The Bruderhof's Iron Curtain hung most heavily on the hearts and minds of many, and seems to have cut off everyone unwilling to resign from reading KIT and visiting KIT readers. This sort of attempt of manipulate the lives of relatives outside the Bruderhof will of course ultimately have to be resolved.
For me, the conference started with the sunrise on Thursday, 25th July, as my sister Susan and I drove to Gatwick Airport to meet Heidi Strickland and Miriam Holmes who had spent the night flying from Boston to England. They were very tired but much too excited to get any rest once we got home, so we visited our family gift shop in Camberley High Street, combining it with collecting Carol Beck from the train station. Then, a leisurely lunch with my family and very soon John Holland, Philip Ellison, Joerg and Christine Mathis, and their delightful children arrived in the hired minibus. We just had time for a last cool drink and to admire the GT40 racing car my husband Bob has built, and then we were off to London to pick up Ben Cavanna and the Bernard contingent of Ricia, Chrisi, Anita and Amacio.
Our next stop was Ramsgate where we boarded a huge ferry to Ostend. It was near midnight and we had booked three cabins, one for the men, one for the women and one for the Mathis family. The Channel crossing was almost too smooth, the gentle roll of the sea and vibration of the ship's engines lulling us into total relaxation, if not sleep. There was a bit of a sea-fog as we left Ostend, but this soon cleared as we drove mile after mile through Belgium without stopping until we needed a petrol fill-up and a hearty breakfast, and found ourselves in Germany! On to Worpswede, with just a small detour as Ben the drive and Joy the navigator failed to notice our motorway exist as they were in deep conversation concerning the essence of relationships with Bruderhof parents.
About 20 KITfolk were already at Worpswede when the minibus contingent arrived. and before long we were enjoying the first of many delicious meals. More people kept arriving all afternoon and evening, but apart from some singing there was not group gathering on Friday. Saturday morning, we had a horse and wagon drive around the lush, flat countryside surrounding Worpswede. After lunch we had a meeting out on the front lawn where people had the opportunity to suggest things they wanted to do or discuss during the next few days and then a bunch of energetic people had a bicycle ride before the evening BBQ. We then had a large group meeting where there was a discussion concerning KIT finances, editorial support, the COB lawsuit, etc. Some disagreement emerged concerning the content of the KIT newsletter. It was really good that people felt free to express different opinions and describe a different perspective.
On Sunday, we had what for me was the highlight of the weekend. Isolde (Pfeiffer) Brummeloh had arranged a wonderful trip on the River Hamme. Three boats, sometimes cruising alongside each other, drifted along, an accordion accompanying a succession of familiar folksongs. The weather, scenery and company were great! Later that day, we spend some time exchanging views on Ben Zablocki's draft petition to the Bruderhof considering ex-bruderhofers' contact with their family still in the communities. We also managed a hilarious but feeble attempt at dancing. On Monday, it was time to pile back into the minibus and head back to England. We made a detour via Amsterdam, which allowed my brother Barnabas to hitch a lift with us, as he had scheduled a couple of days of sightseeing in that beautiful city. Our Channel crossing was just as smooth on our return to England. Our first stop was to Belinda Manley as dawn was breaking -- she was in fine form and assured us she'd been up since 4:30 A.M.! The Bernards were staying with her for a couple of days, but he had further to go. John and Ben did a splendid job driving 16 of us to our destination and safely home again. Thanks a lot to you both! Also my thanks to the German organisers, especially Isolde and Gudrun., It was a most enjoyable and memorable five days shared with many fine people, some of whom I was getting to know for the first time. Love,
Isolde had done a wonderful job to arrange a room or bed for us in the youth hostel. Also she had made a song book with all the German songs we used to sing so that we did not have to sing the "Woodcrest translations!" We really liked that a lot!
