Chapter 16 New Boy 50 years a Watchtower Slave
My three days of housekeeping duty were over and I reported to the Bethel office the next morning. It was customary then get a tour of both the factory and the Bethel home. At the end of the tours they would give you your job assignment.
The tour of the factory was nothing short of amazing. Hundreds of brothers in different departments all working with only one goal in mind. There was the bindery in building three with the sewing machines, the end sheet gluers, the bindery lines, the gathers, the case makers and the trimmers. Building one with the hand bindery, the plate and linotype departments. The fifth floor ink room, where they made everything from ink to glue and even hand soap. Fourth floor job press for the smaller printing jobs. The third floor deluxe department and the second floor carpenter shop where the actually made all the furniture that was used at bethel.
The most impressive sight there was the pressroom in building one. The biggest presses there were on the six floor, they were the mighty Cottrells and two of these mighty beasts set side by side, press six and press seven. The noise was deafening as the “Watchtowers” and “Awakes” magazines were pouring out of them. I stood there speechless as the brothers stopped the press to change the giant sixty inch paper roll. It was a race to see how last they could change the role and get the press back on line. I have tears in my eyes as I write these words. This is the very heart of the factory and I would have given anything to be working there in the pressroom, I thought.
Then we went through the home with its many offices, we saw the waiter crews who spent hours preparing the tables for the next meal. The kitchen staff preparing meals for over a fifteen hundred people at a time. We toured the laundry where brothers sorted, washed and dried thousands of garments a day. They had their own dry cleans and even had a shoe repair shop too. The home was the support group for the factory workers. So the home was quite nice there but not as impressive as the factory, where the real action was.
There were six of us standing around at the end of our tour in the lobby of the 124 building. Brother Lang finally came down from the Bethel office with the news we were all waiting for. He handed each person a piece of paper but told us what it said before we could read it. Maybe he did this to see our reactions, I don’t know.
“Brother Casarona you are assigned the Laundry.”
I don’t remembered what I thought back then. I did know the laundry was a long way from the factory and the press room. I found out later that once you were assigned in the home odds of getting moved to the factory were extremely low. As fate would have it, years later I would be in the factory. Not only that, I ended my Bethel career in the press room on Hoe 10, Spanish Awake. Probably the only brother in Bethel history to start in the laundry and end up in the press room. It would be a long and strange road with many stops a long the way, in the sewing department, bindery and building one elevator.
Wherever they put me I was determined to give it my all and I did from the very first day at Bethel to my last, I did give it my all.
I think I was liked by some there and disliked by others, but no matter what you thought about me I wasn’t a “Jack.”
If you called someone a “Jack” at Bethel, it meant he was a lazy slacker. No one then knew where the term came from. It was used long before 1970 and is still used till this day. Just another thing passed down from one generation of Bethelities to the next.
Back then I wanted to please everybody. I wanted to be liked by everybody. When you are young you might think you can actually do this. But in truth, this isn’t possible and really should not be even wished for. If you are trying to please everyone, what do you believe in? What do you stand for? You want to be liked by all, really? Then you better get off this planet. It’s not possible.
Years later, I figured it out. I call it the Keith Casarona “80% 10% 10% rule” It goes like this.
Say, you met 100 people or even just 10 people. No matter how you act or what you say, one person out of the ten people, will love you to death. One person out of the ten will hate your guts for whatever reason. The other eight people won’t care about you one way or the other.
You just can’t please everyone if you are a real person.
There were many “brown noses” at Bethel back then. I’m sure there are many still there today. People willing to kiss anyone’s ass to get where they want to go.
In fact, one of old timers there told me that before he became president. Knorr’s nick name back in the old days was “Knorr the nose.”
The guy who had his nose up Rutherford’s ass would be our next president, what a surprise.
I feel bad that i havnt comment before this installment of your story but i have read them all and am enjoying them :) i hate to just read and not tell mention i enjoy, its rather selfish to not express my appreciation for you writing and sharing. Your story now has my extra attention as i too was assigned to laundry, albiet several decades after you ;) look forward to the next installment!
Fascinating reading, thnx for sharing all the memories.
I'm enjoying your story also. Sounds like I could have been there about the same time as you. I was there 74-76. I worked in the home also as a plumber in the Home Repair Shop. I gladly left when they told us in 76 we could leave if not happy there. We possibly crossed paths as I did some plumbing work in the Laundry. Ernie Watts
Really loving reading your story.
Great stuff as usual Keith. Are you going to have someone proof read and possibly edit ? Just saying would make your life easier and help you out a little. Looking forward to reading more and purchasing your complete book one day. Maybe drop Alexandra James a line she could steer you in the right direction if not help. I know she worked on Bo Juel's book and it turned out great.
Yes, I know the work is ruff, I never have thought of myself as a writer. I did hire a editor on my first novel.I will definitely need a couple of people to look at it.
Thanks for all the wonderful input.
Grin! memories... In the first residential school ( we got to stay bethel for 2 weeks) for elders that I can recall.I was assigned to work a couple of hours each day in the laundry, testing my humility, I guess. I was assigned to work under an elderly sister. The highlight was her embarrassment at explaining to me that I had to inspect every sheet and all the men's u/pants for semen stains and spray the offending patch (Jude verse 23 NWT) with pre-wash spray.
I also ran into a problem with an elderly brother (he'd been in Bethel before WW2 and had lived there during the Aust. Army occupation of the Strathfield Bethel). Being real conscientious, I'd get up early to study and he counselled me on not wasting the electricity
Wally Lang. Big football player looking brother. He left in 77.