Chapter 31 New Boy 50 years a Watchtower slave
Murder Suicide and Death at the big house
The people at Bethel were killing us spiritually and sometimes they killed us physically too.
Many of the old timers were in the infirmary laying there just waiting to die of natural causes. Some had served there for over fifty years. Many never had sex once in their whole life! Just like the Catholic priests, they too chose a life of celibacy in order to serve their god.
Don't you think everyone should have sex at least once in a lifetime?
Maybe those old guys didn’t care about sex anymore. Just like the old joke.
The ninety old virgin is having his birthday. So his best friends get together and say. "We need to get this poor guy a women before he dies!" So they find this knock out twenty one year old hooker. They tell her what the situation is and that she his needs to give their friend "Super Sex" the best ever. So she goes to his house and rings the doorbell. I old guy comes to the door in his bath robe. He opens the door and says. "What do you want?" She open up her coat and says. "I'm here for super sex!"
"OK.” The old guy says. What flavor is the soup?"
I was told that the Bethel family even had to recite a vow of chastity back in the nineteen thirties and forties. Again that all changed when Knorr showed up married in the nineteen fifties.
Some of the old timers were really pissed about that too. One of the old guys who give up the possibility of ever having sex was Wilber Ruth. He was the mail carrier in the factory. He was about eighty years old, bald and about five foot five. His biggest thrill was walking around with his shopping cart and telling the guys what was going to be served for lunch that day.
His favorite announcement was. “Liver to make you quiver and ice cream to make you shiver.”
Interesting when they made liver for lunch about twice a month a third of the Bethel family would skip lunch that day. Yet, they always made ice cream that day to go with the liver. The thought being they wouldn’t have to make as much ice cream.
On Saturdays for lunch it was open sitting and you could set anywhere you wanted. So I happened to be sitting on Wilbur’s table with a couple of his old friends. I ask Wilber why he never got married. He said it was too late for him. Once Knorr change the program up he was way too old to find a wife and still be able to stay at Bethel. I wonder when he was lying there in the infirmary dying, if he just laughed it off as a big joke.
The unnatural death was the night watchman that fell down the elevator shaft in the squib building. He just walked into the black of an open elevator. The elevator wasn’t on that floor…good bye.
Dennis Carlson was murdered cleaning his kingdom hall. It’s seems that Richard Wheelock was conducting a home Bible study with a young Muslim woman. Her brother was in a rage and wanted to find Richard and talk to him. He went to the Kingdom hall looking for Richard but found a small group of Bethelities who were there cleaning the hall. He asked Dennis for Richards address. Dennis turned around to write the address down on a piece of paper. The Muslim took out a nine inch knife and drove into Dennis’s back and trough his heart. They say Dennis had a total look of surprise on his face. Nobody ever expects to be killed and certainly no one expects to be killed while they are cleaning their kingdom hall.
Many poor Bethelites tried to kill themselves while serving at Bethel. Some succeeded. Richard Wheelock the pressroom overseer succeeded. He jumped out a window at the Watchtower Farm. He was able to kill himself. The same thing the young Muslim man wanted to do to him.
Richard seemed like many of the people who had been serving there, rather sad and worn out. He was my overseer when I was in the in pressroom. A man of few words. He would walk up to the press operator and hand him his assignment and say. “Here is the job get it out.” He would turn and walk away.
I talked to a couple of guys in the pressroom who told me that in the four years of working under him, he never once asked how they were doing. He never seemed to show any concern what so ever for people under him.
I’m not trying to pick on Richard. It just seemed the whole atmosphere there was tortured people overseeing tortured people.
“By their love you will know.”…. That’s just it. It wasn’t there.
There was an atmosphere there that hung over the place. It can’t be described but you could see it on everyone ones faces.
James Olson was cleaning toilets in the factory. Believe it or not, that is considered a good job in the home or factory, because you weren't "on production line" or on one of those damn machines. Plus, no one was on your ass. No overseer to beg to go to the bathroom, but it was a very lonely job. You worked by yourself, there were few people to talk to, all day.
I probably saw him more than anyone. He would get on my elevator many times a day to move his cleaning cart and mop bucket from one floor to the next. I didn't have much to say to him. He was a new boy and I had less than six months to go. You just didn't have much to say to the new boys. We were in two different worlds.
He got on my elevator one day with tears in his eyes. "What’s up?" I asked. You could tell, he didn't want to tell me, but he did. He said that he couldn't take it anymore at Bethel and about a week earlier, he went back home to Indiana. He was AWOL! He didn’t tell anyone. He told his folks he wanted to come back home for good. His parents had a fit and told him he had to go back and do his time. He had made a vow and he had to keep it. He told me he had just left Max Larson’s office, Max had just told him. “What a disappointment he was, to his family and to the organization!"
