more perfect! The persecution my older brothers ‘n’ sisters had to suffer had let up a lot by the time I was of school-age. And Pa only gave me one spankin’ in all my life — which I deserved! [She wouldn’t tell me what she did to deserve it.]

    “However, I still experienced feelings of low self-worth ‘n’ excruciating shame … which I always worked hard to try to overcome. Even though my siblings ‘n’ I were top students at Juarez Stake Academy [Her High School’s name], it still really affected my self-esteem ’cause I grew up with my family bein’ looked down upon ‘n’ not bein’ accepted.

    “The LDS Stake President ‘n’ Superintendent of our school system said my brother Ben was the brightest student ever to have gone through the Juarez Stake Academy!” [It was a very small-town High School, to be sure, in the early to mid-1900s, when Mother and her siblings attended this Mormon colony’s public schools. So not too much competition.]

    Mother often talked about “The-best this” and “The-best that!” (This is how I was raised!) The jury is still out on whether Uncle Ben still holds that title — or if he ever held it at all! But I always heard about how brilliant he was — before he had the mental breakdown and schizophrenia/bipolar disease set in.

    Mama continued: “So despite how well us LeBaron kids did in school, my parents were called ‘apostates.’ And people in the Mormon colonies were told to not associate with us, other than for doin’ business.

    “Ma ‘n’ Pa didn’t, therefore, go to church, though they believed in Mormonism. Even so, us kids went to the mainline Mormon colony’s only Church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There, we were taught the revisionist Mormon doctrines: That polygamy was now a sin, for example … ‘n’ they taught me my parents were sinners.

    “Yet, since my parents were Mormon fundamentalists, at home we were taught the orthodox Mormon doctrines — The Mormon beliefs lived before the Manifesto of 1890.

    “It was confusing to have my ma ‘n’ pa pointin’ out how the Mormon church was now out of order …  all the while at the LDS church I was goin’ to, my siblings ‘n’ I were taught our parents were out of order ‘n’ on the wrong path — ‘n’ therefore goin’ against God ‘n’ God’s leaders — so headed for hell!

    “But even though Pa had more than one wife, ‘n’ people of my same faith were makin’ fun of our family ‘n’ my father, they respected Mother’s piano teachin’ ‘n’ playin’ … And my own piano expertise, too … ’cause Ma was the best piano teacher … ‘n’ I was the best pianist in the colonies!”

    [There was at least one other outstanding pianist back then in the Mormon Colonies in Mexico: The one who taught Mother to play Piano Concertos, etc. (Ione Fenn?) — so Mother could accompany a Symphony Orchestra performing Piano Concertos. I don’t recall hearing much about this expert pianist and piano teacher … or whether she was really “the best”!]

    But let’s let Mama continue: *”So I grew up with mixed feelings: On the one hand, I knew I was the best ‘n’ most outstanding girl in town — And for that matter, in all of Mormondom.


    *”How could I be sure of this? ‘Cause whenever church Apostles ‘n’ other church leaders visited our colony, they would tell us the Mormons of Colonia Juarez were the very best ‘n’ purest of all the Mormons they met in any other Mormon town or city.

    “And I knew I was the best ‘n’ purest of all the girls ‘n’ women in Colonia Juarez. So that’s how I knew I was the best ‘n’ most perfect woman in the whole world — given that Mormon women are better, to begin with, than women of the world …

    “So, as I said before, I knew I was the best ‘n’ purest of all them Mormon women. [I will enlarge upon this in a later blog. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on it. LOL!]

    “But on the other hand, I came to feel like my family ‘n’ I were the lowest people in town — due to how so many people talked ’bout us, ‘n’ shamed ‘n’ shunned us.

    “Still, when my two older siblings, Ben ‘n’ Lucinda, went crazy, that added more ridicule, ostracization, ‘n’ shame to our family. [In those backward days, especially in small towns, the mentally ill weren’t looked upon kindly.]

    “Even so, and in spite of all our sorrows ‘n’ religious confusion, how I loved playin’ with ‘n’ doin’ things with my half-sisters, Aunt Onie’s children — Barbara, Clara, Verla, and Ilene. And how I loved bein’ the only girl in the middle of my own seven brothers: Ben, Wesley, Alma, Joel, Ervil, Floren, and Verlan. 


     Please note: When I’m quoting things Mother said, way back when, please don’t think, by any means, that I agree with all her ideas or ways of thinking.

    That’s but the way I was raised. However, it was a long time ago, and I have changed a lot since then (Let’s hope!) — not only in my values, but in my lack of prejudice, and in my education, rationality, and understanding also.

    I’m sure Mother changed some in her outlook, beliefs, and values, too, over the years. Since I left her cult and moved away, I wasn’t around her a lot in her last forty-six years.

    But the few times I had spoken to or seen her during that time of estrangement, I could only wonder how she never saw through the numerous fallacies she preached and believed in so zealously: Things such as polygamy, for example — even though she was too jealous to live polygamy, herself (according to Daddy).



    PART 6

    My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer

    ma at 14

    My mama, Esther LeBaron-McDonald, at age 14



    “People are what their mothers make them.”

    Ralph Waldo Emerson



    I left off in last week’s blog where Mama had exclaimed how, despite persecution and her own religious confusion, she had wonderful times doing things with her half-sisters, Aunt Onie’s children. And had also loved being not only the middle child but the only girl in the middle of seven brothers: Ben, Wesley, and Alma were born before Mama. After her came Joel, Ervil, Floren, and Verlan.

    Mama explained to me, as I continued to question her about her life growing up:

    “Ma had four girls. But my sister Jenny died at age six from eatin’ poison mistletoe berries. I’d just turned four. After we arrived home from Jenny’s burial site, some Mormon neighbors met us with food ‘n’ flowers. I told them, ‘We left Jenny up there on the hill!!’ “

    “Ma couldn’t bear to discipline me after losin’ Jenny so I was spoiled rotten. Then I was pampered even more after Ma had twins, David ‘n’ Mary — who also died. I was eleven by then. They were the last kids she bore … but they were ‘Blue babies:’ The cord was wrapped ’round their necks, so they strangled to death. 

    “Irene, my parents’ oldest child,” continued Mama, somberly: “was nine years my senior. She grew up ‘n’ left home by the time I was ten. And Lucinda, five years my senior, had a nervous breakdown at age seventeen. She was in a mental institution, off ‘n’ on, after that — till years later she had to be institutionalized for the remainder of her life. When I asked Mama why she went crazy, she was in one of her rare moments of utter honesty as see responded to my query:

     “I was twelve when my gifted, artistic, ‘n’ highly sensitive sister Lucinda had her first mental breakdown. What broke her was hearin’ one of her Mormon teachers (who was also the Mormon Stake President of Colonia Juarez) runnin’ her father down to her High School class.

    “He didn’t know she was in the back of the room. Among other things, he told the class: ‘Lucinda’s father, Dayer LeBaron’s a crazy crackpot … a bad man … an apostate! He’s goin’ to hell … ‘n’ may even be a son of perdition.’ [The worst thing you can be in Mormondom!]

    “But what also lead to your Aunt Lucinda’s emotional breakdown,” Mama added, “was she’d gone into the bathroom medicine cabinet ‘n’ secretly taken a bunch of pills to try to start her period. The pills made her deathly sick!

    “Eventually, Ma ‘n’ Pa found she was pregnant. So Pa beat the livin’ daylights out of her. Why? Because she’d lost her virginity … and was now gunna have a bastard baby who was not only part Mexican, but its father wasn’t even Mormon! So Lucinda had brought even more shame on our despised ‘n’ denigrated family!

    “After Lucinda went crazy, Pa beat her relentlessly … tryin’ to beat the devil out of her. Evil spirits had taken her over: She’d been turned over to ‘the buffetings of Satan,’ due to her transgressions ‘n’ fornication.”

    Mama never told me the rest of the story — Just one more story that was covered up so the iconoclastic “Mexico LeBarons” would look like “A godly family with a saintly mission.”

    “Needless to say,” Mama continued, “When Lucinda went crazy, your grandma spoiled me even more. The loss of Jenny, then my oldest sister leavin’ home … ‘n’ now Lucinda goin’ out of her mind, caused Ma to treat me with kid gloves ‘n’ coddle me like a treasure beyond measure!

    “Besides, I was her only daughter left at home. Gettin’ top grades at school, along with my looks ‘n’ charms … ‘n’ playin’ difficult Piano Concertos like Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto in C Sharp Minor,” was helpin’ to make our family look better. Ma valued me for that too.

    “I was like the Savior of the family, so to speak. So, though I was the middle child, I wasn’t insignificant the way a middle child often is … especially since I was the only girl ‘mongst all them boys!”


    * Please note: When I quote/ paraphrase things Mother said, way back when, please don’t think I agree, by any means, with all her ideas or ways of thinking and doing.

    That’s the way I was raised. But that was a long time ago. Since then, I have routed out a lot of these backward beliefs, and ways of thinking, and behaving — Let’s hope! — Not only in my values but in my lack of prejudice, as well as in my rationality and understanding.

    Perhaps Mama even changed a bit, in her outlook and values, too, before she died at age ninety-two. I wasn’t around to see.



    PART 7

    My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer

    ma's face

    My pretty Mama (Esther LeBaron-McDonald de Spencer)

    “The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”

    Harriet Ward Beecher



    We left off last week where I was questioning Mama about her childhood. Let’s continue with her telling me the following unbelievable coincidence:  

    “Because I had so much fun with my seven brothers when I was growin’ up,” she exclaimed, “I wanted to have seven boys in a row when I got married. Instead, I got seven girls in a row! [Doris, Beulah/Stephany, Sharon, Judith, Mary, Pauline, ‘n’ Nola]. That just shows ‘to-go-you’: Be careful what you wish for!”

    Then she continued, “Aunt Onie [Mama’s father’s plural wife] ‘n’ her daughters ‘n’ my two older sisters, Irene ‘n’ Lucinda, did most of the upkeep of the home ‘n’ the care of the kids, while your Grandma was busy spoilin’ me … ‘n’ teachin’ piano lessons to help your Grandpa feed ‘n’ support his two wives ‘n’ all his kids.

    “Besides teachin’ piano lessons there, in Colonia Juarez, where I was raised,” Mama continued, “Mama/ your grandma was oft’ times gone one or two days at a time, twice a week (up to five days a week sometimes!) teachin’ piano lessons in the nearby Mormon colonies. 

    “Even so, she let me out of all the housework ‘n’ other chores ‘n’ responsibilities about the home ‘n’ yard — long as I studied hard to get top grades, went to my piano lessons, ‘n’ practiced the piano long hours  — so I could perform outstanding piano solos in public, to impress our Mormon oppressors, ‘n’ make our family look better in the eyes of the town’s people who always gossiped about us ‘n’ put us down.

    “Consequently, “Mama laughed, “much to your Pa’s aggravation ‘n’ disappointment, once he married me, he discovered I didn’t know how to be a homemaker!

     All I knew how to do was be a pianist ‘n’ scholar … and artist, ‘n’ poet, ‘n ‘writer. At twenty-two, when I married your Pa, I could barely make a bed, let alone bake bread!

    “When your Pa complained to your grandma that I didn’t know how to boil water, let alone bake beans, she merely retorted, ‘Ah, well … She’s got plenty of years ahead to learn them things!’ “

    But the upside is Mama was the top student in her small, mostly Mormon 8th-grade graduating class. Thus she got to give the Valedictory Address! 

    “And, as part of our graduating program, I also played a difficult piano solo, “The Fawns,” Mama proudly informed me. “Plus I harmonized in a duet I sang with another student  — while my mama accompanied us on the piano … I was only thirteen years old!

    But my gettin’ so many important parts in our graduation program, ‘n’ outdoin’ all the other Mormon kids that were supposed to be so much better than me and my polygamist family, created envy ‘n’ aggravation amongst the Mormon colonists who’d been so busy runnin’ us LeBarons down all them years.

    “But at least they saw Dayer’s family had excelled in spite of bein’ made the scapegoats of the town … ‘n’ treated so low down … like untouchables … though my older siblings (Irene, Ben, Lucinda, Wesley, ‘n’ Alma) got it lots worse than I did,” she ruefully reiterated.

    “By the time I reached my teens (as I told you before, I was the seventh child) the Mormons had decided to start treatin’ ‘apostate’ Dayer LeBaron’s family better.

    “They finally begun lettin’ us participate in their Mormon Social’s, for example —  especially after they saw what the persecution had done to my older siblings: 

    “For example, Ben ‘n’ Lucinda had nervous breakdowns in their late teens. Then eventually went completely crazy … never to recover! Spent most of their life in a mental institution,” she said, tearfully wiping her eyes.

    Then Mama continued, “Since it was a Mormon colony, all the school ‘n’ church socials were always combined. That meant we were always left out of everything — especially my first six older siblings!! It was devastatin’ … so hard on my talented ‘n’ gifted older brothers ‘n’ sisters … So very painful for them ‘n’ my whole family!!”



    PART 8

    My Mama: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer–

    And the Perils of Polygamy 

    IMG_6337

    Grandpa LeBaron’s second wife, Aunt Onie, and their six children



    “It is not our exalted feelings,

    it is our sentiments that build

    the necessary home.”

    Elizabeth Bowen



    We left off where I was querying Mama about her past, present, parents … and the perils of polygamy:

    “Sadly,” Mama told me, “Pa ‘n’ Ma failed miserably in their all-out efforts to follow Joseph Smith’s commandment to live polygamy or be damned to hell. Aunt Onie* ultimately left Papa, taking with her, her six children she’d borne him.

    Actually, what happened is, while Grandpa Dayer was away on one of his long trips painting houses in the United States, Aunt Onie fell for and had an affair with a handsome and charming young Mexican man. When she became pregnant with his child, her affair was discovered. So Grandpa “put her aside.

    But, personally, I don’t blame Aunt Onie for being attracted to another man: She was around thirty years old. Her fifty-year-old husband was gone much of the time. And when home, Onie had to share him with Grandmother Maud (thirteen years Onie’s senior), and a household full of children and chores … plus all the jobs her husband had to do around home, yard, and town.

    But even if none of that mattered, it’s hard to resist temptation when you’re young, attractive, lonely, lovelorn, forlorn … and your husband is generally off sowin’ his wild “corn”/oats. And what’s worse, when he is home, sex is only for having children:

    [Grandpa Believed and held to the “law of purity,” the Mormon fundamentalist doctrine that once the wife  was pregnant (and also while she was nursing) the husband was to leave her alone and have no sex with her!]

    But note the oxymoron: Aunt Onie’s husband could have a plural wife, but God forbid Aunt Onie had a plural husband — though if anyone ever needed a plural husband, it was she!

    Aunt Onie finally solved her love-n-loneliness dilemmas by leaving Grandfather Dayer and polygamy altogether. She simply went to visit her family of origin in Hurricane, Utah, settled near them — and never returned.

    Poor, grief-stricken, and emotionally abandoned Aunt Onie was shunned till she was forced, though totally heart-broken about it, to adopt out her beautiful illegitimate brown baby: Adultery and bearing a baby out of wedlock — especially a half-breed  — was simply unacceptable among 1930’s Mormons!

    But Aunt Onie lived near and visited regularly her darling “bastard baby,” as they were called back then. How do I know all this? Because Mama told me. And because, between the years of 1955 and 1960, my family lived near Aunt Onie in Hurricane, Utah.

    One day Aunt Onie actually came to my school and gave a speech to our Jr. High/High School student body, as part of a Community Outreach Program. The theme of her speech centered on how she, as a young adult, had made some egregious errors she hoped we would not fall into, ourselves.

    Among the many things she told us was: “I ignored my parents’ ‘n’ the church’s advice, ‘n’ married into polygamy. My rebellion ‘n’ goin’ against the leaders of the church led me into a life of sin, misery, ‘n’ shame.

    “After unbearable sufferin’ ‘n loneliness — which sin always leads to — I eventually saw the error of my ways, repented of my sins, ‘n’ returned to the LDS Church. Then I got rebaptized for the remission of my sins.”

    Tears were rolling down her cheeks as she related her painful misgivings, mistakes, and miserable story. What an amazingly strong woman she was to open up and share, honestly, her experiences and lessons with us young people. I was and still am impressed with her show of humility and integrity. Aunt Onie was a wonderful example to us students, that day … and a wonderful public speaker!

    Now let’s get back to where Mama was telling me about when she and her siblings lost Aunt Onie and their half-siblings who had been so much a part of their life for around fourteen years — including the two years or so when Onie babysat them and helped care for them before she married Grandpa Dayer as his plural wife:

    “Words cannot express the sorrow I felt … our whole family felt,” reminisced Mama –– “upon losing Aunt Onie ‘n’ our playmates — our six half-brothers ‘n’ sisters we’d grown up with.

    “We’d shared the same house with them for seven years. And Aunt Onie had taken care of us like a second mother, while Mama was often gone — busy teachin’ piano lessons to help support the family.” 

    Mother and her siblings never got over having lost their “other mother,” and six half-siblings. But during the years my family lived in Hurricane, Utah, Mama and Aunt Onie visited regularly. This helped Ma not miss so much her mother and family in Mexico.


    *Note: They called Grandpa’s plural/second wife, “Aunt,” as a show of affection and kinship. Though in some polygamous families, the plural wife might have been called “Mama Onie,” or other such.



    PART 9

    My Mama: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer–

    And the Perils of Polygamy

    ma in pink skirt, 1

    My mama, Esther LeBaron-McDonald de Spencer


    “The mother-child relationship is paradoxical,

    and in a sense, tragic.

    It requires the most intense love

    on the mother’s side,

    yet this very love must help the child

    grow away from the mother,

    and to become fully independent.”

    Erich Fromm



    Mother never told me much about how she was affected growing up in the polygamous love-triangle that existed between her parents and her father’s plural wife, Onie.

    She was two years old when her parents, who had already been married fourteen years, brought naïve and the trusting, pretty,  sexy, eighteen-year-old Onie (thirteen years younger than Mama’s mother, and around twenty years younger than her father) into their already well-established family.

    Then they lived in the same house altogether (happily ever after?) the first seven years after her pa took his beloved, gorgeous, nubile Onie as a plural wife! Having, myself, been given away, at age sixteen, as a child bride in a prearranged polygamous marriage to a man ten years my senior, his first wife fifteen years my senior … and so on … I have a very good idea what bedlam innocent Onie found herself in!

    No fairy tales or beans about it: You can imagine there were plenty of troubles and extenuating circumstances that reigned in Mama’s immediate polygamous family-of-origin — a salt-of-the-earth family of scrabble farmers, house-painting handymen — and a piano-teaching Mommie (who was pregnant and bearing babies, besides, a good part of the time she was off teaching piano lessons).

    Especially must this polygamous arrangement have been difficult, given the triangulated (strangulated?) love affair of three adults all housed together under one crowded roof … a roof falling in on them … figuratively speaking, if not literally.

    Add to this hillbilly, barbarous, and backward combination the herd of babies, adolescents, and cantankerous teenagers — And one “priesthood-holding patriarch” — who reigned religiously, ruling the roost with a Mormon fundamentalist’s fanatic, foot-washing, and zealous iron hand:

    In orthodox Mormonism, the man has the first, last, and every word in between. So you can imagine, then, there was probably turmoil the likes of which you don’t want to imagine! (I’m just imagining!)

    I’m certain it was especially burdensome and difficult when, periodically, Mother’s father, Dayer, returned home after working in the United States for months on end. His frequent absenteeisms naturally heightened pressures between the two lonely,  overworked housewives who had to share him. But it also made it difficult for Grandpa Dayer to discipline his children who regarded their father as somewhat a stranger and only a visitor.

    Add to this hot-to-trot pot the deprivation and strain dire poverty presents in the lives of polygamous households and their large, deprived families of children — usually born within a year or two of each other. In such a situation, you have a volcanic and miserable stew abrew, whose loose lid could blow off at any moment. And sometimes it did.

    So it had to be a pressure relief — and a welcome relief –– for Grandpa to be gone. At least, he wasn’t torn between trying to spread himself around amongst two wives and his umpteen children — each vying for a part of this X factor’s energies, time, help, money, and affection. (“Everything you own owns a part of you!”)

    In the polygamy brew, let’s not overlook, too, polygamist husbands are free to court and hang out with more than a few “Broads” — while away from their lonely wives … And one reason men seek sex is to relieve pressure.

    This philandering lifestyle is participated in by polygamist men with gusto and a narcissistic sense of entitlement — all the while their abandoned, put-upon, loving wives are home alone struggling to keep a meal on the table and clothes on the kids!

    Not only that: Polygamous wives are left to be mother and father of their womanizing husband’s broods of babies — children basically abandoned by their father and left to the equally abandoned wives to singlehandedly, dedicatedly, and religiously raise … And most likely in deprivation and poverty! It’s truly slave labor — even if a labor of love. And all in the name of religion (or slavery?)!



    PART 10

    My Mama: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer —

    And the Perils of Polygamy

    ma sitting, 2 1

    Mama, Esther LeBaron-McDonald de Spencer, & grandchild


     One-of-a-kind: M-O-M

    Out of all the Mothers in the world,

    you’re one-of-a-kind; 

    So thanks, Mom!

    No better mama could I find!

    Rebecca Germany

    and Stephany Spencer


    Continuing where I left off in the previous blog discussing “The Perils of Polygamy,” let’s add to this perilous Mormon-fundamentalist doctrine discussion one of its greatest oxymorons:

    Child brides and young women are thrown into idealistic polygamous relationships without the least training or preparation for such difficult liaisons! This is one of the worst ingredients in this stressful and volatile plural-marriage-mess-up.

     And once thrown to the pernicious “polygamy wolves,” it’s “Stink, sink, or swim:” They’re eaten alive, then expected to automatically know how to spit up and live polygamy like a saint … though it’s an altogether unfair and unnatural way to live.

    Now add to this pernicious, perilous, presumptuous, and preposterous plural-marriage pot the ever-abiding and overriding following foul-smelling, fallacious, and insidious ingredient: These unfortunate “plygs” believe they are Saints –– but they’re not. Now stir!

    A mature couple in a monogamous marriage generally has enough trouble making a go of it. When you throw into a nubile polygamous marriage all the ingredients included in the plural-marriage kit (a kit filled with kinks and sticks that wedge themselves into the spokes of the vehicle’s fine tuning) it’s a wonder the volatile wheel can turn at all!

    And a wonder the fire of love isn’t put out altogether. Sometimes it is. But often times there was no love, to begin with — just an arranged marriage participated in out of obligation and belief that that’s what God wants.

    Add to this boiling brew that Mormon fundamentalists consider themselves “God’s chosen handful.” So they take for granted they should automatically know how to cook it all up — the polygamous soup recipe, that is — perfectly — even though they got no training in the matter of how to cook it — and ain’t no saints!

    Now add to this stew that there are no manuals — no recipes written on the subject of how to live the dastardly, difficult life of polygamy — let alone a Dr. Phil to contact for counseling and guidance — no matter how badly a wife, husband, child, and family needs help and advice.

    The end result? You have a cesspool of living hell — not harmony. People have to shut off their emotions to survive! To be sure, it’s a life only true Saints could endure or traverse. Yet, fools wade in where angels fear to tread. I know! I’ve been there, done that … and never want to do it again!

    So, I feel for my zealous grandmother, grandfather, and his plural wife, Aunt Onie (discussed in previous blogs). They tried so hard to live their Prophet Joseph Smith’s commandment: “Live polygamy or be damned to hell.

    Hell?! They were already in hell! They just didn’t know it! Or couldn’t admit it … because it ran against the grain of their religion to think, let alone dare believe such stuff.

    Poor miserable Mama! But as in all things in this world, amidst the bad, there’s always some good. And she attests that her childhood “had many wonderful times.” Nonetheless, she grew up in the polygamists’ barbarous, backward lifestyle laden with deprivation and unnecessary dilemmas.

    Monogamous mothers and fathers don’t have enough time, money, and attention to give to their children when they have from five to twenty-five babies — or more! — all born within a year or two of each other — as in the case of Mormon fundamentalist families.

    So you know the polygamist father of a huge herd of kids ain’t got the wherewithal to give to his flock — including all his wives. Therefore, Mama and her nineteen siblings and half-siblings, plus her mother, father, and his plural wife suffered a lot of needless hell … and they didn’t have to wait “till death do us part.”

    Only it’s considered blasphemous, among Mormon fundamentalists, to think this way. They generally wouldn’t dream of thinking the way I now think — though, let me tell you, it’s far from the way I was brought up to think!

