Besides almost getting mugged a couple of times. The closest, I came to getting hurt while at Bethel was in the summer in 1972, at the Allentown PA District Convention. I think its name was "The Divine Endurance."
After one day of spiritual enlightenment, Jim Pipkorn and I went to this college bar for some beers. There were these kids there that had their whole table top full of these little empty 8 oz. green bottles. They looked, just like little bottles of ginger ale we used to drink as kids.......So after having a few beers myself. I looked over at them......and said......"Hey! What is 'Rolling Rock'? Some kind of soda pop?" These four jocks.....got up and came over to our table and grabbed me, they would have bet the shit out of me, if it wasn't for......Jim saying..."He is just a fool and an idiot, please leave him alone"
The other time was in "Little Italy" in Manhattan. I was with Jim Pipkorn again. There was this really big festival going on there, like in the movie "The Godfather II." Jim and I were sitting in this door way watching everything that was happening. I was looking out at the crowd......and said......"These are MY people (because I'm Italian too)........I love all these old 300 lb. women with moustaches!" Just then I felt this liquid running down my head and all over my clothes. You guessed it. I looked up and saw a big fat Italian Lady with a moustache, pouring her wine glass out on my head. I never saw anyone laugh harder than Jim at that moment. It was me sticking my foot in my month once again.
There was another Jim, I met at Bethel, but I never saw him laugh… ever. It was Jim Olson. I met him on my freight elevator in Factory building # 1 in 1973. He was this sad, shy looking boy, he had blond hair, blue eyes, about 5' 7" He looked like he was only about 16 years old. He was from Kendallville, Indiana and was good friends with "AK Jeff" who posts here on JWD, they had studied together. He 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 damned machines....and 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. He got this job because his family was friends with Max Larson. I probably saw him more than anyone and I didn't have much to say to him either, when you were there for a few years, you just didn't have much to say to the "new boys." They hadn't got it yet.
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, a big no, no! He told his folks he wanted to come back home for good. His folks had a fit and told him he had to go back and "do his time".........and do the "right thing"...........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........Screw them........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, which was also his last day. "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. Again they made him go back. Again Max ripped him a new ass…..
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 car 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 3, 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 stiff dead body of some blond hair kid out from behind the bushes surround by trash and beer cans...........it was 19 year old....... Jimmy Olson! He was stiff as a board and dead three days.
I was standing next to Norm Brecky, the ink room overseer. Next to him 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."
Jimmy 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 ME. None of us gave a shit, about this 19 year old kid, James Olson. We all pushed him off the building that night as far as I'm concerned.
P.S.......They DID keep his body.......its buried in some unmarked grave, upstate New York "AK JEFF" told me.
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?”
An organization of love would have let this kid go home.