"How Awful This Place Can Be!" Life at Bethel by Keith Casarona

by Dogpatch 55 Replies latest jw friends

  • Dogpatch

    Remember the video of all the nice dudes who were on the Governing Body in the 70s? (Here's a refresher).

    Well this is what their lives were really like - the same as when I was there. Heck, I was 20 years old and ready for anything - I had been warned about some of this stuff at Bethel. But Keith tells it really funny. This is on this site but years ago I talked to him and cleaned up the grammer a little and put it up on my site, and here it is! Take THAT, you stupid video!



    Life at Bethel by Keith Casarona

    52 years as a J.W., born in 1949 in Azusa, Calif., raised in Glendora, Calif. My father was D.Fed in 1961 for not going to the Kingdom Hall he was assigned to, {AHHHHH the love} by 3 brothers who later all left or got kicked out of the borg too! Pioneered in Salina, Kansas 1968-1970. Was at N.Y. Bethel 1970-1974. Worked in the laundry, under Ken Dowling {AHHHH the love}, bindery, East freight elevator in Bld.1 ended up HOE ROW Spanish Awake, under Richard Wheelock {AHHHHH the love}. Married in March 1974-July 2001,My Wife left me after a 27 year marriage, because I no longer wanted to be in the borg.

    Lost my sister, 99% of all my friends {AHHHHHH the love} and could have lost my 2 children, but they were treated so badly {AHHHHH the love} because I left, that they left too. We all are doing fine now. Now my ex-wife will have nothing to do with me, them or her grand children. She turned her back on her own father who was D-fed in 1958! He later blew his brains out, because his 2 children, would have nothing to do with him, plus he was not allowed to see his only grand children {my children} AHHHHHHH the LOVE!!! and why? The only thing he was doing wrong was smoking.

    My father could see me and my children even though he had not been a JW for 40 years and he was smoking too! The only difference is, he even knowing it was all bull.s**t, got reinstated back in 1965 so he was just "inactive"; for 40 years. It is absolutely amazing what you can get people to believe in! "by their love you will recognize them" - THIS STATEMENT WILL ALWAYS BE TRUE! Adolf Hitler said, "The bigger the lie, the easier it is to make them believe!"

    Part 1

    I went to Bethel March 21,1970. At the time you had to be a pioneer for two years to apply, by the time I left in 1974 they were calling people in who had never pioneered. The average stay was 5 months ( they had signed up for 4 years). The reason they left was, well, it was hell.

    One of the reasons was, Knorr hated Bethelites, but he loved the Gilead students and why? Because when they screwed up they were thousands of miles away! Just before I got there, they had kicked out over 60 homosexuals (at one time). The would kick out 1-2 Bethelites a week. He always had nothing but problems with Bethelites. He would say "I can replace any of you, with a 25 cent stamp". Before I went, people told me that at Bethel, Knorr was called "Pa Pa". I never heard that in 4 years, I did hear people call him "King Knorr" They said the place was full of love. Instead it was run like the military by a bunch of Germans: Knorr, Suiter, Henshel, Franz, Swingle, Larson, Wheelock, Weisgarber. Very unfeeling and cold.

    The only place that wasn't cold was the laundry in the 119 building. Over 100 degrees in the summer months, with no A/C, in was in a basement with no windows. Some of us would have to take salt tablets or we would pass out from the heat. I took them, because I worked on the clothes dryers (add another 10 degrees) I also ironed and steamed sisters clothes. I also worked in "check in" were we sorted all the "brothers and sisters" dirty clothes.Great job for a 20 year old "brother" sorting all those bras and panties. LOL. We called the guys underwear "Twinks" because if you opened them up, there was "a surprise in every package." Some days we would fold underwear all day. The rule was a pound a minute.

    I worked there for 22 months. It was the penal institution of the home. Sometimes if a "brother" turned in his 30 day notice (before your time was up) they would send you there, to sweat it out. Or if you messed up in other departments like the waiter crew, they would sent you there, if you screwed up. Like my friend Gary Kennedy who was sent there after he destroyed $300 worth of plates in one crash. He was a "happy-go-lucky" type who really didn't fit in.

    They wanted him out, so they put the screws on. My overseer Ken Dowling had a meeting with the check in crew and said "we were to report anything Gary said (that wasn't the party line) to him" He latter said to me and I Quote "Gary will DIE at Armageddon because he doesn't do what I tell him to do". "You do believe that? brother Casarona". "ERRRR. "YES sir" I said. When you are 20 years old and they give you (when you get there) the Bethel handbook "Dwelling together in Peace and Unity": Where it says that your Bethel overseer is basically appointed my God. What else would you say? We were to report anything we heard or saw to the "brothers" in the Bethel office (Gestapo) You really didn't know who to trust and everyone was a possible informer. With the righteous new boys being the very worse.

    My first table was upper dinning room, Houston Roberts table head. Some tables were fun, this one was boring, the table head would set the mood for the table. IF you missed to many breakfasts (morning worship) he would turn you in. He had the personality of a bowl of "creamed spinach" He had been at Bethel for 10 years and was waiting to get married. His girl friend sat across from me and had been there for 3 years.they had 1 more year to go before they could have sex.The rule then was 14 years in full time service, before you could get married and stay at Bethel. Aah the love.

    As for the food, everyone talks about. Breakfast was O.K.( most of the time it was Ice cold after Knorrs rantings) lunch was the best meal of the day and dinner sucked. Hardly anyone went to dinner a hundred guys out of maybe 1300 went. Not because we weren't hungry. The food was bad, leftovers or squash stuffed with mystery meat. Most the time there just wasn't enough food. If you sat on the table with 7-8 hungry guys, by the time the plates come around to you, the food was gone. You pass the plates out again wait 5-10 mins. to come back. They would pass the plates around the other direction, get to you and guess what? Nothing left, now its pray time and there is no more food after the pray. You had 15 mins. to eat. None of the big shots ever went to dinner and why? It sucked.

    The shortest Bethel stay was 20 seconds. One "brother" drove up on his motorcycle, as Bob Lang (Bethel office) was walking across the street in from of the 124 building. He asked Bob "Is this Bethel?" Bob said "yes it is". He said "great I'm here to report in" Bob said "is that your motorcycle?" He said "yes, why?" Bob said "because you can't have one of those here". "No?". NO! "OK" the brother said "BYE" and drove off. Lucky guy. P.S. no bikes were permitted either.

    Part 2

    Back to the food. The saying was "Its the best food in the world before they cook it." The coffee was really bad. They would take a 55 lb. bag of good coffee beans and boil the s**t out of it. The joke was if anyone could find the guy that made the coffee, and kill him, our production would go up and Armageddon could finally come. When they had liver for lunch only half the family showed up, which (saved them money) an old timer named Wilbur Ruth about 85 years old would walk through the factory and tells what was for lunch each day, (we never knew ahead of time) he would say "liver to make you quiver and ice cream to make you shiver".

    Poor Wilbur. One day my friend Tom Plank operator of Press 6 and me pulled Wilbur aside and asked him why he never got married. "Oh. I WANTED to, but back in the 30's and 40's we couldn't get married and stay at Bethel we had to made a vow of celibacy, and Armageddon was going to COME any day. When Knorr showed up with a wife after an assembly in the early 50's that changed everything, but for me it was too late. I was in my late 60's. Who would have someone like me?"

    Then there were the married couples who never had kids (not allowed to at Bethel). Some of those women were down right bitter. Armageddon was coming any day, why would you want to have kids? One of the bitterest old ladies there was Ester Lopaz. One of "sister" Knorr's best friends. I meet her on Doc Dixon's table it was, what we called a "dead" table. Dead because no one talked to each other. You had the righteous "company men" and the factory workers on the same table. You would go, eat and get the hell out of there.

    At Bethel when a plate of food came on a table, the table head would pass it down the right side, then when the next plate came, it would go down the left side, so everyone would get a fair chance at some food. Not on the good doctor's table, his wife would always get it first. So if you sat on the other side, close to the end, you were screwed. One day we were having fried chicken. By the time it got to the end, all was left was chicken backs. So I took three backs. They passed it out. Came to the end again. All backs. Did it again. All backs. So there I'm with a plate of all chicken back bones piled high. Dixon looks over at me and says "You sure are making a PIG out of yourself, brother Casarona"!