The first afternoon and evening we just spent talking to each other. The group from the USA was very tired as they had missed a night's sleep on their flight to England and a second night on the Channel boat. So you saw more and more people disappearing to their beds, but we did have a good time singing together. All of us felt that it would be good actually to have a lot of time to talk to our different friends instead of many formal or semi-formal meetings.
Isolde had arranged for us to hire bicycles and also to make a boat tour on the river nearby. Youth hostels in Germany are a bit different from England. You have breakfast, a lunch package and a warm meal, but nothing in-between. This was a little difficult, as many of us felt a need for coffee or tea in-between. But this did not disturb our fun in any way at all.
On Saturday some of us hired bicycles and went off in small and large groups to venture through Worpswede, others stayed at the base to welcome newcomers. We were all especially glad for the senior Bruderhof members, like Hilde Pfeiffer, Erna and Werner, and also Migg. I personally do enjoy these older members so much as it was they that educated and formed our lives. After supper we had a meeting to share different people's concerns and to see if anyone had anything else in mind for our days together. The concern was brought up whether we should not have a special fund for older people who live in countries with no social system. When something happens to these older ex-Bruderhofians, they surely need our help. The general feeling was that the XRoads Fund is also for that and that if we all pay in a little extra for this, then we will be able to help wherever there is need.
Another point was the selling of the books that are published by Carrier Pigeon Press. We all agreed that Ramon is doing a wonderful job in getting those books edited and printer. Belinda's book looks really lovely! But we feel that Ramon is putting so much time, money and energy into these projects that something should be done about finding a PR person to stimulate the sales so that Ramon at least will get back what he has put into it.
We also talked about the "Annual Report" of the July KIT which put the activities of KIT, COB and COBI into a nutshell for everyone to understand. This really helped the European folks to understand why KIT readers in the States feel that "something has to be done" about the different actions from the Bruderhof towards us in these last months. It is very different to actually live in the same country with 7 bruderhoefe breathing down our necks.
I am glad that so many people in the States feel that we just have to do something to find a new relationship with the Bruderhof, and especially with our families who still live there. I just hope that something positive will come out of all the various activities! By the way, Saturday supper was a wonderful barbecue outside that we all really enjoyed!
Sunday morning we rented three boats and went down the river Ham, which was terrific fun! We did a lot of singing. Barnabas was in the middle boat and directed the rounds from boat 1 to boat 3, which did not always work perfectly, but nevertheless gave us much pleasure and laughter! We were absolutely lucky with the weather and the landscape along the river was peaceful and lovely. I think we had some 12 to 14 persons per boat and we managed to float nicely next to each other instead of single file, and this was really much fun! That evening we spent singing, folkdancing and talking. Everyone was very relaxed and I felt we actually had time to finish a talk with one person before starting to talk to another. I think that not many slept that night as I heard whispers, stifled laughter, giggles and footsteps all night long!
Monday morning we had to have our rooms cleared out by 8 A.M., the floor swept and our luggage outside, and then we had breakfast together. It was still quite early when the bus for England was packed up and ready to leave, so the group decided to go via Amsterdam and it was time to say good-bye to all our friends!
All in all, I think we had a wonderful, relaxed time, and I think this first Germany KIT was really very worthwhile in order to renew contacts and create a better understanding of each other's views and ideas after we left the Community. Actually I marvel at how, something, very young boys and girls from Primavera and Wheathill did manage to find a place in life and how we all want really more out of life than just earning money. It was good to speak with each other and share so many things that are difficult to write about. So I do hope for an Auf Wiedersehen next time!
On another topic, I had a lot of response to my list of names about the German community members who were entitled to received the German Wieder-Gut-Machungs money in the 1960s. I did not make a study of the matter, nor did I have a list of these members in my drawer. But as the question seemed to come up again and again, I just sat down and wrote these names from memory. Some little mistakes also entered in as it was printed in KIT.
Adolf & Martha Braun had two daughters, Elfriede Braun Barron and Gertrud Braun Wegner.
