Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Journey-Man Walks On The Moon...I Remain In The Stone Age

Ever since I started posting here I have wanted to tell my story. But being long and in many ways painful. I hope to get some of it out in these My Journey posts. I hope that they help someone out there....

My Journey-The Early Years

I was born in a hospital called Polyclinic in Manhattan NY. New York City has never been the same. I am a half-breed, mother Puerto Rican (first generation) my father Italian (second generation), and from the hospital I was taken to live in Hell's Kitchen in the fall of the year 1966. At this time many Puerto Rican and Irish immigrants were struggling with life and one another in this part of New York. (For more details I encouraged viewing the musical West Side Story.)

So in the middle of this commotion one little boy began his days. Some strange things took place. For example there are home movies of my Mom dressing me up as a little girl (hair and all) and letting me run around on the roof of the tenement that we lived in. She controlled me with a rope "leash." She says that she always wanted a little girl...Gee I wanted to have a son, but I never made my daughter look like a boy.

But things were to get stranger still. My Mom had suffered many indignities and injustices by the time I came along. From extreme poverty in PR and a very hard life there resulting in part from the untimely death of my grandmother of tuberculosis to struggling to help her stepmother care for ten brothers and sisters in a dilapidated NYC apartment. Is it any wonder then that when Jehovah's Witnesses showed up promising a soon to come Paradise, she with limited education and broken English eagerly embraced their message?

Not long afterward at the Wollman skating rink in Central Park she met the man who would become my Dad. He was also running away from problems and so they both, propelled by situations that were unpleasant and by the fact that neither of them were "good marriage material" by dub standards were married by Richard Wheelock in 1964. (Some of you will recognize Rich Wheelock as a longtime Factory Overseer and Committee member at Bethel. He ended up drawing attention to the depression and psychological ailments plaguing Bethelites when he was found behind a dumpster underneath his Bethel window dead. He had committed suicide by jumping from his window after suffering a long bout of depression following his wife's death. I guess it finally dawned on the GB after that incident that if psychological problems were the result of spiritual deficiencies, Br. Wheelock should have been the last to suffer.)

So there I was in the Times Square Congregation beginning my "theocratic" career. But we were soon to move. Where to? To Bushwick Brooklyn. All around Jews and Italians were vacating the area and the area was in decline. So that is where the young couple decides to buy a house.

Man Walks On The Moon...I Remain In The Stone Age

Being the perfect Witness, dysfunctional, fanatic and devoted my Mom attracted attention. She did everything the Society said to the letter. And I mean to THE letter. With the tees crossed and the i's dotted. So it was that her and I were always put forward as the model JWs. Especially in a community where we were the only whites (or as close as we could get), where most blacks were just crawling out of the bondage that was (and in many ways still is) racist America, did we stand out. Here was a woman who had a husband that could support her. Most sisters in the congregation had to work, had no husbands and had little time to follow the Society's many rules and regulations. So to the elders and particularly the Bethelites my Mom was a shining star. And she made sure to always make them feel welcome at our house.

In that congregation we were the only ones to own a house, at least when we first moved there. So at 3.5 years of age in 1969-1970 when a part on the circuit assembly was presented to teach everyone how to sing at meetings, my Mom and I were on the stage at the newly purchased Bliss Theatre along with several others singing Song 110 in the old songbook "We Thank You Jehovah." And being the "perfect," pompous little kid that I was being trained to be I outsang everyone. To this day people in that circuit remember me as the little kid singing "We Thank You Jehovah."

Of course, WT wants people's time and devotion. Anything else that interferes is worldly, a tool of the Devil and must be shunned. Thus it was that television, radio, movies, toys, candy, the kids at the Hall whose parents weren't training them "properly," (which was all of them) and anything else considered "worldly" or "fun" was off limits.

I can recall watching television ONCE, yes just once as a child. I distinctly remember sitting on my Dad's lap watching the lunar craters go by on TV. It was just about the only wholesome thing in my mother's eyes that I could watch. (Is this why I have such a fascination with space exploration and why I always wanted to be an astronaut?) In any event, that memory is very vivid. We had a B&W TV set. It had a green chassis and contained tubes. I remember this because my Mom controlled the tubes. My Dad had no say so. She would pull tubes out of the back and hide them so that he couldn't use the TV. Every once in a while he would get ticked off and buy new ones. Particularly when Ray Franz was interviewed on TV regarding Malawi and now my Mom wanted to see it.

But lo and behold, the poor machine had had enough and no picture came out, only sound. That TV never showed a picture again. Therefore growing up I never did watch TV. To this day I love Nick at Nite because there are so many shows I STILL have never seen. I did not watch TV from that moon shot until 1983, I kid you not folks. I will elaborate on how that happened later. For now let us just say that I was kept totally and completely isolated from ALL outside influence. Thats right ALL of it. I went to a movie ONCE between the ages of 0 and 19. That was to see The Ten Commandments.

I was taken to school and picked up. All the way through the sixth grade. And that wasn't just at the beginning and end of the day. I was never allowed to eat lunch in school. Too great a risk of being with the "worldly" kids. I was brought home for lunch where I would get my food, both physical and "spiritual." Holidays, birthdays, assemblies in the school auditorium, school plays, they were all strictly forbidden. I was kept absent or had the unpleasant experience of being sent out of class to sit in some other classroom. As a result I was terrified of everything. I'm tempted to say that I was afraid of my own shadow but I'm not sure if I even knew what my shadow looked like. Once when my Mom couldn't get me from school, I stayed in mortal terror, shaking like a leaf by security waiting for her to show. I stayed there it seemed at least two hours. Maybe it wasn't that long, but when school security told me that I had to go I stayed inside the schoolyard clinging to the fence until finally a pioneer sister in the congregation was able to come and get me.

To get to the meetings we would walk (my Mom didn't get her license till I was almost grown) the two blocks to the Hall. There were often cabals of kids "in the hood" that we would walk past. (Yes "new boy," I've been there.) One evening a few of them mugged my Mom. I was twelve, scared, and terrified. I did what came natural. I completely emptied my bladder all over my suit pants. We went to the Hall anyway and I sat through the meeting.

Many days when I was packing my bags for school my Mom would give me some publication to take to school. I was supposed to put this book on my desk as a catalyst for "incidental" witnessing. I couldn't bring myself to do it. Something bothered me about it. So I would take the bag, hold it right up to the shelf under the desk, and when I thought that no one was looking I'd shove the book into it, again looking around hoping that no one saw me. One day I forgot to check the classroom door. My Mom was there watching me. Boy did I get it when we got home. "Are you ashamed of the truth?" How could I tell her that Yes I was? "Do you want Jesus to be ashamed of you at Armageddon?" How could he be ashamed of a ten year old? And before who? Isn't he the King? The Commander in Chief?



eric said...

Thanks so much for starting to share your painful story. You're very articulate and insightful.

Danny Haszard said...

Jehovah's Witnesses are often silent when asked to prove their CORE doctrine:

That JESUS HAS ALREADY HAD HIS SECOND COMING IN 1914 and is ONLY working through their organization.
1914 (from Adventist William Miller) is to a JW what Mary and/or the Trinity is to Catholics or what Joseph Smith and the golden plates are to Mormons.

1914 is the Watchtower's #1 foundation dogma and it is false.

Watchtower dissident site http:/ / www.freeminds. org
13,000 leave the Watchtower organization every month,find out why