    Mormon fundamentalists believe they are doing a glorious and blessed thing when they bring all the children they possibly can into “good Mormon fundamentalist families — and harems.” (I mean, it’s literally quantity, not quality!)

    After they’ve produced all the kids and wives they possibly can, they all then swim in their surreal soup, surviving only by living in a dream world where they’re cut off from their real feelings and individuality.

    This surreal, sanctimonious soup they manage to sip only by keeping a smile on their face, a prayer in their heart … and a tale in their head that they’re “very, very happy, mightily blessed ... and better/ better off than everyone else.”

    It’s a rather ridiculous but rewarding tale; one that assures them they’re going to the highest degree of glory, once they die (the women on their husband’s shirt tails, no less!) … because they lived polygamy and also had all the kids they possibly could.” (All that matters to most Mormon fundamentalists is how many wives and children they have!)

    They’re so misled … and reason even less. The truth is pretty much the opposite of what they believe. But they’re taught to follow their patriarchal leaders … not to use their head or heart.

    They’re commonly told: “When your leader speaks, your thinking has been done.” And they’re admonished to sacrifice in this life … and live for the hereafter. (Life’s too miserable to live for the here-‘n’-now!)

    Living in this illusion — this delusion — they have no idea what real attention and love is.  Nor are they prepared to do as well nor have as good a life as they might have had were they raised normally; i.e., if they were raised to fit into our modern world … not a fastidious foot-washing fantasy.

    Sadly, in their religious fanaticism, they pass their masochistic, ignorant, depraved and deprived lifestyle on, generation after generation — a secluded, backward, and lawless lifestyle that perpetrates and perpetuates polygamy and huge progenies of neglected and abused children.

    What’s worse, in the name of religious freedom, these children born in the United States to one man and his multiple wives are children born without the protection and rights the rest of America’s children are born with. (That’s another story, but I’ve discussed it, somewhat, in earlier blogs.)

    Suffice it to say, “Plural marriage” is nothing but an illegal, insensitive, narcissistic, and irresponsible lifestyle generated by Joe Smith, an uneducated, sense-of-entitlement, self-proclaimed prophet … a “prophet” there for the “profit,” power, and prestige!



    PART 11

    My Memoir:

    My Mama: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer: Ma Meets Pa …


    Or Was It the Other Way Around? 

    dad, 18 5

    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; i.e., 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 one 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 Ma’s Family; i.e., “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 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 doctrines, 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.

    The Mormon fundamentalists believe “The house of God” (i.e., 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 Ma did not feel she was a home-breaker … Instead, believed she was a “home-maker.”



    PART 12

    My parents: Esther LeBaron-McDonald & Floyd Otto Spencer

    Home Sweet Home

    Chorus:

    Home! Home!

    Sweet, sweet home!

    There’s no place like home —

    There’s no place like home

    Verses:

    ‘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 hymn was 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 “homemaker 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 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 (as usual) … And on a stepped-up basis while working with and trying to convert future Father to his, Uncle Ben’s, new church.



    PART 13

     Floyd Otto Spencer and Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer, my parents — perhaps around the time they were married in 1944


    “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 concerned because 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.)


    PART 14

    dad-collage

    A collage of Daddy’s two families, et Al



    “That which does not kill you
    will strengthen you.”
    Nietzsche

    ””’

    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 childrennot 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.



    PART 15

    Dad 51+

    My daddy, Floyd Otto Spencer

    “Home isn’t home anymore.”

    (from Olivia Newton John’s song)



    Let’s go back to 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, she was rebellious … not spiritual enough to follow her priesthood head, do what was the right, and live the fullness of the gospel.

    “She turned my kids against me, besides! 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! And, as an American, 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 and traitorous! She couldn’t wait to get me into all kinds of legal fixes and ruin my estate. Due to her actions, I lost a lot of money because I had to sell, in too big a hurry, my home and almost everything I owned, so as to go into hiding in Old Mexico.

    “To put it succinctly, she was a revengeful ingrate. Her treachery and rebellion knew no bounds. It was unforgivable … for she had been, 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-six years-younger new wife, Mama/ Esther LeBaron de McDonald.

    Mama 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. Her continuous and unending high demands on him to make more money so they could, among other things, live in a better class and lifestyle, stressed him out.”

    Well, he got quite the opposite with Mama! She was of a creative and artistic nature, a lay-back, and easy-going person — 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 … and 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 one must inherit to be able 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 that was relaxing to the eye and a pleasure 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 and efficiently maintained household.

    But to add to her distress and tiring, unending chores, 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 was “women’s work,” he said!

    And no matter how Mother’s state of health and energies declined, she and Daddy believed it their loyal duty to put childbearing and their own comforts secondary to bringing another little fore-ordained special spirit into their “righteous Mormon home.” She and Daddy would give their life for any one of their yet unborn babies. And Mama loved to tell people her dream was to have twenty-six kids or die trying! Instead, Daddy died first.

    But Mother remained ever an artist, as long as she lived … never an efficient homemaker. She should’ve had servants, but, of course, we could not afford them. Though, after moving to Mexico, where labor was cheap, she would hire a cleaning lady, when the place got too dirty and the dishes piled too high — and she couldn’t get one of her kids to do the cleaning — because they had all 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. Well, actually, Mother would hustle us all into the house to quickly clean up messes, as much as possible, before Daddy got home from work. And that helped keep him from flying into a rage because the place was a mess and his meal was not on the table when he got home after a hard day’s labor in the fields or in construction work, or whatever he was working at.

    But what most helped keep peace in the home was Daddy knew Mama was very much in love with him and was so proud of him and all his accomplishments, talents, and abilities. He could not have been more appreciated and valued. And, since Mama believed she was the greatest woman on earth, it went without saying she believed she was married to the greatest man on earth — next to the Prophet! Daddy liked that feeling of importance and being cared for and honored.

    On top of that, Mama felt rich due to how well Daddy/ Floyd O. Spencer supported her and her family. But “Rich” is relative. I guess she was rich, in comparison to the dire poverty she and her indigent family of Scrabble farmers grew up in, in Old Mexico — Not to mention, the pitiful want and starvation she saw all around her among many of the Mexican peoples! So I’d like to say Ma and Pa lived happily ever after … but did they?


    • Again, bear in mind 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 his/ her kids.

    As I said in the previous blog, being of the old school, Daddy believed he had a right to administer physical abuse when his wife or kids were in rebellion. But 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.

    And, of course, when it comes to his first wife, Eva, Daddy didn’t acknowledge his betrayal of her, nor the hurt he caused her and her family when he took on another wife and family. Why? Because Mormon fundamentalists believe fulfilling Joseph Smith’s Commandment to “live polygamy or go to hell” comes ahead of everything else!



    PART 16

    family, color.jpeg

    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 that Mormon fundamentalist dogma encourages women to intrude upon already established marriages and families, 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) — and all in the name of polygamy; i.e., “living a higher law.” 

    In other words, it encourages adultery in that it allows a woman to go after the man she’s attracted to, though he’s another woman’s husband, and seduce him to have/share as her husband, too, in the name of “plural marriage or celestial marriage.” Glittering generality’s aside, in the end, “celestial marriage” simply opens the door to disorganization, rampant lechery, and lawlessness — not Godliness.

    It’s altogether barbaric, ludicrous, deplorable, and inexcusable that a religion could teach doctrines that break up marriages and families, leave the wife broken-hearted and betrayed, her home downtrodden, her life and that of her kids smashed to smithereens, her children to grow up fatherless — and the Jr.-High-age kids to have to quit school and go to work to support the family.

    But that’s what happened! I’m not proud my mother had a part in this, even if it was part of her religion to do so. I only know she could never stand it being done to her: She never practiced what she believed and preached, when it came to polygamy. She was too jealous to allow Daddy a plural wife.

    And Daddy wasn’t about to add on a second wife unless Mother was in full agreement. He’d already suffered, almost beyond endurance, after losing his first wife and eleven children.

    Having learned his lesson the hard way, he wasn’t going to stumble, bumble, nor ramble into another briar patch — wasn’t about to gamble again on whether taking a plural wife would or would not work out — womanizer or no womanizer.

    In other words, he wasn’t taking a chance on wandering down another poison ivy-bedecked path — without his legal wife’s full 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; i.e., bedded Mommy, Eva could bear no more. She packed up kids and all and divorced him.

    Though Mother didn’t mind or 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 … Just talked 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”/ Mormon fundamentalism. But again, it was all talk.

    Mother 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, Mama 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 so sure she was going to the highest degree of glory in heaven, 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:”




    PART 17

    family, all but sharon

    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 double standards: 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 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 for me. 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 feeling 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.

    And 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 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 he instilled in his followers.

    So, since Mama 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.*

    Though Ma 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 — after his first wife divorced him. 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 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.

    And 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-bound work.

    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. And that’s how it goes.


    • The cult leaders taught that if we even dared question what they told us and whether polygamy, etc., was correct, we would be turned over to the buffetings of Satan. And that meant we would lose our mind. That was a very real concern for my Mother – and even for me, while in the cult.

    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.



    Part 18

    man-in-bed-with-three-women

    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-LeBaron


    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 or/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 it/polygamy!

    That, perhaps, was her greatest downfall – not being strong enough to be honest with herself and others about who she really was, rather than sinking 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 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, the supreme example of how to live, and 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 apparently 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 LeBaron whom many despised. But maybe one of the reasons the 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 language. 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 only 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 once told me, “I never turn down a beggar — a “wayfarin’ stranger.” It could be God in disguise testing to see whether I follow His admonitions to feed the poor and needy.” So delusions of grandeur reigned hand-in-hand with dualism, duplicity — and fear of God’s retribution.



    *Note: 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.

    *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, instead.


    *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 too without any murmuring and whining.

    You must fulfill 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. But I 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, that if 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 from Mormon 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.”

    Mary Ann Angell Young, Brigham Young’s second wife

    “I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.”

    -Helen Mar Kimball, Mormon Polygamy: A History, p. 53

    Check out Mormon Think for more sources on polygamy and other LDS history.

    Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
    Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
    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.

    ~ Pt 1–10: My Mother Esther LeBaron Spencer, Me, and Mormon Polygamist Cults Unmasked

    My Memoir:

    My Mother, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer–

    And Mormon Polygamist Cults Unmasked — Parts 1–10

    *Note to my readersIn this blogI have done some editing and rewriting, then compiled Parts 1 through 10 of “My Mama.” You will Note the new comprehensive title.


    PART 1

    My Memoir:

    My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer,

    And her parents

    My Maternal Grandparents:

    Maud Lucinda McDonald & Alma Dayer LeBaron



    “Mother! For love of thee it was begun;

    In thy most honored name today ’tis done.

    And though all earthly cares must cease

    In that fair land of everlasting peace,

    Love aye is one, and they who love are one;

    Time cannot end what God in time begun;

    And thou wilt joy e’en in thine endless rest,

    To know thy child obeys thy last behest”

    A Nameless Nobleman

    Jane Goodwin Austin 1881*

    *(I was told Jane Goodwin Austin is a great-grand-daughter-a-number-of-places-removed of Dr. Francis LeBaron and is my distant cousin.)





    The world called her “Plyg.” We called her “Mother,” or “Mama” — Daddy called her “Esther,” “Mother,” or “Ma” — as in “Go ask yer Ma.”

    My mama, Esther LeBaron Spencer, was born August 1, 1921, in Colonia Pacheco, Chihuahua, a small Mormon colony in Old Mexico. And died in 2013, at age 92, in Cancun, Mexico — I believe.

    She was the middle child of thirteen children born to Mormon fundamentalist Americans Maud Lucinda McDonald and Alma Dayer LeBaron — my maternal grandparents.

    Colonia Pacheco was colonized around the turn of the 20th century by American Mormon polygynists/ polygamists who crossed over the United States’ border to Mexico seeking refuge from prosecution when in 1862 the US government passed a law against polygamy.

    When Brigham Young said, “This is the place,” the land of Utah belonged to Mexico. Polygamy was not prosecuted there unless the first wife filed a complaint.

    But the Mormons’ new “safe haven” didn’t last long: The United States went to war with Mexico in 1846, won the battle in 1848, and the Utah Territory was ceded to the US in 1850 as part of the spoils.

    This meant Brigham Young’s polygamist Mormon church, much to their dismay, was once again under US law! So once again under fire to discard the practice of polygamy.

    In fact, by this date, the US Government was set to confiscate the Mormon church’s lands, property, money, and even their right to be called a church if they didn’t remove from their religious tenets this illegal, barbaric institution!

    So Wilford Woodruff, the presiding President/Prophet of the The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS church, was utterly forced to draw up “The Manifesto of 1890,” a mandate and “revelation from God” outlawing polygamy in the Mormon church.

    This explains why, then, before Mother was born, her parents/ my grandparents had left the United States to raise their family in Mexico: They intended to live “the law of plural marriage.” So this required, for their safety, they leave the Victorian Americans and join other Mormon fundamentalists in Mexico.

    My grandparents would not discontinue the practice of polygamy, despite the “Manifesto of 1890,” because they believed it was wrong for the Mormon church to have outlawed polygamy, no matter what, given their Prophet Joseph Smith had said that it must be lived to attain the highest degree of glory in the hereafter.

    With this stance, Mother’s parents became outlaws/laws unto themselves because, they, along with a few other zealot Mormons, believed the Mormon church had fallen away from Joseph Smith’s true teachings.

    Therefore, they didn’t intend to go along with the new “revelation” and mandates regarding plural marriage set in 1890 by the Mormon church Prophet, Wilford Woodruff, and his Quarm of Twelve Apostles.



     NOTE: The following lyrics consist of a tongue-in-cheek song I wrote. It is posted on my Website, but I’ve included it in this blog because it has a couple of stanzas about Mama:

    Dearest friends and fans: Please note:

    This “sorta” silly song I wrote

    Is but half-finished, so won’t gloat —

    And pray my poem won’t get your goat;

    But it’s late — my blog’s due “mañana;

    If you check this song later on … uh …

    You may find it partly “re-wrote.”

    For “Know it needs work,” is my last quote.

    Even so, do enjoy what I wrote.

    And now I humorously emote:

    Pretty City-Chick

     NOTE: The following is a tongue-in-cheek song I wrote: 

     Intro:

    Hi! I’m a Hack Who’s

    Written a hit

    Called “Pretty City-chick,”

    A Hee-ha Comedy Song —

    A Bit o’ Bio in Verse,

    Fer Better or Worse —

    With Truth ‘n’ Exaggeration

    Interspersed:

    Hey, they say I’m a pretty City-chick

    And Hillbilly music makes some sick;

    But my Hillbilly ways are here to stick;

    So you may as well get over it —

    And join in ’n’ sing a bit,

    ‘Cause I’m a city-chick

    And shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.

    Born in Mexican sticks in 1946.

    I’ve dual citizenship,

    And I’m a city-chick.

    I’m an all-American-mongrel,

    Apple-pie girl —

    Hines-57 mixed-up mutt,

    With apple pie stickin’ to my gut ’n’ butt;

    But red-necked reactionary ignoramuses

    Ain’t my thing.

    I’m here for music and to sing!

    Yeah, I’m an All-American-Mexican,

    Scotch-Irish “Mick”,

    With Welch ’n’ English,

    So sure, I’m a Brit;

    With French, German,

    And Mohawk Indian a bit.

    If there’s no Tom Slick hidin’ in the pit,

    Far as I know, that’s about it —

    That‘s my story

    And I’m “shitickin” to it!

    My father was a proud Veteran

    Of World War I.

    Those Vets were well-appreciated

    For what they’d done!

    Pa was an artist, creative,

    And Jack-of-all-trades;

    Master of a few —

    Good at so many things,

    There was little he couldn’t do.

    Ma was a creative, author,

    And artist, thru ’n’ thru;

    Poet, performer,

    Trained concert pianist — Whew!

    She loved to discuss religious principles

    And read religious Lit, old ’n’ new —

    Long as it agreed with

    What she already “knew.”

    She graduated with a BA

    In Journalism too;

    Quite an accomplishment

    ‘Cause Ma was sixty-two!

    She was runnin’ me competition then,

    For I was still in College too,

    Strugglin’ to make it up

    From the cult she’d put me thru …

    If she only knew!

    But her motto was:

    Anything you can do,

    I can do better;

    I can do anything better ‘n you!”

    (And she meant it, too!)

    Refrain:

    Hey, they say I’m a “pretty City-Chick,”

    But Hillbilly music is my “shtick,”

    And my Hillbilly ways are here to stick;

    So you may as well “git” over it

    And join in ‘n’ sing a bit

    With this hip city-chick,

    ‘Cause shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.

    Born in Mexican sticks in 1946,

    I’ve dual citizenship

    And that’s pretty hip.

    Well, that’s my story

    And I’m “shtickin’ ” to it:

    I’m a pretty city-chick

    (By Stephany Spencer 2016)

    In the following video, I am performing the above song I wrote, “Pretty City-chick,” at the California Writers Club, March 2017 (before I recently re-edited it):





    PART TWO

    My Memoir:

    My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer,

    And My Maternal Grandparents

    LeBaron passport pic
    1920 Passport Picture of Alma Dayer LeBaron & Maud Lucinda McDonald Emerson de LeBaron & family: Children, from left to right: Ben, Alma, Wesley, Irene, Lucinda, Jenny


    “My mother was the source

    from which I derived

    the guiding principles of my life.”

    John Wesley



    I left off in Part One where Mama’s parents, Alma Dayer and Maud Lucinda McDonald LeBaron, didn’t agree with the mainline Mormon church’s new mandate regarding polygamy. Why?

    Because the Prophet Joseph Smith had given a commandment from God (stated in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132) that the Saints must live Plural Marriage or be damned. In other words, Joseph Smith had set his followers up to suffer a life of hell — which, for most people, is all living polygamy is: A living hell.

    Said Mama, in reference to my grandparents’ stance on the Mormon Manifestos of 1890 and 1904:

    “Ma ‘n’ Pa didn’t believe it was right for the Mormon church to outlaw polygamy, given the Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied it must be lived to attain the highest degree of glory in the Hereafter! So they joined ranks with a fledgling Mormon fundamentalist movement that insisted on followin’ the Prophet Joseph Smith’s revelation commanding they live polygamy or be damned.

    “They’d follow this commandment even if it meant they and the rest of their Mormon brethren would once more be driven from their homes and lands, tarred ‘n’ feathered, stripped of their financial assets, and thrown out of the country, jailed, or killed. You see, Ma ‘n’ Pa were stalwarts who’d lay down their lives for ‘the gospel’ … as would I,” proclaimed Mama.

    As I said in last week’s blog, I only wish my self-righteous, stoic grandparents, parents, and the rest of the rebel Mormons who chose (and still choose) to continue living polygamy would’ve been/ would be half as strict about living Christian and other Scriptural doctrines taught by their self-proclaimed Prophet Joseph Smith as they were/are about living polygamy!

    It makes me wonder what it was about the original many thousands of Mormon people who chose to follow such as Joseph Smith! In that same vein, I also wonder what it was/is about the zealot Mormon fundamentalists who believe they are “God’s chosen handful” and who were/are so determined, still, to continue to have more than one wife, come hell or high water!

    Because most Mormons saw the wisdom and practicality of giving up plural marriage and abiding by US law. And they also saw the practicality of following their Prophet Wilford Woodruff’s new “revelation” that discontinued polygamy in the LDS church … for the time being, that is … unfortunately, however, not for the hereafter!!

    Getting back to the main story, Mama told me: “My parents, left the US and moved to the Mormon colonies in Old Mexico before I was born ’cause they intended to live ‘the Holy and God-ordained law of Plural Marriage’.

    “However, after I was born, in 1921, due to financial circumstances, they had to move back to ‘The States.’ There, Pa bought us a home in the small, southern, agrarian Mormon town of La Verkin, Utah, — one where we could plant our own orchard ‘n’ garden … and keep a goat too. I was still a baby then.

    “While there, Pa found the plural wife he’d been lookin’ for — pretty eighteen-year-old Onie Jones. He married her soon after he convinced Ma of the righteousness of taking Onie as his plural wife. Though the three of them did their best to keep this plural marriage a secret, word soon got out in that small Utah town.

    “Not long after that, a friend informed my father a Mormon mob was gatherin’ to lynch him! So he, Ma, ‘n’ Onie grabbed us kids in the dead of night ‘n’ fled back over the Mexican border to live in the Mormon colonies in Old Mexico again.

    It was 1923 by then. If my parents hadn’t fled when they did, it’s said the mainline Mormons would’ve done them in … because they felt my parents had done THEM in by ignorin’ their church’s mandate against polygamy.

    “You see, in 1904, to please the US government and its citizens, and to show they respected the laws of the land, the LDS church had finally instigated a second Manifesto outlawing polygamy in their church:  From ‘The Manifesto of 1890’ to ‘The Manifesto of 1904,’ there had been a moratorium on polygamy in the LDS church, which allowed Mormons to get used to the new anti-polygamy regulations.

    “But,” continued Mama, “by 1904, those still livin’ polygamy had to either get rid of their plural wives or get out of the country; i.e., move to Old Mexico. Anyone takin’ a plural wife after 1904 would not only be excommunicated from the LDS church ‘n’ considered an apostate, but they’d also be jailed.

    “My father was one of the first men to disregard the Mormon church’s new Manifesto of 1904: He took a plural wife in 1923 (because he believed God’s laws came ahead of the laws of the land). So Ma ‘n’ Pa were excommunicated and disfellowshipped from their beloved church.”

    You see, by 1923, polygamy was more than ever frowned upon among the mainstream Mormons: It threatened the safety and solitude they had finally gained, among other things.

    Therefore, they wanted Dayer LeBaron and his two wives OUT of their midst — if only to show other Mormons what would happen, should they choose to follow Dayer’s example — The insurrection wherein he continued to take plural wives despite the Mormon church’s modern, updated doctrinal revelation and mandate regarding Joseph Smith’s “Holy Principle of Plural Marriage.”



    PART 3

    My Memoir:

    My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer,

    And How She Got Here

    Mormon colonies
    A family of Mormon colonists around the turn of the 20th Century

    “Mother is the bank where we deposit

    all our hurts and worries.”

    Author unknown



    AS mentioned in Part Two of “My Mama,” by the advent of the 1900s, the US government had resorted to extreme pressure to get the Mormon church to discontinue its institution of polygamy — a relic of barbarism and a threat to our country that was unfortunately and inadvertently introduced by Joseph Smith in the mid 1800s, as delineated in the “Doctrine and Covenants,” Section 132 (Mormon Scriptures).

    In reference to this, Mama, years ago, explained to me: “To avert further travails, the LDS church had begun implementin’ stringent measures to wipe out plural marriage within its membership so as to protect its people, church, and Mormon church properties.

    “Passin’ of the second Mormon Manifesto in 1904 meant Pa, ‘n’ his two wives, ‘n’ children, were no longer welcome in the Mormon colonies where my family had fled for refuge in 1923 — after barely outsmarting a mainstream Mormon mob, arrest, ‘n’ bein’ thrown into a Utah jail for havin’ entered into polygamy. 

    “My Ma, Pa, ‘n’ family had lived in various Mormon colonies in Mexico previously, goin’ back ‘n’ forth between them and the US a number of times, over the years. 

    “But this time, when we come back, my parents had gone against the Mormon Manifestos of both 1890 and 1904: They’d taken a plural wife, and thereby were considered by the church to be ‘In a state of apostasy.’ 

    “That meant our family was now considered apostates. So we were disfellowshipped from our Church ‘n’ social activities in the Mormon colonies,” continued Mama.”

    “Instead of bein’ accepted with open arms, as he was in the past when he was with his grandfather Benjamin F. Johnson [who was a key figure in developing the Mormon colonies in Mexico], Pa was now an enigma.

    “So our family became persecuted and ostracized — The church’s way of discouraging other men from followin’ my father’s example of takin’ multiple wives.”

    “In other words, since the Mormon moratorium on polygamy was over by 1904, my parents’ havin’ gone against the LDS church’s updated marriage law now meant their raisin’ us kids in a terrible atmosphere of mainstream Mormon scapegoatin’ ‘n’ rejection — wherever they chose to settle in ‘Mormonland.’

    “It was during the Great Depression ‘n’ World War II era. Them two calamities affected our family, ‘n’ also Pa’s ability to get enough well-payin’ work in “The States.” 

