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The Cult
A Brassy Babe Speaks of Yesteryear: 12/11/21
Banks, Oregon, drinking Mac and Jacks at a country western bar while rodeo plays on the large TV and Brit City sits next to his well-proportioned lady across the booth from the crackpot. This was from a single telling while drinking and at a first meeting. Not being familiar with the lady’s method of speaking, where a statement is not exactly recalled, which is to say most of her statements, I have paraphrased in standard wording that does not do her effervescent personality justice.
I was a hairdresser, which is a reality unto itself. You learn everything about a woman, her husband, her boyfriend, her children, her job. If you are not in a chain you have regulars—and you are kept up to speed on their life! A hairdresser is plugged into dozens of family dramas. I developed a small dictionary of expressions: “Wow!, Really, You don’t say, Oh really, That takes the cake!, etc.” and so on.
I grew up in a cult, so the real world held much fascination for me. We lived in a farm towards the coast [in Oregon] across [The Columbia River] from Astoria [Washington]. There were many aspects of it that were really positive and I gained a lot of skills, skills that enabled me to raise two children on my own. I was my mother’s go-to for child care being the oldest. We grew our own crops and canned them—that was nice, bottling in a 110-degree kitchen. We raised animals, slaughtered, butchered and put up the meat.
The world was supposed to be a place of toil. Life was not to be fullfilling or enjoyed. It was supposed to be a mainstream Christian church, but they left all of the love and forgiveness behind somewhere. Of course there is the tithing. You are supposed to be toiling to earn your way into heaven, that leaves income to be forwarded to the church.
Whatever befell you was your fault. My mother said once when I was thirteen, that it was time to put up the bikes. I didn’t listen and rode my bike and had a bad injury. When I was laying there in pain I was told that The Lord had swooped down from heaven and punished me for my disobedience.
When I was fifteen my father sent me to the Pastor [name indistinct in author’s mind]. I had been taught about not being alone with a man and our purity was highly valued. I was naive, but when I passed through the secretary’s office and came into the pastor’s office I was aware that she should have been present, that I should not have been alone with this man. Then he gets up and shuts the door, and the way he looked at me, I knew I was in grave danger.
He said he would take a personal hand in my education and would be writing me with various questions that I must answer and he would illuminate my thoughts and expand my command of scripture. I was terrified. Nothing happened, but it was obvious that I was being prepared for something. A man in his 50s writing letters to a 15-year-old girl?
The most frightening thing was when I told my father that I had been alone in a room with this man he showed no concern, did not ask me anything about details that might have brought out my concern for this man devouring me with his eyes. We dressed extremely modest, skirts down to the shoes, hair covered. Instead, my father was jealous that I had gotten alone time with the Cult Leader and was asking me, “What did he say?” about this and about that.
Despite my mesmerized father, I found a way to work his trust into my protection. In the initial letter to the pastor’s queries in the office, I let him know that my father and the family would be reading the letters as a study group. Of course I knew my father would be hanging on every word written by this man.
When I was sixteen my father sent me to the International Headquarters, “The Compound” outside of Chicago. I flew in and there was a church van and church representatives there at the airport. These included the leading lights, the pious poster children about my age. I would have thought that I would be one of many students in that van. But it was just me and the people who came to get me.
The compound itself—remember I was sixteen—was a fairly distant drive from Chicago.
I don’t recall any large bodies of water, wetlands or significant features. It was very suburban. [1]
The main building might have been a distribution warehouse in a very suburban setting, very everyday, very unchurchlike, no steeple and really no exterior art or symbols like I would have expected, this being the center of the Church. This church filled large venues with their faithful. But when you entered, it was the Holy of Holies, all of the aesthetics you might imagine greeted you and the effect was very impactful. In a way, having the exterior so drab and everyday, lent a greater impact.
I was hungry to learn but was becoming secretly disenchanted with the cult. I made friends outside of the church, which you were not supposed to do. Legally they couldn’t keep you once you turned 18. I counted down the days. I knew there would be an intervention, that at the very least I would get no help moving out and I would be talked to.
I chose the time when the Trusted Ones, my peers, some who probably ended up getting molested by the cult leader, were out. By the time they got back my friends and I were loading up my stuff and we were off to California. The cult leader was outed as a child molester. I ended up in college, reading as many books as I could.
My father became ordained on his own and my parents fell out of the cult as the apocalyptic predictions of the [Y2K] era failed to come true.
This bodacious babe is now a nurse.
Notes
1. The author seems to recall a town such as Hinsdale of Hillsdale, but after the bar we bought two bottles of rum, which were mostly empty in the morning—eesh, Pepsi too, not on Rick’s List! The shopping for booze and soda without masks on at the Fred Myers placed us as middle-aged youths among the entertained and adult masked college kids manning the store.
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