I had a few "dealings" with Fred Franz himself, when i was very young. My old congregation that i grew up in, was on the south shore of Staten Island, and good old Freddie Franz, had quite a few old time friends from there. Some of the old timers, even dated back to Rutherfords day, and the old WBBR station on Staten Island. I even had a very old brother, who was SOOO SOOO nice, i use to love him, who claimed to have known where Ruthorfords "hidden" gravesite was on the island.
Anyway, due to Fred Franz having quite a few old timer "friends" in my old hall, he would come quite often to give the public talk. As a youngster, i can remember at least, 2 or 3 times when he was invited to give the talk, and i can remember a "gathering" at an old time sisters house, that my family was invited to, and he was there. I was probably, about 8 years old.
I recall him being treated like a "gOD", at the gathering. He was the center of attention, and towards the end of the night, he started telling "stories" to all in attendance. There was a big fire-pit, and he sat there, as everyone sat around him, and hung on is every word. Being that this was 32 years ago, and i was 8 years old, i couldnt tell you what the "storys" were about. Probably some old time Bethel, and Ritherford storys. I remember a few of the youngsters, including myself, climbed a tree to get a better veiw of the "legend" that was Fred Franz.
When he came to give the talk at my old hall, my father was in charge of setting him up on the stage, and getting him on and off, because he was almost blind, at this time. My father always commented, after that, about how Franz had no idea what time it was, and just went on and on, giving the talk, with his "wealth" of information. He had NO notes, at all, again, he was practically blind, and couldnt "see" a clock or watch, so my father had to "go up" on stage when Franz was at the half hour mark. This way Franz could see the "shadow" of my father, and know that he had 15 minutes left. My father said that if he waited to go up, in say an hour or 2, that Franz had so much "knowledge" in his head, he could have just kept going and going, without knowing what time it was.
Its funny, how, in my 8 or 9 year old mind, and for some years after, what my "perception" of Fred Franz was. I thought of him as "awe inspiring", and as the most knowledgable human in the world. I will say this, he had a simple old 1970's something, bomb of a car, and a cheap suit. My father would always make a point of saying, "look how humble he is, and yet he knows more than all the religious leaders of the world", as he drives his 4 door car back to Bethel. In a way, my Dad WAS kinda right. He was the President of the Borg, and had NO driver, NO "posse", NO "hoopla".
That being said, my "impression", and thought on Fred Franz, have certainly changed much, now. I have now learned, that he was a bully, and a hard ass. He was trying to make a "name" for himself, like Russel, Rutherford. He had a "personal agenda" of trying to be "prophetic" like the men before him. They had their 1914's, and there 1925's, and Franz had his 1975, which as we know, failed MISERABLY. I knew him briefly, in passing when i was as an 8 year old boy, and it was at the "end" of his "career/life". He was a feeble old man, at this point, but when he was in his "heyday", he was a militant, abusive, hard ass. In fact, if you disagreed with any "changes" in policy, or scripture, you were "hunted" down, and branded "apostate" with a final Disfellowshipping. That was Franz's legacy. The bully, witch hunting, paranoid, hard ass, left over from an old regime. Yet, dare i say it, he still represented something, even slightly. better than todays current GB psychos.