Walter and Marei Braun had (if I am right!) 6 children: Laurenz, Grace, Friedreich, Simion, Hilarion and Deborah.
This list was not written to be a perfect study on the matter, but rather to make a few points clear:
1. Did the German government actually pay reparations money?
2. Did the people to whom the money was made payable have any say in the matter?
3. Was money collected on "our" behalf without our knowledge?
4. How much money was it, at a raw estimate? Regarding #1, it is quite clear that the German government paid a lot of money in reparations. How much I do not know, but it paid for the transfer of many people in Primavera to other countries. Regarding #2, when we were baptized, we made a promise that everything we had or would receive in the future belonged to the Gemeinde. In my time, we made this verbal promise. Later, people had to sign a paper when they became members. This meant that we, who were members at the time that we left, were quite happy for the Community to have this financial part of our membership. Maybe we even hoped that this would make it easier for us to return one day, as many of us hoped to.
For those who were children, either born in Liechtenstein, England or Paraguay of German parents, a lump sum or flat settlement was paid to the Bruderhof. I have no idea how much this was, as I was excluded also, but I remember from talks in the Arnold family earlier that this was a large sum, because the Bruderhof stated that we suffered from bad school education and high medical bills (both nonsense!)
Regarding #3, Yes, this money was collected on our behalf without our knowledge.
Regarding #4, I really have no idea how much money was paid, but I never had a penny from this. I once wrote to Dr. Knorr in Hanau in 1965, and he told me that all payments for "my case" had been paid to the Bruderhof.
I also received feedback such as "My mother did get a small German pension when she left, so you should not meddle with the finances of people if you do not know about this!" Ok, I just assumed that everyone was in the same boat as myself. I'm only please and very happy for anyone who managed to slip through the Bruderhof's fine net. Good for them!
Someone else commented that I got the numbers of children wrong. Well, as I said, this list was not initially written for KIT, but rather to give the people who asked about this matter an estimate of how much money the Bruderhof collected in the name of all of us and especially the children who were kicked out with nothing at all, while the Bruderhof happily took their share. So if I made mistakes, do correct them by all means. It might give us a better idea of what really happened in 1960.
If you have any questions about whether you are entitled to some German money today, write to:
Dr. Ernst Knorr
Dr. Kurt Mannhart (Notar)
6450 Hanau A.M.
Frankfurter Landstrasse 1a
Postfach 407 GERMANY or to the Germany Ministry in Bonn:
Rente fur Auslandsdeutsche unter dem "Vertrieben Gesetz."
I most certainly wish you success!
The difficulty in dialogue with the communities is that while many folks outside understand the mechanisms of communal coercion far more clearly than the Innies do, Outies easily lose sight of the fact -- and the implications of the fact -- that regardless of troublesome beliefs or even conscious hypocracy the Bruderhof is a religious group. Innies are, many of them, sixteenth century religionists for whom controversy can be a matter of buttons or zippers on their britches. They swallow oxymoronic paradoxes day after day as a matter of religious duty, and obliterate their intellects as they obliterate their egos but their chief difficulties, in many cases, are spiritual ones, while the Outies are not a religious group at all. To the Bruderhof, Outies embody the separation of church and state. And although we do represent the possibility of freedom for Bruderhofers, as a group we can offer them no spiritual comfort whatsoever. Because we are free, we are all on our own. No spiritual safety is to be found in our numbers.
The analogy I prefer is that of the power struggle of the former Soviet Union with the free world. Like the Soviet Union, all in the name of spiritual (ideological) purity, they maintain their wall to keep their people in and keep their people ignorant, their culture uniform and static, and their situation unstable. The longer they do these things and the more pretentious their public maneuvering, the more they raise the stakes of the game and the more immanent their collision with the larger institutions of society.
