I when to bethel March 21,1970. At the time you had to be a pioneer for two years to apply, by the time I left in 1974 they were calling people in who had never pioneered..........average stay was 5 months (they had signed up for 4 years)..........the reason they left was......well, it was hell.
One of the reasons was, Knorr hated bethelites, but he loved the Gilead students and why? Because when they screwed up they were thousands of miles away!........Just before I got there, they had kicked out over 30! Homosexuals (at one time) ....The would kick out 1-2 bethelites a week. He always had nothing but problems with bethelites.. He would say "I can replace any of you, with a 25 cent stamp".............. Before I went, people tolded me that at bethel, Knorr was called "Pa Pa". I never heard that term used in 4 years I was there, I did hear people call him "King Knorr" They said the place was full of love...........instead it was run like the military .......by a bunch of Germans, Knorr, Suiter, Henshel, Franz, Swingle, Larson, Wheelock, Wiesgerber.........very unfeeling an cold group of people.
The only place that wasn't cold was the laundry in the 119 building. Over 100 degrees in the summer months, with no A/C, in was in a basement with no windows. Some of us would have to take salt tablets or we would pass out from the heat. I took them, because I worked on the clothes dyiers (add another 10 degrees) I also ironed and steamed sister's clothes. I also worked in "check in" were we sorted all the "brothers and sisters" dirty clothes......Great job for a 20 year old "brother" sorting all those bras and panties. LOL......We called the guys underware "Twinks" because if you opened them up, there was "a surprise in every package" Some days we would fold underware all day..........the rule was a pound a minute.
I worked there for 22 months..........it was the penal instution of the home. Sometimes if a "bother" turned in his 30 day notice (before your time was up) they would send you there, to sweat it out. Or if you messed up in other departments like the waiter crew, they would sent you there, if you screwed up...Like my friend Gary Kennedy who was sent there after he destroyed $300 worth of plates in one crash......He was a "happy-go-lucky" type who really didn't fit in.
They wanted him out!.........so they put the scews on. My overseer Ken Dowling had a meeting with the check in crew and said "We were to report anything Gary said (that wasn't the party line) to him" He latter said to me and I Quote "Gary will DIE at armageddon because he doesn't do what I tell him to do".."You do believe that? brother Casarona"............."ERRRR........YES sir" I said.......I was 20 years old and would have done anything for the church leaders, even turn in my own mother. They give you (when you get there) the bethel handbook "Dwelling together in Peace and Unity": Where it says that your bethel overseer is basicly appointed my God.....What eles would you say? We were to report anything we heard or saw to the "brothers" in the bethel office (Gestopo) You really didn't know who to trust and everyone was a possible informent.........With the rightious new boys being the very worse.
At my first table in the upper dinning room, Houston Roberts was my table head. Some tables were fun, this one was boring, the table head would set the mood for the table. IF you missed too many breakfasts (morning worship) he would turn you in. He had the personality of a bowl of "creamed spinish" He had been at bethel for 10 years and was waiting to get married. His girl friend sat across from me and had been there for 3 years..............they had 1 more year to go before they could have sex.......The rule then was 14 years in full time service, before you could get married and stay at bethel.......ah the love.
As for the food, everyone talks about. Breakfast was O.K. most of the time it was Ice cold after Knorrs ranting's. Lunch was the best meal of the day and dinner sucked. Hardly anyone went to dinner a hundred guys out of maybe 1300 went down to dinner....not because we weren't hungry....the food was bad, left overs or squash stuffed with mystery meat. Most the time there just wasn't enough food ......If you sat on the table with 7-8 hungry guys, by the time the plates come around to you, the food was gone..........You pass the plates out again wait 5-10 mins. to come back.......they would pass the plates around the other direction,....... get to you and quess what? nothing left, now its pray time and there is no more food after the pray. You had 15 mins. to eat.........None of the big shots ever went to dinner and why?.......It sucked! Chapter two tomorrow.