Barbara Anderson described Ted Jaracz as “‘ kind and nice to outsiders in the congregations,’ but ‘mean as all get out’ to the average Bethelite worker, sometimes seeming like two different people in one body. ” I think that is a fair assessment based on what I had observed over the years. While I was an object of his affection, I could see the fear of him present in many of his fellow workers at Bethel.
I met Ted and Melita when I was a pre-teen. Ted was in transition from his assignment in Australia to a somewhat unknown future back in the U.S. For a period of less than six months, Ted and Melita were assigned to the Beverly Hills Congregation where I attended with my parents. My parents had Ted and Melita over to our house many times during that period and they became close friends. I can remember on at least two occasions playing miniature golf with Ted, Melita and my parents. Ted would always place first, then me, then my father. I don’t think Melita and my mother ever kept score.
My father used to speak of a return visit that he invited Ted on. The person was quite miserable actually. He felt he wanted to die because he couldn’t do many of the things he used to do, including mowing the lawn. Ted argued that he didn’t really want to die because everyone really wants to live. The man argued this point with Ted until Ted ended the argument by saying that if he really wanted to die he should go out and mow the lawn.
When Ted went on the road as a District Overseer, he was assigned to Southern California for a time. On occasion, my parents and I would travel to Circuit Assemblies where he would be and we would go out for dinner afterwards. When Ted and Melita traveled from one circuit to the next, Melita would sit in the back seat where she set up a portable desk and she would type Ted’s talks. This typifies Melita’s devotion to Ted. Although she could be very direct in dealing with others, she was completely submissive to and almost worshipful of Ted. For years after my father died, my mother would receive cards and letters from Ted and/or Melita, it seemed almost monthly. Now that Ted is gone, I would guess that Melita will, if not live with, at least spend more time with her family in Chilliwack, B.C.
For about 20 years, I would go back to Bethel to work on the Society’s music projects, sometimes twice a year. I don’t think there was ever a time when I was in Brooklyn, or later Patterson, that Ted didn’t call, usually to invite me to dinner in their room. On one such occasion Ted took delight in describing in detail how one night after the Service Meeting he was handed “the big envelope from the Governing Body” informing him that he had been chosen to join their ranks. On another evening, I was part of a group invited to dinner. One of the guests directed a really inane Bible question to Ted. Ted didn’t touch it, but rather redirected it to those of us who were there. As I recall, a few gave some speculative comments, but the question was eventually given a proper burial without Ted ever having commented.
When Bethel was being outfitted with computer systems, I asked Ted if he had a computer yet. He said he read in an in-flight magazine that computers were for staff, not management, so he didn’t think he would need one.
My father spoke of “back in the day” having Scriptural discussions with Ted. One involved my father arguing that betting on a horse race isn’t any different than playing the stock market. Ted’s position wasn’t based on a particular scripture but rather on the supposition that it would be hard to witness to someone on Sunday who had seen you placing a bet the day before. I bring this up because in the years I knew him, we never discussed anything of real substance. I only broached a serious subject with him on two occasions as I recall. One was when the GB decided not to release the vocal album that was eventually leaked on the Internet. I wrote him a letter pleading with him to defer to the musical sensibilities of the professional musicians who produced it and argued that, if they released it, it would be one of the best-received Society products ever. I also mentioned that I was not asking him to respond to my letter. He never did, and in the few times I saw or spoke to him afterward, he never brought it up. The other was during an international convention held at the Long Beach Arena. Ted pretty much had the final word on convention arrangements in his capacity on the Teaching Committee. Our congregation was assigned to that convention and it was evident that there were too many congregations assigned. It was standing room only and parking was a nightmare. During one of the talks, I asked Ted to come with me to the convention floor. I had him look up at the walkways that ringed the arena. The crowd was six deep in the walkways. I pointed out that the convention was way over-booked. It was then that I encountered what others describe as “the brick wall.” Ted’s response was that the friends just like to come to these things.
Perhaps these recollections help illustrate the intriguing “two different people in the same body.”