Is the Bethel Farm in Wallkill Co. still there?

by Etude 22 Replies latest jw experiences

  • Etude

    Here you go Diogenesister:

    Sorry this is so long and that I may have some names wrong. I guess there’s a lot I didn’t want to remember.

    I consider myself fortunate that my parents helped out and provided me with a car while I was living at the Bethel Farm. On one occasion, the car stopped running. I’m not mechanically inclined and couldn’t get other guys (the farm equipment handlers) to help after-hours. They avoided me when I walked into the farm shop.

    Meanwhile, there was a provision that one could borrow one of the “office” cars in order to drive to the congregational meetings at night or on weekends. I, along with three other brothers, was attending a congregation in Middletown. They would pitch in for the gas. So, I would call the office and put in a request. The next day, I had to return the car promptly by 8:00 am when work started. So, I waited for the office to open at 8:00 and turn in the keys. This went on for a while as I tried to find out what the problem was with the car.

    I reported to the “Trimming” (?) department, where they cut the WT & Awake! magazines into final form. One day while entering my workplace, I noticed that the assistant in charge of the crew (a fairly nice fellow named Curtis) was writing something down. I asked him what it was and he told me he was marking me late. I asked why. He said, "because you’re late". I said that I had to return the car keys to the office so they could use them by 8:00 am. He said he understood but I was still late. Somehow, it had escaped me that he had often asked where I was before I knew he was making a note.

    My argument was that if I wanted to attend meetings, I needed a car and since I had that provision, I complied by turning in the keys when they opened. He basically said that I was still late and it was his job to write it down. We went back and forth on this. I finally said that since it doesn’t matter whether I have a good excuse or not, I was not going to tell him where I was and why I was late. He insisted that I must tell him. I refused. He called over the guy in charge; another fairly nice guy named David (?) and related the situation. I stood my ground and said I would not answer any questions as to why I was late because I would still get marked late and it didn’t matter. This all happened in a nice calm manner over several days.

    So David had no choice but to call the assistant factory overseer, Dan Myers. This guy worked at being an asshole. I think Dan got where he was by kissing ass. He had a bad streak that made him lust for power. Maybe he was cruel because he was made fun of as a child for having a bad limp. I think one leg was shorter than the other. We rehashed the issue and came to an impasse after I explained I should not be penalized on my record as being late for something that could not be avoided.

    This is the famous Bethel logic that I constantly encountered. Dan replied to me that the fact that people are on time means that I can be on time. I replied that then the fact that some people are late means I can be late. I guess I detected his frustration when he told me that the factory overseer and other elders thought badly of me, that they thought I had a poor attitude. That triggered something in me and I saved it for the right moment.

    It took a few days but I managed to have a talk with the factory overseer in his office. He asked me to enter and take a seat. I declined and stood in front of him at his desk. He was someone I respected and liked, but I wanted to set the tone of the conversation. So I asked him straight out if he had a bad opinion of me. He asked why and I told him his subordinate Dan Myers had told me that. I could see his countenance change quickly. He clearly had not said that or was that much aware of me. But he was furious that Dan had put him in that position. What the overseer did was come up with an excuse for Dan; that perhaps he was under pressure. That’s when I lost all respect for him. I imagined that later he took Dan over and tore him a new one (in a nice way). But I could never look at him the same way.

    It was much later I learned that as a secular factory, whoever is above you is right, even if they are wrong. They feel that for the sake of ending arguments, they will always take the management side. Fuck Christian values, and fuck fairness. If that were the only such example of what I went through, I might even admit that I was a malcontent. But that shit kept popping up over and over. There, I saw cruelty, favoritism, racism, and people who were too afraid to leave because they had nothing to use as skill in the outside world.

  • LongHairGal


    In reading your profile and the few posts here, you were in Bethel/farm only a few years. Am I right? If so, consider yourself fortunate (in spite of meeting cruel and unfair people) that you didn’t spend decades of your life there like other bethelites who got kicked out in their fifties because of downsizing..Can you imagine?

    The story you relate about how the person above you is always ‘right’ even if they are wrong is something I heard before. Because of this there must be a high degree of inefficiency and mistakes at the bethels because somebody’s ego always needs to be placated and some subordinate person needs to learn their ‘place’..In the outside or Real world, this would be no way to run a business. No way could I have ever made it in that place!

    Welcome back to the forum!