    The love started my first day at the table. Ester said "Who are you?". "I'm brother Casarona". "Well, where are you from, brother Casarona?" I said "Kansas" (though I was raised in California, I pioneered in Kansas, you would never tell an old timer you were from California - they hated Bethelites from California, way too liberal.) She said "well, where were you from before Kansas?" I said. Errrrrr California". She said "IT FIGURES" (already judged). "Well" I said "you sure can feel the LOVE on this table!". She said "WELL sometimes love is to correct the brothers when they NEED it". I said "WELL SISTER Lopaz I think I'll let the BROTHERS do that". So the war began.

    After 4 years, I turned in my 30 day notice in February 1974. Everyone thought Armageddon was right around the corner, and thus any one leaving Bethel, the house of God ( and his protection) the biggest possible fool. At my last lunch at Bethel, Ester looked over at me and with this big grin said "You better eat EVERYTHING on your plate, because when you leave here, you are going to STARVE!" I didn't say a word, but I thought to myself, I would rather starve out there, then eat one more meal in here with all you self-righteous assholes. I guess God only had enough power to save those at Bethel.

    10 years ago I made my only trip back to Bethel. I made a point of tracking "sister" Lopaz down. YES!. The old bat was still alive - well in her 90's. I had her paged. She looked at me and said "YOU, YOU.YOU". I said "Yes its me, and you were WRONG!" I grabbed her hand and put it on my belly and said, "I DIDN'T STARVE to death, as you can see!"

    I was in the group that got the first new boy talks in the spring of 1970. There were 8 of them, Knorr gave the "sex at Bethel talk" (or why there is no sex, at Bethel talk). I would give a $1,000 bucks for a copy of that talk. There were 53 of us guys and 3 "sisters" in there. The girls faces were red. One of the quotes was Knorr saying "I don't want you to do anything with IT, except PEE, for 4 years."

    I was also the first group of Bethelites to be assigned out to other congregations. Before our group, you would have to go to Brooklyn Heights or King County for a year. If you were good, they would give you an outside hall. My hall was Inwood, at the very tip of Manhattan. It was a 45-60 mins. subway ride. So book studies was a 2 hour train ride, for a 1 hour meeting.

    On my first ride there, I met a guy, a Bethelite who was leaving after 4 years, My first day was his last. He was only 24 years old. He looked like 40. So I asked him "Do you have any words of advice?" "YEAH" he said. "Keep your mouth SHUT and do you work. They don't give a s**t about you here". WOW I thought this guy as a BAD attitude! That will NEVER happen to me! HA!

    Well if you want, I guess there will be a part III. I'll tell you how I helped kill someone there.

    Part 3

    Don't get me wrong. There was no one more self-righteous then me at 19. Moved to Kansas at 18 to pioneer and even printed up cards that said,
    "HAVE SWORD WITH TRAVEL"---------contact Casarona: Salina Kansas------ AAA (Available After Armageddon)-----SS (sacred service).

    Oh, I was full of myself! Thought of myself as a spiritual gun fighter. To defend TRUTH, JUSTICE and all the WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY stood for. Little did I know I had no chance of winning my first big gun fight!. We have meet the enemy, and he is US.

    There is nothing more righteous then a new boy at Bethel. So there you are at the center of the WORLD WIDE WORK. HOME of the GB. You know you are going to see the "Shakina Light" at any moment. Then it happens. The lies, the pride, the cruelty, the politics, the favoritism. You say to yourself, well it just a few people - I'm SURE the "brothers" in real power have no Idea what these overseers are doing. So what do you do?

    There is a chain of command, and one thing you would NEVER do is go over that overseer's head that is called "END YOUR BETHEL CAREER IMMEDIATELY." Most of us who went there wanted to make it our life's work.

    We saw it many times. Some overseer would pull some s**t. Like what my overseer said about a sister that worked in the laundry. He told my roommate that "That sister L. is like a cow in HEAT she wants it bad." Not a disfellowshipping offense, but nothing a loving "brother" would say. Sooooooooo

    The new guy would go to Max Larson in the factory or George Couch in the Bethel home and tell him what happened. After they heard the story, the first question they would ask is "So tell me BROTHER - how LONG have you been here?". They would say something like "2 years, sir!". "Well brother (newboy) brother Pompous has been here 22 years! Thank you for coming by." Goodbye Bethel career. 2 months later he would be on a sewing machine in the bindery, the Penal institution of the factory. (The laundry was the penal institution of the home.)

    It is a "Good old boy country Club" and you are NOT a member. You are not even considered a real member of the family until your 4 years are up. Then, when you have eaten 4 years of s**t and told them you "LIKE it" you can become a "company man" and become one of them. Seg Heil!

    So anyway, back to the gun fight. The stuff my overseer was doing, well the stink was rising to the heavens, but what it do? Our assistant overseer told a ex-CO what was happening. He said A LOT of these things were going on and some one should step up and say something. So him and 2 other ex-COs felt the same way. The were the 3 Freds. There names were FRED BARNES, FRED FREDEAN and FRED HILMO. Great men who had of vision of truth, righteous, fairness. But those things had no chance in the gun fight with the "country club boys," the real power at Bethel.

    They asked anyone that had a problem with and overseer to come to the Towers library. Over a hundred brothers showed up and started telling their stories. Oh my GOD. So after all was said, Fred Hilmo said he would go and talk to Knorr about it. So he told Knorr what was going on. Knorr said "we should have a meeting with all the brothers (REBELS) to have a discussion on these matters". You know what he was planning to do. He was going to play Jehu on their asses!

    My time is running out, so tomorrow I will tell you in Part 4, about the big shoot out known at Bethel as "Black Thursday."

    Part 4

    Black Thursday September 1972

    Knorr gathered all the Bethel "Heavies" and GB to the KH in the 119 building. The Three Freds (circuit overseers) and about 50 brothers. That's right, only 50. The other guys chickened out, they knew it was going to be a blood bath. I was there with 7 others from the laundry.

    It started out with Dan Smolley (not even 30 years old and partaking) telling about what Max Larson (head of the whole factory) told him "there was NO WAY he was one of the ANOINTED!" Max at the time was a member of the great crowd. I mean how could God pick him, some kid? When Max was there at Gods house for over 40 years? Sometimes I wonder how God picks those anointed guys anyway, God can be strange sometimes.

    Well the stories kept flowing. They were shaking the pillars of the the organization! Knorr got MADDER and MADDER. He would have loved to have killed us all, if could have! Everyone knew these men were above the law. How dare we - Where the hell is JEHU, when you need him?

    As Knorr was ranting, all of a sudden Fred Franz stood up and said "These men are appointed to there positions of (power) responsibility NOT because of their spiritual qualifications. BUT because of their secular abilities!". The room was silent.

    Knorr said "we will LOOK into these matters". END OF MEETING.

    Soooooooooo.What happened? There was ONE committee meeting. It was with my laundry overseer.They gave him a slap on the hand. He was moved out of the laundry, and by the time I left Bethel 2 years later, was promoted to where else, the Bethel office! He was "a company man" and "company men" always take care of there own. Just look a the elders in any KH.

    They didn't kick the 3 Freds out (bad publicity and we know how the "brothers" hate publicity). Instead they just make their lives living hell. They even put Fred Barnes (in his 50's) on a "gather" a machine that even 19 year olds have a problem staying up with. He had a heart attack. They were kind enough to take him off it.

    The rest of us "laundry boys" were screwed. We had done the unforgivable, by bringing up wrong doings of Bethel overseers. Our Bethel careers were over. There was only one thing left to do, serve our time and get out.

    I was sent to the bindery. It made the laundry look like heaven. They put me on a sewing machine. It was the night shift. A sewing machine is a machine were you sit and sew signatures together in a flipping motion that you do 40,000-50,000 a day. After three months, I was put on a bindery line were you would stand, all day between 2 machines. You would take the book out of the "rounder" and put in the "back liner"----16,000 to 17,000 times a day. If you begged your line overseer, he might give you a 10 min. break to go to the bathroom every four hours. They could have bought a machine to do the same thing but it only cost them $22 a month for a warm body to do the job.The saying was "there is no shaft at Bethel, every job is a privilege of service". I don't care if you pee on me, but don't call in WATER!

    One time a army general come through on a tour of the factory. He was shaking his head. The tour guide said "I'm sure you could get your troops to do the same thing". He said " Are you kidding. No way."