    “So our family was endurin’ extreme poverty, ” Mama opined. “Ma ‘n’ Pa couldn’t afford to move their large family somewhere else, even if they’d decided to remove us kids from the terrible ostracization and persecution they found the small Mormon colonies now meted out on ‘specially my eldest siblings!”

    So the Mormon colonies that had once been a place of refuge for Mormon polygamists had, by 1923, become the opposite: A place of persecution and ostracization for polygamists — if they had entered into polygamy after 1904, that is.

    “Those who already had more than one wife BEFORE the Manifesto of 1904, were NOT rejected ‘n’ persecuted as my Pa, Dayer LeBaron, ‘n’ his family was!” Mother explained.

    “We were ostracized ’cause my father was about the only man in the Mormon colonies,” she continued, “who went ahead ‘n’ took a plural wife after 1904, despite the church’s mandates.”

    So that was the situation my grandparents found themselves in when they took their family back to Colonia Juarez, Mexico, thinking they were settling in the best place possible to raise their kids. As it turned out, it was the worst place possible!!

    But at least, having moved to Old Mexico, their polygamous family was protected by tolerant Mexican marriage laws, when it came to polygamy — just not by tolerant LDS Mormon marriage laws.

    That said, being “Plygs,” my grandparents simply should not have been bringing up their children in a mainstream Mormon colony where polygamy was no longer tolerated — if they knew what was best for them! But they didn’t.



    PART 4

    My Mama: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer

    And Her Background

    LeBaron homestead.jpeg
    Mama’s home in Colonia Juraez, Chihuahua, México

    “God could not be everywhere,

    so he made mothers.”

     (old Jewish proverb)



    As I related in the previous blog, Mama’s family returned to settle in the Mormon colonies in Mexico in 1924. Mama was around two-and-a-half years old at the time my grandparents and Aunt Onie fled the United States, barely outsmarting a mainline Mormon mob, arrest, and being thrown into a Utah jail for having broken the law by entering into polygamy.

    “My family had lived in various Mormon colonies in Mexico previously,” Mama told me, “goin’ back and forth between them and the United States a number of times over the years.

    “By our return in 1924, Pa had been able to buy a large fixer-upper home in the poorest section of Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. It was one of the homes abandoned by Mormon colonists who fled back to the United States to avoid the catastrophes of the Mexican Revolutionary War of 1910.

    “Bein’ a pretty good handyman, Papa, along with the help of my three young brothers, Ben, Wesley, and Alma, and some cheap Mexican laborers, was able to soon fix the home up enough to live in.

      “We were lucky we could afford even that piece of property to house Papa’s two wives and soon-to-be ten children — for your Grandma was expectin’ her ninth child, Ervil … and Aunt Onie was pregnant too.

    “In 1929, five years after our family moved to Colonia Juarez, the United States’ Stock Market crashed. Many people lost all their money, and huge numbers of people were out of work. It was hard for Pa to find any payin’ jobs in the terrible economic depression that had set in. 

    “So our family was stuck livin’ in the Mormon colonies where we were excoriated and rejected. Every day, on the way home from school, mainstream Mormon kids would call us Mormon fundamentalist kids horrible names, throw rocks and sticks at us, and chase us home, tryin’ to beat us up.

    We didn’t understand why they would do this because some of them, though not excommunicated from the Mormon church, were kids of polygamists, themselves! Or their grandparents had been polygamists — before The Manifesto of 1890 outlawed polygamy in the Mormon church.

    “Most adults in town just looked the other way and let it happen … Let their kids beat us up and call us horrid names. Some adults even encouraged the children to harass and molest us. 

    But, despite all this,  Mama and Papa had hoped their children would eventually be accepted back into the social setting in Colonia Juarez, thinkin’ it was still the best place to raise their kids.

    “Unfortunately, not till I was in eighth grade did the Mormon colonies let up on some of their ostracization toward the LeBaron family … Partly ’cause they’d seen what this terrible persecution had done to my older siblings.

    “But by then, my elder siblings had suffered from seven to eleven years of heavy rejection and intolerance — the treatment given the worst outcasts and scapegoats in Mormondom,” Mama moaned.

    Really sad, I say! One of those things that should never happen to any child! And unfortunately, it only added to what Mother and her siblings already had suffered growing up in their stoic, fanatically religious Mormon orthodox family — with a crackpot father at the helm, besides.

    But to top it all off, Grandpa Dayer was often absent months at a time, struggling to make a living working in the United States doing odd jobs, painting houses — and whatever else he could do to bring in money. (As I mentioned before, Mexican law does not allow Americans to earn a wage in Mexico, even though they have children born there!)

    It was extremely hard for Grandpa Alma Dayer LeBaron to support his two huge, constantly expanding and growing young families, especially between the years of 1929 and 1946 — the years of the Great Depression in the United States and World War II.

    Needless to say, what happens in the US also affects its neighbors south of the border. And so, against this backdrop of dire economic straitjacketing, Grandpa, his two wives, and their swarm of young children and teenagers were all living under the same roof for seven years.

    I don’t know how many children the two wives ultimately had, during the seven years they lived in “the big house.” I only know that Grandmother already had eight children and another soon to be on the way when Grandfather married Onie as his plural wife in 1923.

    Among Mormon fundamentalists, the practice of birth control was a mortal sin. So altogether, Grandma bore Grandpa thirteen children, and Aunt Onie bore him six — before she left him. (More on that later.)

    I’ll leave you to a guesstimate of how many adults, children, and babies in diapers were housed altogether, under one roof, before Grandfather could finally afford to buy a separate “roof” for his second family!



    PART 5

    My Mama: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer, 

    And Her Background

    IMG_6326
    My beautiful mother, Esther LeBaron Spencer

    Juarez Stake Academy

    (Jr. High/High School of Colonia Juarez, México)



    “My mama is so good to me,

    She works for me each day,

    So She can buy me food and clothes,

    And many toys for play.

    I love my mama,

    Yes I do, my mama good and kind;

    And if I looked and looked,

    No better mama could I find.”

    (Author unknown — Children’s song)




    As a kid, I used to ask Mama what her life was like when she was a kid. Fundamentalist Mormon “Saints” believe they are/are supposed to be perfect. So Mama mostly only told me about the many good things in her life as she was growing up. But she sometimes would admit to some bad things that happened too.

    For example: In answer to my questions about her childhood, Mama exclaimed: “I loved my life! It couldn’t have been more perfect! The persecution my older brothers ‘n’ sisters had to suffer had let up a lot by the time I was of school-age. And Pa only gave me one spankin’ in all my life — which I deserved! [She wouldn’t tell me what she did to deserve it.]

    “However, I still experienced feelings of low self-worth and excruciating shame … which I always worked hard to try to overcome. Even though my siblings and I were top students at Juarez Stake Academy [Her High School’s name], it still really affected my self-esteem ’cause I grew up with my family bein’ looked down upon ‘n’ not bein’ accepted.

    “The LDS Stake President ‘n’ Superintendent of our school system said my brother Ben was the brightest student ever to have gone through the Juarez Stake Academy!” [It was a very small-town High School, to be sure, in the early to mid-1900s, when Mother and her siblings attended this Mormon colony’s public schools. So not too much competition.]

    Mother often talked about “The-best this” and “The-best that!” (This is how I was raised!) The jury is still out on whether Uncle Ben still holds that title — or if he ever held it at all! But I always heard about how brilliant he was — before he had the mental breakdown and schizophrenia/bipolar disease set in.

    Mama continued: “So despite how well us LeBaron kids did in school, my parents were called ‘apostates.’ And people in the Mormon colonies were told to not associate with us, other than for doin’ business.

    “Ma ‘n’ Pa didn’t, therefore, go to church, though they believed in Mormonism. Even so, us kids went to the Mormon colony’s only Church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There, we were taught the revisionist Mormon doctrines: That polygamy was now a sin, for example … ‘n’ they taught me my parents were sinners.

    “Yet, since my parents were Mormon fundamentalists, at home we were taught the Orthodox Mormon doctrines — The Mormon beliefs lived before the Manifesto of 1890.

    “It was confusing to have my ma ‘n’ pa pointin’ out how the Mormon church was now out of order …  all the while at the LDS church I and my siblings was goin’ to, we were taught our parents were out of order and on the wrong path — and therefore goin’ against God ‘n’ God’s leaders — so headed for hell!

    “But even though Pa had more than one wife, ‘n’ people of my same faith were makin’ fun of our family ‘n’ my father, they respected Mother’s piano teachin’ ‘n’ playin’ … And my own piano expertise, too … ’cause Ma was the best piano teacher … ‘n’ I was the best pianist in the colonies!”

    [There was at least one other outstanding pianist back then in the Mormon Colonies in Mexico: The one who taught Mother to play the most difficult Piano Concertos, etc. (Ione Fenn?) — so Mother could accompany a Symphony Orchestra performing Piano Concertos. I don’t recall hearing much about this expert pianist and piano teacher … or whether she was, in actuality, “the best” piano teacher!]

    But let’s let Mama continue: *”So I grew up with mixed feelings: On the one hand, I knew I was the best and most outstanding girl in town — And for that matter, in all of Mormondom.


    *”How could I be sure of this? ‘Cause whenever church Apostles ‘n’ other church leaders visited our colony, they would tell us the Mormons of Colonia Juarez were the very best ‘n’ purest of all the Mormons they met in any other Mormon town or city.

    “And I knew I was the best ‘n’ purest of all the girls and women in Colonia Juarez. So that’s how I knew I was the best ‘n’ most perfect woman in the whole world — given that Mormon women are better, to begin with, than women of the world … And, as I said before, I knew I was the best ‘n’ purest of all them Mormon women.”

    [I will enlarge upon this in a later blog. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on whether Mother was actually “the best and purest woman of all Women in the whole world.” LOL!]

    “But on the other hand,” Mama continued, “I came to feel like my family ‘n’ I were the lowest people in town — due to how so many people talked ’bout us and shamed ‘n’ shunned us.

    “Still, when my two older siblings, Ben ‘n’ Lucinda, went crazy, that added more ridicule, ostracization, and shame to our family. [In those backward days, especially in small towns, the mentally ill weren’t looked upon kindly. Many believed they had evil spirits in them.]

    “Even so, and in spite of all our sorrows ‘n’ religious confusion, how I loved playin’ with and doin’ things with my half-sisters, Aunt Onie’s children — Barbara, Clara, Verla, and Ilene. And how I loved bein’ the only girl in the middle of my own seven brothers: Ben, Wesley, Alma, Joel, Ervil, Floren, and Verlan. 


     Please note: When I’m quoting things Mother said, way back when, please don’t think, by any means, that I agree with all her ideas or ways of thinking.

    That’s but the way I was raised. However, it was a long time ago, and I have changed a lot since then (Let’s hope!) — not only in my values, but in my lack of prejudice, my education, rationality, and my understanding of things, also.

    I’m sure Mother changed some in her outlook, beliefs, and values, too, over the years. Since I left her cult and moved away, I wasn’t around her a lot in her last forty-six years.

    But the few times I had spoken to or seen her, during that time of estrangement, I could only wonder how she never saw through the numerous fallacies she preached and believed in so zealously: Things such as polygamy, for example — even though she was too jealous to live polygamy, herself (according to Daddy).



    PART 6

    My Mama: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer,

    And Some of Her Family History

    ma at 14
    My mama: Esther LeBaron-McDonald, at age 14


    “People are what their mothers make them.”

    Ralph Waldo Emerson



    I left off in last week’s blog where Mama had exclaimed how, despite persecution and her own religious confusion, she had wonderful times doing things with her half-sisters, Aunt Onie’s children. And had also loved being not only the middle child but the only girl in the middle of seven brothers: Ben, Wesley, and Alma were born before Mama. After her came Joel, Ervil, Floren, and Verlan.

    Mama explained to me, as I continued to question her about her early life:

    “Ma had four girls. But my sister Jenny died at age six from eatin’ poison mistletoe berries. I’d just turned four. After we arrived home from Jenny’s burial site, some Mormon neighbors met us with food ‘n’ flowers. I told them, ‘We left Jenny up there on the hill!!’ “

    “Ma couldn’t bear to discipline me after losin’ Jenny so I was spoiled rotten. Then I was pampered even more after Ma had twins, David ‘n’ Mary — who also died. I was eleven by then. They were the last kids she bore … they were ‘Blue babies:’ The cord was wrapped ’round their necks, so they strangled to death. 

    “Irene, my parents’ oldest child,” continued Mama, somberly: “was nine years my senior. She grew up ‘n’ left home by the time I was ten. And Lucinda, five years my senior, had a nervous breakdown at age seventeen. She was in a mental institution, off ‘n’ on, after that — till years later she had to be institutionalized for the remainder of her life.”

    When I asked Mama why she went crazy, she was in one of her rare moments of utter honesty as she responded to my query:

     “I was twelve when my gifted, artistic, and highly sensitive sister Lucinda had her first mental breakdown. What broke her was hearin’ one of her Mormon teachers (who was also the Mormon Stake President of Colonia Juarez) runnin’ her father down to her High School class.

    “He didn’t know she was in the back of the room. Among other things, he told the class: ‘Lucinda’s father, Dayer LeBaron’s a crazy crackpot … a bad man … an apostate! He’s goin’ to hell … ‘n’ may even be a son of perdition.’ [The worst thing you can be in Mormondom!]

    “But what also lead to your Aunt Lucinda’s emotional breakdown,” Mama added, “was she’d gone into the bathroom medicine cabinet and had secretly swallowed a bunch of pills in an effort to start her period. The pills made her deathly sick!

    “Eventually, Ma ‘n’ Pa found she was pregnant. So Pa beat the livin’ daylights out of her. Why? Because she’d lost her virginity … and was now gunna have a bastard baby who was not only part Mexican, but its father wasn’t even Mormon! So Lucinda had brought even more shame on our despised and denigrated family!

    “After Lucinda went crazy, Pa beat her relentlessly … tryin’ to beat the devil out of her. Evil spirits had taken her over: She’d been turned over to ‘the buffetings of Satan,’ due to her transgressions ‘n’ fornication.”

    Mama never told me the rest of the story — Just one more story that was covered up so the iconoclastic “Mexico LeBarons” would look like “A godly family with a saintly mission.”

    “Needless to say,” Mama continued, “When Lucinda went crazy, your grandma spoiled me more than ever. The loss of Jenny, then my oldest sister leavin’ home … ‘n’ now Lucinda goin’ out of her mind caused Ma to treat me with kid gloves ‘n’ coddle me like her treasure beyond measure!

    “Besides, I was her only daughter left at home. Gettin’ top grades at school, along with my looks ‘n’ charms … ‘n’ playin’ difficult Piano Concertos like Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto in C Sharp Minor,” was helpin’ to make our family look better. Ma valued me for that too.

    “I was like the Savior of the family, so to speak. So, though I was the middle child, I wasn’t insignificant the way a middle child often is … especially since I was the only girl ‘mongst all them boys!”


    * Please note: Let me say it again, when I quote/ paraphrase things Mother said, way back when, please don’t think I agree, by any means, with all her ideas or ways of thinking and doing.

    That’s the way I was raised. But that was a long time ago. Since then, I have routed out a lot of these backward beliefs, and ways of thinking, and behaving — Let’s hope! — Not only in my values but in my lack of prejudice, as well as in my rationality and understanding.

    Perhaps Mama even changed a bit, in her outlook and values, too, before she died at age ninety-two. I wasn’t around to see.



    PART 7

    My Mama: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer,

    And Her Early History 

    ma's face
    My pretty Mama (Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer) in her mid to late forties

    “The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”

    Harriet Ward Beecher



    We left off last week where I was questioning Mama about her childhood. Let’s continue with her telling me the following unbelievable coincidence:  

    “Because I had so much fun with my seven brothers when I was growin’ up,” she exclaimed, “I wanted to have seven boys in a row when I got married. Instead, I got seven girls in a row! [Doris, Beulah/Stephany, Sharon, Judith, Mary, Pauline, and Nola]. That just ‘shows-to-go-ya’: Be careful what you wish for!”

    Then she continued, “Aunt Onie [Mama’s father’s plural wife] and her daughters and my two older sisters, Irene ‘n’ Lucinda, did most of the upkeep of the home and the care of the kids, while your Grandma was busy spoilin’ me … And teachin’ piano lessons to help your Grandpa feed ‘n’ support his two wives and all his kids.

    “Besides teachin’ piano lessons there in Colonia Juarez where I was raised,” Mama continued, “Mama/ your grandma was oft’ times gone one or two days at a time, twice a week (up to five days a week sometimes!) teachin’ piano lessons in the nearby Mormon colonies. 

    “Even so, she let me out of all the housework and other chores ‘n’ responsibilities about the home ‘n’ yard — long as I studied hard to get top grades, went to my piano lessons, and practiced the piano long hours  — so I could perform outstanding piano solos in public to impress our Mormon oppressors,  and make our family look better in the eyes of the town’s people who always gossiped about us ‘n’ put us down.

    “Consequently,” Mama laughed, “much to your Pa’s aggravation ‘n’ disappointment, once he married me, he discovered I didn’t know how to be a homemaker!

     All I knew how to do was be a pianist ‘n’ scholar … and artist, ‘n’ poet, and writer. At twenty-two, when I married your Pa, I could barely make a bed, let alone bake bread!

    “When your Pa complained to your grandma that I didn’t know how to boil water, let alone bake beans, she merely retorted, ‘Ah, well … She’s got plenty of years ahead to learn them things!’ “

    But the upside is Mama was the top student in her small, mostly Mormon 8th-grade graduating class. Thus she got to give the Valedictory Address! 

    “And, as part of our graduating program, I also played a difficult piano solo, “The Fawns,” Mama proudly informed me. “Plus I harmonized in a duet I sang with another student  — while my mama accompanied us on the piano … I was only thirteen years old!

    But my gettin’ so many important parts in our graduation program, ‘n’ outdoin’ all the other Mormon kids that were supposed to be so much better than me and my polygamist family, created envy and aggravation ‘mongst the Mormon colonists who’d been so busy runnin’ us LeBarons down all them years.

    “But at least they saw Dayer’s family had excelled in spite of bein’ made the scapegoats of the town … ‘n’ treated so low down … like untouchables … though my older siblings (Irene, Ben, Lucinda, Wesley, ‘n’ Alma) got it lots worse than I did,” she ruefully reiterated.

    “By the time I, my family’s seventh child, reached my teens, the Mormons had decided to start treatin’ ‘apostate’ Dayer LeBaron’s family better. They finally begun lettin’ us participate in their Mormon Social’s, for example —  especially after they saw what their persecution and ostracization had done to my older siblings: 

    “For example, Ben ‘n’ Lucinda had nervous breakdowns in their late teens. Then eventually went completely crazy … never to recover! Spent most of their life in a mental institution,” she said, tearfully wiping her eyes.

    Then Mama continued, “Since it was a Mormon colony, all the school ‘n’ church socials were always combined. That meant we were always left out of everything — especially my first six older siblings!! It was devastatin’ … so hard on my talented ‘n’ gifted older brothers ‘n’ sisters … So very painful for them  and my whole family!!”



    PART 8

    My Mama: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer …

    And the Perils of Polygamy 

    IMG_6337
    Grandpa LeBaron’s second wife, Aunt Onie, and their six children


    “It is not our exalted feelings,

    it is our sentiments that build the necessary home.”

    Elizabeth Bowen



    We left off where I was querying Mama about her past, present, parents … and the perils of polygamy:

    “Sadly,” Mama told me, “Pa ‘n’ Ma failed miserably in their all-out efforts to follow Joseph Smith’s commandment to live polygamy or be damned to hell. Aunt Onie* ultimately left Papa, taking with her, her six children she’d borne him.

    Actually, what happened is, while Grandpa Dayer was away on one of his long trips painting houses in the United States, Aunt Onie fell for and had an affair with a handsome and charming young Mexican man. When she became pregnant with his child, her affair was discovered. So Grandpa “put her aside.

    But, personally, I don’t blame Aunt Onie for being attracted to another man: She was around thirty years old. Her fifty-year-old husband was gone much of the time. And when home, Onie had to share him with Grandmother Maud (thirteen years Onie’s senior), and a household full of children and chores … plus all the jobs her husband had to do around home, yard, and town.

    But even if none of that mattered, it’s hard to resist temptation when you’re young, attractive, lonely, lovelorn, forlorn … and your husband is generally off “sowin’ his wild “corn”/oats.” And what’s worse, when he is home, sex is only for having children:

    [Grandpa Believed and held fervently to the Mormon fundamentalist doctrine, “The Law of Chastity,” that commands (among other things) that once a woman is pregnant (and also while she is nursing) her husband is to leave her alone, sexually! Sex was only for procreation, in other words]

    But note the oxymoron: Aunt Onie’s husband could have a plural wife, but God forbid Aunt Onie had a plural husband — though if anyone ever needed a plural husband, it was she!

    Aunt Onie finally solved her love-“n”-loneliness dilemmas by leaving Grandfather Dayer and polygamy altogether. She simply went to visit her family of origin in Hurricane, Utah, settled near them — and never returned.

    But poor, grief-stricken, and emotionally abandoned Aunt Onie was shunned till she was forced, though totally heart-broken about it, to adopt out her beautiful illegitimate brown baby: Adultery and bearing a baby out of wedlock — especially a “half-breed”  — was simply unacceptable among 1930’s Mormons!

    But Aunt Onie lived near and visited regularly her darling “bastard baby,” as they were called back then. How do I know all this? Because Mama told me. And because, between the years of 1955 and 1960, my family lived near Aunt Onie in Hurricane, Utah.

    One day Aunt Onie actually came to my school and gave a speech to our Jr. High/High School student body, as part of a Community Outreach Program. The theme of her speech centered on how she, as a young adult, had made some egregious errors she hoped we would not fall into, ourselves.

    Among the many things she told us was: “I ignored my parents’ and the church’s advice, ‘n’ married into polygamy. My rebellion ‘n’ goin’ against the leaders of the church led me into a life of sin, misery, ‘n’ shame.

    “After unbearable sufferin’ and loneliness — which sin always leads to — I eventually saw the error of my ways, repented of my sins, and returned to the LDS Church. Then I got rebaptized for the remission of my sins.”

    Tears were rolling down her cheeks as she related her painful misgivings, mistakes, and miserable story. What an amazingly strong woman she was to open up and share, honestly, her experiences and lessons with us young people. I was and still am impressed with her show of humility and integrity. Aunt Onie was a wonderful example to us students, that day … and a wonderful public speaker!

    Now let’s get back to where Mama was telling me about when she and her siblings lost Aunt Onie and their half-siblings who had been so much a part of their life for around fourteen years — including the two years or so when Onie babysat them and helped care for them before she married Grandpa Dayer as his plural wife:

    “Words cannot express the sorrow I felt … our whole family felt,” reminisced Mama –– “upon losing Aunt Onie and our playmates — our six half-brothers ‘n’ sisters we’d grown up with.

    “We’d shared the same house with them for seven years. And Aunt Onie had taken care of us like a second mother, while Mama was often gone — busy teachin’ piano lessons to help support the family.” 

    Mother and her siblings never got over having lost their “other mother,” and six half-siblings. But during the years my family lived in Hurricane, Utah, Mama and Aunt Onie visited regularly. This helped Mama not miss so much her mother and family in Mexico.


    *Note: They called Grandpa’s plural/second wife, “Aunt,” as a show of affection, respect, and kinship. Though in some polygamous families, the plural wife might have been called “Mama Onie,” or other such.



    PART 9

    My Mama:

    Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer…

    And the Perils of Polygamy, Cont.

    ma in pink skirt, 1
    My mama, Esther LeBaron-McDonald Spencer

    “The mother-child relationship

    is paradoxical,

    and in a sense, tragic.

    It requires the most intense love

    on the mother’s side,

    yet this very love must help the child

    grow away from the mother,

    and to become fully independent.”

    Erich Fromm



    Mother never told me much about how she was affected growing up in the polygamous love-triangle that existed between her parents and her father’s plural wife, Onie.

    She was two years old when her parents, who had already been married fourteen years, brought naïve and the trusting, pretty,  sexy, eighteen-year-old Onie (thirteen years younger than Mama’s mother, and twenty years younger than her father) into their already well-established family.

    Then they lived in the same house altogether (happily ever after?) the first seven years after her pa took his beloved, gorgeous, nubile Onie as a plural wife! Having, myself, been given away, at age sixteen, as a child bride in a prearranged polygamous marriage to a man ten years my senior, his first wife fifteen years my senior … and so on … I have a very good idea what bedlam innocent Onie found herself in!