  • asp59

    Very interesting. Reminds me of lot's of work places i been a consult in. Usually the Boss or management is a psychopath or narcissist. They usually end up in high positions on workplaces. Didn't know same thing can happen in bethel. Lots of regular JW's see bethel as a spiritual paradise, were brothers and sisters are pampered with. Interesting too read about what happens behind the curtains.

  • WingCommander

    Welcome "Etude"!!

    Labeled as a "BA" = BAD ATTITUDE (about the worst thing you can be labeled as at a Bethel, except maybe a thief)
  • mann377

    I knew Dan Myers. I was at the farm from 73'-76'. I was a press operator and was a on my own as a factory worker. Dan was a "pot licker" in every since of the word. He was in bulk rapping when I knew of him. The one thing that escapes the overseers at Bethel is that everyone there is a VOLUNTEER! You done treat volunteers like they owe you something.

  • Etude

    I was fortunate that I was inquisitive and allowed for alternative modes of thinking. Bethel had a dual personality. The super-fine Christian side and the business side. I had the mistaken illusion that the Christian side would overcome any procedural or secular problems. Then I discovered there was a third side, the hypocritical side.

    Mostly, I could not understand their adherence to some arbitrary rules that they came up with or followed from somewhere else. This is why I had to leave after 2 1/2 years. For example, I wanted to have my blue jeans pressed as I did in Brooklyn (I spent about 8 months there). I would send them down and pay to have them pressed at the dry cleaners; yes, we all had to pay for that. Apparently, Knorr had this fetish that only homosexuals in Brooklyn Heights wore blue jeans. They would not be banned altogether but were discouraged from wearing them neatly outside of work by making you pay.

    So, when I asked for my jeans to be pressed at the Farm, I was told I couldn't because the rule was they just didn't do it. They never gave me a real reason besides that in Brooklyn, they were discouraged. So, I come back with the fact that as it is done in Brooklyn, I was willing to pay for them to be pressed. The response was, "Well, we're not Brooklyn!"

    So, on the one hand, they wouldn't press blue jeans with the regular laundry because it was not done in Brooklyn but they would not press them if you paid like it is done in Brooklyn, because they are not "Brooklyn." As you can tell, that was an unwinnable situation. Mind you that this transpired after multiple discussions with the laundry "servant" and even after speaking with the home "servant" who supervised the laundry shop.

    I didn't give a rat's ass about the jeans really. It just turned out to be an issue because of their infuriating logic of doing things. I still don't understand the reasoning behind that way of thinking and the unwillingness to change. Well, after talking to a couple of nephews that went to Bethel many years later, they informed me that all that had gone away. I hope that in arguing this (along with many other BAs), I was somehow able to influence and contribute to ending the illogic of such rules. That doesn't take away all the shit I went through just to survive in that place.

  • Etude
    mann377: We must have overlapped. But at one point, I went outside to the fields picking tomatoes, and peas, etc. I was there when they had a Gilead class attending. There was a couple from Scotland, maybe a couple from Australia, and a few single guys. The graduation took place there at the farm. I had only attended one other Gilead graduation in Queens, NY.
  • mann377

    Were you there 73-76? The only work I did for the farm operation was farm 2. I worked with the cattle on weekends. I knew how to ride a horse and tend to the feed lot. Loved working with "Slippers" the cattle dog. Through a series of whistles she would cut the herd and bring a cow back. Yes I knew that they would put the Gilead students on the farm waiting for them to be shipped to there assignments. Funny thing about that is one night I was working late working on a friends car in the shop and went back to the #3 residence building to take a shower and go to bed. While taking a shower about 4 Gilead sisters came in the bath room. I could hear them laughing and were trying on cloths etc. I had the shower curtain closed and thought "am I in the wrong bath room or are they?". When they left (45 minutes later) I got out of the shower and looked to the left and saw the urinals. So I knew I was in the right place but the sisters must have seen the urinals as I did since they are the first thing you see when coming in. Wonder what the Bethel office would say if I had jumped out of the shower while the sisters were there?

  • Etude


    I was definitely there in 76. I had transferred from Brooklyn with someone who went to work with the cattle, etc. So, I went out there from time to time. Perhaps I knew you. But since we're anonymous, it's OK. Tell you what though, I would have stepped out in front of those sisters buck naked and give them a show.

  • careful

    Etude, yes, more of your story would be welcome. Wallkill is now where the USA branch is located---talk about a transformation!

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