    Harold Dies was a fruit cake. A lot of those old timers were weird - guys in their 70's that never got married. A friend of mind went to his room in the 124 building one time, it was winter time it was a little chilly in the room, so Harold asked him if he was cold. He said "a little." Harold had a fake fireplace in his room so he went over and turned it on. It had a 25 watt light bulb in it, it even made crackly noises. He said " isn't that better?" And then there was the "Dick Dasterdly" incident.

    Part 5

    Bindery. 5th floor Building 3 bindery line 5. The machines conquer all.

    Standing in the same spot, doing the same motion thousands of times a day.You would get the 1000 yard stare (seen in the war movies). The first week, you would think about everyone you ever meet. The next week you would think about every movie you ever saw. The next week, about every place you would like to travel to. The next week think about every mistake you made. The next week, someone would walk up and ask you "what are you thinking about?" "NOTHING" you would say. You were brain dead.
    There is eternality! Some hours felt like it.

    A good friend of mine, Jim Pipkorn (also from the laundry) who was also shafted to the "end sheet gluer" in the bindery, got so depressed that for months, he would come back to his room, make himself some dinner and go to bed, at about 7:00 p.m. I asked him why he was doing that, he said "It makes the days go by quicker."

    We were counting our time. It was just like Viet Nam. You would ask a guy how long he had left. He would say "3 years 2 months to go". We would say "You Poor bastard - that is after 1975, so you will never have any sex". You should have seen the look on his face.

    Of course there is no racial prejudice in the Lord's house! About 20% of the Bethelites were black. About 60% of the guys in the bindery were black. When I asked Calvin Chyke (assistant factory overseer) why that was, he said it was "because the black 'brothers' have a NATURAL rhythm" which you need on the machines. I was dying every day. I prayed "please God Get me out of here."

    I found this picture of this old guy with grey hair, he was praying with a bible and a loaf of bread on a table, hands folded, maybe you have seen it? I hung it up in my locker. One day my floor overseer Phill Gouckinbil saw it and said "what is this?" This guy is not a witness! Because that is not a New World Translation Bible on the table." I said that "I thought he was! That he was one of the anointed ones, behind the the iron curtain and that was the only bible he could get!" "Mmmmmm" he said.

    Well It must of worked. I got a job change 2 weeks later to the east freight elevator building one. I thought I died and went to heaven. I could walk around and I was my own boss. WOW, freedom. That is where I meet the pressroom animals. Great guys.

    There was the 5th floor ink room which was the "mash unit" of the factory. These guys got away with murder. They had coffee breaks. They even had a place they could hide and one of them could take a nap, as the others were on look out. Their overseer was Norm Brecky. Really cool guy who would go to bat for his boys, which he did do, more then once.

    One day, down by glue room, I was standing there with Mike Stillman and 3 other guys. Mike had this big wooden paddle about six ft. long. He was beating the harden glue with it and saying "FEED THE ROUNDER (a cruel bindery machine). SLAP. FEED THE ROUNDER. SLAP! Please don't beat me, brother overseer. FEED THE ROUNDER. SLAP!" We were all laughing. Just then walking up from behind us was none other then "Liver lips Linderman", head bindery overseer! He stood there for a minute quaking. Finally he said "Just WHAT do think would have happened if it was a TOUR that came over that bridge instead of ME!" Mike just stood there, with his paddle over his shoulder and said, "Well I guess they would think we are normal like everyone else!" Oh MY GOD, we are so screwed, I thought. Linderman stood there with smoke coming out of his ears and with a hateful smile said "YOU HAVE DONE A VERY BAD THING" and walked off. That was it, I thought. Bindery here we come! But no, Norm came through again.
    That is, what is so nice about Bethel, it is the love! and there is NO fear of man. LOL

    Part 6

    I 'm sorry all of this is not in order. I'm writing as all this comes back to me.

    My first room assignment was room 33 in the 129 building. It was and old building, built around the turn of the century. The society owned it but it had worldly people in it, too. I'm not sure why but maybe there was a law that prevented them from being kicked out or something. It was a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment (about 1000 sq. ft.) There were 7 of us in there, all new boys ( less then one year there). There was 2 guys in each of the bedrooms and 3 guys in the living room. I got the back bedroom with some righteous Spanish kid from Texas (forgot his name). The bedroom was about 10x10, there were 2 beds, 2 desks and 2 dressers in there. It was so small you had to go outside to change your mind, LOL. Lots of cockroaches. We would have roach races. We would catch these roaches, put them in glass jar, draw a circle on the kitchen floor, put the glass jar in the middle and let them go. The first roach that got to the circle WON! The prize was getting squashed.

    There was a 5 inch hole in our bathroom floor, next to the toilet.You could look down and see some guy sitting there on the can. So one day when this guy was sitting on his toilet, we got a glass of water and then flushed our toilet, (which he could hear) and through the water down the hole on this "brothers" head. You should have seen the look on his face.

    Work is over at 5:40, so on Thursdays (my meeting night) we had to run home, change and jump on a subway train, about an hour ride (no time to eat) to make it on time to the ministry school. My congregation, Inwood, was about 80% black and Spanish. God I love the Black KHs. They are the nicest people you would ever meet. The best hall I have ever been in! You had to be down to earth and be able to "shuck and jive" with them. They (like most people) hated "uppity" people. I was lucky, there were only six Bethelites in my hall. Two tight-ass company men, Daryl Christianson and Larry Fisher both elders and 4 new boys, me, Dennis Miller, Dave Poroit, and Mike Adams who I later heard had a break down at the farm. I heard he tried to kill himself. I wonder why?

    Anyway if we were lucky, the sisters (at the hall) would give you some food in a brown paper bag at the end of the meeting, to take home with you we would eat it on the train. You would have to wait until someone else was ready to leave before you could go. The reason was at the time, we were suppose to travel in "pairs" to prevent getting "mugged" and just about everyone who was at Bethel (in 4 years) got mugged at least once. They told us to have at least couple of bucks on us at all times. The reason was if you did get mugged and you didn't have any money on you, they (the muggers) would beat the s**t out of you, thinking you had it hidden on you somewhere and you just didn't want to give it up. You just don't want to piss off those crack heads! it was hard at times to have even 2 bucks on you. One friend of mine ended up in the hospital after they took a lead pipe to his head. The reason he was a "white boy" in Harlem with no money.

    You would see the strangest stuff on the subway. You would be there eating your brown bag dinner and all of a sudden, some tramp would be there and start, "jacking off" right in front of you. Or the door open and some 400 lb. black guy would get on the train wearing a pink "tu tu", and you know he wasn't doing to a costume party.THE LAST THING you would ever do is stare at them. Don Broux (xBethel & XCO) happened to catch a guy's eyes for 2 SECONDS as the train was stopping. The guy jumped up, went over to Don and slugged him in the nose and said "WHAT THE F.K ARE YOU LOOKING AT?" It was Don's last week at Bethel - he got married 4 days later with a broken nose. Another friend of mine was just sitting on the train and this black guy walks up to him, with his 3 year old kid and points to my friend and says "DO YOU SEE THIS BOY? pointing to my friend, "THIS IS A WHITEY! YOU HATE WHITEY! YOU KILL WHITEY! then just walked off. Those fun New Yorkers.

    On one of those hot summer nights. when we got no dinner, from the sisters, after the meeting. I got off the subway, clothes drenched with sweat. Walked back to the 129, got to my room and just started crying for no reason. I went to the kitchen to open the refrigerator door to see a bottle of "cold duck" I had bought a week earlier. Grabbed it and drank the whole thing in 3 mins. The room started to spin, I laid down on my bed and after a few mins. threw up on me and the bed I just laid there crying. "Are you OK," my roommate asked. "I'm sick" I said. And I was - sick of heart.
    I thought It was really true. "They really didn't give a s**t about us."

    Part 7

    People would ask me "how long do you plan on staying at Bethel?" I would say "forever!" or 4 years which ever comes first."

    Besides the about 48 hours you worked there a week, you would have other duties, too. There was dish duties. Since the waiters worked about from about 6 in the morning to about 4 in the afternoon, they needed someone to do the supper dishes. About once a month the Bethel family got that privilege. Funny thing is you NEVER saw the heavies do them. They were fun especially in the summer time. The worst job was working the dish washing machine "HOT END" - there was 2 brothers loading the front end and 2 guys taking the 140 degree dishes off the back end (your hands were on fire). That is were I first meet Dave Borga. He was the waiter that was in charge that night. He put me on the HOT END by myself. He just set up on a counter laughing. It was like that "I LOVE LUCY" show where she is in the factory with a conveyor belt. Any way that was the last dish duty for me.