    No fairy tales or beans about it: You can imagine there were plenty of troubles and extenuating circumstances that reigned in Mama’s immediate polygamous family-of-origin — a salt-of-the-earth family of scrabble farmers, house-painting handymen — and a piano-teaching Mommie (who was pregnant and bearing babies, besides, a good part of the time she was off teaching piano lessons).

    Especially must this polygamous arrangement have been difficult, given the triangulated (strangulated?) love affair of three adults all housed together under one crowded roof … a roof falling in on them … figuratively speaking, if not literally.

    Add to this hillbilly, barbarous, and backward combination the herd of babies, adolescents, and cantankerous teenagers — And one “priesthood-holding patriarch” — who reigned religiously, ruling the roost with a Mormon fundamentalist’s fanatic, foot-washing, and zealous iron hand:

    In orthodox Mormonism, the man has the first, last, and every word in between. So you can imagine, then, there was probably turmoil the likes of which you don’t want to imagine! (I’m just imagining!)

    I’m certain it was especially burdensome and difficult when, periodically, Mother’s father, Dayer, returned home after working in the United States for months on end. His frequent absenteeisms naturally heightened pressures between the two lonely,  overworked housewives who had to share him. But it also made it difficult for Grandpa Dayer to discipline his children who regarded their father as somewhat a stranger and only a visitor.

    Add to this hot-to-trot pot the deprivation and strain dire poverty presents in the lives of polygamous households and their large, deprived families of children — usually born within a year or two of each other. In such a situation, you have a volcanic and miserable stew abrew whose loose lid could blow off at any moment. And sometimes it did.

    So it had to be a pressure relief — and a welcome relief –– for Grandpa to be gone. At least, he wasn’t torn between trying to spread himself around amongst two wives and his umpteen children — each vying for a part of this X factor’s energies, time, help, money, and affection. (“Everything you own owns a part of you!”)

    In the polygamy brew, let’s not overlook, too, polygamist husbands are free to court and hang out with more than a few “Broads” — while away from their lonely wives … And one reason men seek sex is to relieve pressure.

    This philandering lifestyle is participated in by polygamist men with gusto and a narcissistic sense of entitlement — all the while their abandoned, put-upon, loving wives are home alone struggling to keep a meal on the table and clothes on the kids!

    Not only that: Polygamous wives are left to be mother and father of their womanizing husband’s broods of babies — children basically abandoned by their father and left to the equally abandoned wives to singlehandedly, dedicatedly, and religiously raise … And most likely in deprivation and poverty! It’s truly slave labor — even if a labor of love. And all in the name of religion (or slavery?)!



    PART 10

    My Mama:

    Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer …

    And The Perils of Polygamy, Cont.

    ma sitting, 2 1
    Mama, Esther LeBaron Spencer de McDonald, & grandchild

     One-of-a-kind: M-O-M

    Out of all the Mothers in the world,

    you’re one-of-a-kind; 

    So thanks, Mom!

    No better mama could I find!

    Rebecca Germany

    and Stephany Spencer-LeBaron


    Continuing where I left off in the previous blog discussing “The Perils of Polygamy,” let’s add to this perilous Mormon-fundamentalist doctrine discussion one of its greatest oxymorons:

    Child brides and young women are thrown into idealistic polygamous relationships without the least training or preparation for such difficult liaisons! This is one of the worst ingredients in this stressful and volatile plural-marriage-mess.

     And once thrown to the pernicious “polygamy wolves,” it’s “Stink, sink, or swim:” They’re eaten alive, then expected to automatically know how to spit up and live polygamy like a saint … though it’s an altogether unfair and unnatural way to live.

    Now add to this perilous, presumptuous, and preposterous plural-marriage pot the ever-abiding and overriding following foul-smelling, fallacious, and insidious ingredients: These unfortunate “plygs” believe they are Saints –– but they’re not. Now stir!

    A mature couple in a monogamous marriage generally has enough trouble making a go of it. When you throw into a nubile polygamous marriage all the ingredients included in the plural-marriage kit (a kit filled with kinks and sticks that wedge themselves into the spokes of the vehicle’s fine tuning) it’s a wonder the volatile wheel can turn at all!

    And a wonder the fire of love isn’t put out altogether. Sometimes it is. But often times there was no love, to begin with — just an arranged marriage participated in out of obligation and the brainwashed belief that’s what God wants.

    Add to this boiling brew that Mormon fundamentalists consider themselves “God’s chosen handful.” So they take for granted they,” God’s perfect Saints,” should automatically know how to cook it all up — the polygamous soup recipe, that is — perfectly — even though they got no training in the matter of how to be a “polygamist cook” — and ain’t no saints!

    Now add to this stew that there are no manuals — no recipes written on the subject of how to live the dastardly, difficult life of polygamy — let alone a Dr. Phil to contact for counseling and guidance — no matter how badly a wife, husband, child, and family needs help and advice.

    The end result? You have a cesspool — a living hell — not harmony. People have to shut off their emotions to survive! To be sure, it’s a life only true Saints could endure or traverse. Yet, fools wade in up to their nose where angels fear to tread. I know! I’ve been there, done that … and never want to do it again!

    So, I feel for my zealous grandmother, grandfather, and his plural wife, Aunt Onie (discussed in previous blogs). They tried so hard to live their Prophet Joseph Smith’s commandment: “Live polygamy or be damned to hell.

    Hell?! They were already in hell! They just didn’t know it! Or couldn’t admit it … because it ran against the grain of their religion to think, let alone dare believe such a thing.

    Poor miserable Mama! But as in all things in this world, amidst the bad, there’s always some good. And she attests that her childhood “had many wonderful times.” Nonetheless, she grew up in the polygamists’ barbarous, backward lifestyle laden with deprivation and unnecessary dilemmas.

    Monogamous mothers and fathers don’t have enough time, money, and attention to give to their children when they have from five to twenty-five babies — or more! — all born within a year or two of each other — as in the case of Mormon fundamentalist families.

    So you know the polygamist father of a huge herd of kids ain’t got the wherewithal to give to his flock — including all his wives. Therefore, Mama and her nineteen siblings and half-siblings, plus her mother, father, and his plural wife suffered a lot of needless hell … and they didn’t have to wait “till death do us part.”

    Only it’s considered blasphemous, among Mormon fundamentalists, to think this way. They generally wouldn’t dream of thinking the way I now think — though, let me tell you, it’s far from the way I was brought up to think!

    Mormon fundamentalists believe they are doing a glorious and blessed thing when they bring all the children they possibly can into “good Mormon fundamentalist families — and harems.” (I mean, it’s literally quantity, not quality!)

    After they’ve produced all the kids and wives they possibly can, they all then swim in their surreal soup, surviving only by living in a dream world where they’re cut off from their real feelings and individuality.

    This surreal, sanctimonious soup they manage to sip only by keeping a smile on their face, a prayer in their heart … and a tale in their head that they’re “very, very happy, mightily blessed ... and better/ better off than everyone else.”

    It’s a rather ridiculous but rewarding tale; one that assures them they’re going to “The highest degree of glory,” once they die (the women on their husband’s shirt tails, no less!) … because they lived polygamy and also had all the kids they possibly could.”

    (All that matters to most Mormon fundamentalists is how many wives and children they have! And whether the woman has a husband so she can go to heaven “on his shirt tails.”)

    They’re so misled … and reason even less. The truth is pretty much the opposite of what they believe. But they’re taught to follow their patriarchal leaders … not to use their head nor heart.

    They’re commonly told: “When your leader speaks, your thinking has been done.” And they’re admonished to sacrifice in this life … and live for the hereafter. (Life’s too miserable to live for the here-‘n’-now!)

    Living in this illusion — this delusion — they have no idea what real attention and love is.  Nor are they prepared to do as well nor have as good a life as they might have had were they raised normally; i.e., if they were raised to fit into our modern world … not a fastidious foot-washing fundamentalist fantasy.

    Sadly, in their religious fanaticism, they pass their masochistic, ignorant, depraved, deprived lifestyle on, generation after generation — a secluded, backward, and lawless lifestyle that perpetrates and perpetuates polygamy and huge progenies of neglected and abused children.

    What’s worse, in the name of religious freedom, these children born in the United States to one man and his multiple wives are children born without the protection and rights the rest of American children are born with. (That’s another story, but I’ve discussed it, somewhat, in earlier blogs.)

    Suffice it to say, “Plural marriage” is nothing but an illegal, insensitive, narcissistic, and irresponsible lifestyle generated by Joe Smith, an uneducated, sense-of-entitlement, self-proclaimed prophet … a “prophet” there for the “profit,” power, and prestige!



    *Continued in:

    My Memoir: My Mother, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And Mormon Polygamist Cults Unmasked — Parts 11–18

    ~ Pt 1–5: My Father Floyd Spencer, Fundamentalist Mormon LeBaron Cult Member

    PART 1

    My Memoir:
    My Daddy, Floyd Otto Spencer

    dad, 18 5

    My Daddy, Floyd Otto Spencer, age 19 



    My Papa’s Waltz
    The whiskey on your breath
    Could make a small boy dizzy;
    But I hung on like death:
    Such waltzing was not easy.
     
    We romped until the pans
    Slid from the kitchen shelf;
    My mother’s countenance
    Could not unfrown itself.
     
    The hand that held my wrist
    Was battered on one knuckle;
    At every step you missed
    My right ear scraped a buckle.
     
    You beat time on my head
    With a palm caked hard by dirt,
    Then waltzed me off to bed
    Still clinging to your shirt.
    BY THEODORE ROETHKE
     
    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 DADDY

     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 Memoir. 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 usually busy working. And even now he was hesitant to answer all our forward questions. But when asked about his bloodline, 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 might 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, anyway,” 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 her 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 in life 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!


    * I only recently I learned that Daddy had half-siblings, the products of his parents’ second marriages. I never heard about any of this when I was growing up. However, my point in this blog is to tell a little of my backstory. My purpose isn’t to tell my father’s full story. This is my memoir, not Daddy’s biography. I may write that somewhere down the line if I’m able to get all the information needed.


    PART 3


    dad-collage
    Family Collage includes Dad’s mom, and him as a boy (in glasses)


    Whatever you can do,
    or dream you can, 
    begin it.
    Boldness has genius, magic,
    and power in it.
    Begin it n
    ow.”

    ~Goethe~
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@




    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 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 very 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 come up with and make, though only a young boy — a child … things nobody else around him devised, 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 meIf 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 AdvantageHow 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.

    PART 4

    family, all but sharon.jpeg
    My family (minus one sibling) in early 1964



    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 get more 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 devil into 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, social media, and so forth.

    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!” 

    PART 5

    dad-51
    Daddy (Floyd Otto Spencer) in his mid-50s


       “A good memoir is born from that uniquely
    importanplace 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.

    NOTE: continued in “Pt 6-9, My Father Floyd Spencer, Fundamentalist Mormon LeBaron Cult Member.” Also, this series is posted in full on my website: “Pt 1-9, My Father Floyd Spencer, Fundamentalist Mormon LeBaron Cult Member”

     

    ~ Pt 1: My Mother Esther LeBaron Spencer, Me, and Polygamy

    My Memoir:
    My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer, Pt 1

    My Maternal Grandparents: Maud Lucinda McDonald & Alma Dayer LeBaron



    “Mother! For love of thee it was begun;
    In thy most honored name today ’tis done.
    And though all earthly cares must cease
    In that fair land of everlasting peace,
    Love aye is one, and they who love are one;
    Time cannot end what God in time begun;
    And thou wilt joy e’en in thine endless rest,
    To know thy child obeys thy last behest”

    A Nameless Nobleman
    Jane G. Austin 1881*
    *(I was told Jane Goodwin Austin is a great-grand-daughter-a-number-of-places-removed of Dr. Francis LeBaron and is my distant cousin.)





    MY MAMA, Esther LeBaron Spencer: Part One:

    The world called her “Plyg.” We called her “Mother,” or “Mama” — Daddy called her “Esther,” “Mother,” or “Ma” — as in “Go ask yer Ma.”

    My mama, Esther LeBaron Spencer, was born August 1, 1921, in Colonia Pacheco, Chihuahua, a small Mormon colony in Old Mexico. And died in 2013, at age 92, in Cancun, Mexico — I believe.

    She was the middle child of thirteen children born to Mormon fundamentalist Americans Maud Lucinda McDonald and Alma Dayer LeBaron — my maternal grandparents.

    Colonia Pacheco was colonized around the turn of the 20th century by American Mormon polygynists/ polygamists who crossed over the United States’ border to Mexico seeking refuge from prosecution when in 1862 the US government passed a law against polygamy.

    When Brigham Young said, “This is the place,” the land of Utah belonged to Mexico. Polygamy was not prosecuted there unless the first wife filed a complaint.

    But the Mormons’ new “safe haven” didn’t last long: The United States went to war with Mexico in 1846, won the battle in 1848, and the Utah Territory was ceded to the US in 1850 as part of the spoils.

    This meant Brigham Young’s polygamist Mormon church, much to their dismay, was once again under US law! So once again under fire to discard the practice of polygamy.

    In fact, by this date, the US Government was set to confiscate the Mormon church’s lands, property, money, and even their right to be called a church if they didn’t remove from their religious tenets this illegal, barbaric institution!

    So Wilford Woodruff, the presiding President/Prophet of the The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS church, was utterly forced to draw up “The Manifesto of 1890,” a mandate and “revelation from God” outlawing polygamy in the Mormon church.

    This explains why, then, before Mother was born, her parents/ my grandparents had left the United States to raise their family in Mexico: They intended to live “the law of plural marriage.” So this required, for their safety, they leave the Victorian Americans and join other Mormon fundamentalists in Mexico.

    My grandparents would not discontinue the practice of polygamy, despite the “Manifesto of 1890,” because they believed it was wrong for the Mormon church to have outlawed polygamy, no matter what, given their Prophet Joseph Smith had said that it must be lived to attain the highest degree of glory in the hereafter.

    With this stance, Mother’s parents became outlaws/laws unto themselves, because, they, along with a few other zealot Mormons, thought the Mormon church had fallen away from Joseph Smith’s true teachings.

    Therefore, they didn’t intend to go along with the new “revelation” and mandates regarding plural marriage set in 1890 by the Mormon church Prophet, Wilford Woodruff, and his Quarm of Twelve Apostles.



     NOTE: The following lyrics consist of a tongue-in-cheek poem/ song I wrote. It is posted on my Website, but I’ve included it in this blog because it has a couple of stanzas about Mama:

    Pretty City-Chick

     NOTE: The following is a tongue-in-cheek song I wrote: 

     Intro:
    Hi! I’m a hack who’s
    Written a hit
    Called “Pretty City-chick,”
    A Hee-ha Comedy Song —
    A Bi
    t o’ Bio in Verse,
    Fer Better or Worse —
    With Truth ‘n’ Exaggeration
    Interspersed:

    Hey, they say I’m a pretty City-chick
    And Hillbilly music makes some sick;
    But my Hillbilly ways are here to stick;
    So you may as well get over it —
    And join in ’n’ sing a bit,
    ‘Cause I’m a city-chick
    And shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.
    Born in Mexican sticks in 1946.
    I’ve dual citizenship,
    And that’s pretty hip.

    I’m an all-American-mongrel,
    Apple-pie girl
     —
    Hines-57 mixed-up mutt,
    With apple pie stickin’ to my gut ’n’ butt;
    But red-necked reactionary ignoramuses
    Ain’t my thing.
    I’m here for music and to sing!

    Yeah, I’m an All-American-Mexican,
    Scotch-Irish “Mick”
    ,
    With Welch ’n’ English,
    So sure, I’m a Brit;
    With French, German,
    And Mohawk Indian a bit.
    If there’s no Tom Slick hidin’ in the pit,
    Far as I know, that’s about it —
    That‘s my story
    And I’m “shitickin” to it!

    My father was a proud Veteran
    Of World War I.
    Those Vets were well-appreciated
    For what they’d done!
    Pa was an artist, creative,
    And Jack-of-all-trades;
    Master of a few —
    Good at so many things,
    There was little he couldn’t do.

    Ma was a creative, author,
    And artist, thru ’n’ thru;
    Poet, performer,
    Trained concert pianist — Whew!
    She loved to discuss religious principles
    And read religious Lit, old ’n’ new —
    Long as it agreed with
    What she already “knew.”
    She graduated with a BA
    In Journalism too;
    Quite an accomplishment
    ‘Cause Ma was sixty-two!

    She was runnin’ me competition then,
    For I was still in College too,
    Strugglin’ to make it up
    From the cult she’d put me thru …
    If she only knew!
    But her motto was:
    Anything you can do,
    I can do better;
    I can do anything better ‘n you!”
    (And she meant it, too!)

    Refrain:
    Hey, they say I’m a “pretty City-Chick,”
    But Hillbilly music is my “shtick,”
    And my Hillbilly ways are here to stick;
    So you may as well “git” over it
    And join in ‘n’ sing a bit
    With this hip city-chick,
    ‘Cause shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.

    Born in Mexican sticks in 1946,
    I’ve dual citizenship
    And that’s pretty hip.
    Well, that’s my story
    And I’m “shtickin’ ” to it:
    I’m a pretty city-chick.

    (By Stephany Spencer 2016)

     

     


     

     

     


    ~ My Song: “A Happy-New-Year Medley”

     HAPPY NEW YEAR!
    TWO-THOUSAND-NINETEEN IS HERE!!

    new-years-day

    By Stephany Spencer
    (to tune of Auld Lang Syne)

    1-  Two-thousand-nineteen is here!
    We are one year older:
    Everyone has grown
    And we are bolder
    As we enter this new year.

     So let us make a resolution
    To never be the problem —
    Only the solution
    To our problems … every one.

    2-  Then let us spread hope and good cheer
    From here on through December,
    ‘Cause, when it is all said and done,
    That is what people remember.

    Chorus:
    So Happy New Year, everyone!
    Happy New Year, everyone!!
    Let’s spread good cheer and have some fun —
    Another new year has begun!


    (Traditional Scott’s air, Auld Lang Syne, by Robert Burns)

    3-  Should auld acquaintance be forgot
    And never brought to mind?
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot
    And days of auld lang syne?

    For days of auld lang syne, my jo,
    For days of auld lang syne;
    We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
    For days of auld lang syne.

    ~ My Song: “Pretty City Chick: A Bit o’ Bio in Verse”

    Stephany Spencer-LeBaron, age 38

     Pretty City Chick

    Dearest friends and fans: Please note:
    This “sorta” silly song I wrote
    Is half-finished so I won’t gloat —
    And pray my poem won’t get your goat;

    But it’s late — my blog’s due “mañana;
    If you check this song later on … uh …
    You may find it partly “re-wrote.”
    It needs work,” is my last quote.
    Even so, enjoy what I wrote,
    As I humorously emote:

    Pretty City Chick

     NOTE: The following is a tongue-in-cheek song I wrote: 

     Intro:
    Hi! I’m a Hack Who’s
    Written a hit
    Called “Pretty City chick,”
    A Hee-ha Comedy Song —
    A Bi
    t o’ Bio in Verse,
    Fer Better or Worse —
    With Truth ‘n’ Exaggeration
    Interspersed:

    Hey, they say I’m a pretty City chick
    And Hillbilly music makes some sick;
    But my Hillbilly ways are here to stick;
    So you may as well get over it —
    And join in ’n’ sing a bit,
    ‘Cause I’m a city chick
    And shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.

    Born in Mexican sticks in 1946.
    I’ve dual citizenship,
    And that’s pretty hip —
    But now I’m a city chick.

    I’m an all-American-mongrel,
    Apple-pie girl
     —
    Hines-57 mixed-up mutt,
    With apple pie stickin’ to my gut ’n’ butt;
    But red-necked reactionary ignoramuses
    Ain’t my thing.
    I’m here for music and to sing!

    Yeah, I’m an All-American-Mexican,
    Scotch-Irish “Mick”
    ,
    With Welch ’n’ English,
    So sure, I’m a Brit,
    With French, German,
    And Mohawk Indian a bit.
    If there’s no Tom Slick hidin’ in the pit,
    Far as I know, that’s about it —
    That‘s my story
    And I’m “shitickin” to it!

    My father was a proud Veteran
    Of World War I.
    Those Vets were well-appreciated
    For what they’d done!
    Pa was an artist, creative,
    And Jack-of-all-trades;
    Master of a few —
    Good at so many things,
    There seemed little he couldn’t do.

    Ma was a creative, author,
    And artist, thru ’n’ thru;
    Poet, performer,
    Trained concert pianist — Whew!
    She loved to discuss religious principles
    And read religious Lit, old ’n’ new —
    Long as it agreed with
    What she already “knew.”
    She graduated with a BA
    In Journalism too;
    Quite an accomplishment
    ‘Cause Ma was sixty-two!

    She was runnin’ me competition then,
    For I was still in College too,
    Strugglin’ to make it up
    From the cult she’d put me thru …
    If she only knew!
    But her motto was:
    Anything you can do,
    I can do better;
    I can do anything better than you!”
    (And she meant it too!)

    Refrain:
    Hey, they call me a “pretty City Chick,”
    But Hillbilly music is my “shtick,”
    And my Hillbilly ways are here to stick;
    So you may as well “git” over it
    And join in ‘n’ sing a bit
    With this pretty city chick,
    ‘Cause shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.

    Born in Mexican sticks in 1946,
    I’ve dual citizenship
    And that’s pretty hip.
    Well, that’s my story
    And I’m “shtickin’ ” to it:
    “I’m a pretty city chick.”

    (By Stephany Spencer)


    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-writ”  part of it!):




    ~ My song: Thanksgiving Day Medley

    Our First Thanksgiving Day:
    A Thanksgiving Medley

    indians-and-pilgrims-color

    Across the Atlantic Ocean, a long time ago
    Came pilgrims on the Mayflower, a new world to know.
    Freedom of religion was what they sought;
    Starvation and illness were problems they fought.

    But the people worked together,
    And some friendly Indians taught
    These pilgrims how to better use the new land they got.
    So it wasn’t long before they could say:

    We’ve made it through this first hard year: 
     Let’s have a feast and thank the Lord
    On our grateful Thanksgiving Day!”

    Tag: So they had a feast to celebrate
    Our first Thanksgiving Day!)

    (*Note: Sing to traditional tune:
    Over the River and Through the Woods,”
    — with some variation.
    Follow my lyrics by singing traditional song below.)

    (By Stephany Spencer, 1990)
    (Photo courtesy of Google Plus)

     


    Traditional song:
    “Thanksgiving Day”

    1- Over the river and through the woods,
    To Grandfather’s house we go;
    The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh,
    Through the white and drifted snow.
    Oh, over the river and through the woods,
    Oh, how the wind does blow!
    It stings the nose and it bites the toes,
    As over the ground we go!

    2- Over the river and through the woods,
    To have a first-rate play,
    Hear the bells ring,”Ting-a-ling-ling”!
    Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
    Over the river and through the woods,
    Trot fast my dapple gray!
    Spring over the ground, like a hunting hound!
    For this is Thanksgiving Day!

    3- Over the river and through the woods,
    And straight through the barnyard gate,
    We seem to go extremely slow,
    It is so hard to wait!
    Over the river and through the woods,
    Now, Grandmother’s cap I spy!
    Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
    Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

    My poem: “Bio Ballad in Verse, for Better or Worse”

    daddy-ma-and-fam-in-color
    I’m age 12 here, 2nd to left, middle row

    Bio Ballad in Verse — for Better or Worse

    I was born some time ago,
    Way out in the sticks,
    In Mexico’s Rocky Mountain Range,
    The year 1946;

    Was raised in a
    Mormon fundamentalist cult,
    Where renegade,
    Self-righteous, half-hicks
    Believed it sinful
    With “the world,” to mix.

    But they were mostly
    Egotistical fools,
    Who thought they were ”
    “God’s chosen handful;”
    God’s Saints and
    Heavenly-kingdom “tools”!

    Unfortunately, they were
    Mostly backward bigots,
    Extremists, and
    White-trash hypocrites —
    Full of themselves,
    False pride, and narcissism,
    They fed on stoicism,
    Self-denial, and masochism!

     “You can lead a horse to water,
    But you can’t make it drink
    .”
    Same goes for blind followers
    Being lead to the brink:
    Unless they choose to lift their blinders
    And use their God-given head,
    Brainwashed from birth,
    They will usually follow, instead;
    You can’t change them;
    You can’t make them think.