Time is entirely on our side. All we really need to do to catalyze the process is to keep our cool, continue to amass the growing body of our first-person eyewitness literature and be there, ready to help such individuals as may emerge. And those who would engage with the Bruderhof would do well, in my opinion, always to remain dispassionate, keep the playing field level, keep everything on the record, keep their eyes wide open and assume nothing. Remember, when the day was done, the Soviet empire simply crumbled of its own weight. The underlying reason was that spirituality and freedom are both inherently personal and inherently linked.
Even so, our time on the Bruderhof was a remarkable experience. We are glad that our children spent their early years in the Community, and so are they. We met many devoted people there.
Bearing this in mind, we joined KIT to Keep in Touch with others who had once joined the Community with beliefs similar to ours, and with whom we had lost contact. When we read the 1996 Annual Report, we felt that KIT had gone far away from its original purpose. We do enjoy direct contact with a number of old members, and if there are other of like persuasion, we would like to Keep in Touch with them.
Our address is: 16 Park Court, Shifnal, Shropshire, TF11 9ED. Tel: 01952 462 723. Sincerely,
To Dr. Hilarion Braun: I feel honored to be welcomed back to KIT by Your Excellency, and this in words I even could understand: "It's good you are back!" You go on to invite me to "Tell all about the secrets of the jungle!" Let me tell you a little fact, Doctorsito! Since you Americans bought up all the timber of South American countries, there is little jungle left. There is none, at any rate, where I live! So if you want to know the secrets of the jungle, better go and try to find some jungle and then find out the secrets for yourself! OK!
It disappoints me that you didn't offer a platano ('banana' in ordinary English) to me to attract me out of the jungle to come back to KIT! You're a child off the old block, OK. At the time I knew your father, I even liked the cynical way he treated almost everybody, but I don't find it funny anymore.
By the way, why don't you send me a list of expressions you use. They intrigue me! One problem the two of us seem to have in common: people just don't seem to fly out to us. They want us to fly out to them, just like what you complain about some "Domer et al." (whatever or whoever?)
But let me assure you, honestly, it's good KIT exists. Let me remind you what you wrote to me in KIT III #12, Dec. '91: "It's exactly this diversity in KIT that is refreshing." So if my apparent non sequiturs in my letters (quote from your letter) are aggravating to you, don't worry. What is good for you is OK for me!
I just want to make a clear statement of my actual status-quo (ha-ha). I am now just a participator in this universe (at any rate, planet) and don't even try to be an authority or any such crap. Participator because I live on this earth together with all the other participators. The only thing I am convinced of is, if any one tries to eff me up, I am sure to eff eff him up before (The Bruderhof tried it and do not do so again).
Don't worry, KIT! It's exactly this diversity in your publishing that's OK! Thanks!
The children were happy and seemed to enjoy everything here. At each mealtime they would ask to say Grace quite spontaneously, so unique and down-to-earth, nothing pious or forced. It was so refreshing!
The first day of their stay we drove to Norfolk and took a long nature walk with Arny and Judy Tsukroff near their home. On the way home, the three children sang to us. It was pure joy to listen to them sing!
Another afternoon, Balz and Monika Trumpi came to our house. We spent a very rewarding time together! So thoughtfully they had brought along treats for us and the kids. Balz and Monika are very understanding and so wise, and still very much alert and lively.
As always, all good things must come to and end. We really had a good time until Joerg and Christine tried to call their mothers on the Bruderhof. Anni Mathis never returned Joerg's call (of course). Christine had better luck with Olwen Rimes. As we sat around the living room, the atmosphere became quite tense. I could not hear what Olwen said, but it was obvious that she accused Christine of untrue statements. It was heartbreaking to listen to her say, "Mummy, I love you! You are the only person in this whole earth I can call 'Mother!' I have a clear conscience! I am hiding nothing. Would you please let the children talk to you.