    Then you had the watchmen duties. Once every 2-3 years in the home. It was an all night duty and started about 9 p.m. The Watchman would get a day off. You would fill in. IT was very creepy. It was dark and you had to walk through all 3 buildings 119, 117 and 124 (not the 129) Three times and punch the time clock you had with you. At about 3:00 a.m in this dark basement of the 124 all of a sudden this guy jumps in front of me and SCREAMS. I thought I died. It was guess who? It was Peter R., the real night watchmen, he said "he couldn't sleep and wanted to have some FUN with me"! What a JERK. About 2 years later, he was asked to leave Bethel. It seemed he liked to sneak into the sisters bathrooms in the 117 building and lock the toilet door.and do some free PEEPING. I guess all those long nights by himself got to him. He is an elder in Salem Oregon now.

    There was another guy, while I was there, who could beat that one. He would sneak into MARRIED couples rooms (in the middle of the night) and lay on the floor next to the wife and copped a feel. Now you know why Knorr hated Bethelites.

    Anyway we got side tracked. Back to dish duties. Why do a dish duty? When you could get someone else to do them for you. So we would trade them or sell them.There was this ONE guy Allen Richards who would do your 2 hour dish duty for .89 cents, that was the price a 1/2 gallon of "Canadian Ace" beer, the worst beer ever made. I bet he felt great the next day! So if you could get some poor schmuck to do it for .89 cents and you could get some side job for $1.75 and hour, do the math!

    Which brings us to the next subject."G" jobs. NO ONE really knows where the name came from. But it is any job you did to make more money outside of the 22 dollars a month Bethel gave you. There were many different types. Some guys in the pressroom ran "the paper route" started at 3:00 a.m on Sunday mornings. I did it once. Not for me. Some guys did catering jobs at weddings, great tips plus you could keep all the half drunk wine bottles, when it was over. There was a waiting list to work there. Some guys painted apartments. My friend Jim Pipkorn worked at a funeral home in "the village".The stories I could tell you about that place, that would be a whole 2 page thread in itself. Dave Borga, Jim Pipkorn's roommate was the King of all "G jobbers". They still talk about him to this day in the "new boy talks". He had a FULL TIME job working the night shift at a toy factory in Jersey. That's right - almost 90 hours a week of work!. Needless to say he did last long, at that pace.

    I worked washing pots and pans in a high-end restaurant 3 blocks from Bethel in "the Heights". To this day, I will not order turkey and dressing in a restaurant. They would serve these little loafs of bread in there and people would eat half of them. They would put out their cigarette butts IN them. The waiters would bring them back to the kitchen and throw them in a box, on the floor, next week it was? Well you guessed it!

    I also so worked in two liqueur stores one in "Inwood" and one in "The Heights." Say $1.75 an hour GOOD money. I was making .08 cents an hour, working for Jehovah. I guess Jehovah doesn't believe in minimum wage. The extra 10-20 bucks a week made a BIG difference in one's comfort there. Once or twice a week, you could get a "Hero and a Quart" down at Pioneer deli (that was the name of the place, believe it or not). If you were really rolling, you would buy a chuck steak and frozen french fries and cook it up in your room, on your electric skillet. THAT MY FRIEND WAS LIVING!

    One day at lunch on Doc Dixon's table the whole upper dinning room was pretty quiet. One table was really loud, it was the tour table....he keep looking over and giving them a look like "how dare they disturb my eating......I said "you tell they are NOT Bethelites".....he knew what I meant... and said "I think you have a bad attitude about Bethel".. I said "I have a bad attitude about New York City." He said "Are you kidding... look at all the great things you can do here, you have the plays... and fine dining!"... I said " Brother Dixon....I don't know your New York City.... Our New York City is a hero and a quart of beer once a week... If we are lucky."

    I knew a guy who who was mugged in New York... The guy put a gun to his head and said "give me your money or I'm going to blow your BRAINS out"! The man said " YOU better shoot, because I know one thing, you can live in New York with out brains, but you GOT to have MONEY"!

    P.S... that is the only story, I have told that is NOT true.

    Part 8
    Well it is 4:00 a.m. in the morning and I can't sleep, so might has well write.

    Everything at Bethel is seniority... "how long have you been here?" If you wanted a better room you need some seniority, rooms would go up on a bid system. If you had more time in, then another guy, and a room went up for bid, you got it. If you were a new boy, and all your friends were new boys, it could be a year or two before you got a decent room and 10 years to get a room with its own bathroom, pre towers days. There were 2 man rooms, 3 man rooms, 4 man rooms, and 7 man rooms... everything from an 7 man room in the ghetto, the 129 building, to a luxury apartment in its own building (like the good Doctor got). I don't have a problem with a system like that....a system that rewards seniority and education.

    Oppppppps, did I say education......Yes, I guess I said it.. Remember at the time... "higher education" was HIGHLY DISAPPROVED of (you can tell from my spelling)... and after high school, there was only ONE thing to do and that was to pioneer. We only had a few years left before 1975 and we didn't need NO stinking education, we needed to SAVE as many people as possible! A couple of people I knew, went to college and GOT so much SHIT for it, you wouldn't believe it. And they needed to get .s**t for it too, because "the society" knows the DEATH of any religion is education and knowledge! So that is why most of the JWs today, in their 40's 50's and 60's are blue collar workers.

    You were a real rebel if you went to college, then. Greg Chase was my press operator of "HOE 10" after Bethel he went to college to be a chiropractic physician. He told me years later, that when he was going to college, they hated him in his local KM, how dare he try and make something of himself! However after he got out of school, different story.... "The Brothers" called him DR. Chase. They loved him. They wanted him to go back to Bethel, they wined and dined him and his wife. They offered him a very nice "comp package"....he said "NOPE".

    Sooooooooo... at Bethel you were REWARDED for not listening to them about getting a "higher" education. They treated you better (with more respect) and you got a better room, and a better job! They actually treated you like a real person. Guys would come to Bethel with a degree. Do you think they put them in the bindery? Nope, they got a great office job, no machines for them.

    AAAAHHh, the first glue of the "double standard" in the Lord's house - those wonderful "unwritten rules." As they say if it looks like .s**t and smells like s**t, and taste like s**t, it COULD possibly just be.

    Sorry, I got sidetracked again. Working in the laundry I got to see into all the rooms there, except Knorr's (you had to be Jesus to enter there) and there are some really nice ones. To save money, most of the rooms in the 107 and 124 buildings were dormitory style, with one women's and one man's bathroom on each floor. That's why it took so much seniority to get a room with a bath - there wasn't many of them, then. They watched you like a hawk in the 124, 107 and 119. It seemed like that most of the tight asses lived in the 124 and 107, though there was plenty of cool guys mixed in too.

    Then the Society bought the Towers Hotel. They opened up 3 floors for bid. GREAT rooms all with their own bathrooms. If you had a year or more, you could get in. You would have thought everyone would have wanted them, but since the hotel was full of worldly people, most of the tight asses stayed where they were. I was one, of the first people in the Towers, room T 211. I didn't have the seniority to get a room, but a guy on my table did, Steve H., and he wanted a new room mate - which brings me to my next subject - ROOMMATES.

    Hay! There are all types - and God bless them all. But some of them could make your life a living hell. It wasn't unusual for a newer guy there to bunk with and old timer, but most of the time it was someone you knew, you either worked with, or went to the same KH with. When you were new you didn't have a choice - you could get anyone.

    My old pioneer partner Roy Baty come to Bethel about 6 months after me. When he got there he was so self righteous, he made me sick, he reminded me of ME when I first got there. I told him "I don't want to be around you, now Roy, come back and we'll talk again in 6 months." He got off to a bad start, they put him in a room in the 124 with Eugene Alcorn, a black "brother" from Detroit. ROY hadn't even been there a couple of weeks and got a taste of "Bethel Justice." It seems he and his roommate Eugene got into a fight over the radio. Roy wanted if off at 11:00 p.m. and turned it off. Eugene got up and turned it on. Roy got up and turned it off. Eugene turned it on... you get the idea.