    So by the time I turned seven,
    My parents had seven girls in a row —
    When we went walking down the street,
    We presented quite a show!

    By the time I was eleven,
    There were children ten:
    My parents believed birth control
    Would keep them out of heaven.

    So when I turned thirteen,
    I had siblings twelve;
    For everything I ever got,
    I had to dig and delve!

    By the time I was twenty-one,
    I was fit to go under,
    But God created a wonder:
    Catapulted me asunder
    Like a bolt of thunder —
    And hurled into the “wicked” world!

    Now, on the outside looking in
    At these “Saints” knee-deep in sin,
    I gaze at them and quietly pray,
    As I smother a little grin:

     “Thank you, Goodness,
    For helping me win:
    Thank you for the free agency
    To begin again!

    “Yeah, thank you, God,
    For my freedom of choice;
    And thanks for the right
    To follow my own voice;
    And to be wise
    And eventually self-actualize
    !”

    Thus, I escaped the stoic hell —
    Left the cult behind,
    To go out in “the wicked world,
    A better life to find.
    Well, every year’s gotten better
    Since I fled that bitter bind.

     I’ve found, out in “the world,”
    A better life and times,
    Where people are more compassionate,
    Educated, and kind.

    So thank you, my new world
    Oh, how you shine!
    And thank you for helping me
    Make it, dear Humankind.

       (Stephany Spencer 2016)

    ~ My Notes, Quotes, Jokes, Pokes, ‘n’ Anecdotes


    Bimbo Weeps:

     I’m sittin’ alone in the moonlight,
    At the Heartbreak Hotel Café,
    Abandoned by women and men;
    And here’s all I have to say,
    “I’ll never eat garlic nor onions again —
    Not till my dying day —
    NOT if it drives possible friendships away,
    Miraculously keeping romance at bay!”

    By Stephany Spencer

    ****************************************






    man-in-bed-with-three-women

    Bimbo Notes:

    One’s a plenty, two’s a crowd,
    Three on the sidewalk is not allowed.”
    Anonymous
    (But have you ever noticed in “Big Love” they might
    Be doing it behind your back — or closed doors?
    Step on a crack and try to keep track!)
    Stephany Spencer





    *************************************************
    Bimbo Speaketh

    Please, God, don’t let me be a fruitcake this Christmas;
    I don’t want to be eaten by one either!
    Stephany Spencer

    *************************************************




    dog-on-computer

    Online Dating

    When it comes to online dating,
    If  you’re lookin’ for a mating,
    The odds are good
    That the goods are odd;
    So “wrots of wruck” with your mate-baiting!
    I won’t be holding my bag waiting.
    Stephany Spencer

    &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&





     Longing for a Soulmate No More

    I used to long for a Soulmate,
    But I don’t long anymore,
    ‘Cause I damn well know in my core
    Who’d get stuck picking up after him …
    Plus a whole lot more!

    For that same reason,
    In my “Golden-Sage” season,

    I no longer dream of Mr. Wright
    Nor a shining-armored knight;
    I’ve learned they’re all fairytales –
    No one’s coming to save me;
    For sure, no horny, hairy males!
    And Stupid-Cupid least of all:
    Cupid’s but Libido and Nature
    Having a ball.

    At long last, I’ve come to see

    My soulmate’s the other half of me;
    And it’s well that this should be.
    So I’ll leave my fate to God,
    And what will be, we’ll see!

    Stephany Spencer

     

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    Me, Myself, and I

    Sittin’ alone in the moonlight,
    I heard a lonesome cry;
    It must have come from within;
    There was only me, myself, and I!

    Then I chanced to ask it,”Why? Why?!”
    Spoke the voice in soft reply:
    “’Because, wherefore, and therefore; That’s why!”
    So I gathered myself up with a sigh,
    To face the great by-and-by and cry,

    Because, in reality, there could only be
    Lonely me, myself, and I.
    By Stephany Spencer
    (Written at age 14)              

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    Bimbo Speaks:
    “Love may be blind,
    but jealousy and envy sport
    wide-angled telescopic vision
    with binocular hindsight!”
    Stephany Spencer



    lady-with-the-hat

    “Complacency breeds poor insight,
    While envy sports telescopic sight!”
    Stephany Spencer




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    cartoon-dancer

    Says Bimbo:
    Who cares if four-inch heels
    Give you bunions,
    Backaches, ‘n’ achin’ feet?

    What’s important is yer legs
    Look long ‘n’ sleek,
    And yer ankles slim ‘n’ petite!
    Stephany Spencer

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    cas-in-black-hat

     Bimbo Says: 

    “There’s a vast amount of undeveloped territory
    just below my fancy hat ‘n’ hairdo —
     right betwixt me ears two!”
    Stephany Spencer

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    mouse-minnnie

    The Bimbo Class

    My claim-to-fame is shoppin’,
    ‘Cause most parts of me
    Are perfect ‘n’ hoppin’;

    So if it’s all the same to you,
    I’ll keep right on a-boppin’
    In my fancy hat ’n’ updo–

    Let the intellectuals study it,
    If they want to —

    And the undeveloped matter
    Under it too!

    But in “Alice, Through the Lookin’ Glass,
    It didn’t matter where
    The Mad Hatter had ‘er — nor ‘er class;
    An’ it doesn’t matter a hair
    To the hare, either, what I do
    So don’t be a “hare-up-my-ass”!
    (Well, did you expect better
    Of the Bimbo class?!)
    Stephany Spencer








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    gray-hair

    A Bimbo-Breakthrough:
    Old age ain’t for sissies …
    And neither is bein’ a woman!
     Stephany Spencer 

    Bio Ballad of a Cult Survivor: My Bio in Verse, for Better or Worse

     

    dad-ma-9-kids-1
    My family in 1956 — I’m in middle row, 2nd From left


    Bio Ballad of a Cult Survivor:
    My Bio in Verse, for Better or Worse
    (by Stephany Spencer)

    1-  I was born some time ago, way out in the sticks,
    In a Mormon cult in Mexico, in nineteen forty-six;
    By the time I was eleven, we were a family of twelve;
    For everything I ever got, I had to dig and delve.
    Refrain: Dig and delve? Yes, dig and delve.
    For everything I ever got, I had to dig and delve.

    2-  We lived among the hicks; created toys out of sticks,
    But we thought we were the best — God’s chosen people!
    This was the only life I knew, all the while I grew;
    To pass God’s tests is what we were here to do.

    Chorus
     Oh, a hick! Yes, a dad-gummed polygamist hick,
    Born into a cult, “Plyg!” was the ultimate insult;
    But how was I to know someday I would grow
    And leave it all behind, that stoic life of woe?
    Refrain: Life of woe? Oh, misery and woe –
    So I left it all behind, a better world to know

    3-  A masochistic life of hell we all did sow —
    It was the only world I’d ever know,
    Till one day I did find these people were all blind —
    And sniffing after some false prophet’s behind!

    5-  So I escaped this fanatic cult — left it all behind;
    Into the world I went, a whole new life to find;
    I settled in LA, and found a better way;
    And now I am a Graduate of UCLA.

    6  When I fled the polygamist cult, wasn’t sure what to expect;
    Times were hard and the wages were too low.
    But I kept on keeping on, though progress was slow;
    ‘Twas better than I got in Old Mexico.

    7-  Now here I am today, living in a whole new way
    From the backward one I started out with;
    I’m grateful for each day, and the good ole USA,
    “You’ve come a long way, Babe,” I tell myself each day.
    TAG: I am a cult survivor, you sure could say —
    And a thriver in every way!

             

    Some of My Pieces Published 2007–2008 in the California Writers Club “The Scribe”

     

                                                                                      writing-man-with-pen-etc

    * NOTE: I have taken some of my pieces that were published in the California Writers Club’s newsletter, when I was their Program Chair, and put them on this page, sans the full newsletter they were published in.

    Sadly, when I copied and pasted my pieces to this page, the photos, color, etc., did not copy and paste here. Therefore the publications mostly look very drab. What a difference images and color make!


    California Writers Club – SFVServing the writers of Greater Los Angeles”

    THE SCRIBE

    established since 1983 –

    Vol. XXI, No. 4 http://www.calwriterssfv.com December 2007

     

    Local Agent Lands Writers on Oprahoprah-with-a-book

    By Stephany Spencer

    Look out December! Our guest presenter will be literary agent, Sharlene Martin, of “Considerate literary management for the 21st Century.”

    The importance of a pre-query game plan will be stressed, as will an outline of the essential elements of effective queries that will generate positive responses.

    This event is bound to be barrels of fun, while still offering sound advice. You’ll walk out equipped to generate query letters that truly invite interest. And you’ll find that the sense of knowing how to do it is a sure confidence-booster for the “pitch fest” to follow this session.

    Since founding Martin Literary Management in 2003, Sharlene has mounted spectacular successes for her clients, including over 60 non-fiction sales to such major publishers as Crown, Penguin, Putnam, Rodale, St. Martin’s, McGraw Hill, Ballantine, Harper Collins, – and many boutique and independent publishers. She’s boosted clients in Readers Digest, People Mag and the London Times.

    Examples of her success in the industry are her client’s book, “You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again.” It hit the New York and LA Times Best Seller lists in 2006 and was recently optioned to E!- Entertainment for development as a sitcom. And Brad Cohen’s book, “Front of the Class,” is now in development with Hallmark for a television movie.

    In the past year alone, her clients have made appearances on The Today Show, Oprah, The View, Good Morning America, Martha Stewart, The Apprentice, 20/20, Discovery Channel, Inside Edition, Donny Deutsch and Fox News.

    So come touch base and break bread with the Agent who might be your lucky star. And let’s all look forward to this December. □□

    She will share secrets for big-time connections that could make you a star. And she really knows; one of her clients was a guest on Oprah.

    Says Martin, “Crazy Queries” is sure to be the best advice you’ll ever get on what NOT to do with your writing career.” Get ready to laugh while you learn from first-hand accounts of misguided queries.

    You’re guaranteed to chuckle at queries that make truth stranger than fiction. Says Martin, “Some will seem as if the writer can’t possibly be serious, and some will make you wince to think any poor soul ever thought their letter would get them an agent.”

     

     

    ““““““““““““““““““““““`

    * * * * * * *

    FAST FORWARD

    By: Stephany Spencer

    Coming In January…

    Anthony Flacco: True Crime and Crime Fiction…

    “True crime” is all about getting the story rights; choices of action and character are secondary. Crime fiction is all about getting the story right; choices of genre and style are secondary.”

    Anthony, an award-winning author, orator, and actor, with a screenwriting background, frequently gives seminars on crime writing. He is a featured speaker on writing for writers’ conferences and clubs. Look for an interactive seminar, answering many commonly asked questions such as:

    1- How does one handle legal matters and agreements with the person one is writing about?
    2-  Do you always need to cut in the person you are writing about?
    3-  Just what is a sellable idea?
    4-  How do we find common ground in the True Crime/Non-Fiction market?

     


    COMING IN FEBRUARY...

    Kitty Dill: Award-winning Journalism Editor

    This will be an exciting interactive seminar wherein Kitty will not only answer your questions about writing Press Releases, getting your pieces on “The Hub,” or in the Ventura County Star newspaper but will also expound on what to do when “60 Minutes” shows up at your door.

    These upcoming seminars are sure hits, with something for everyone — so come enjoy, and help make our afternoon a real hit, yourself, by your own presence there.
    Ciao till next time!

     

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    California Writers Club – SFVServing the writers of Greater Los Angeles

    THE SCRIBE

    – established since 1983 –

    Vol. XXII, No. 1 http://www.calwriterssfv.com January 2008

    Who’ll be the Next Star on Oprah? By: Stephany Spencer

    Happy New Year to our valued members and guests of the Greater Los Angeles California Writers Club!

    We’re starting out with a great program this January 12th featuring the inimitable husband and wife dynamic duo, literary agents, Ashley and Carolyn Grayson.

    Dr. Scott Sonders and I have reviewed the web pages of their literary agency and we are impressed and excited with what we see: Ashley and Carolyn Grayson represent literary and commercial fiction and some non-fiction for adults: including business, self- help, scientific, pop culture, true crime, and mind/body/spirit.

    They also represent fiction for younger readers. Clients on their fiction list include Isaac Adamson, John Barnes, Andrew Fox, Barb and J.C. Hendee, Bruce Coville, J.B. Cheaney, David Lubar, and Christopher Pike.

    The Grayson’s are both members of the Association of Authors’ Representation. Ashley is also a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. And Carolyn is a member of Romance Writers of America.

    Since our membership especially appreciates an interactive production that informs and entertains, we know you won’t want to miss the January 12th presentation.

    So with that said, let me end my “piece” with this extended “peace” to everyone:

    Happy New Year, CWC!

    Two-thousand-eight is here,
    We’re another year older;
    Our membership has grown;
    Our writers are bolder.

    As we enter this new year,
    Let’s make a resolution
    To attend our meetings
    And be “The Solution.”

    And let us spread good cheer
    By welcoming each member;
    ‘Cause, when it’s all said ’n’ done,
    That’s what we’ll remember.

    Well, happy new year, everyone!

    (poem by Stephany Spencer  2008)

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                                                                      Board Members

    Scott A. Sonders, President         George Hirai, interim VP1   Debra Zednik, Secretary James Ganatta, Treasurer

    Advisory Board:

    Venita Louise, Membership Chair,    Stephany Spencer, Programs Chair,
    Richard Deets, Critique Groups          Larry Fazio, Events Manager

    Mike Austin, Development Chair Olivia Mohler, Hospitality Chair Patty Foltz, Webmaster
    Farah Khalid, Videographer

    Team Members:

    Scott Sonders, State Rep2
    Lenora Smalley, SFV Spokesperson     Bruce Zacuto, Sergeant-at-Arms
    Leila Morris, Editorial    Megan Masten, Outreach     Elizabeth Jaimes, Hospitality

    1 also: Editor of the Scribe
    2 also: VP of the CWC-Central Board

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    FAST FORWARD, by Stephany Spencer

    Coming in February – Kitty Dill:
    Award Winning Journalism Editor…
    This will be an exciting & interactive seminar. Kitty gives the inside view about writing and submitting Press Releases and getting those releases into newspapers. She ought to know, she’s an editor for the Ventura County Star and their internet “Hub.” Kitty will also titillate on what to do when “60 Minutes” shows up at your door.

    Coming in March – Linda O. Johnston: Attorney and Romance Writer…
    A practicing attorney armed with a double barrel shotgun, a B.A. in Journalism and a Doctorate in Law! The amazing “Linda O!” juggles her busy schedule to write in the afternoons and teach in the evenings. We’ve long awaited the info she’ll share on the legalese involved in writing. BONUS: bring your questions about writing PR, mystery and romance.

     

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    By: Stephany Spencer                                       March  2008

    March 8th will spring into action on the green, while we greet you with a “top o’ the morning,” as gifted attorney, teacher, and writer, Linda O. Johnston, will testify to the legalese of writing… the Do’s and Don’ts that could make or break your writing career.

    Linda now lives overlooking Lake Hollywood – the perfect place to turn anything into a Romance, Suspense or Mystery novella. Meanwhile, her two dogs protect her from any real danger – while her Muse has her way with her. And that generally happens every afternoon when she escapes the realities of the true crime at her law office and indulges her fantasies in such endeavors as her latest Kendra Ballantyne,”Pet-Sitter” that recently sold to Silhouette Nocturne.

    This amazing “Linda O!” has the writers’ enviable double-barrel shotgun: a B.A. in journalism and a JD degree from Duquesne.

    Her writing career began by running a small newspaper. Then she worked in advertising and Public Relations and later moved into her Law Practice. As if that were not enough, The multi-talented Linda also has avocations in writing, speaking, and teaching.

    A member of the Mystery Writers of America (Sisters in Crime) and Romance Writers of America, we are pleased to have Linda O. Johnston regale us with her Leprechaun magic and lucky charms. I plan to bring my bag and capture some of it, myself, to take home. It sure beats a trip to Ireland to try to acquire some! ◊◊

     

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    ~ My Original Quotes, Notes, ‘n’ Anecdotes on Writing ‘n’ Creativity

    me-waitress-1
    Stephany Spencer, age 20, taken off guard

    Hi! I am Stephany Spencer, Poet, Lyricist, Memoirist, and Musician — a professional Jackalinof-many-trades. And a retired teacher on her endless summer. Welcome to my own little corner of the world-wide-web! 

    As we speak, my fledgling Website continues to grow as I continue to develop the skills of a Webmaster, Blogger, and Photoblogger.
     It’s work so fun, I doubt it will ever be done!
    For I do love the creative process —

    The “one-on-one.”
    I’m thrilled to share it with you here on my very own little online block of the globe:
    My valuable virtual acre of Internet real estate! 

    I’m looking forward to connecting with you. Till then, feel free to click around and scroll down on this blog site, and also on my Menu Bar, to become acquainted with my Website. It was lovely chatting with you. If you are a follower of my blogs, that’s even lovelier!

    Till next time, then, be well and cheers!
    Your Host,
    Stephany Spencer

    PS: Please note:
    Ever a Creative, the world is my oyster
    and I a pearl forming within her.
    Life is my canvas on which I purposely
    paint and spin with gusto,
    All the while it takes me along to
    new dimensions — then hopefully on
    to her “pearly” gates and within!

     I have learned: “If you rest, you rust” —
    You either live or die.
    Bob Dylan so aptly reminds us
    of this in his lyric line
    borrowed from the late great
    singer-songwriter, 
    Woodie Guthrie:
     “If you aren’t busy livin’, you’re busy dyin’.”

    And So here’s to life!
    I’m tryin,’ yes, I am —
    And though I ain’t thru cryin’,
    “L’ Chaim,” and cheers, 
    ~Stephany Spencer

    PS: On another note,
    I am the proud progeny of
    a long list of writers and poets:

    I’ve inherited a bit of their giftedness
    for writing verse, for better or worse.

    This is my double-edged sword:
    A gift and a curse.

    But Life goes on, comes and is gone …
    Sail On,” says my California Writers Club emblem.
     Now if you look closely, you may see me sailing on,

    “Writing” “write” now on a song!
    So “write on”!

    Dwell in possibilities,”
    said Emily Dickinson.

    These possibilities are all that
    keep me from falling off
    As I get along!
    Stephany Spencer





    writing-man-with-pen-etc

      Ode to The California Writers Club

    The California Writers Club is our oyster, 
    And we writers the pearls being polished within her.
    Stephany Spencer  2016 

    pearl in oyster

     2016 marked the 30th anniversary of CWC-SFV,
    Wherein the California Writers Club has been our oyster,

     And we members pearls growing within her;
     Daily being polished till we sparkle and shimmer
    With illustrious word pearls that glimmer ‘n’ glitter
    “Write on” to vocabulary perfection.

    Stephany Spencer 2016



     

    Advice for Creatives:
    Dare to fail or fail to dare!
     That is, take it on a dare:
    Dare to fail to do well.
    For you must first dare to fail,
     Or you’ll never discover
    If you can do anything well!
    Stephany Spencer 




    floral-background-vintage

    Advice for Creatives:
    To do well, first dare to fail —
    or fail to dare do anything well!

    Buoyed when Pressfield encouraged creative works,
    My own creativity now no longer shirks;
    I’ve ceased hiding my light beneath lampshades;
    Because today I dare call spades, spades;
    I’m beginning to finally face my muse
    And my own creative juices use.

    ‘Tis said one must “paint badly” to paint well;
    Or dare to “write badly” to tell a tale;
    Where our creative works will lead,
    If we but follow our beckoning heed,
    We never can know nor can we tell;
    All we can do is dare to fail,
    In order to find out if we can do well.

    In other words, we must start somewhere
    Our powers of creativity to share and wield —
    Resist resistance,” stresses Steven Pressfield,
    In his inspired work, The War of Art;
    If we don’t dare fail, we’ll never start,
    Never write the book of our heart;
    Never let genius do its part.

    So dare to break through the blocks:
    Whenever your amazing muse knocks,
    Win your inner creative battles
    By daring to fail to ever do well;
    The final outcome time only can tell.
    But it’s worth the effort to give your gifts,
    For you discover and fulfill yourself as well,
    When you create art and tell your tale.
    Stephany Spencer 2016






           dog-on-computer

    1-  “Point Blank:”
     The point at which all thought leaves the frontal lobe
    and one comes face to face with writer’s block.

    (Author unknown — Dan Pointer?)




    2-  “Point Blank:”
    The point at which one’s pen comes face to face with
    an empty frontal lobe shot through by the bullet of writers’ block.

    (Stephany Spencer)





     

    Most creatives who’ve achieved monumental fame
    First had to master their dynamic domain.
    Stephany Spencer

    A song is nothing but a poem set to music.
    Stephany Spencer






    writing-pad-and-desk

    ~  I was sixty before my dormant creativity
    Picked itself up from the doormat
    Where it pretty much played a passive act …
    For forty years, to be exact.
    ( Stephany Spencer)






    spiderweb-in-blue

    ~  I was sixty before my dormant creativity
    Picked herself up from the doormat,
    Dusted herself off and began to shine —
    After having lain there for forty years
    Collecting the dust and cobwebs of time.
    Hallelujah!! Now I no longer need
    an X-Ray Machine my muse to find!

    ( Stephany Spencer)





    nice-spiderweb


    ~  My creativity lay hibernating thirty years
    In the dusty cobwebs of time,
    Before it picked itself up and came back out
    Into the light of day to shine;
    Now I no longer need a flashlight
    my amusing muse to find!

    ( Stephany Spencer)






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    “Think in terms of possibilities.”
    (Emily Dickinson)






     

    This quote I wrote — I wrote this quote:

    Yesterday’s sorrow is the humor of tomorrow;
    In other words: Today’s sorrow is grist 
    For the humor mills of tomorrow.

    Please Note: I wrote each quote; 
    Though the concept has been around a long time,
    ‘Twas moi who put it to rhythm and rhyme.
    (Stephany Spencer)




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    Innovation
    The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas

    as in escaping from old ones.
    ~ J M Keynes

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



     feet-and-sandals

    “Long Fellows”

    I’m a poet and I know it,
    But my feet don’t show it:
    They’re not “Longfellow’s;”
    They’re “short fellows“!
    (Stephany Spencer)


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    My Song: “Mariachi Musician Juan José”

    mexican-mariachi

     

    Mariachi Musician Juan José

    1-  He was born some time ago,
    Way out in the sticks,
    In a valley of Old Mexico,
    The year nineteen-forty-six.

      By the time he turned thirteen,
    There were siblings of twelve;
    For everything he ever got
    He had to dig and delve.

    CHORUS:  Dig and delve, yes, dig and delve —
    For everything he ever got,
     He had to dig and delve.

    2- Then across the US border
    To the county of LA,
    Came this young man with many dreams;
    His name was Juan José.

     He wasn’t sure what to expect,
    Didn’t know the welcome he’d get;
    And progress seemed too slow,
    But Juan was glad because he could grow. (Chorus)

    3-  Though times were very tough,
    Juan never did give up—
    Never thought to quit—
    It was better than in Mexico he’d get!

      You should see him playing now
    In a Mariachi band;
    He’s adding to the culture
    Of our noble land. (Chorus)

    Tag: Yes, he’s adding to the culture
    of our noble land!

    (By Stephany Spencer, 1990)
    *(Photo courtesy of Google Plus)

    My Poem: “From My Diary As An Adolescent Mormon Girl”

    daddy-ma-and-fam-in-color
    I’m in middle row, 2nd to left

     

    Oh, To Be Just Me!

    I was born some time ago,
    Way out in the sticks,
    In a  Mormon colony in Mexico,
    In nineteen-forty-six.

    My family moved to the US
    When I was only one —
    Right after The Great Depression
    And World War II were done.

    We’re now eleven kids
    Though I’m only twelve;
    For everything I’ve ever had,
    I’ve had to dig ‘n’ delve.

    I’m told strife will strengthen me
    Clear down to my core;
    Hope this really is the case —
    For “Strengthening’s” such a chore!

    Can’t wait till I’m grown-up
    And have a family;
    For instead of just “becoming,”
    I’d really like to “be.”
    Oh, just to be me!

    (Written at age 12)

    My Poem: “The Sands of My Hourglass”

       hourglass-with-sand-and-watch

    The sands of time are running
    Through my hourglass,
    Telling me I don’t have much time –
    Taking away my time as sure
    As any hands on a clock;
    And I can’t get the speed to stop;
    Neither my heart that goes
    Pitter-pat like raindrops
    On the window pane of my life;
    And like the pain in my soul
    That’s running down my cheeks
    Like teardrops on a window glass —
    Or the glasses I look out from.

