WT elder school Pittsburg PA in Jan 1970

by james_woods 17 Replies latest jw experiences

  • james_woods

    Have been gone from the board for a month or so, but I have read with great interest some of the stories about very recent "Elder" schools from actual attendees. I thought some might like to know about my experience in one of these in the very early 70's. I was pioneering where the need was great (Clinton, Okla.) and was made Assistant Cong. Servent because we were sort of in-between special pioneers at the time. Anyway at 20yrs old I got the invite to go to one of these "schools". Some may not know that early on, many of these 2 week sessions were held at a sort of "super kingdom hall" (it had a real auditorium, library, and a big basement with a commercial style kitchen and dining room) in Pittsburg, Penn. I think the story was that they had not yet bought the Squibb buildings and were short of space at real Bethel. We roomed with local JW families as 1 or 2 per home and showed up during the day for classes. They had bethel boys to cook and clean at the hall except weekends when we were expected to volunteer and cook for ourselves.

    The two instructors were a guy named (M.something?) Davis and the eventual GB member Shroeder. It has been way too long to remember the actual content of the class, but it sounds an awful lot just like what a recent Elder wrote up for us last month. I can remember a few REALLY silly things that happened, however...

    * First, this Davis fellow talked and acted very much like the notorious actor Paul Lynde who used to be center box on the Hollywood squares. Very full of himself and sort of (you-know-maybe a little light in the loafers...). At least the sessions he did relieved the boredom because of his silly antics. The main thing I remember was how much utter contempt he had for the ordinary rank and file. He ranted and raved about how "phony" and "worldly" witness families were who actually had real jobs, houses, etc. Made a big deal about how these people had the husband with some big huge Cadillac and his trophy wife had her little "SPORT JITNEY" (yes he actually used words like that all the time), with a big house and a pool. Little did he know (I hoped) that my dad had a caddy, my mom had a pontiac GP, and I was driving a new 1969 Porsche 911. And we had a pool, too - they used to do the batism there.

    * Shroeder (maybe I am spelling it wrong) was another case entirely. He seemed to take great pride in the ability to remember page and paragraph on practically every publication for the past 15 years and would quote them without using an index to wow us...don't remember him quoting the actual bible that much however. He had a car and a private apartment there, I saw him drive up in a big Buick Electry 225 and asked him about it. He said "well, the society has a few cars for general use of any bethel members who needed one". He also had a little kid named Benjamin about 10 or 11 as I recall and was grooming him to also be a walking Watchtower index.

    * My big bug (at the time) was that I could not get a handle on why they had crammed the Jehovah name everywhere through the New Testament. I had had to try and explain this to a college professor back in Clinton-Weatherford and he pretty much reamed me good and proper. So I go ask the mighty Shroeder and got told essentially to mind my own business because the translation committee knew exactly what they were doing. Also got told that doing outside research on my own was bad news and reading older literature could spoil your faith;. Further got told that they had to purge the Society Library from time to time of "UNHEALTHY" reference materials... once a bethel guy got started reading some of these and he went crazy and left bethel and had to be DFd. YIKES!!

    * One Saturday we had a little witness bus tour of the area (we paid 5$ or so each). Here we got to see some of the old halls where Russel used to preach (they were now some other church) and the actual grave of Russell and the weird pyramid. Got a serious lecture back at school about not being stumbled by the pyramid or any other "old light" because now the FDS has the "new light" - BUT, Shroeder did tacitly admit that Russell had some nutty ideas on CHRONOLOGY!!! Then in defiance of his policy of no outside research made us go to the University of Pittsburgh as a special project and look up various (pre-selected) newspaper microfilm about Russell.

    * Also remember that as I was only 20 I could not go drinking at night after class with all the 3 other elders in my carpool so they would go into a tavern and leave me to freeze my azz off in the car for an hour or two every night. But, I was allowed to rent the car and drive them all home and around. My host family dad would give me beers when I got home though and the dad was a computer scientist with a big car and big house. I don't think he made very much FS time and did not see him going to many meetings either. He-He...

    OK, too long already but thought I would put down some of the crazy history of this little back-water school...

    James over and out.

  • in a new york bethel minute
    in a new york bethel minute

    that was a pretty good story... made me lol a little and it wasn't too long... i'd like to hear more of your experiences


  • serendipity

    Hi James,

    Interesting story! Thanks for sharing.

  • VM44

    "...these people had the husband with some big huge Cadillac..."

    Wasn't Nathan Knorr driving a Cadillac then?


  • luna2

    Good story. Nice to see that the Tower is consistant at least. The 1970 version of Elder School sounds just as f'd up as the 2005 version. LOL I just love all that "old light is bad light" stuff. Amazing that they think that makes sense. Hmmm, too bad ole Jerboobhead can't get it right the first time 'round.

  • blindersoff

    Thanks for the memories. I went to the same school in '73. 1400 Bigelow Blvd.

    I got to stay at the bldg the full time as they had 2 brothers stay there. I forget why.

    I still have the class picture that I was so proud of for so long as I was standing right beside A. Shroeder. Judah Ben was a kid & they lived there. I was always so impressed with Albert as he came up to our room one night about 9:00 to discuss a question I had that day.

    Kept my notes for many years. I was so enthralled as I listened to him explain how the heart is not just a pump, but has much to do with personality. The only other thing I remember from the school is that Willie Stargells wife was a JW in Pittsburgh.

    Now, I can't believe I wasted my whole 2 week vacation on that. 2 WEEKS


  • Bonnie_Clyde

    I thought Schroeder's son's name is Judah.

  • Honesty

    At least we can count on the organisation to be consistent throughout the decades.

  • TallTexan


    I remember hearing you talk about this many times, and have seen that picture a number of times. When I saw this post I scrolled down to see if you had replied...I wasn't disappointed.

  • Aiesha Harley
    Aiesha Harley

    Hi James (and everyone else replying).

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