    In the brawl that followed, the sink in the room got busted. Now most guys would cover for each other. Instead, Eugene went to the Bethel office the next morning and told "the brothers" that, his white room mate wouldn't let him listen to his radio and beat him up, that is why the sink was busted. They hauled Roy in. How it works at Bethel is whoever gets there FIRST with the story, usually wins. The reasoning is, only the righteous one would naturally report the behavior of the unrighteous one. So by the time Roy got there, the decision was already made - Welcome to the bindery, Roy! You really didn't want "the Brothers" to know your name at Bethel. Once your name got out there for any reason, once you got a "REP" you were screwed. "OH yes... I seem to have heard or your name, before brother Trouble maker." We have a machine just for you. You really wanted to be the man with no name. a.k.a.THX-1138.

    I don't know what to say about Steve H. My first room mate in a 2 man room, except he kind of creeped me out. He had all the mannerisms of an NPG (non-practicing gay, and there were plenty of those there, and quite of few practicing too. There were guys who loved the fact that there were 1000 19-23 year olds guys and few women at the Lord's house. Don't get me wrong! I love gays NOW, but I 'm speaking from my mind set of 1972. This guy had way too much clinginess for me. He would say "So what are WE doing today?" "I don't know, what ARE are we doing today?" sorry Charlie.

    If you weren't Gay or and NPG at Bethel, you were homophobic. I knew some Bethelites who beat the s**t out of some gay guys in "the Heights" one night just for the hell of it. AH the love. There was this one new boy that got jumped walking to the Squibb building from the 124, by 2 thugs. It guess he was a black belt before coming into the borg. He kicked their asses. One guy was dragging the other guy back to their car and begging him to stop the beating. He went to George Couch the next day to turn himself in. George said don't worry about it. He was our hero, we loved him.

    Part 9
    The the worst thing, someone could call you at Bethel, was a "Jack". As in "that guy is a real Jack, he doesn't work at all". The other term not used very much anymore, was "Pot Licker" used basically the same way. There has been some bad things done at Bethel. You name it, someone has done it. But the absolute worst possible thing, a Bethelite could do is be a THEIF. Hay! people having sex with each other people happens everyday...that's normal. But stealing from some poor Bethelite making .73 cents a day - That should be a STONING offence. We had three of them, in the 4 years I was there. They would wait until we got paid (we got paid in cash) and go into the your locker at work and rip you off. It never happen to me, but I had friends who had to borrow money to buy subway tokens. Because of this "brother".

    One of these guys was one of the most self righteous assholes you ever saw. He would walk around the factory with an "Aid book" under his arm. He gave a text comment one time and said " I have walked the floors of the 124 at night and I have heard Rock n Roll music coming out of the brothers rooms." Trying to out-righteous even the GB. Sure enough 6 months later it was announced "Brother LeRoy Righteous has DFed for stealing". Isn't that always the way it is, its always the "more righteous ones" you need to watch... "the best defense is an good offense."

    When some guy got kicked out of Bethel, Knorr would "Have him/her for breakfast." Meaning a half hour to 45 min. lecture on whatever their sins were. It was getting so bad that once or twice a week he would go into this rantings. It was very discouraging and it would have been nice to have had a hot meal sometimes... Soooooo... When Knorr took one of his trips to the south pacific islands (always went in the winter time, for some reason) in 1973, while he was gone, the GB voted him off the text table! . Boy was he pissed when he got back! The next week at the Gilead graduation he said "We are starting a new arrangement for the text comments the GB will now rotate, so that all members of the GB, will have a turn at leading the text comments and I DECIDED TO LET THEM HAVE IT!" Nice of him.

    Old Bethel Joke.......

    Phone rings in 5th floor bindery - new boy picks it up and says "This is Jack's mule barn, which Jack ASS do you want?" On the other end "DO YOU KNOW WHO THIS IS?" new boy "NO". Other end "WELL ..THIS IS MAX LARSON FACTORY OVERSEER!"...... new boy......."Do you know this is?". Max Larson says "NO" new boy says "GOOD" and hangs up... True Story.

    I got a new room mate in T-211 Towers my old buddy Jack Sutton, one of the X Laundry guys. He was from Phoenix AZ. I was from California, so we decided decorate our room in a western motif. We had some old western posters on the wall. One of the posters was of a bull fighter. The house keepers loved our room and had many of there coffee breaks there. Anyway one night about 8:00 p.m. we get this knock on the door. It is Curtis Johnson (newly appointed) home servant to the Towers. This Guy looks and talks just like the Nazis in "Raiders of the lost Ark" the one with thick glasses and smiling all the time. We said "come on in" he said "NO...brothers, I'm here to talk about the your room decorations". "OK what about them?" "We don't like them". "Who is we?" "Well the Bethel office." "Really?"... "REALLY" he said... "Like, look at that Bull fighting poster on the wall, of yours... a tour might think we like killing animals." "Brother Johnson NO tours come through the towers and we never looked at that poster that way." "Never mind that, we want it down". "Alright" we said " we will take it down"... we never said when. When we moved out a year later we took it down. Seig Heil! We haven't seen the end of our dear "brother" Johnson.

    Part 10
    There were guys at Bethel, who had GREAT jobs, like Don Broux. He was the receptionist at the 124 Desk, checking in and "checking out" ...all the bethel tours and "hot" sisters. On they're way through the "Home tour". That my friend, is NOT a real bethel JOB.

    There were guys at Bethel, that had GREAT congregations with maybe only 2-4 Bethelities in their halls. One Hall, Midtown had over 80 Bethelites there... 3 old ladies 4 kids and a dog. Odds of getting a home cooked meal on Sunday 0%. Roy Baty said he got cheese and crackers at some old sister's house after he was there a year and 4 months. A good hall could make all the difference, on how long you could "gut it out" especially if you had a girlfriend there.

    There were guys at Bethel that, for them, money was NO problem - parents sent them tons of cash every month, rain or shine.

    There were guys that had all three, they were called "Golden Boys"... guys that for some reason, God was smiling down on them. They could fall into a bucket of s**t and come up with a rose in their teeth. They had good jobs, great KHs, money, a car, and more often then not a good looking "sister" on their arm. It was great just being around them... You thought that there could be a God after all. That brings me two my next 2 topics: Cars and Women... If your are lucky they will both be FAST. lol

    A car at Bethel was total freedom! Why? The first two years there, it was Bethel and your KH, Bethel and your KH. Unless you knew someone with a car to get out of the city. Your only free time was Saturday afternoon & evening. So Saturday you would take the train down to Times Square and walk around looking for a good movie to go to, or walk all the way down to Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn. It wasn't unusual to not find one and walk all the way back. Sunday was service in the morning, meeting in the afternoon and if your were lucky, dinner with a family in the hall that night.

    A car could help change some of that. Some guys there had some nice cars too. Jim Pipkorn first had a 65 Ford Mustang rag top. Then a 67 GTO. Dave Borga (Mr G Job king) had a 69 MACH 1, There was a 68 396 rag top Camaro... anyway they all spelled FREEDOM. They did have their problems, one was parking, there was NONE back then. So you would have to drive around "the Heights" looking for a spot. If you got back late, that could take up to an hour driving up and down every street with in a half mile, Or you could park illegally, which many did, sometimes you got lucky. If not it was 10 bucks, 25 dollars for a fire hydrant. The Kennedy boys (Jim and Gary) had a T-Bird and NEVER parked legal! They had Georgia plates and said what the hell. Well, one day they looked for their car and some other car was parked in their spot. The city towed it. They went to the pound to get it. The guy said $356.00 please... they said "KEEP IT."

    The other problem was break-ins. If you had a rag top you would NEVER lock your car. The reason was if they wanted in, they would just take a knife to your roof, so you WOULD let them get in. But you would put a chain around the steering wheel and brake pedal. So they could hot wire the car and drive away, but there would be NO brakes. Some guys would put a kill switch in. You would always chain your hood and trunk down. Another thing you would do is always leave your glove box OPEN, to show them there was nothing of value in your car. If you didn't your side mirror would be broken by the next morning.

    We would see new cars parked on the street, in "the Heights". In 6 months they looked like pieces of shit. The reason is, most New Yorkers park by SOUND - they back in, until they hear a CRASH. Then they move forward until they hear another CRASH, and then they back up and hear the final CRASH, now your parked. lol

    After two years there, things got a little better, I had a fair job on the east freight elevator..... and I bought a car for ONE DOLLAR. That's right one buck. My roommate's girl friend's car, 1968 Fairlane, got totaled in a crash. The insurance paid her off and gave her the car. She gave it to me, for a buck. The car looked liked something out of "Mad Max." It was a complete wreck! Every quarter panel was trashed - It had been rear ended at about 40 mph. the trunk that WAS 5 ft. long was now 3 ft. long, It looked like s**t but it ran. Believe it or not the 2 years I had it "They" (the worldly people) try to steal it 3 times. But she was my baby and she was Freedom.