    And I wonder what is wrong
    And why my time
    Won’t stop running away with me
    And from me —
    Hard as I try to catch up with it —
    Get with it — not behind it.
    It’s synonymous with
    Life’s impermanence,
    Which I also want to stop
    But cannot control
    Any more than the sands running
    Through the hourglass
    Of my life … or my door-stop.

    ~ My Song: “A New Day’s Dawning”

    blazing-night-view

     A New Day’s Dawning:
    By Stephany Spencer  

    1- I feel bad, I feel blue,
    Sad because this day is through;
    Still so much left to do;
    But in the morning I’ll start anew.
    For God gives, and God takes;
    Every day is a gift God makes.
    Soon my life will be through,
    But Blues, be off with you!
    (Chorus)

    2-  Same ole story, same ole song:
    Can’t believe this day is gone!
    But a new day’s coming along,
    Beginning at the break of dawn,
       Bringing with it a brand-new song:
    We’re all right where we belong;
    By doing right, we can’t go wrong,
    So blues get along! Begone!

    Chorus:
    “Every day’s a blessing, every day’s a song;
    Grateful for each golden dawn.
    Though this day will soon move on,
    When one day closes, another comes along.
    When one day closes, a new day comes along.

       

    ~ My Memoir Poem: I Entered the World Foot First — My Rebirthing Experience

     

     

    feeding-baby

    In 1986, I learned it was possible to be hypnotized and taken back to the moment I was born. Being a curious person, I hired a female therapist who specialized in doing “Rebirthings.” Through her hypnosis session, she guided me back to the moment of my birth!

    That’s when I became certain about two things:
    1- Everything is stored in our memory from birth.
    2- There were even things in my memory that took place before I was born. So now I also know we are present in spirit, watching what goes on before we’re born. 

    For example, I wasn’t born yet but I saw Daddy come rushing anxiously into the house with a lantern and rope. Being a creative person, he quickly attached the rope to the ceiling and the gas lantern to the rope. He lit the lantern and exhaled a sigh of relief when it began to glow brightly. He was preparing the room for my birth!

    World War II had just ended, taking with it many of the adversities of the Great Depression. But there was still no electricity in the little townsite where my parents lived in Old Mexico. The coal oil lamps didn’t provide enough light for my at-home emergency delivery. That’s why Daddy had brought in and hung the gas lantern.

    Now back to the birth scene: The town’s noted Doctor and Obstetrician, Dr. Reyes, was there — sent for by the Midwife when she saw I was coming breach. After much ado and good lighting, the amazing physician succeeded in delivering me alive — as well as saving my mother’s life! It is not unusual in breach deliveries for both the mother and the baby to die when delivered at home without surgery and other hospital procedures.

    But through luck, supernatural intervention, and the experienced obstetrician’s expertise, I survived being born at home breach, at 4 AM, Thursday, April 18, 1946, in the little town with a big name: El Valle de San Buenaventura, Chihuahua, Mexico.

    I was the second child of my Mormon fundamentalist parents, Floyd Otto and Esther LeBaron Spencer. They so wanted seven boys in a row, because Mother grew up in the middle of seven brothers and loved it. They got seven girls in a row, instead. How’s that for karmic justice?

    The rest is “Her-story and a Mystery.” You shall hear how I fared in Mexico, down past the Rio Grande. And we can begin with the following poem that describes much of what I saw and relived during my rebirthing session:

    My Rebirthing Experience

    In a little adobe hut, down past the Rio Grande,
    Hung a brightly lit lantern near a bed stand,
    I also hung … upside down in Doc’s hand,
    While he slapped me on the butt with the other;
    And everybody was screaming, “Breathe!!
    Even exhausted, pain-ridden Mother!

    But I refused to breathe,
    For I had just been delivered from near death,
    By way of a small canal in a difficult breach birth,
    When Daddy hollered, “God dammit! Another girl!!”
    So I wasn’t sure I wanted to remain in this world.
    Besides, there was a man’s hand walloping me,
    Alongside loud noises ‘n’ lantern glaring brightly.

    But the spanking was more than a new baby can stand,
    So I took my first breath and now here I am;
    Thus began my life down past the Rio Grande.
    But though I inhaled the breath of life,
    In actuality, I couldn’t bear the strife!

    So I let out a scream and started to cry,
    As began ups ’n’ downs “till death do I die“–
    First upside down in great big Doc’s hand;
    Then nestled up close in Motherland,
    Caressed by Mommie’s loving hand,
    In Mexico, down past the Rio Grande.

    Yes, that’s how life’s behaved for me on earth:
    From womb to the tomb, it’s been gloom ‘n’ mirth!
    First down suffering in a painful breach birth;
    Then up at Mom’s bosom being taught to nurse.
    But things could be worse, so I’ve decided to stay —
    Ups, downs, and all — till this very day!

    My Poem: Tony Robbin Tips: “Emote the Emotion”

    girl-in-flowers
    “Emote the Emotion”

    Emote the emotion,
    Over-and-over, 
    You want to feel,
    Says Tony Robbins,

    “Modern Guru Pill.”


    You can change your “emotion,” 
    By changing your “motion.”
    You’re at the wheel.


    In other words:
    Change physiology,
    Change unwanted emotions —
    It’s a done deal!

     Stand tall and proud
    When you’re afraid,
    Whistle a tune that’ll aid;

    Turn your frown upside down

    When you’re feeling sad —
    To soon be feeling glad.

    Change your thoughts,
    Change your mood;
    Sit erect: You’ll feel good.

    Good things in

    Equals good things out
    Of your magic “computer” spout —


    Now that’s my “Tips from Anthony.”
    Care to have a “shrink”
    With me?

    My Poem: “Pushy Prez”

        birds-on-plaques

    Pushy Prez

    I’m repelled by his trying to screw me onto the Volunteers Board

    Through arm twisting and emotional blackmail.

    It’s a wonder my arm is still in its socket anymore,

    And I in control of my own destiny and free will.

    Badgering me will get you nothing but backpedaling from me —

    That is, pedaling backwards away from you as fast as can be!

    4-2010/ 9-2016

    My Poem: “Ragged Rug”

    man-from-1700s

    There is a ragged looking rug on the bug.
    Better on him and than on an old mug.
    Old mugs need all the help they can get.
    It’s hard to face old-age without it.
    “Ragged-looking lawn,” you say?
    “Hey, what’s he got on? A toupe`?
    How much would you pay to look that way?”
    “I don’t know. I couldn’t say.
    But I do hope he mows it some soon day.”

     

    My Poem: “The C-Average Rule”

    mens-boots

    chickens-13939861844Sq.jpg

    They’re commandeering the pecking party like a gaggle of geese,  or a flock of hens–- Another Betsy-boots syndrome: He-men women in charge.

    They stamp you down if you dare to get up courage enough to open your mouth — That’s the language of the pack — “The C-Average Rule.”

    So forget trying to correct their sometimes simple-minded, or less than efficient, foolish policies. Because it’s their time to shine:  Schools out — over and done with. “Been there and done that,” they say.  They’ve graduated! And it’s now the real world — Their time to play!

    Yes, the “C Average” couldn’t shine in school. Wouldn’t get an “A.” But Many make sure they shine anyway — like as: “In the real world we rule!”

     Hey! Hats off!! The average are coming through! Wow. They’re cool! They’re nobody’s fool!

    All they must do is form a clique in a “Volunteers” position. Then stand on a stump and stamp — ‘n’ start squishin’ every fool brainiac they see comin’ ‘round the bend.

    That’s where the power of the brains ends, and that of the average begins!

    Years ago, one of my college professors told the class: “Average people can make it in the world fine. It’s made for the average mind. But God help the gifted!”

    The “C’s” are getting even with the “A’s,” it appears. They’re bringing to pass my worst fears. We thought we were smart? They’ll show us – They’re starting to tear us apart!

    Eg: Have to act average to fit in! Have to all be the same — like the sayings: “Go along to get along. Play the game. Don’t make waves. Be the same!”

    In other words, behave like everybody else behaves!
    Just give in — cave in. It’s that simple —hard … and boring! I’m almost snoring.
    One average person already ate my heart!

    My Poem: “Wonder How I’ll Go”

    ducks-vintage-painting

    Wonder how I’ll go.
    What will be my final blow?
    What will finally bring me down
    When life has brought me up, thus far,
    And saved my life so many times before,
    Till now, and kept me ’round?

    Well, can’t complain.
    I’m in God’s hands,
    As inane as it sometimes sounds.
    I know a Higher Power’s put me here,
    And quelled my incessant fears.
    It’s kept me going throughout the years,
    And has been working Its powers
    Without my knowing.
    I don’t know if I’m coming
    Or where I’m going;
    So must bow my head
    And keep on rowing;
    Doing my best, and continuing to nurse
    From God’s nurturing bosom
    That’s freely flowing:
    Food on the table, fruit in my mouth;
    I’ll continue to cruise Life’s maze
    Till laid “down south” —
    While my spirit heads “up North,”
    And keeps on going.

    Yes, we keep on going!
    We keep on rowing.
    We’re a mighty herd of souls
    That doesn’t stop growing!
    Billions throughout the eons
    Have kept on rolling.
    That, alone, gives me food for thought:
    The knowing I’m not alone
    In this great river of life:
    There is an energy
    That holds me … enfolds me,
    And souls that help
    Save me and clothe me.
    And there’s Genesis!!
    Therein lies my thesis:
    That I’m not alone.
    Knowing this, alone,
    Keeps me going.

    Still, I wonder how I’ll go,
    And what will be my final blow.
    But knowing I’m not alone
    And many have gone before me,
    And continue to go right on,
    Under my same circumstances,
    Keeps my head up
    And my qualms down
    While I’m rowing,
    And my feet on the ground
    While I am sowing,
    Storing good seeds in this life
    For future growing —
    All done in a mixture of
    Wonderment and unknowing —
    Yet, all the while knowing
    A lot, just the same.
    So in God’s name, I bow my head
    And continue towing.

    I won’t blame and I won’t dread,
    Knowing soon enough I’ll be dead.
    But long enough I was wed to Earth
    And its circumstances
    That have allowed me all my
    Chances to grow, to learn,
    To serve and be served,
    And to earn my rest in Eternity
    After being blessed to live
    During Earth’s modernity –
    Yes, just me and billions more,
    Ad infinitum … 
    into infinity.

    So I’ll take the bull by the horns
    And myself by the balls,
    And no matter how
    The “Bad wolf “ bawls,
    I’ll follow the “Good wolf’s
    Calls ‘till I enter
    The heavenly walls
    Of the Infinite God Energy —
    I’ll take my chances,
    Not worry ‘bout circumstances —
    Like fear that something
    Bad could happen.
    I’ll just keep on steppin,
    And  keep on keepin’ on,
    Taking the good with the bad …
    Never nappin’… my life long.
    I was only here for a trip,
    A temporary stay, anyway.
    God meant it that way … not my way.

    So soon I’ll be on my way.
    Therefore, I’ll be a big girl now;
    I’ll get by somehow —
    Just like everyone else.
    Tomorrow’s a new day,
    And today I’m fine.
    I’ll do it God’s way … not mine!
    Help me make a difference, I pray,
    And be a blessing
    To Thy cause each day,

    Is the only clause
    I lay on my Maker —
    My only request I send to
    The “Grim Reaper”–
    My “Taker” –
    And life goes on and
    Before you know it,
    I will be gone …
    And life will go on …
    And so will my spirit …
    And so will my song.

    ******************************************************

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     yellow-sunset-on-the-ocean

    As Time Goes By

    Another month of
    Hurry-‘n’-scurry’s over,
    And another to begin …
    As time goes by.
    Nice to feel God
    Has me in His hands,
    His fold … His mighty hold
    As I continue ‘n’ keep on going …
    And time goes by.

        July 2016

    My Poem: “Ponderin’ and Wonderin’: A Conversation with Self”

    Ponderin’ and Wonderin’:
    A Conversion with Self

    the-thinker

    At seventy-one, I’m hung
    upon my ladder’s last rung,
    With its many steps,
    And the protruding doornails
    of a door half hung,
    Wonderin’ what more
    in life I could’ve won,
     And why still try
    to do something
     BIG
    before I’m done?

    Shouldn’t I presently
    Commit to having fun?
    Cease creating toil,
    strife, ‘n’ strum?

    Cease makin’ a mad dash —
    My last dash left
    to make s
    omethin’ of myself?
    Wouldn’t I now be better off
    putting struggle on the shelf?

     And sure, I ponder:
    I may still achieve anything
    I’m willing to sacrifice for
    ;
    But I can’t have everything–
    The apple-pie metaphor,

    The American dream,
    And the gorgeous guy-next-door!
    Though Positivists say
    we can have everything our way–
    And even more!

    Great! Really?! I reply;
    Let’s get real!
    Though I’d try till I die,

    Exerting effort till I fry,
    I can only be sure of old age,
    death, taxes, and the pill —
    And drawing up my final will.

    Yet, hope springs eternally,
    on up ahead —

    Lying in wait for me, still,
    when I tumble abed;
    And, as the sun sets overhead,
    I continue to ponder …
    and wonder …
    wending my way up the hill …

    Till suddenly I decide
    pensive thoughts to kill,
    And to take charge,
    Get out of my head–
    Change my thoughts,
    Change my will,
    Change my stead.

    By choosing to be happy
    And in the moment, instead,
    I make all that’s positive,
    pleasant, and good my Med
    by treasuring the wonders,
    and preserving the pleasures …
    Nature’s bounteous blessings
    that extend beyond measures–
    An amazing, beauteous spread.

    If we’re not busy livin’
    We’re busy dyin’,

    Guthrie and Dylan so aptly said.
    Thus, I’m back in the saddle again,
    Moving full speed ahead.
    I’ve buried my worries
    As though they were dead.

    I won’t sweat the small things,
    For as it’s been said,
    All things are small things–
    It’s all in our head–
    Only fools walk around
    Where angels won’t tread.

     2009–2018



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    busy livin’
    We’re busy dyin’,

    Woody Guthrie and
    Bob Dylan so aptly said.
    Thus, I’m back in the saddle again,
    Movin’ ahead.
    I’ve buried my worries
    As though they were dead.
    I won’t sweat the small things,
    For as it’s been said,
    “All things are small things.
    It’s all in our head.
    And only fools walk around
    Where angels won’t tread.”

     2009/2017

     

    My Poem: “My Life’s a Wreck!”

     Ships passing in the night.jpg

     My Life’s a Shipwreck!

     Or should I simply conclude:
    That ship has sailed —
    Like two ships passing in the night,”
    Coming unglued?
    Or I could say, “Life’s a train wreck.”?
    Or has that train left the station too,
    Like two trains passing a wreck or two?
    I’ve lived a long time – a lifetime –
    Longing for love, acceptance, a honey,
    Fun, friends, faith, to be thin, fit in —
    Have lots of money.
    So to say that thoughts are things,
    And they created my life, sounds funny.
    I only know old age and strife
    Have blown all my plans to heck,
    And that’s not funny, Honey!
    That’s a wreck!

     March 11, 2009

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    train-going-off-track

    My Life’s a Train Wreck

    My life’s been something of a train wreck,
    Thanks largely to those moronic,
    Mormon fundamentalist fools
    Who raised me in “heck”!
    My distress and deprivation are the worst —
    I wonder why I’ve I been thus cursed.
    Lately some of such has been reversed,
    And that brings me gratitude, elation, and mirth!
    But I’m still well-versed and rehearsed in tribulation.
    With lips pursed, I thirst for quenching and rebirth.
    And to be rid of this cursed drenching in dearth
    My soul’s immersed in — so unrelenting, it’s sin!
    But hope springs eternal, so tomorrow I begin again.
    And I do expect eventually I’ll definitely win.

    2/2014

    My Poem: “Cast Your Worries to the Wind”

    girl-jumping

    Cast Your Worries to the wind

    Cast your worries to the wind,”
     Uncle Joel LeBaron advised —
    Cast them to the dust;
    And let the rain settle them.”
    In this, Uncle Joel was wise,
    Despite some unbelievable lies
    (In at least some people’s eyes.)

    Yes, toss over your shoulder
    The things you can’t shoulder —
    Happily, toss the big boulder;
    Don’t allow it to smolder —
    Keep the lessons learned,
    This education you’ve earned;
    But leave the negatives behind
    For the wind to blow away,
    During your daily grind.
    And rain settles all, over time.

     Evil loves to win; don’t let it in;
    Don’t hold negatives within.
    Dump them over the cliff,
    As if they’d never been.

    On your trip through time,
    Never waste time on devil time;
    For, to be sure, wasting time
    Is a crummy crime —
    Never worth anyone’s time …
    any time
    !   :)~

    My Poem: “Battles of the Bulge”

    us-flag-with-sailors

    I eat, at times, to simply nurture
    That gaping hole in my existence, I’m sure.
    But one feather in my cap is I regularly get up
    And a do a great morning workout routine.
    I may feel like I’m bent, spent, and useless,
    For some time thereafter, should I overdo.
    But somehow, I “work it all out,:”
    And with rest’s assistance, am able to renew.

    I’ll be eating again before long,
    At hunger’s insistence —
    For I lack strong resistance,
    Can’t faithfully pass up food’s existence.
    But thank God I’ve formed helpful habits:
    I don’t store irresistible foods, for instance.
    And buy healthful and unpackaged products,
    For it all makes a difference.

    But still I struggle
    With this fat in my middle.
    It’s an ongoing “Battle of the Bulge.”
    How to win the battle is my unsolved riddle,
    And has been since I came of age.
    But, I tell myself, it could be worse;
    So be glad I only have this struggle,
    And not some more incurable curse.

    ~ My Poem: “Ode to Chava Chavarin and the ‘Tres Camarones’ Team”

    three-shrimp
    Tres Camarones (Three Shrimp)

     

    *Note: The following poem was inspired after I listened to the audiobook of
    Into the Beautiful North,” By Dr. Luis Alberto Urea



    Ode to Chava Chavarin and the “Tres Camarones” Team*

     What is in a name? I hesitate to say,
    But the name, “Chava Chavarin,” continues
    To ring in my brain today, anyway —
    Though I finished reading
    Into the Beautiful North” yesterday.

    Like wind heard in the rain but can’t be seen,
    It’s even invited my muse to come ‘n’ stay
    And have her way
    Long enough to spin out this verse,
    For better or worse, today.

    So what is in a name?  Well, let’s be terse:
    It does seem “Chava Chavarin
    Is a name befitting a comedian,
    A performer, or boxer in a ring.

    Then why do I find my thoughts
    Continuing to chant “Chava Chavarin
    Without ceasing, as in a song
    You’re compelled to hum or keep singing?

    I hear “Chava Chavarin” — with its
    Bell-like, incessant ring
    Continuing to chime at this time in my mind,
    As it entices my muse to turn out more rhyme.

    To say the least, it’s afforded
    My morning some fun time, like the wind chime
    Hanging on my backyard Catalina Pine
    That playfully dings its unending
    Ting-a-ling-ling,” at times.

    And I can still hear Tia Irma incanting,
    Hey, has anybody seen the amazing human being,
    My dream, Chava Chavarin,
    In whose memory I wear this precious ruby ring?

    Into the beautiful north, of course,
    They were heading, to find and bring back
    The male being for a wedding — or a bedding —
    Or for abetting their courageous scheme —
     Especially the noted Chava Chavarin.

    This, I’d say, was a mission especially befitting
    Nayeli, the super-quest queen,
    And Atomiko, the self-knighted,
    Unstoppable king.

    I’m impressed with this
    Enthusiastic, Quixotic team:
    Like Cervantes’ Don Quixote
    Chasing windmills in his dream,
    They, too, did it their way!

    And thank God for Chava Chavarin:
    He saved the day
    And helped fulfill the scheme
    Of the ambitious “Tres Camarones” ring.*
    2015

    (*Tres Camarones means “three shrimp.”)


     

    Dr. Luis Alberto Urea, Professor, and Author of Into the Beautiful North
    (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
     
     Into the Beautiful North is a book written by Luis Alberto Urrea and published by Little, Brown.[1] Written in 2009, it is set in Mexico and then the United States[2]as the main character Nayeli seeks seven men to help defend her small Mexican town against the bandidos who plan to take over.

    Synopsis[edit]

    The town of Tres Camarones is accosted by bandidos at a time when most of the men in the town have gone to America to look for work. After watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli, a nineteen year old girl, decides to travel to America to convince seven of the town’s best fighters to come back and fight the bandidos[3]

    Nayeli and her three friends Yolo, Vampi and Tacho, begin their journey with the financial support of her aunt Tia Irma, the mayor of the town. Along the way they lose their luggage and a good deal of their money. In Tijuana, a garbage picker and skilled fighter named Atomiko helps them across the border. Once across, Nayeli seeks out the assistance of Matt, a missionary who had come to their town three years in the past and left her his phone number. They find two more warriors in a migrant worker camp.

    Tia Irma takes a plane to San Diego to meet up with them, and while she continues searching for four more candidates to bring back to Mexico, Nayeli and Tacho leave for Kankakee, Illinois to look for Nayeli’s father, a former policeman. However, they find that her father has a new family, and she leaves without speaking to him. Meanwhile, Tia Irma has rounded up twenty-seven fighters.

    The story ends as a boy on the roof of Nayeli’s taco shop shouts that he sees her in the distance with an army behind her.[4]

    My Poem: “Advice for Creatives”

    DARE

    floral-background-vintage

     To dare present your creative works
    to the world
    And see your artistic creations unfurled,
    You must start by daring:
    Daring to fail
    And daring to do well,
    Or fail to dare do anything well;
    Daring to fail is part of daring to do well.

    Buoyed when Author Steven Pressfield
    Encouraged creative works,
    My creativity now no longer shirks;
    I’ve ceased hiding my light beneath lampshades;
    Today I daringly call spades, spades —
    I’m beginning to finally face my muse,
    And my creative juices use.

    We must “paint badly” to paint well,
    And dare to “write badly” to tell our tale;
    Where our creative works then lead,
    Should we follow the muse’s heed,
    Artistic natures never can tell;
    We can only face our fears and dare to fail,
    In order to discover if we can ever do well.

    But if creativity we are to wield
    We must “Resist Resistance,”
    Stresses Steven Pressfield
    In his work, The War of Art.
    That is, Creatives must somewhere start 
    In order to their creative gifts impart.

    If they don’t dare fail, they’ll never start …
    Never survive the writers-block dart …
    Never write the book of their heart;
    Never do their creative part.

    So dare to break through artists’ blocks
    Whenever your amazing muse knocks.
    To win your inner creative battles,
    You must do it on a dare: Dare to fail …
    Or you’ll never find if you can ever do well.

    Daring creates an artistic outpour;
    Time only can tell what’s next at your door;
    But it’s worth the effort to face “Resistance”
    And give your gifts, despite its insistence,
    Because you discover and fulfill yourself,
    And countless others as well,
    When you create your art
    And tell your tale!

    By Stephany Spencer, C 2016

    ~ My Poem: Lovely Lively Lizards

    three-lizards

    Lovely Lively Lizards

    I detest supporting lazy “lizards” —
    Leeches, losers, and welfare abusers:
    Socialism can be Welfare for users.

    So, lazy-daisy loafing “lizards,”
    Penniless-paupers, down-and-out dizzards,
    Get off your rump, use your gizzard,
    And from the welfare rolls be scissored
    !

    My new slogan is herein delivered:
    “Be part of the solution,
    Not the pollution blizzard!”

    I’m always seeking a better way to be.
    Perhaps I’ll solicit 
    Lazy, loafing “lizards”
    to help me!

    No offense to Nature’s lizards —
    Those reptiles running free
    .
    I love lively living lizards, literally!
    Thanks to them, there happens to be
    Less Lymes disease plagueing humanity:
    Lizards help rid Earth
    of the lousy Lyme tick infirmity!

    best-things-are-free

    by Stephany Spencer

    My Poem: “Dr. Kwak”

    ducks-vintage-painting

     “Judas,” with her doctor’s plaque
    hung above her door,
    Should have read: “Dr. Kwak treats
    gullibles and more!”
    For “A Quack and a sucker
    are born each minute!”