So what encouragement did I give this poor kid? Basically nothing. I told him. "Hey, forget it, just do your time, then go home and enjoy the rest of your life." I told him basically the same thing that guy told me, my first day at bethel. "Do your job and keep your mouth shut. They don't give a shit about you here!"
I didn’t know it at the time but he took off again for home a week later. Again, his family made him go back and once again Max Larson ripped him a new asshole.
The day he got back to New York was October 31, 1973. I remember that night, because it was Halloween. I was working on my car in the in the garage at the 117 Adams St. building, it was about 9:00 p.m. You could use the garage to work on your cars back then. I was changing the oil in my car, when all of a sudden all Hell broke loose. All of the fire alarms went off in Building 4. The watchmen were running around, trying to find who broke into the factory, they looked everywhere, but could find nothing. It was very strange. The mystery was solved a few days later.
November 2, 1973 about 12:50 p.m. I'm taking everyone back to work after lunch, on elevator in building one. Everyone is standing on the sky bridges, looking out, at the back of building 4. There is an ambulance there, taking the dead body of some blond hair kid out from behind the bushes. There he was surrounded by trash and beer cans. It was nineteen year old, Jimmy Olson! He was stiff as a board and had been dead for two days.
I was standing next to Norm Brekey, the ink room overseer. Next to Norm was Tom Combs, the Job Press overseer. Tom Combs said and I quote "He must have done something really bad to have killed himself!" Then Norm said and I quote. "I glad he jumped off the back of the building and not the front of the building, because we really don't need the extra publicity."
Wow, he was dead and judged on that day.
So my friends. Just who did kill James Olson? Was it the heartless religion? Was it his family? Was it the Bethel brothers?" Was it Max Larson? I'm the only person who knows who really killed James Olson!
It was all of us!
It was the religion, his family, the people in oversight, the Bethel family and it was me! None of us gave a shit, about this kid, James Olson. As far as I’m concerned we all pushed him off the building that night.
By their love you will know them.”…. Yes, this is true.
An organization of love would have let this poor kid go home.
The WatchTower Bible and Tract society did keep his body. It’s buried in an unmarked grave, upstate New York.
P.S.S. Many years ago a friend of mine sent Max Larson a post card on October 31. It said. “Do you ever think about James Olson? Hey, we all have a resurrection hope don't we, right?”
what an utterly miserable existence. so glad i got out of this dreadful cult when i did.
Bethel otherwise known as the JW headquarters is the actualization of "theocratic" living.
By your description new boy, and there is no reason to doubt it, it is a dystopia; the depressing realization of utopian dreams.
Thanks for your memories of the 'real watchtower org.' just one more nail in its coffin.
one more story of how it really operate
I remember meeting Wilbur Ruth when I visited my brother there in the '70s. But I remember his name being pronounced more like Wilmer or Wilmur, rather than Wilbur. Can't say for sure, though.
When I was working night shift in the factory we had "lunch" at the Squibb. That night when the person fell to his death it was his duty to run the elevator to take us up to the dining room. We figured he fell asleep somewhere as we had to get someone else to do the task. Didn't realize till the next day, when his body was found in the pit, that he was under us. A few years earlier his brother, not at Beathel, also died. Drowning accident if I remember correctly. Very soon after that lighting was installed at all the elevator doors for better illumination.
As as for Richard Wheelock. A minor correction. He died in Brooklyn not the Farm.
It sounds like a prison camp. So glad i never did go to Bethel. I did go to the "bethel" meeting at one of the conventions with my then girlfriend.
The Jimmy Olson story is 100% true. His brother Marvin was my roommate for a time at Watchtower Farms. "It sounds like a prison camp." You don't realize how close to the truth that statement is pale.emperor. You eat, sleep, study, shit, shave, shower and work in the same 'environment' 24 hours a day around all the same people. Your only break is rushing to meetings and field service. If you had a car, which I did, you could escape for a limited time. If Bethel life is an example of 'New World Living', than I would rather be dead than face eternity in such an environment with most of those people. When you are young, 4 years seems like an 'eternity', and maybe Jimmy felt the way I do.
Thanks for the correction.
That is why I'm posting this novel here first. So the final draft will be correct in all it's details. Thanks to good folks like yourself.
I can't exactly call my old Bethel friends anymore to get the details straight.