After a long time (so it seemed) Olwen agreed to let the grandkids talk. How they begged if they could visit her and have some contact! But to no avail. One after another they got off the telephone crying and sobbing. How can they understand that Grandma does not want to see them? Olwen, this was cruel and inhuman!!
"What you do to one of these children you do unto me!"
Olwen, it is your loss. You don't know what wonderful grandkids you have in these three children. It touched me deeply to have the oldest one cry bitterly on my shoulder. But still they all prayed for you afterwards, Olwen!! Such pain -- and also for the parents it is torture.
Dear Joerg and Christine, God will bless you threefold! You are doing a wonderful job. Your faith and love for Jesus is reflected in your children. They are truly a reflection of a childlike and unspoiled spirit. It touches me deeply and can only be a challenge and an example to us. Your visit will remain with us for ever. Greetings,
My workshop at the Conference for Colony Educators in Brandon, Manitoba went well. I was honored to have at least half a dozen or more Hutterites at the session along with a young Bruderhof member newly married to a Hutterite from Manitoba. My presentation: 'Adapting to the outside; How my Hutterite schooling prepared me for life on the outside,' made most of my friends laugh. They thought I was joking. However, my goal was to demonstrate the many leadership traits one develops within the framework of the colony at large. There were over thirty participants attending and I gave out all forty of my handout packets which consisted of 17 pages back-to-back. The handouts were an impressive array of newspaper clippings about my work with refugees and teaching as well as articles written by me
What really opened up the workshop was an exercise designed to create community in the classroom. This is something I've presented at International TESOL conventions and other places with great success. Knowing that I was speaking to a group of teachers, I intended to weave my personal story with demonstrations of how my early training in community led me to create what I did. I also read the story "Goose Eggs" which appeared in Communities magazine. This story brought up two red hot issues for teachers in the colony schools. One was discipline and the other the lack of support from parents. My story demonstrated both support from parents and enforced discipline. Evidently the Hutterites have changed. From many of the conference participants I heard that the single most difficult problem for Hutterites is keeping the young people between ages 15 and the time they get baptized in line. This is seen as the time of sowing wild oats and it is evidently getting out of hand in some places. Perhaps this may be why there is a real interest in having young people go to high school and college.
Needless to say, there were few people who remained silent during this discussion and as usual when people get a chance to speak their mind and to be listened to, they feel better. So, I may not have given my talk the way I had intended to, but I learned a good deal about what is on the minds of those dealing with Hutterites at this time. I also told the story of how we, all of us girls responsible to sweep the floor of the school, got spanked because two rows remained strewn with sawdust and the adults had to see this during the evening church service. This story demonstrated that children in a colony learn to take responsibility for the outcomes of the whole project, not just their small piece of it. Other points I made were that Hutterite children are very adept at memorizing and highly skilled in storytelling as well as a cappella singing. These are valuable traits that those raised in a modern society with all the attendant overstimulation of television, radio, movies, computers, telephones and headsets, do not posses in as great a measure. I must add, though, that computers have come into the colonies and they will probably do for the colonies what Gutenberg did for the spread of Protestantism. Computers give individuals access to the world in ways that are not visible to those in power.
What I perceive to be the great strength of the Hutterite culture is that they have somehow successfully retained a value system which honors family, community and tradition. It matters who I am, aside from what I have or have not achieved. The people knew my father and mother and that is what is important to them. At one time I belonged to the same colony and had a place at the table where I was guaranteed food, shelter and clothing along with a family and a community in which I had meaningful work. This culture is fundamentally at odds with the culture of the marketplace which is based on efficiency, and rewards ability with material wealth. Even as I am at writing this paragraph, the phone rings and someone calls, addresses me by my first name and tries to interest me in a gold master card. My Hutterite sensibility, evoked during this writing, finds this intrusion audacious. It is difficult to see how one can both retain the values of a traditional culture and honor the values of the free marketplace that has no religion nor tradition other than the 'bottom line'.