     

    That sucks! So don’t get dropped in it!
    Don’t fall for each quacky gimmick.
    You could end up dead in a minute,
    And all ’cause Polly wanted a “Quacker.”

    Be a researcher and reader, instead.
    Above all, use your own head.
    If you can help it, don’t be a sucker,
    And don’t be “quacker” —
    Though it’s not so easily done as said.

    Regular medical doctors
    are often no better;
    and that sucks!
    It’s difficult to trust anyone,
    when involved are big bucks;
    but I’ll die trying …
    While inadvertently continuing to help
    doctors earn more bucks!

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    baby-ducks

      Quacks and Suckers 

    A “quack” and a sucker are born every minute!
    That sucks! Quack-quack!
    But don’t be a sucker nor a quacker …
    Nor a smacker when you suck ‘er.
    And never smack ‘er!
    That’s life. You make the best of it.
    If it helps, Baby, suck a tit.
    But eventually, you’ll get over it.
    Life sucks!
    Get over it!

    2-2010/9-2016

     

     

     

    My Poem: “Less and Less the U.S.”

    statue-of-liberty

    More and more we are less and less
    The U.S. we used to be.
    It’s inflation and stagnation, you see.
    And illegal immigration
    And the global economy–
    These three mixed with the usual greed
    Are legendary down through the century.
    And it’s changed what once was our country.
    I wonder now, are we really so free?
    And who’s pulling the strings of our liberty?
    I’m all for improvement and equality,
    But is that what we now really see?

    By Stephany Spencer  9/16

    My Poem: “In Retrospect”

    girl-in-flowers

    From Ma to Marie, they competed with me
    Like free-wheelers in Bedlam Town,
    And the devils had come ‘round to roost –
    Or like All Souls Day in hell —
    And free reign was given the devil
    For a thousand years, as well —
    Plus a ticket to ride my poor hide in all gears!

    No holds were barred,
    So I could never let down my guard.
    It was as though they owned me —
    And controlled my incarnation and destiny
    Like I was their ward and they were Sanctity.

    What in heaven and tarnation
    Brought me into this creation?
    But overcoming all ’tis my expectation;
    And success will reward me with salvation:
    Change my karma, change my world —
    Change my whole station!

    My Poem: “Ladies Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places”

    tarantula      –

    Does low self-esteem
    Cause the womanizer’s chase?
    And is scoring all Ladies’ Men
    Have going for their race?
    What the fuck, then! What “luck”!
    Is this their journey on life’s playing field?
    Then it’s best never to them yield.
    For their dick has a life of its own to wield!

    Just wish I didn’t let the “spider” get to my “fly.”
    But these “Harry,” tarantulas know
    How to play loose lonely ladies so!
    His dick but tips its cap and winks,
    And “Look! Won another match!!” he thinks.
    Another notch on your belt,me thinks!
    For he’ll never be true; his integrity stinks.
    Fooled again?! I’m a fool in love,
    Foolishly fooled ’round with in womanizers’ rinks!

    images-2

    3-2007

    My Original Sayings and Short Poems: From My Pen to Yours

    ~ Original Sayings ‘n’ Short Poems From My Pen to Yours

    poetry-plaque

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    mouse-mini-in-bow-and-heels

    I Think Mice Are Very Nice

    I think mice are very nice.
    Some people say they have lice,
    And leave mouse tracks in their rice.
    With pet mice that’s quite rare,
    So therefore I declare,
    I still think mice are very nice!
    Stephany Spencer
    (My first poem, age 8)


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     This quote I wrote — I wrote this quote:

    Yesterday’s sorrow is the humor of tomorrow.
    That is, today’s sorrow is grist
    For humor mills of tomorrow.

    NOTE: I wrote the quote:
    Though the concept’s
    Been around a long time,
    ‘Twas moi who put it
    To rhythm and rhyme.
    Stephany Spencer


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    birds-on-plaques

    ~WORDS OF ADVICE:~

    Threadbare Underwear

    Since we were dormouse poor,
    I preferred to live by the following adage,

    (To not be caught with threadbare
    “Holy” towels and underwear
    When unexpected guests were there):

    Use the worst first,
    ‘Lest the best be gone
    Before the guest!
     Beulah Stephany Spencer,
    (age 12)

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    feet-and-sandals

    “Long Fellows”

    I’m a poet and I know it,
    But my feet don’t show it:
    They’re not “Longfellow’s”—
    They be short “Fellows.”
    (Stephany Spencer )

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    grindstone-and-wagon-wheel

    The Old Grind

       I’ve kept my head to the grindstone
    And my shoulder to the wheel;
    It was the only way I knew
    To grind out a good deal.
    (Stephany Spencer 2013)

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    pigs

    The “Butt” of a Joke

    His butt’s as broad as a “Broad’s” or “Bitch’s,”
    But flat as the broadside of a brown barn in britches!
    Is this “butt” but a yarn in stitches?
    Sure not sure which it is!
    (Stephany Spencer  2016)


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    two-hands-and-heart-shape

    Anecdote Quote

    Find love before it’s too late,
    Always good advice to take,

    For the older you get
    And the longer you wait,
    The harder it gets to find a good mate.

    (Stephany Spencer)

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    bridge-over-water

       Go Thru It to Get Thru It

              They say I have to go through it to get through it — 
    Go back over my past and go through all that shit again
    Till I’m through it — through with it.

    So the only way out is through it, then;
    And we must do it over again and again
    Till we get it. And then we can move on.
    Get it?  Got it!  Then move on!   :)~
    (Stephany Spencer)


    ========================================

    prophet-of-evil-dvd

    Sociopathy

    Watch out for people who offer
    “A shoulder to hold ‘er,
    Or cry on!
    Or who promise the sky;
    Then lie on and on —
    As they let it fall on you;
    For one in ten people
    is a Con — a sociopath,
    Says the author of the book,

    The Sociopath Next Door,”
    Authored by 
    Martha Stout.
    (You may want to check it out!)
    (Stephany Spencer)

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    alps-of-switzerland

    Follow Your Own Higher Power

    Fanatics say, “Don’t think you’re a big shot
    ‘Cause you’re not. You’re likely a big snot!”
    “And don’t get out of line!” They say:
    “Toe the line;”
    “That is, serve the Divine!”
    But I say, use your own brain;

    Follow your own Higher Power’s line.
    That’s the reason God gave you a mind.
    (Stephany Spencer)


    #######################################################

    woman-on-the-loveseat

    None of Our Business

    What I think of myself is none of your business.
    And what you think of me is none of mine!
    Said another Way: What I thinketh of me is none of thine;
    And what thou thinketh of me is none of mine.
    (Stephany Spencer)


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    images-2

    Stinky Propositions

    They fit hand-in-glove, those in iniquity —
    The power-mongers and their brown-nosers
    Rooting for perks, power, and popularity.
    I’ll do anything to make it!
    Even stoop ‘n’ take it,” says he —

    I’d let him make it in my ass,”
    Says gay Joe Krass, the “wannabe” —

    Anything to be in a movie!”
    It’s a stinkin’ proposition, if you ask me!

    (Stephany Spencer)


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    Age-ing = Sage-ing”

    man-from-1700s

    The Edge of Age: Forever young

    The “edge of age” is always cutting
    Into my funny bone, my joy, and “amore,” anymore.
    As I “sage,” I find it hurts to be laughed at,
    Spat upon, left out, left to die,
    or looked down upon,

    As though old age were a catching sore:
    Verily, ostracization hurts to the core!

    Yet, oldsters are the butt of comedians’ jokes and fun,
    Because we find old-foggie puns funny when we’re young.
    But now I find such humor is unkind — way overdone.
    “Old folks!” you say? Listen:
    We oldsters are still human, still someone!

    Everyone is aging from the moment begun!
    It won’t be long before you, too,
    hit the wall on the run,

    Then discover, like us “sagers,”
    One’s soul is forever young.

    (Stephany Spencer)



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    11116395355_b1149a1f49_k-jpgflower-rainbow

    Doctors and Hospitals:



     “““““““““““““““““““““““

        
    dr

    Doctors: Free-wheeling Racketeers

    Without an ombudsman to accompany me,
     Doctors can be freewheeling racketeers, I see –-

    Free to wheel their rackets however they please,
    Unresponsive to their patients’ pleads;
    Especially when there’s no witness to back them up,
    Doc’s ‘n’ dentist have no fears: Their peer-policies
    Assure no corrections by their peers!
    Complete power corrupts completely,
    So they’re Rollin’ in high gears!
    Therefore, I can be an impatient inpatient,
    Laden with fears!
    (Stephany Spencer)


    upset-14-year-old

       
    I’m an impatient inpatient!

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    ********************************************************************

    airplane-takeoff

    ……………………………………..

    Let’s “Take Off” the Weight:
    “Butt” Wait! There’s more:
    food-on-plates

      Party Pounds

    Party PoundsParty Potluck Dinners.
    So if you would be thinner,

    Avoid the party-potluck-dinner!   :)~
    (Stephany Spencer)


    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    asparagus-and-berries

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////   

    From Lips to Hips

    They say,”A moment on the lips,
    Forever on the hips!”
    I say: “Food’s a moment in the mouth,

    “Butt” sits forever down south!”
    (Stephany Spencer)


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    exercise

    Work It Out

     Work it out to get it out — again and again.
     That is, to be healthier, you must
    work out the anger and the pain

    That’s been stored up in your body again and again —
    That is to say, stored up time after time;
    Therefore, you must work it out time and again.
    ( Stephany Spencer)



    Men and Romance: My Romance with Chance …  A Chance Romance
    banjo

            In Love with a Womanizer

     Being fit into his schedule,
    As fits his playing ’round,
    Leaves me unfit to get around downtown,
    ‘Cause I’m tied up in stitches and fits
    Over a womanizing brown 
    clown
    Whose misdeeds incessantly get me down.
    (Stephany Spencer)


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    ~ My Essay-Poem: “John Cage and Composing”


    The avant-garde composer John Cage said,” The material of music is sound and silence. Integrating these is composing.”

    Could we say the material of poetry is also sound and silence — or syllables and silence? And integrating these is composing –– albeit poetry?

     We could, as well, compose music and poems that go together … compose songs, that is: Songs are but poems/ lyrics set to music.

    Now I digress into a poem, 
    And confess it may be set to music!
    Blame it on my muse:

    It’s a pretty broad spectrum to contemplate upon.
    After I’ve contemplated more, I’ll enlarge upon it —
    Perhaps by way of a musical composition long —
    Or even a song … or sonnet!

    Now, diverging a bit from my theme,
    I’m aware of what some “poetry authorities” mean
    and say about poetry with rhythm and rhyme.
    Enter to my rescue poet Lord Byron
    Who said ( paraphrasing I am):

    Some people prefer poetry without rhythm or rhyme,
    But as for me, all the time,
    Give me poetry with rhythm and rhyme.”

    Amen to that, I say!

    Now, till another time,
    Have a nice day,
    And enjoy this rhyme …
    Or have it your way.
    Any old way is okay
    With me!

    But I’ll rhyme on a dime,
    Or sing for a dime and tea —
    Any old time is best for me!
     I promise you’ll get your $.10 worth …
    I’ll throw along with it some music and mirth!

    Now, how’s that for an ad-libbed verse … or line?
    Well, we’ll be picking up here again next time!    :)~

     Stephany Spencer, 9/13/2016

    *NOTE: The above piece “John Cage and Composing” inspired my niece Vicky Rogers LeBaron to compose the following beautiful poem:

    In Adulation of Song

    How can a song trifle with my emotions so?
    It tosses my tears on the beaches below.
    Then my resurrected heart soars 
    Far above the craggy shores.
    As it reaches the crest of the waves,
    Suddenly it breaches,
    And I’m thrust into the depths of another emotion, 
    On the rolling waves of the sound in motion! 

    What a rush to feel the melodious sound
    As it vibrates through me to my soles on the ground!
    A cacophonic pleasure with each passing measure.
    And I realize:
    I have found the treasures that abound
    In the waves of sound.

    In an instant I’m moved to a place I’ve not been,
    But is somehow familiar and comes from within.
    How does it transport me fro and to?
     Do I hear with my ears or the thoughts that ensue?

    The vibration surrounds me 
    And fills me clear through! 
    Is this a primal instinct or a thing I’ve learned new—
    To be still and listen? Really listen. 
    To ride the sound waves, to soar on it’s breeze
    Takes almost no effort,
    It’s done with such ease.

    So, oblivious of anything I could lose or retain,
    The melodious refrain is controlling my brain,
    And all other thoughts disappear.
    Momentarily there is nothing to fear.
    So I let myself fall.

    I’m lost in the swells of vibrato, staccato, legato …
    They beckon me to immerse myself
    In this sea and see.
    The chorus extolls, then a lonely bell tolls
    And soon rapture ensues!
    My heart strings play along
    In adulation of song.

    Completely irreverent of my desires,
    Whether the sounds of nature
    Or the singing of choirs,
    I’m carried away on the wings of the song,
    Irresistible and enthralling, my heart lauds.
    Shall I try and resist as my soul persists
    To insist that I bury my heart and mind
    In pealing waves of the oceans I find?
    Nay, I say.

    As I rise to the top of the waves,
    The song fades.
    I catch my breath as the ocean calms;
    Nothing but stillness fills the air.
    I am there,
    Immersed in peace and serenity,
    Feeling like an eternity of bliss
    Is echoing in my mind.
    And the song in my heart echoes,
    “Until next time.”

    The oceans of sound in motion
    Were written in the measures of creation;
    These songs are for our elation.
    We must learn to listen.
    I surrender my devotion
    With my heart’s emotions,
    And I will ride the waves of song.
    Will you come along?

    By Vicky Rogers LeBaron
    9-24-2018

    My Poem: “A Breakthrough”

     dark-bridge-and-orange-skies

    Now I know God loves us all the same,
    And we all partake of joy and pain,
    Free will and choice, loss and gain;
    Plus a chance to journey to the waters main,
    Drink up and make a memorable name,
    And an understanding of all things attain.

    Though the journey is far from ever easy,
    The lessons learned affect us deeply.
    And I’ve found God gives many things free,
    And carries us when we’re too weak to be.
    And those that are free eventually may see
    The meaning behind it all — eventually!

    By Stephany Spencer,  7/16

    My Poem: “Comical Comedians Madigan and Gaffigan”

    madigan                              jim-gaffigan

     What a brilliant comedian is Jim Gaffigan!
    He makes me laugh, then laugh again.
    His moniker is “Mr. Universe,”
    And he’s earned this name.
    For most standup comedians’ work
    Is loaded with filth, smut, and worse —
    To make up for ad-libbing that’s lame,
    They employee obscenities and curse.
    But Gaffigan’s humor is satire clean —
    At least any of it that I’ve seen.
    If only there were more so funny
    Without being dirty and mean.

    Another comic like Gaffigan,
    Is hilarious Kathleen Madigan.
    She, too, makes me laugh ‘n’ laugh again.
    Both have lines filled with humor and wit,
    Sans obscenities and words like *#%!

       (By Stephany Spencer  2013)

    ~ My Poem: “In Mexico, Down Past the Rio Grande”

        
    *In Mexico, down past the Rio Grande,
    I buried my diaries in the desert sand;
    Now they lie lost in a foreign land —
    Lost in LeBaron when I fled the clan.

    Buried my poetry in the desert’s brew, too.
    It’s now lost in sandstorms that blew.
    With each new windstorm, more sands would accrue,
    So adios, muse babies! Adios and adieu!

    You lie where I was born and grew,
    There, in LeBaron, the home I once knew.
    I couldn’t find you when I fled and flew.
    So part of me’s left now buried in you.

    Slowly the tears trickle, two by two,
    Down my cheekbones like drops of dew,
    Ever homesick but can’t ties renew,
    It’s adios to my past — adios and adieu.

    When will my loneliness finally end?
    When will this pain fade away, my friend?
    And where are my Journals and the poems I penned,
    Then buried in the earth to protect them back then?

    They’re buried where my past lies buried and dead,
    Hidden with my heart that broke when I fled,
    ‘Cause all I’d believed and held dear, instead,
    Suddenly collapsed and had to be shed.

    Still, I long for my family and old friends too,
    Who could not see things the way I do,
    They wouldn’t allow me to have my own voice —
    They didn’t respect my freedom of choice.

    Still, I long for my life that lies buried with you —
    For the part that split when from there I flew,
    When I tried to find life in the US anew,
    To follow my dreams and my hopes renew;

    Now in deep abyss, I traverse this earth,
    Looking for meaning to renew life’s worth;
    Looking for Mother’s long-gone mirth,
    Though now she sleeps in Mexican earth.

    No sooner had I almost found rebirth,
    Then signs of death came, bearing no mirth —
    Bouncing and banging on my back door,
    While backing me up downhill more and more.

     But part of me already died years ago —
    That part I left when I escaped Mexico —
    Back where my heart lies half-buried alive —
    Back where my past took a nose dive.

    Perhaps that other half’s in my hometown,
    Buried in Chihuahua, Mexico’s ground,
    But I can’t go back, can’t traverse the Rio Grande,
    The river’s too wide so I stay on dry land.

    Remaining in my new world on this other side.
    Still, so many lonely rivers I have cried;
    And though most tears have finally dried,
    Many old rivers are still left inside.

    Too many rivers between me ’n’ those I know;
    Gulfs too wide since I let them go.
    Yet, part of me’s buried there in Mexico,
    Down past the Rio Grande I love so.

    Part of me’s there, though put to the test,
    ‘Cause that’s where my many dear ones rest:
    Part’s with my past, while part’s here with me,
    Longing for home, wherever home may be.

    Divided and torn by the Rio Grande
    Flowing between me and LeBaron land.
    I wonder, is half my heart buried there,
    In Mexico, down past the Rio Grande?

    (By Stephany Spencer,  4/2008)

    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    *NOTE: I revised this poem (see below)
    — Did surgery on it: Cut out over half its verses. (My writers’ club doesn’t accept, for their newsletter, poems longer than 45 lines. I submitted and had published this poem in the California Writers Club’s November 2016 newsletter, “The Scribe.“)

    Also, when it comes to singing this narrative poem, forty-five lines makes for a three-minute performance — plenty for a poem this deep and full of story. Just to verify this, I sang my song yesterday at Songmakers’ Saturday Song-Circle. The group agreed that forty-five lines is plenty if I sing it rather than read it. (I read it to them, also — the five-minute version — just to get their helpful critique and feedback. And they kindly sat through the whole thing!)

    *The following is the shortened version: (But I have since done even more painful surgery on this poem — I’ve now cut it down to a twenty-eight line poem to perform as a song. (I only have that version in my song folder.) @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    coyoacan-more-21-of-39

      
    In Mexico, Down Past the Rio Grande

    In Mexico, down past the Rio Grande,
    I buried my diaries in the desert sand;
    Now they lie lost in a foreign land —
    Lost in LeBaron when I fled the clan.

    Lost my poetry in the desert brew too.
    It’s now buried in sandstorms that blew.
    With each new windstorm, more sands would accrue;
    So adios, muse babies! Goodbye to you.

    You lie where I was born and grew —
    There, in LeBaron, the home I once knew.
    I couldn’t find you when I fled and flew.
    So part of me’s left now buried in you;

    Buried where my past lies buried and dead,
    Hidden with my heart that broke when I fled,
    ‘Cause all I’d believed and held dear, instead,
    Suddenly collapsed and had to be shed.

    Still, I long for my family and old friends too,
    Who could not see things the way I do,
    They wouldn’t allow me to have my own voice —
    They didn’t respect my freedom of choice.

    Now, in deep abyss, I traverse this earth,
    Looking for meaning to renew life’s worth;
    Looking for Mother’s long-gone mirth,
    Though now she sleeps in Mexican Earth.

     But part of me’s buried in Mexico,
    The part that died when I escaped years ago —
    Back where my heart lies half-buried alive —
    Back where my past took a nose dive.

    Perhaps that other half’s in my hometown,
    Buried in Chihuahua, Mexico’s ground,
    But I can’t go back — can’t traverse the Rio Grande,
    The river’s too wide so I stay on dry land.

    Remaining in my new world on this other side.
    Still, so many lonely rivers I have cried,
    And though most tears have finally dried,
    Many old rivers are still left inside.

    Too many rivers between me and those I know,
    Gulfs too wide since I let them go.
    But part of me lies there in Mexico,
    Down past the Rio Grande I love so.

    Divided and torn by the Rio Grande
    Flowing between me and LeBaron land,
    I wonder: Is half my heart buried there,
    In Mexico, down past the Rio Grande?

    (By Stephany Spencer  ,2008)



      Hi, friends, family and relatives: This is the Rendition I did today at my California Writers Club get-together and Open Mic –- a performance of my song I wrote in 2008 called “In Mexico, Down Past the Rio Grand.”
     Comments
    Dena McLean

    Dena McLean It’s great that you can sing and play an instrument all in front of an audience. It’s not easy.

     

    Steph Spencer

    Steph Spencer Thanks for your feedback, Dena. Yes, you are right when you comment that it’s not easy to perform in front of a live audience. One Actor put it this way: “To be a Performer is to scare yourself to death for the rest of your life.” Because almost always, at least one thing unexpected happens.

    For example, this time the Mic setup at the California Writers Club was not amenable to me and my guitar, so I was unable to have my written lyrics in front of me in case my mind went blank. I had to walk over to the podium when I needed to double check the next verse I was to sing.

    Of course, that didn’t go over so well in the video. But now I know I need to always take my music stand along wherever I go to perform — just in case the setup is different from when I performed there the month before.

    But, once again, it proves what speakers and other performers already know: No matter how many times you perform, you always learn at least one new thing with each and every performance.

    I was not proud of how the video came out, either, but I posted it anyway, for practice, and so people could hear the music that goes with my lyrics posted above, “In Mexico, Down Past the Rio Grande:”

    The lighting was poor and the video should have been done closer up. In the end, it all made my dark apparel look dismal. It’s hard to get anybody, on the spot, to know how to take a good video with my iPhone! But with this experience, I now know, next time, to look for a better amateur photographer, LOL!



    ~ My Memoir and Poem: Bright Childhood a Gift

    Me, Bill and baby: Side views
     28-year-old Bill Tucker and 18-year-old Beulah Stephany Spencer-LeBaron de Tucker with our Six-month-old baby Asenath Marie


    “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

    William James


    In July 1967, three months after my/our husband, William Preston Tucker/AKA: Bill Tucker (I say “our” husband because I was one of Bill’s three wives), announced to the “church” he was leaving, he died from a burst appendix. Up until then, he had been one of the two top leading priesthood members of my Uncle Joel LeBaron’s Messianic Mormon fundamentalist cult.

    My Uncle Ervil LeBaron, Joel’s eighteen-months-younger brother, was the other top-ranking priesthood member of Joel’s “church,” “The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times” — a Mormon Fundamentalist doomsday cult headquartered in Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico.

    When Bill died, most of the true-believing members of this apocalyptic extremist group believed God had taken him because he left “The Church.” In their minds, he had apostatized from the only true religion upon the face of the earth. Therefore, half the people who had followed my/our husband out of Joel’s cult of polygamists, just three months before, returned to his cult — now more fervent followers than ever!

    Bill’s dying was all the sign they needed to convince them Joel’s “church” was true, after all. And Bill had simply been led astray by Satan and his minions. It didn’t carry much weight with them that Bill died because he was allergic to Penicillin — the wonder drug that cures peritonitisthe fatal infection that sets in when the appendix burst.

    The following poem was written shortly after my husband’s death. I was barely twenty-one, had just escaped the LeBaron cult two months before, had a three-year-old daughter, no money, no home, no support system — “No nothing” but the legacy of having spent my past seven years held captive in a secluded, backwards, and abusive polygamist cult, where I was married at sixteen, in a prearranged marriage, to a man (William Preston Tucker) ten years my senior who already had two other wives — the oldest one, Marilyn Tucker, fifteen years my senior and immensely jealous of me — not to mention his other wife who was six years my senior.

    During my seven years — from age fourteen to twenty-one — living in the LeBaron cult in Mexico, I was deprived of an education and every modern convenience — plus any type of contact with the outside world. That meant, among other things, no telephone, radio, television, newspapers, magazines, or books. And the motto was: “Keep them barefoot ‘n’ pregnant.”

    Most of us were living a religiously-fanatic, backward, poverty-stricken lifestyle worse than many people lived in the feudal systems of the Middle Ages — the Medieval Period; i.e., the period from 500 AD to 1500 AD — or the 6th- 16th centuries.