    I took guys to the airport for $5 - good money. I took the guys in my hall to the meetings, they gave me their subway money - 5 times .70 cents per trip good money. And last but not least she could get me far far away "from the House of God."

    Part 11
    More about cars and N.Y.C.

    Back then hundreds of cars were stolen in the city everyday! The New York Post said "The average life span of a Corvette (sports car) parked on the street was 24 hours!" One time coming back from R.I. at 2:00 a.m. I took a wrong turn in the South Bronx - NOT a place you would want to be in, that time of night. As I was driving around trying to find my way back to the expressway, I could see the sparks from the cutting torches, people cutting up the cars they stolen the day before. I was Praying "Please God get me out of here."

    We would see cars that broke down on the Brooklyn Bridge the night before. They were pushed to the end of the off ramp. We would pass them on our way to the factory at 7:45 a.m. - they had no tires. Pass them again going to lunch, no trunk or doors. Pass them on our way home that night, no engine or seats. Next day, it was just the shell sitting there.

    A Brother in my Hall, got a flat tire on the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) A road that back then had so many pot holes in it, you would swear it was shelled by mortars. Any way, he gets out of the car and starts jacking up the back end... Just then a car pulls up in front of him and 4 black guys jump out and before he could say a word, they start jacking up the front end of his car. "HEY what are you doing?" he asked. "HEY MOTHER F.....KER! YOU GET THE BACK TWO, AND WE WILL GET THE FRONT TWO" they said. "But this is MY car" he said. "YA?" they said. "YES" he said... 10 seconds later they were down the road looking for more parts. This is a true story. If I'm lying am dying.

    They didn't always have to work on that Saturday mornings at Bethel. An ex-Bethelite told me that back in the 50s, that some Bethelites jump in their car Friday night after work and tried to drive to Chicago and be back for breakfast by Monday morning. They didn't make it, they crashed the car and three of them died. So Knorr figured that if they had been working, that would have never happened. New light, work on Saturday mornings... that man was a genius.

    My soon to be brother-in-law Mlke Stillman had a 1946 orange pickup truck with a camper on the back, made out of old barn wood. The camper door looked like an old out house door, with a half moon on the back, and above the door it said "KEEP ON TRUCKING". Calvin Chyke hauled him into his office one day and told him, that he was a disgrace to the organization... and how dare he put on his truck "KEEP ON TRUCKING" when EVERYONE knew that REALLY meant KEEP ON F....KING! Oh... those brothers they just love to have fun with us. There are two types of people in the "Lord's house" the testers and the testees.

    As Bob Dylan said, "Some of us are prisoners, and some us are guards."

    I was walking to the the factory one morning in the winter of 1974. I walked by my car and some kids sprayed painted my car with the words "F....k you". I thought, did they really mean "Keep on Trucking?" I laughed to myself - I wished I had painted it on there instead of them. Oh yes! I waited until someone said something before I took it off. "But brother I didn't put in on there. I said." "WE KNOW THAT - just get it OFF."

    God I wish you could have seen my car. I have a picture of her somewhere. "Road Warrior part II" I would drive down the FDR Radio on, with Elton John on playing "Rocket Man". It was like parting the Red Sea. A 1/2 mile ahead of me, people start moving into the other lanes. They knew someone was coming who had NOTHING TO LOSE.

    As Bob Dylan said, "When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose."

    Two months before my sentence was up. "I was serving a 1 to 4 for impersonating a minister" I was walking to the factory one day, my car was parked next to the park. As I passed I notice that someone had taken a ball peen hammer to my wind shield, right where the driver looks out! As I looked down the street, I saw ALL the cars, new and old. ALL of them had their wind shields smashed. Then I looked up the hill - all smashed. I counted 53 cars with smashed windshields that morning. Someone had some fun the night before!

    Well that was the death blow for my baby. They wanted 85 bucks for a new windshield. There was no way I could put another dollar into that car. So I drove it up to Rhode Island (180 miles away) one Saturday, with no wind shield, it was 25 degrees, heater blasting, hoping the cops didn't pull me over. I parked it at my soon to be in-laws house and parted it out... sold the transmission rear end to a friend, keep the engine and tires... sold the gas tank to Roy Baty, he welded it into his van, because of the gas crisis, now he could buy 35 gallons of gas at a time. In the end she looked just liked one of those cars at the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge. R.I.P. sweetheart. My first real love!

    Next up... Love and sex in the "Big House"

    Part 12
    They say love is what makes the world go around ..And at Bethel, us "new boys" would say ... "If God created anything better then SEX he kept it for himself!"

    How would we know? Most of us never had it. Didn't make any difference, We talked about it, fantasized about it, dreamt about it. I'm sure because we couldn't have it. That is why we gloried it so much. Hey! we were 20 year old virgins! and some of us were in our 30s! We had some raging hormones going on.

    Most of the guys who left Bethel, got married with in a week after leaving the big house! I was different, I waited 2 weeks! I had will power. LOL

    Before we talk about sex at Bethel, It would be good to talk about the history of sex in the organization, and they would say that started with Adam & Eve The real organization is less then 150 years old - In reality its an 1800s religion with an 1800s morals mentality. The Victorian period.

    Any way back in the garden of Eden is were the real problem got started in the organization's mind anyway. The first real question ever posed had nothing to do with universal sovereinty as the church would have you believe, it was about Ever LASTING LIFE with God, or really GOOD SEX with a perfect wife for a few years "Aaaaaa GOD I think I will take the sex please!!!!" Remember it said the man was NOT deceived! He KNEW what he was doing - in his mind the choice was clear - everlasting life with God, or a few wonderful years of bliss, with the women of his dreams, the love of his life! .What a hero he was!!!!! ..He was the first man to die for LOVE and really GOOD SEX I say good sex because, who would give up everlasting life for an eternity of bad sex? God didn't create no fool. What He did create, was a perfect man and a perfect women with a perfectly NORMAL and healthy sex drive. P.S. I hate to break it to you, the whole Garden of Eden thing is pure urban myth ..

    Churches think that Adam should have chosen God over his wife, and the Jehovah's Witness are no different. Religions are about control, and since most religions are run by self righteous men with control and sexual issues. Men who want to supress women and sex for control and power. Churches that say "the head of the women is the man". God NEVER wrote that. MAN wrote that! .Men have been using it against women for thousands of years to gain power over them.

    As a Jehovah Witness, sex is strictly FORBIDDEN before marriage. There is no sex before marriage and sadly sometimes very little after, and since usually the only person you ever have sex with is the first person you had sex with. There is plenty of sexual incompatibility going on too, That is why more people are kicked out of the JWs every year for sexual reasons then anything else. 1 Sex out of wedlock. 2 Sex with someone besides your marriage mate. 3 Sex with your own kids or other people's kids.

    So that brings us to our Bethelities. Most of people that are called to Bethel, are single young men who are at their sexual peak. They signed a 4 year contract to stay (no matter what). So you can see we are going to have some very interesting things going on there.

    Well were to start? We already talked about the gays and the NPGs, plenty of those. The rest of the guys there, fall into different groups. You had the guys who had girl friends before they came (they asked them to wait). The odds of them making their time, were almost 0% I knew of 1 guy that did that in 4 years that way. Guys that got girl friends in the New York area while they were there and guys that got girl friends back home on vacations Then of coarse there were some that just got a hooker on 8th ave. Next we'll talk about them all.
    Part 13
    Most of us went back to Bethel, thinking we wanted to make it our life long career - what better place to be right before 1975? That dream ended for the vast majority after just few months there, when they found out that something was very wrong. Otherwise why would anyone want to leave a spiritual paradise? With only 2-5% staying after there 4 year commitment, and a very big percentage leaving before there time was even up. The average stay there in 1974 was only about 5 months. It was not a happy place - they were leaving in droves.

    Getting a girl friend and having sex, was looking better all the time. Hey! The GB were doing it, all the Bethel "heavies" were doing it - we wanted it too. Just why do you think Knorr got married? .Did he get married for companionship? NO! There are over 1,500 "brothers" back there he could have that with them. He could do things with them, sit around and talk about the Bible, or go to a movie. There were plenty of "brown noses" for that. Did he get married to have children - NO! It is forbidden to have children at Bethel. Did he get married to have one person to be with, forever? No! He was going to Heaven, she wasn't. So why did he get married? It sure looks like good old S.E.X to me. Hey, even Germans like sex, too.