Before going to the conference I visited with ex-Hutterites in Winnepeg. In the short time together I was moved to tears on a number of occasions. Paul Hofer, age 92, played the mouth organ for us. He and his 87-year-old wife, as well as their daughters my age, knew all the words of:
There were fourteen of us sitting around the table and we sang every verse, I'm not even sure if we did it in English or German. I believe this is one of the songs that the Hutterites learned from the Bruderhof. (Yes, I am of the opinion that the Bruderhof and the Hutterites have and must learn from each other. But they must stop short of trying to unite or make each other the same.) The next day the 87-year-old former Hutterite wife, along with 20,000 other people, participated in a March for Jesus through the streets of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Early childhood conditioning is powerful and if one is raised in community, it stays with you for life. Community gave me a sense of belonging and a sense of being at home with people. It gave me the sense that there was a bountiful world out there that I could trust: I was honored a number of times at this conference with how I was accepted as 'one of us' instead of 'one of them on the outside' and this despite my long years on the outside. In my attempt at defining Hutterites I came up with words like solid, secure, confident, bold, innovative and socialized to recognize that the needs of the individual must be balanced by the need for the greater good of the whole. We desperately need this kind of sensibility out here in the large, open, free market system.
Maybe one could say that all people who come from traditional societies and cohesive cultures have these shared values but when they reach the shores of the United States they suddenly put making money ahead of all of the rest of their values. They compromise who they are and lose their soul. By the time the next generation comes along, the threads that tied generations together are so weak as to be barely visible. These children then have to go find exotic people in Tibet or even among the Hutterites to remember what may also have been part of their culture. A speaker at the conference spoke on the enduring values so visibly demonstrated by the Hutterites and amidst quotes from people like Scott Peck, enjoined teachers at Hutterite Colonies to spread the word and teach people that there are other things more valuable than material goods.
An article by Elias Wipf, one of 21 young Hutterites now attending Brandon University to become teachers, makes a good case for Hutterites having their own teachers. From my point of view, I see this as potentially negative because it can lead to a totalitarian system in which no other point of view or culture can ever be voiced or tolerated. The Hutterite culture is powerfully pervasive and very effective as a conditioning force. To allow the state curriculum into the colony for six hours a day will not destroy the colony but indeed will give students a 'window to another world' in a much more controlled way than the computer does.
In Forest River Colony we had the public school teacher, Christine Cardinal, living in our house. She had a radio and one day I heard coming from that 'devil's box' the sounds of Silent Night. I was deeply conflicted by the strong attraction I had for the music and yet my powerful built-in judge told me that the radio was from the devil and that therefore anything that came from there was bad. I was ten years old. Perhaps at this moment I started becoming more open and tolerant of something that was radically different from me. Perhaps I started to think for myself.
There is some disagreement among Hutterites as to whether it is a good thing or not to send young people off to college. The fear is that they may never come back. Evidently in the early history of the Hutterites in America they did send a dozen married men to college and two of them never carne back. According to one elder, this was too high a cost and so the practice was discontinued.
The young man from the Bruderhof was visibly uncomfortable with my remarks about a potential totalitarian system. I politely repeated my concern, knowing well that he did not particularly admire nor aspire to democracy or tolerance, and ended my talk with a quotation from E.D. Hirsch from Cultural Literacy: "Literate culture is the most democratic in our land; it excludes nobody; it cuts across generations and social groups and classes; it is not usually one's first culture, but it should be everyone's second, existing as it does beyond the narrow spheres of family, neighborhood and region." This is my favorite quote from Hirsch and I use it as often as I can. In fact I read it twice for emphasis and I congratulated the teachers for being a 'window to another world' to thousands of future Hutterites who deserve to learn another language, the language of the marketplace and the language of a tolerant democratic society, from native speakers. My hesitancy about totally endorsing Hutterites as teachers at Hutterite Colonies is twofold. One, the teacher and his/her family will have an elevated position in the colony. This person will be a member and yet their loyalties will be divided between providing a first-rate education and being a fall member of a 15th Century culture invested in passing on its traditions. And two, the students will get a watered-down version of school, sort of the way many inner city schools in our country do. Few things taught in school are value-free. The students will not have the benefits of meeting up close and personal someone from a radically different culture.
