Thank you everyone for your comments!
You're right, most JWs are dishonest about the 1975 fiasco. I believe it was in a 1994 or 1995 WT article, the Society itself encouraged this dishonesty by giving JWs an excuse -- "it was only a few overly enthusiastic ones who got off on 1975 and created all the problems." And to a certain extent this is true. Trouble is, these "enthusiastic ones" were Nathan Knorr, and most especially, Freddie Franz. While some of the lower echelon leaders held back, most Bethelites caught the enthusiasm. Many who were Bethelites back in the early 1970s remember how often and strongly Knorr or Franz would talk about 1975 at the Bethel breakfasts. And remember, Knorr and Franz, in a very real sense were "the Society" just as up until 1916 Russell for all practical purposes was the Society. Nothing happened or failed to happen without their approval, and anyone -- anyone -- who bucked their favorite ideas was quickly booted out of Bethel.
Certain ex-Bethelites have told me that when Freddie published the book that started it all in 1966, Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, he had no particular intention of generating a '1975 movement'. But when he saw the reaction of some of the rank & file JWs to what the said was more than just a possibility, he began to run with it. He got Knorr enthusiastic and the rest was history.
I remember hearing both of them give public talks at the New York district conventions. Both were extremely convincing that major things were definitely going to happen in 1975. I remember Knorr's last major public talk, at Aquaduct Race Track in New York. It was in August of 1975, just after I got married. He said that it was disappointing that nothing had happened by then, but by golly there were more than four more months left in the year! He alluded to what happened in the earlier part of 1914, when everything seemed quiet and then, bang! World War I started unexpectedly in August. The same thing could happen in the remaining months of 1975, Knorr said. I also remember the talk that Fred Franz gave earlier in 1975, where he went out of his way to say that "anything can happen!" I also remember the talk Franz gave in 1976, where he blamed the JW community for nothing happening -- "You expected it an so nothing happened." Stupid JWs; where do they get off expecting that what the Society says will happen will happen? During that talk Franz shocked the audience by reminding them that this wasn't much different from what happened with Rutherford's failed prediction of Armageddon in 1925. "Rutherford honestly admitted his mistake: `I made an ass of myself', he said." Unfortunately Franz and Knorr and their cohorts never made a public admission of having made asses of themselves. And now the current JW leaders are trying to make the JW community forget all of it.
You ought to write down some of your recollections about 1975. I'm thinking of collecting a bunch of these and putting them into a nice form, along with other material about 1975.
Yes, I well remember the many talks about dealing with persecution and such. Take a look at the "year texts" for the early 1970s:
1974: "Although the fig tree itself may not blossom, ... I will exult in Jehovah himself." -- Hab. 3:17, 18.
1975: "I will say to Jehovah: `You are my refuge and my stronghold' " -- Ps. 91:2
If that ain't "sayin' without sayin'", I don't know what is.
Great lapel badge! It brings back memories. "Who Will Conquer the World in the 1970s?" indeed! Not the Witnesses, that's for sure.
I think the location should have been "Chagrin Rises".
Anyone who wants to see a fairly comprehensive collection of Watchtower quotes on 1975 and its other failed dates should look at the articles "Notes on False Prophets" and "The WTS and the End of the World" here: http://www.geocities.com/osarsif/index2.htm . I put these articles together around 1993, collecting together ideas and references from Ray Franz's books and many other places. I got a lot of material by reading Russell's books and the old Watchtower Reprints, and later, some of the 1920s Watchtowers.