The congregation there had about eighty “publishers” in it. It was a mix of farmers and city folks. There were three to four families there who had moved in from other states, to help out. I was the only pioneer at the time.
I rented a room in some old lady’s basement for $45 a month. I got a job at a Hamburger join called Sandys. I was just like McDonalds only with a different name. Yes, Jehovah did indeed take care of me, I thought to myself because I now got $1.40 an hour. I made $30 to $35 a week. A great job because, I didn’t have to worry about food because I got all the hamburgers I wanted for only .15 cents each.
I was completely devastated when I was fired from there on Easter Sunday in 1969 because I wouldn’t pass out chocolate Easter eggs. I was working on the French fryer when the assistant manager told me to take the window so Billy could go on break. I told him. “Fine but I will not be passing out any Easter eggs.” He told me I would pass them out or find another job. I took off my apron and left. As a good Jehovah’s Witness I would have nothing to do with any “worldly” holidays. The funny thing is my roommate pioneer partner Roy got fired too. He wasn’t even working the window. The manager had to come down to the store on his holiday I quit they were now shorthanded. He was beet red and mad as hell when he walked through the door. He looked right at Roy who was working the grill and said. “Do you believe the same way your friend does?” Roy said “yes” he said. “Then get the hell out of here!” I tell people to this day, that I thank god I was fired from Sandys or I would still be working there till this today.
Roy Baty was from Southern California also. He showed up in Salina in the fall of 1968. He was quite a sight in his 1958 Dodge pickup and his German shepherd. He too had come to serve “where the need was greater” also. He told me years later he really didn’t want to pioneer. He did it so he could get a 4-D classification so he didn’t have to go into the army and end up at Viet Nam. We became good friends there in Kansas and were Bethel roommates. He followed me to Louisiana where he worked for me in Trim Line. He later moved to Oregon. He was in my wedding and I was his best man in his wedding. Still he has not talked to me in over 16 years because I’m no longer a Jehovah’s Witness.
Many of the pioneers I pioneered with were janitors. This way they could have a fixable schedule, plus you could make more than minimum[SG1] wage. In Kansas over 90% of all the pioneers were from someplace else other than Kansas, with the vast majority coming from the Pacific Northwest or California. In Kansas there was even some “special pioneers” serving there. They would put in 150 hours of field service a month. They were directly assigned to be there by the society. They were paid $100 a month if they “made their time” quota. As regular Pioneer we were required to put in 100 hours a month of “field service.” There was no financial assistance for us, we were on our own.
July 12, 1968 was a strange night for me. The “Beach Boys” had a concert that night at the Memorial Hall in Salina. The concert was one block away from my apartment. As I was laying on my bed in my basement apartment I could hear them sing every song with the roar of the crowds in the background. I had grown up in Southern California now it seems Southern California had followed me here. I laid there thinking about all the fun things I never did, the high school dances and games I never went to. How I missed my high school class graduation and their all night trip to Disneyland. I had no class pictures and no class ring. I never dated a girl or even kissed one. I felt very alone that night in that dark basement.
I think back to that night now and wonder what would have happened if I got out of my bed and went to the concert. Just one of the many missed opportunities because of my JW believe system.
I had grown up in Southern California in the nineteen sixties and missed the whole thing. Drugs, sex and now rock n roll.