A passionately idealistic and dedicated young Hutterite woman, also one of the future teachers studying at Brandon, spoke up during the discussion. Her concern was that there are many teachers who get sent to Hutterite Colonies as punishment. They do not perform well in regular jobs, so the district sends them off to teach Hutterites. She told me later about one man who, after nine years, was still sitting in a colony school doing nothing. His students at the eighth grade tested at third grade reading levels. She was indignant and deservedly so. Given this choice, Hutterites may be better off with their own teachers.
The following paragraphs are from a young woman, not yet baptized, who attended the conference:
"Greetings of love across the many miles. I hope you don't mind me writing you, for I'm sure you are quite busy, but I'll try to take not too much of your time. I wanted to let you know it was a very special privilege spending time with you and getting to know you a bit. For Ruth, I can never tell you what an inspiration you have been to me. There was a great lack of respect towards the Hutterite way of life on my part. It absolutely amazed me how a person who had been in a colony and on the outside could see so much value in even the smallest things which we totally take for granted. It caused me to look inside myself and think a lot of things over and I want to thank you for that. Your attitude and the articles have given me a much deeper appreciation for our way of life.
"I found your writings delightful. You painted a typical, literal picture of the Hutterites. I had to laugh they were so uniquely Hutterite, as I feel you are too, on the inside. Because of your having been a Hutterite, it was easy to talk to you. I felt we had a lot of things in common because of that. With "English" people I don't feel so at home as I do with you.
"Even though the Hutterite way of life has a lot of good qualities, it is not the answer, neither is any other religion. For being a Christian isn't any religion nor being a part of a group. It is the individual having a one on one living, breathing relationship with Jesus Christ and he wants anyone, anytime and anyplace, to come to him."
I think it is interesting to note what sorts of things influence the Hutterites and how their sensibility is affected by other Christians. To my utter shock and I must say dismay, I noted a large, K-Mart style, laminated picture of Jesus in both the children's dining room and the adults' dining room. They were gifts from their outside teacher. Living in Chicago, far outside a Hutterite Colony, I often cringe when I see how many pictures of people I have displayed on my dressers and walls. Hutterites do change, but they change more slowly than the outside world.
Greetings of love to everyone who reads this far,
As many of you know, this past year has seen a significant deterioration in the relationship between the Bruderhof and those most active in "the KIT process." It happened so gradually, though, that I fear most of you never noticed its passage. Previously the principal players in the KIT network always expressed a desire for meaningful dialogue and reconciliation; they spoke of helping the Bruderhof realize its potential. During this past year, all such pretense clearly was abandoned. No longer can these KIT leaders speak of wishing the "Bruderhof become its own best dream." No longer can it be alleged that their only interest is restoring a meaningful relations up with immediate relatives within the Bruderhof. Actions betray motives. For those of you who may not be informed completely and honestly, let's review some of these actions.
In October, 1995, WCVB TV aired a program on the Bruderhof which relied heavily on material supplied by several of the most active members. The statements and incidents reported in this broadcast included the following:
An unsubstantiated and unverifiable claim of sexual abuse which was not only false, but appears to have been maliciously fabricated and circulated. Moreover, it was first made so long after the alleged fact as to be impossible to defend by those who were targets of the falsehood. Try to imagine if you were first subjected to such slander on regional TV.
A claim of death threats received over the phone by Blair Purcell. Whether these threats even occurred should be seriously considered; they certainly were not uttered by anyone associated in any way with the Bruderhof. It is at least strange that Blair has refused all our requests to listen to the alleged tapes so that we could try to identify the voice. Surely, most of you are aware of this fact. Bald assertion that a members of the Bruderhof made the alleged threat, however, carries more weight politically and inflicts more damage than a possible resolution of the crime ever could.