    I used a bucket tied to a rope to draw water from a well about half a block from my kitchen, scrubbed laundry on a washboard or my knuckles, bathed in a small galvanized metal tub, and had no indoor plumbing.

    For most of us in LeBaron, “toilet” meant a rickety old unpainted wooden outhouse — and a “stink” pot or can kept under our bed … that needed frequent emptying and cleaning. It was like camping out, except I lived in a cinderblock or adobe abode instead of a tent — depending on which period of my seven years I spent in LeBaron.

    We had no electricity, either. I lit a coal oil lamp for light when evening fell and didn’t have the luxury of a cook stove, let alone a fireplace. This is but a glimpse of the background I left behind upon entering “Babylon” — as the cult called it.

    Yes, within a month or so after my husband’s death, I had left the LeBaron Colony behind, and moved to “the foreign country of California, USA.” Grief-stricken and shorn of my previous religious foundation and security system, needless to say, in every way, California was culture shock and post-traumatic-stress syndrome/PTSD in three-quarter time — except I was only waltzing to keep from crying.

    To make matters worse, though I was twenty-one, I barely had six years of a mostly Utahan country-school education — which I was lucky to have gotten before my parents moved me and the rest of their family to Mexico in 1960 to “gather with the Saints” in the LeBaron Colony — a backward, secluded “get-away” in the Rocky Mountain Range that extended from Western Canada, the Southwestern United State, and on into Mexico. Once there, my education ended and dire deprivation began.

    My teaching career also began: I hadn’t been there in that corner of The Rockies’ — that desolate little LeBaron Chihuahuan-desert dump more than three months but what my parents volunteered my 16-year-old sister and me, an extremely shy, fourteen-year-old, to teach the colony’s kids. I was suddenly, and with no preparation, handed the adult responsibility of a group of twelve kids, ranging from ten years to my own age! And I hadn’t the slightest understanding of pedagogy and its centuries-year-old precepts!!

    I’d never had a reason to think about teaching theories before, let alone think about why and what youngsters should learn — other than when I played house and pretended I was a schoolteacher teaching my dolls – or my little siblings! And fantasized about growing up and being a teacher someday.

    But now, I had to figure out everything on my own — and without the benefit of books or paper — and all within a day or two! Had to figure out such things as “Why Schools? And why teach, anyway? And if education is important, how, why, and what should I be teaching?” I had never had any reason to think about such lofty adult ideas and ideals. And why should I? Children simply take these things for granted, having grown up with education being “a given,” and going to schools given by grown-ups.

    But now I was thrown this — another unbelievable whopper — while still suffering culture shock, due to the isolated, bleak little boring, backward, wind-swept desert colony — an utterly sweltering, desolate, dry, sandy oasis, as compared to what I had barely left behind in the small agrarian town Hurricane, Utah, USA!

    Now, on top of this, suddenly I was deluged with the role of “responsible adult” to add to my PTSD and the other emotional distress and loneliness I was dealing with, but could hardly endure. The distress included my raging adolescent hormones, the loss of my home, bedroom, most of my toys, friends, teachers, lifestyle, and the school I so loved back in Utah. But there were also many other strange things and changes I found and had to adjust to in this Third-World, foreign country. The Mexican peoples, different customs, and Spanish, itself, were monsters for a shy, introverted teenager to adjust to. And to add to all of it, my siblings and I were crammed into a temporary one-room windowless adobe hut with a dirt floor, where we lived for a year or more while Daddy built our family a residence of our own.

    But there were also many other strange things and changes I had to contend with and adjust to in this third-World, foreign country. The Mexican peoples, different customs, and Spanish, itself, were monsters for a shy, introverted teenager like me to adjust to. To add to it all, my siblings and I were crammed into a dark, cramped, one-room adobe hut with a dirt floor and the only one window that was covered by, not glass, but see-through plastic! There we lived for a year or more while Daddy built our family a residence of our own.

    To add to it all, my siblings and I were crammed into a dark, stank, one-room adobe hut with a dirt floor. Its only window was covered by oiled butcher paper! There we lived for a year or more while Daddy built our family a residence of our own.

    To put it succinctly, the LeBaron colony was utterly not what my mother had built it up to be –– Not at all what I was expecting or looking forward to! My parents got us kids all excited about leaving our home and many of our belongings, etc., in exchange for this rugged pioneer life — this primitive existence in Old Mexico —  “to live with the Saints and help build up the kingdom of God”!

    But we were fleeing there, also, to avoid the famine and destruction one of Ma’s dreams showed her was soon to rain down upon “the wicked and worldly United States” — the country that was going to finally be punished by God for having persecuted and killed the early Mormon Saints — especially Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum!

    But be that what it may, to add to my disappointment, despair, and distress, I was now expected to carry an adult job … to be a teacher, no less! Well, I almost lost my mind trying to deal with this sudden responsibility thrust upon me. It was just one more security blanket pulled off me.

    Trying to figure out the answers to all my queries about why and what to teach … and a lot more … was mind-boggling beyond words! What were my parents thinking?! They had to be dreaming … certainly, they weren’t rational!

    Fortunately, before I went crazy with the stress of this stupendous responsibility I hadn’t been given even the least preparation for, Daddy caught me, the evening after my first strenuous day of teaching, lying face down on the couch in the living room, and thrashing around in a fetal position., trying to smother my sobs so nobody would hear.

    I continued wreathing in agony, as Daddy, deeply concerned, tenderly inquired of me, “What’s wrong?” And I wailed, in response: “I don’t know how nor what to teach … And I’m too nervous to talk in front of those kids!

    I never before saw him so worried. He couldn’t locate Mumma quickly enough. Finding her in the kitchen, he had some anxious words with her; whereupon, she dropped what she was doing and came to my rescue. It’s amazing what a few words of consolation from your mumma can do:

    For starters, she told me she’d had some teacher-training classes during her couple of years of college. Then quieted my worries by telling me she would take over my classroom the following morning, to demonstrate how to educate and to control the unruly kids.

    Well, all I can say is it was about time! With her Teacher Training, she should’ve been teaching the class! But after her Teacher Demonstration, that following morning, she even gave me a book for beginning Educators that taught some teaching theory and explained how to prepare and organize lesson plans (Apparently, it was a book left over from her College days). Again, all I can say is, “It was about time!” But better late than never.

    Need I say, my parents sure could put the cart before the horse! For I was somehow expected to already know how to teach, of course … in this little cult where everything was perfect and God would simply drop the knowledge you needed into your mind during one hour of sleep — “like Joseph sold into Egypt, where God gave him a dream filling him in on everything he needed to know.”

    Mama actually and truly believed if God thought you needed the knowledge, he’d give it to you in a dream. So education and study weren’t even needed, really. I’m not kidding! That’s what Mother believed … and told me!

    But it’s her double standards, and living in a fantasy world, once more — for here she also had thrown me, at age fourteen, into my own classroom of students I was expected to teach — without the least preparation — And certainly no dream came that night from God to fill me in on “Everything I needed to know to do this job!”

    But, fortunately, after the one-time teaching Demo, and the other bit of help Ma provided me, a light bulb switched on in my beleaguered and overwhelmed brain. I was off and running from then on! This fourteen-year-old child-teacher/”idiot savant” was back to playing school with a bang and a bounce! But now it was the real deal — hardly make believe anymore.

    And not only did my students love me, and I them — and teaching, too — but I got called “Miss Beulah” … or “Miss Booyah” … all over town, from then on, as I ran into my students after school or during the weekends. This show of affection and respect was an unexpected dividend — a wonderful bonus; an uplifting experience for me. It made the whole thing worth it. But “Beulah” is a very difficult name for tiny tots and even first and second graders to pronounce.

    I recall secretly struggling to learn to pronounce “Beulah,” myself when I was three or four. I wanted to be able to correctly tell people what my name was when they asked. But no child should have to go through the embarrassment of not being able to say their own name correctly. So I recommend simple nicknames  for “Simple Savants”… or “Simple Simons.” Save the difficult names for when small children are old enough to confidently pronounce each syllable of their “Handle/ Moniker/ John Henry.”

    But names aside, I soon became pretty good at creating lesson plans in my mind, on the fly, or by the seat of my pants … creative that I am. I mean, “When there’s a will, there’s a way”!

    But my lesson plans didn’t come close to what I was able to do after some maturity, a college education, and the numerous teachers’ training courses, and other studies I pursued, after escaping that backwards, bizarre, conceited cult — Escaped it at twenty-one to “get a life,” a college degree, and a teaching credential.

    But getting back to “the little adobe schoolhouse,” in LeBaron: The following year, they had me teaching a group of twenty kids, ranging from ages five to fifteen, many of whom needed to learn how to read — or were there to simply learn English.

    And I, fifteen years old by then, was expected to work miracles — though I didn’t even know Spanish, let alone the pedagogy behind Bilingual Ed. Furthermore, I was expected to do all this without even a decent chalkboard or chalk, let alone the benefit of other teaching supplies … not even books and paper, to speak of.

    And, of course (other than Mother’s one-hour amateur teaching demonstration) there was not the least teacher preparation nor training. And if there had been such a highfalutin thing offered, you can be sure it would’ve been me, fresh off the streets, they’d have dragged or roped in to teach others how to teach what I had not been taught myself — and Mother and other adults were too busy to teach, LOL! Except it wasn’t a laughing matter:

    They were very busy reinventing the wheel and “The Little Red Schoolhouse” … in “Zion, the gathering place of the Saints,” where people took themselves most seriously as they diligently strove to build up the kingdom of God and prepare a place of refuge “for when the calamities started in the US, and people had to flee over the border to Old Mexico — no less! – to save their lives.”

    Crazy? Yes, and how! Because they could barely save their own lives, let alone help anyone else’s, once the sky started falling.  About all they could do was continue to follow Chicken Little; i.e., “The Prophets Joel and Ervil.”

    When I escaped that cult in 1967, I didn’t know how to drive, use a telephone, nor count change — let alone exchange American money. I could barely use Mexican money, having had so little script allowed me during my childhood or married life.

    Our cult, like most Mormon fundamentalist cults, believed women shouldn’t be allowed to have or manage money. Therefore, you can be sure I didn’t know how to write a check, let alone open a bank account, get on a bus or train … or take a taxi.

    So at my/our husband’s funeral, my oldest sister told me I could come stay with her in San Diego, California, and she’d help me get situated in my new life and find a job … given that I had no money, Basic Education, nor work experience, to speak of, and couldn’t drive — plus had a toddler to look after, besides.

    And who should know, better than she, all the disadvantages and back sets I’d just left behind, such that I wasn’t prepared for this  “foreign country” and frightening life of single motherhood.

    On top of that, I had recently announced to the cult that I no longer believed in their religious dogma and had left their secluded colony for good. So my “big” sister (seventeen months older than I) knew she was all I had to turn to for help in getting started in my new world.

    Looking back on it now, I guess it sounded pretty impressive and good to my “big” sister that she should invite me to come live with her and “she’d help me get set up.” After all, she’d heard and seen other people around her say and do such a benevolent thing.

    So I guess it seemed to this twenty-three-year-old, average-minded ingénue like the thing any normal and sensitive sister in her right shoes would say to any normal and helpless sister in my wrong shoes, I being her younger and destitute widowed “apostate,” social-scientific-thinking sister.

    But, much to my disappointment, let down, and dismay, in the two to three weeks my toddler and I were there, she never did one thing to help me find a job!

    Even worse, food began to gradually dwindle then disappear from her abode, ultimately leaving the cupboard bare but for some canned orange juice. That’s all she left for my baby and me the last five days we lived with her and her husband Stephen Silver … who was usually away visiting his other wives.

    I suppose she was trying to give me the “hint to git”? That she really hadn’t meant for me to take her up on it when she invited me to come live with her “till I got started on my own”?

    Like, was her husband/ my brother-in-law Stephen Silver put out with her when I actually showed up on their doorstep  … or what? Obviously, there wasn’t … and still isn’t … much communication going on between me and her. I’m supposed to pretend things didn’t happen the way they did, I guess.

    But, for sure, she has apparently never taken a look at what she did. All I’m certain of is she sure didn’t/ doesn’t think she owed/owes me any apology. At least I’ve never gotten one — and fifty years have passed since then. That was just how people, at least in my family, did things.

    They weren’t dependable. Didn’t keep their word — Didn’t follow through on what they promised. We simply took each other for granted, didn’t expect too much — and usually got less. People weren’t/aren’t valued so much when there are an awful lot of them — as in huge families. I was simply grateful for the few times, over the years, my older sister had come through for me!

    But, though there has been no communication between me and her about that time, by now, I’ve figured out she and Stephen weren’t starving like my baby and me. And it was NOT a common thing for my sister to have no food in her house: The louse was eating out to avoid feeding me and my baby!

    But she never told me what she was up to. I simply thought they were low on money. And was just as naïvely still trusting my sister would eventually help me find that all-important job!

    But, to add insult to injury, Stephen learned from her I had $18.00 pocket change. Even in 1967 that didn’t go very far — especially when I had a child to support! So I was taken aback when he asked me to give him all the money I had — even asked me if I was sure I didn’t have any dimes or pennies left in my apron pocket!

    Now, wouldn’t you think the right thing for such a “saint” (and future “profit”!) to do (since I couldn’t drive and and there was no transportation within walking distance of their apartment) would’ve been to take me shopping so I could use that money to buy some food for my malnourished baby and me! (Or maybe even get me set up with Welfare?)

    But, apparently, he thought I owed him some money for having stayed at his wife’s place a bit. So he was simply exacting all he could get from me. And maybe he thought it was too dangerous to have me go to the Public Welfare Dept. to get assistance: They might find out about him, a Plyg, and he’d be thrown in jail.

    But, fortunately for him, I didn’t know how to use a phone, let alone that a Department of Social Services existed; i.e., a Public Welfare System that offered aid to starving families with dependent children. I didn’t know anything because he and my sister never explained anything … nor did anyone else.

    They apparently had too many of their own problems to worry about to consider me. Plygs are extremely busy people. Just trying to make ends meet and stay out of jail is more hell than most can handle.

    So, instead of helping me in any way, get what followed next — a  story so shocking and inhumane I can still barely relate it to this day: Without ANY warning, in the dead of night the two took off, abandoning me and my toddler.

    Yes, unbelievably, and without any word to me that they were going to leave, these “Saints” fled, leaving my baby and me to further starve to death. We literally went five full days with only water, till we were rescued. But that’s another gory story for a later line.

    Over time, I realized these Mormon fundamentalist Plyg “Saints”  had fled their apartment, while I was sleeping, to not only dump me and my kid but to also avoid paying the many months’ back rent they owed! But what can I expect from my older sister? I had always been a thorn in her side.

    She had never gotten over my being born! I guess my parents hadn’t properly prepared her, at the tender age of seventeen months, for my sudden arrival on the scene and “her” territory.

    To make matters worse, I immediately began to take her place and nurse at my/HER mama’s breast! And, later on, to use HER potty … without anyone’s permission: I potty trained myself at age one. I saw how much attention my older sister got for using her potty and leaving a turd. So I copied her … And left my own turd. Then properly got Mother by the hand and took her to show her what I left in the pot, expecting she would really praise me, too.

    But I will never forget how upset my twenty-nine-month-old Sis was. Oh, the dismay she showed when I’d usurped her very special potty chambers. I recall Mama tenderly trying to convince her of how important it was to share her special new potty chair with me. “Do-do,” as I called her at that age, never did agree. She simply put up with me, an intruder on her territory, because she had no alternative.

    And when it comes to “interlopers,” she didn’t have much more use for the US government and the rule of law, either … Other than it afforded her and her husband and his other wives a living, a welfare check, and more. Thank God for the good ole Americans that do respect the rule of law so as to create wonderful things interlopers (such as bleed-the-beast “Saints”) can benefit from.

    Ah yes, these self-proclaimed Mormon saints were simply bleeding the beast … including me and my baby. To add insult to injury, these same self-righteous “saintly beasts” actually proclaimed themselves to be better than my/ Bill’s “apostate” kid and me!

    What’s more unbelievable, given their behavior, is Stephen had been my/ our husband’s “best boyfriend.” Of course, I didn’t know this at the time. Over many years, I pieced the puzzle together. It started back when they’d met in France’s mainstream-Mormon mission field where they spent about two years in close quarters as missionary companions — even sharing the same bunk the whole time!

    So Bill was no doubt turning over in his grave as he saw how his secret lover Steve (i.e., wife?) had ultimately vented his uncontainable jealousy towards me — And also vented his feelings of betrayal and grief he’d long since harbored towards Bill because he could never marry Bill and have him all to himself. 

    So how did he get even with Bill and me? He simply abandoned us … me and the baby I’d had with Bill; i.e., He left us to expire once his lover Bill had expired.

    But what a wickedly proverbial betrayal it was that Steve would actually leave me and my/ Bill’s baby unprotected and “without a pot to piss in,” given that Bill had helped Steve often — So many times he’d come to Steve and his family’s rescue, over the course of the twelve years he and Steve had remained “Best Buddies”!

    What’s worse, as it stood for me, after Bill died, his first/ legal wife got all the monthly Social Security money the US government paid to Bill’s family upon his death. She even took all the money from our chicken business in Mexico — though she shared some with Bill’s second wife — her “best girlfriend” and sidekick.

    But those two left me and my child to the wolves — because I wasn’t “really” part of “the family;” i.e.,”the love nest.” And they made that choice, not Bill. But Bill went along with whatever choices his two oldest wive’s made, more often than not. Life with a harem was more peaceful for him when those squeaky hinges/”hens” got the grease; i.e., He let these first two jealous wives wear the pants and have the power… usually.

    Actually, they thought (as I had) that my sister was going to help me get a job and get situated in the United States after my/our husband’s demise! But that was still no excuse for them to take for themselves and their kids all the money and gifts that came into our family, after Bill’s death, leaving me and Bill’s baby he impregnated me with, helpless and hopeless once he died.

    But what was new, when it came to me and them? This was how it had always been — my having to sink, think, then swim — or die trying. No help from them, to speak of. They did the bare minimum … to save face, and not a farthing’s fart more! Bill wasn’t much help either.

    But, getting back to Stephen Silver: To top off ALL else he did and didn’t do, later on, that narcissistic nut case started a Mormon fundamentalist cult of his own — after he spent some years in the country of Israel, no less, trying to convert the Jews to the idea that he, Stephen (half Jewish), was the Messiah prophesied of old!!

    When that didn’t work, that’s when Steve returned to the United States, got a perm, sported a redheaded Afro, and set himself up as a self-proclaimed prophet — “The one mighty ‘n’ strong,” if you will, as spoken of in Mormon Scriptures. And that’s only the half of it when it comes to Steve and his crazy, nitwit shit!

    I got side-tracked with this backstory. Let’s continue with my story about why and when I wrote the following poem, “Bright Childhood a Blessing.” At the time my muse brought this poem to me, I was without even a religious base, having left my religion — The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times. I had left it, in my mind, a year before I knew my husband had left it.

    He had secretly left it, in his mind, too, a year or so before he dared tell me he’d quit believing in my Uncles, Joel and Ervil LeBaron and their priesthood claims and doctrine! Anyway, needless to say, when he passed away, my baby and I were left without any support system whatsoever. 

    Add to this that, because I had left “The Church of the First Born,” I was being maligned and ostracized by many people in the cult … including my mother, older sister, and most of my other siblings.

    My toddler and I were considered basically “bad” because I was no longer a “true believer.” So we were left to rot and be forgot … Conveniently abandoned by God’s self-proclaimed chosen handful … who always claimed to be so full of love, charity, and goodness!

    But, wouldn’t you know, these self-righteous self-proclaimed Saints left me and Bill’s baby to die: They considered us “Daughters of Perdition” … simply because I had chosen to use the God-given brain I was endowed with to make my own choices in life. (God forbid I should do such a thing!) And it is with this backdrop the following poem came to me … came to be:

    Bright Childhood a Gift
    (By Stephany Spencer, age 21)

    Bright childhood was a gift on loan.
    Today I wander back, wondering
    Why that gift has flown.
    Now I’m abandoned, on my own.

    Steeped in drudgery to the bone,
    Helplessly, hopelessly I groan.
    What am I now? Who took away
    That life I once had known?
    Who caused me to be so flung
    When hope had almost grown?

    Who finds it wise to lend me loss —
    This misery once unknown?
    Filled with heartaches made of stone –
    Who took me here to moan?
    Who left me here, greatly lost —

    With people but alone?

    Come end this anguish fierce!
    Put justice in its place!
    Don’t tarry long, I pray —
    I cannot bear this pace.

    You gave me once a mother dear,
    A father who did care,
    Plus friends and sisters near;
    They helped to pave each stair.

    But quick You took that life;
    Left me dangling in the dearth
    Of helpless stress and strife —
    Still a mother, no longer wife.

    Once I asked to be made strong
    A soldier in Your crew.
    I hadn’t dreamt this was what
    My energies were due.

    Now I pray to bring me up
    From out a crushing pain; 
    Bring back hope, bring back joy,
    Bring heaven once again.

     (By Stephany Spencer, age 21)


    In the following video, my cousin Donna LeBaron Goldberg is interviewed by her aunt (my aunt-in-law) Producer Rebecca Kunz Kimbel. Donna was born and raised in Colonia LeBaron and the LeBaron Mormon fundamentalist cult where I was raised and spent eight years of my childhood and young adulthood.



    Sibling Rivalry: The 10 Best Tips to Prevent this Parenting NemesisThe parental headache of sibling rivalry begins in childhood. It can carry far beyond those formative years and into adulthood with all kinds of problems years…

    ~ My Song “Painted Spring:” A Take-off from the Spanish Traditional Song “De Colores”

    A Lesson Too Late In The Learning:  Write It or Regret It

    cropped-peacocks.jpg

    Recently at the California Writers Club, a fellow poet and guest speaker, Deborah Edler Brown, advised:

    “At the moment of inspiration, record it. Don’t wait! For it’s like babies lost you can never retrieve if you don’t record your inspiration when it comes.”

    If only I had realized that wisdom twenty years ago while I was teaching bilingual education. For then I so wished I had an English translation of the well-known Spanish children’s folk song, De Colores. But I did not have time to work out one.

    It’s not easy to keep a song lyrical and with rhyme when translating it from one language to another — especially if you want to keep the same music and rhythm.

    However, one morning I awoke and there before me, like a dream, was a beautiful English translation of this song! Not appreciating enough the gift of inspiration I had just received, I continued to do pressing chores for a few hours.

    By the time I sat down to record the lyrics, to my dismay around one-third of these inspired words had disappeared from my memory forever.

    Being a poet, I was able to work out fill-in words and lines to replace those lost. But they are not as gratifying nor satisfying as the full version I had been inspired with, then inadvertently lost.

    Nonetheless, the translation I do have is better than any other English translation of this song I have since found online or on YouTube.

    I will present the 16th-century Spanish traditional song first, followed by my inspired English translation:

    11116395355_b1149a1f49_k-jpgflower-rainbow

    De Colores

    1- De Colores, de colores se visten

    Los campos en la primavera;

    De colores, de colores son los pajaritos

    Que vienen de afuera;

    De colores, de colores es el arco iris

    Que vemos lucir:

    Refrain:

    Y por eso los grandes amores

    De muchos colores

    Me gustan a mi.  (Repeat)

    2- Canta el gallo, canta el gallo con

    El quiri-quiri-quiri-quiri-quiri,

    La gallina, la gallina con el

    Cara-cara-cara-cara-cara!

    Los polluelos, los polluelos con

    El pio-pio-pio-pio-pi!


    rainbow

    * Painted spring

    (My inspired version of “De Colores”)                

    1- In the springtime in the valleys

    The countryside glistens with pallets of color;

    In the springtime in the meadows

    The birds fill the air with their beautiful color;

    In the springtime comes the arch of the rainbow

    And spreads its grand hues from afar!

    Chorus:

    And this is the reason I love the spring season:

    There’s splendorous color to see —

    Yes, this is the reason this beautiful season

    Brings such joy and pleasure to me!

    2- In the barnyard in the morning

    The red rooster crows,“How do you do?”

    In the hen coop in the daytime

    The white hens announce every egg that is new;

    In the garden in the sunshine the yellow chicks

    Scratch through the flowers and dew.

    (back to chorus)


    • Thanks to my creative cousin Jessica LeBaron for coming up with a perfect title for my song! 🙂
    • * NOTE: Music to “De Colores,” and my take-off from it, can be found under “De Colores” on YouTube.)