    So he and his buddies were able to enjoy that privilege. I say privilege, because not everyone was permitted to have it. Remember the rule HE made up? To stay at Bethel and get married, you needed a total of 14 years of full time service. So you were forbidden to get married for any reason for 4 years, NO matter what, add another 10 years if you wanted to stay .I didn't say FORBIDDEN did I? Oppppppppsss I guess I did. But the BIBLE says that only those that have "fallen away from the faith, would be FORBIDDING others to marry!" 1 Timothy 4:1-3 so that can't be right .Opppppppppss I forgot the old double standard rule kicks in again, at this time! Catch 22

    They would say, "But you signed an agreement!" Hey! your 19 years old, you and you should have known what you were signing, right? and some would say "Well you could always leave before your time." Yes, If you didn't mind the reproach and the shame and the punishment. You were not permitted to pioneer for 6 months, if you left early. Catch 22.

    So just why am I so upset about all of this? For one reason it caused plenty of hardship and heart ache plus all the unhappy marriages and all the unnecessary trips some poor souls had to make to the hookers on 8th ave and even DEATH to some as I will tell you about in my last chapter. Come on guys... Wouldn't you think a LOVING organization would have people's best interest at heart? As in "OH Brother we are sorry to hear you are having a hard time here at Bethel, and so you would like to leave? GO, my friend and be in peace, and may God be with you, and thank you for the time, you were able to spend here with us and of course you can pioneer if you like." Sounds like something Jesus would say.

    Opppppssss Did I say loving organization? Let me think, Yes! I think it says somewhere in the Bible "By their LOVE you would be able to recognize them," boy isn't that a "truth"? But its not "The Truth".

    All the double standards, unwritten laws, and bull s**t - it was just too much for most of us. I say most of us because, there are some there that LOVE that kind of bull shit and fit right in. In "Catch 22" Yossairan said "Let the Bastards thrive!!!"

    So most of us, we just wanted to find a little love, and leave after our "tour of duty" was up. As the "brother" said, "just keep your mouth shut and do your job" then get the hell out!

    So back to girl friends and Bethelites .As I mention, there was only one guy I knew, who had a girl friend before he went to Bethel and "made his time" there, that was Roy Baty. Part of the reason for that, was she was only 15 years old when he went there, in 1970. So she was waiting for him and he was waiting for her.

    That was tough for guys like Roy with girl friends back home, because you only got 2 weeks vacation a year, (you got no vacation your first year) so you got 6 weeks in 4 years. Many guys like myself, only got 4 weeks in 4 years, the reason being, Instead of taking our last two weeks vacation, we would just shorten our 4 year stay. So I came on March 21, 1970 - now, I could leave on March 7, 1974. The thought being, that any day NOT at Bethel WAS a vacation!

    So that leaves us with our next group. Guys that got girl friends while they were at Bethel. With so many Bethelites in the New York City area! By the time you got there, anything decent was already "snapped up" with many halls having 10-20 Bethelites in them, the competition was tough! With 60-70% of the halls being Black and Latino and 80% of the Bethelites were white, the saying was "the longer your there, the whiter they look." So it was a 14 year old white girl, or a good looking black sister. If you had a car the selection got a little better with up state New York, Jersey or even New England. But for the vast majority it was just good old N.Y.C.

    We saw it all too, every possible combination. The 19 year old white guy from Iowa, getting married to the 36 year old, 250 lb. black sister with 2 teenagers 13 & 16, his step daughter was just 3 years younger then him! There were guys who got "caught in closets" with Bethel house keepers - which was unusual because most of the sisters that were called to Bethel were beat with an ugly stick. We joked about it and said that Knorr, once a month, would get all the applications of sisters, who wanted to come to Bethel, he would get all the Bethelites in the upper dinning room and have a slide show. He would show a slide of some pioneer "FOX" from California and ask? How many of you guys want this sister to come to Bethel? The place would go crazy with noise. He would throw the application away .Next slide was of some "Dog". "How many want this sister?" You could here a pin drop He would say, call her in now. I tell you that man was a genius - he knew, what we were all about.

    There was a guy in the service dept. who ran off with DO wife. There were married sisters who left there husbands for some single guys. You know all the stuff you would see in any Kingdom Hall.

    Bethel tours were nice. But most of time they were very sad. You would see these great looking sisters go through on tour. They would give you "the eye". You would give them "the eye" Then they would get on the bus and leave. No way to meet them. Sometimes you would see them later that day in the Bethel home, hanging around with some "nerd" from their home town. They might have asked the nerd "Don't you know any other Bethelites?' Sure but they were Nerds too.

    Sometimes it worked out great - I saw the love of my life. The lady I would marry, 2 weeks after I left Bethel, standing in front of the "ink room" in the summer of 1972 on a Bethel tour!
    Part 14
    My strange Bethel courtship started with me trying to meet Mike Stillman's sister, even though he worked in the ink room next to my elevator, we were not good friends. He was just a little too "country" for me and on the righteous side, too. They say "there is nothing more dangerous in combat then a new guy with a map!" and there was nothing more dangerous at Bethel then a self righteous new boy.

    Anyway one beautiful Saturday morning, in 1972, we were walking to the factory, Mike happened to be walking with me, and he happened to say "God I would give anything to get out of this city on a day like today." I said "Well, I have a car and no place to go. You have a place to go and NO car." He wasn't quite sure of me, but next thing I knew, It's him and me and 4 of his nerdy friends driving to Rhode Island.

    Needless to say, it was a great weekend and Debbie who had just turned 19 was happy that her brother finally brought someone home with him, who wasn't a nerd like his other friends.

    She lived there with her mother, Elaine and stepfather, Ben. They had just moved to Rhode Island from Louisana, (one of the reasons was, they wouldn't make Ben an elder) and to "help" the local brothers out. At the time R.I. had the worst ratio of JWs to normal people in the USA. He was a real winner. Looked and acted like "Gomer Pyle" only dumber. He would walk around and say things like "You're fat, I'm fat, we're all fat" or "I know one thing about Debbie - she is tired." He would say that about 30 times a day and pat everyone's head. I'm not sure what all that meant? Of course a year later, they had made this mental giant an elder I'll never forget the day he gets this phone call (I'm sitting in the room with him) from some sister, it his hall, who was crying her eyes out (because her husband had just beat the shit out of her) and he said to her "Well you must have done something REALLY wrong for him to get so mad. Just have another beer and forget the WHOLE THING!" I just sat there, I couldn't believe it. This guy couldn't pour sand out of a boot if the directions were written on the heel. Leading the flock of God.

    Her mother Elaine, another winner. Major hypochondriac. I think she was allergic to air. Naturally she was the one who brought the JW teachings into the family. Debbie who loved her real father, would get her face slapped anytime she brought his name up. He left her mother back in the 50's and married another women. He was of course DFed.

    After we got married in 1974, we got some "New Light - the light got brighter" and the Society said, you could NOW have limited contact with disfellowshipped ones.

    By the way the term "the light gets brighter" really means we were wrong about something so we are changing our option about it for the whole religion thing to work. It HAS to be impossible for the Society or any church to be wrong, and the reason for that is, IF it is wrong about ONE thing, it COULD be wrong about something else, RIGHT? So where would you draw the line? So the "light gets brighter" stuff works really well. Oh by the way, I do the same thing now. If I hurt someone or if I'm wrong about something, I NEVER say "I'M SORRY." I say "OOOPPPss light got brighter!" but people think I'm strange when I say that. I wonder why?

    Anyway we decided to drive to California to see her real Dad. She hadn't seen him in about 10 years. Both her and her brother wrote him a letter when they were kids, saying they had NO desire to see him ever again, that was their mother's idea, sweet women that she is. So Debbie was so excited to see her Dad who she loved so much, and what a sweet person he was. I say WAS, because a few years later after "the LIGHT got brighter once again" the Society said we are going back to the "old way" (or old light} of dealing with DFed ones - by shunning them. So one day in the 1980's Bob call us and wanted to come up for a visit, to see us and his grandkids (my children). I said "Come on up Bob, we would love to see you!" Debbie grabbed the phone out of my hand and told him "he wasn't welcome NOW and that he couldn't come anymore for visits." A few years later one morning, we got the phone call - he BLEW his brains out with a 38 special. Ah the love.

    That "new light" is funny stuff - sometimes its bright then DARK then bright again, but one thing it NEVER is wrong... RIGHT?

    So now you know about my two wonderful future in-laws. Next up, the year and a half hell, dealing with them, up to our wedding.

    The rest of the story is mostly odds and ends or outside of Bethel and is continued from these links:

    Part 15

    Part 16

    Part 17

    Part 18

    Part 19

    Part 20 (final)

  • palmtree67

    I enjoyed reading this.

    Thank you!


  • 3Mozzies

    [Marking for later]

    Thanks Randy


  • GrandmaJones

    Good stories. Very,very interesting!

  • AK - Jeff
    AK - Jeff

    Thanx for posting this DP. Enjoyed reading it very much.

    I spoke with Keith a few times by phone several years ago - he was aquainted with my best friend, the one who went to Bethel and jumped to his death in 1973 from one of the society's buildings after being pressured to 'stay and meet his committment to Jehovah'. I would love to get back in touch with Keith, but have lost his number, and I have not seen him here [or don't recognise his current screen-name] on JWN. Please PM me if you have it [and feel free to share it].



  • Lozhasleft

    Fascinating stuff. Thank you.

    Loz x

  • designs

    Great stories, knew some of the names.

  • Listener

    Thanks, what an interesting story. Just imagine if all those young men had spent their four years at university, certainly it couldn't have been any tougher.

  • Broken Promises
    Broken Promises

    Funny stories.

    I talked to him and cleaned up the grammer a little and put it up on my site, and here it is!

    I'd hate to see who bad it was before! It still has heaps of errors, but considering it's such a long article to proofread...

  • Joliette

    OMG LOL @ the governing body video.

    Dan Sydlik is a real hoot! John Barr comes across as the most normal one, but still brainwashed.

    All the rest of them look old and tired.


  • Eiben Scrood
    Eiben Scrood

    I can't imagine a worse hellhole on earth. Why anyone would voluntarily submit to this was beyond me even when I was in it.

  • Soldier77

    What's funny is that every brother I know that has gone to bethel and finished their tour of duty said it's not what its all cracked up to be. Some of them outright have said it's the worse place on earth.

    Great story here.

  • anewme

    What a writer! I havent laughed like this for a long while. Truly funny humor and perspective!

    Two thumbs up for Keith!

    What is he up to these days Dogpatch?


  • badcompany

    Thanks, Randy!

    I fully intended to go to Bethel (life's dream). Went there for the tour in '74. I could sense some of the things you talk about even though the tour guides tried to make it look all shiny and bright. I remember the faces on the people strapped to some of the machines you mention. I could tell I would hate it (those poor bastards were trapped as far as I could tell). Being a small town boy I was very enamored with NYC itself. I quickly learned that Watchtower wages (what was it....$13/mo then?) wouldn't allow for much night life. I'm sure glad I went to kick the tires first. It's really close to being shanghaied if you just sign up without going to see the reality first.

  • Botzwana

    I did a two week stint in Bethel to try it out before I signed up for full time. GLAD I did! I came home not wanting to ever do that again.

  • factfinder

    Thank you Randy for posting this. It certainly presents a surprising ( tho' I should not be surprised) view of what really goes on behind the scenes at bethel. How Keith could stand it and remain there under those circumstances I don't know. I would have left right away. I have seen much of the politics, favoritism, fighting, and lying among elders and the CO in several congs. I can see it happening at bethel although I am sad that it does at the house of god. What a revealing account. I decided in 1978 after attending the Bethel meeting at the victorious faith international convention that serving at bethel was not for me. I certainly made the right decision.

    But I do know a brother who has been at Bethel for 34 years and his wife has been there for 20- they seem to be satisfied serving there so it does work out well for some witnesses.

  • Dogpatch

    OK I'll try and answer y'all.

    to Brokenpromises: OMG it took me way longer just to make it readible, he is like the guy in Apocalypse Now that was the colonels' (Marlon Brando) speaker, you know the rambling hippie? Forget his name? Dennis Hopper? Just go read the final episodes on this series of articles as linked from the very bottom of this article, and you will see the originals. I almost regretted reformatting it, and about 11 PM at night I just said, "What the hell, catch the big stuff and let the rest go." It's hard for me because although I hated them both, I always got As in math and spelling. I had to be a perfectionist. Beat the two cute broads in 6th grade who wanted to take me down in a school final spelling match. I beat their cute butts good. (One was a JW, her name was Gina with some Italian last name; her dad was a bigwig JW in Orange County. Our school was Cerro Villa in Orange, Ca.) Even managed to get a badge to show that I was the winner in a contest to see how midjunior high school kids would do on a SAT. Beat the whole school, but not after contemplating suicide that that was absolutely the hardest test in the world, and how can they expect people to even get an "80" on it?

    Now I had no idea what an SAT test was. That was something known to higher grades, not me. So I didn't realize it was designed to squeeze you down into an insignificant nothing; but it was good for really determining the intelligence (according to your generation). But the ones who did really well on the test were not the most intelligent in the way we think of, but they were clever and understood the animal nature within all us, and were able to read the personality and the mind of the one who WROTE the test, thereby giving you a big advantage because you knew then what answers THEY wanted; not necessarily objective truth. Sort of like cold reading gets you the A. I was that way at Bethel, I could usually tell who wrote certain articles, and "new rules" in the Kingdom Ministry. Shortcuts.

    But it's worth it; keeps you on his story without being too distracted thinking you were on acid or something. :-))

    more in a minute

  • SlipnSlide

    I really enjoyed reading your experience at Bethel. I guess I would probably be in the minority when I say that I never had any desire to visit Bethel or let alone serve there. I always had a problem with congregations planning trip tours and being charged for the trip. I have contributed quite a bit of money to the Borg and I was not going to PAY extra for the privilege.

  • Dogpatch

    Anewme: I have no idea where he is.

    Badcompany: It was really fully as bad as he said, up until Knorr died and they instituted the one-year plan instead of 4 years, and allowed more sisters in. One brother who was assigned to the pressroom was also assigned to my congregation, and he almost never went to meetings for like 3 years. :-))

    New York was much more dangerous back then. I only got robbed once going through the projects. They also would throw bottles at us at night. Back then all the hoodlums were like 13 years old because they couldn't prosecute them. They pulled a gun on me. I gave them the $10 in my wallet and my watch, didn't get hurt. In fact, one young member of the group ran back and said he was sorry, he went to church, too! LOL that took the cake.

    I caught a yound Puerto Rican kid breaking in the building 4 on the 1st floor window one night (It was at the far corner of the factory, next to the Manhattan Bridge, where it was dark and kinda scary to look anyways. We were allowed no weapons, so I had to fly down the stairs (one of our contests at Bethel factory was to see how few times you touch the ground flying down the stairs). It worked and he fleed out an emergency door.

    My congregation territory had once been all Jewish - had Mezuzah's on all the doors or sillls still. Exccept it was now 95% Black and 5% Puerto Rican.

    It was too expensive because it was all homes and a few apartments, so many people vacated and literally half the property was torn up or burned down. Looked like a war zone.

    To have fun, the young hoods used to tie piano wire across the door openings, cut holes in the floor and carefully put the carpets precariously in place, and tie gasoline bombs from the ceiling of the abandoned houses. Then they would light them on fire and call the fire departtment from a phone booth to report it. Reall cool kids.

    The two crazes (like our freeway shootings in Calif.) that were relatively short-lived were taking a young girl up to the top floor of the projects, raping her by a gang and then throwing her over the edge to die. Another was pushing people in front of the subway trains.

    East New York (part of Brooklyn) at the end of the #2 New Lots train put you in my territory. It had the highest murder rate in New York City. Fun.

    When I moved to Cali they cleaned up most of Manhattan (Guiliani?) and the crime went down in Brooklyn, but it followed me here where I am 5 miles from Compton! (One of my roommates is a Public Defender for homicide cases in the Compton area - what stories you can't imagine.)


  • Broken Promises
    Broken Promises

    Just in response to Randy: I totally understand what you're saying. I'm a perfectionist too in regards to these things, so that's probably why I picked up the extra grammatical mistakes.

    And I get what you're saying about the tests. I quickly learnt in high school that it wasn't original thought that got you the marks, but giving the teachers the answers they were looking for. Didn't matter if you thought they were correct or not. Just tell them what they wanted to hear. Good training for being a witness, I guess!

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