Reference to a concealed weapon which was purchased (inappropriately) five years ago to deal briefly with a local wildlife rabies problem. Not surprisingly, it went unreported that it was sold within months of purchase. The obvious motive behind the reported mention of this handgun, however, was to portray the Bruderhof was an east coast version of the Branch Davidians (which was actually mentioned) and not pacifists. Even our most zealous detractors, however, know this is ridiculous. Once again, we ask you to reflect on why such a mischaracterization would have been suggested to the media by KIT leaders.
Completely unsubstantiated claims of attempted wiretappings at the church in Kingston where a KIT meeting was held and a suggestion that the Bruderhof was involved. Once again, Blair Purcell claims that he knows who made this attempt, but refuses to tell us, thus preventing us from investigating the allegations fully. As noted above, however, such slanderous allegations are far more attractive to the media than a resolution of the allegation itself. How does this mean-spirited slander advance the goals of dialogue and reconciliation?
Outlandish "guesstimates" of the net worth of the Bruderhof communities and businesses, made in an obvious attempt to portray the Bruderhof as enormously wealthy organization. To what end?
Finally, in the most telling remark contained in the program, Blair Purcell said, "Yes, we're out to destroy the Bruderhof. We're out to destroy it as it is currently governed." Please ask yourselves: does Blair speak for you? Do each of you subscribe to the proliferation of clear lies and misstatements as a means to justify and end? And what is the end: to reconcile, or merely to hurt the Bruderhof and those who choose to live in its communities? Is there no one who can bring forward constructive criticism? If we are to be criticized, let's focus on facts. We can handle, reasoned, responsible, criticism.
Another tragedy that occurred last year, also in October, was the death of Bronwen Bazeley. Andrew Bazeley, her son, was so preoccupied with establishing his "right" to attend the service that he missed our invitation. With spectacular lack of sensitivity to the moment, he arrived in time for the funeral service accompanied by Michael Boller with a video camera. There were others who were partly responsible for this tragedy within a tragedy, who tried to act as Andy's agent, negotiated on his behalf with the Bruderhof to gain Andy's admission, mistakenly assuming that we were denying him access. Though we later received apologies for the misunderstanding, no one ever acknowledged the pain caused to Bronwen's extended family. We also never received an apology for Andy's sponsors misleading the local press and harming the Bruderhof though the reporting of Blaise Schweitzer in the Kingston Daily Freeman, not did these sponsors ever try to set the record straight publicly.
Then there is the legal action which we initiated. which was recommended by counsel merely in order to protect the Bruderhof name. In spite of what has been said, we reluctantly arrived at this drastic move only after all other attempts to resolve the Bruderhof name issue had failed. Were any of you ever told about these attempts, or were you merely told that the Bruderhof had broadsided [sic - ed]KIT without warning? In any event, there never was any interest from anyone involved in discussing the matter so that we could settle to everyone's satisfaction. On the contrary, it seemed to us that several KIT leaders involved actually relished the entanglement. Sadly, it seemed to give new meaning and purpose to their lives and they seemed more interested in finding other ways to aggravate the situation. Indeed, as the final settlement was in process, a new KIT organization incorporated using a name that even KIT's own lawyer advised against., and that was against the terms of the settlement. If you don't believe us, perhaps you should speak with KIT's lawyer independently, and then reconsider whether Blair and others are really interested in reconciliation.
Perhaps the best demonstration of KIT's newly adopted modus operandi is the activities of several of its leaders during the March hearings of the National Commission on Capital Punishment. As you undoubtedly know, the Bruderhof co-sponsored a three-day symposium on the death penalty in Philadelphia. The meetings were held in City Hall in spite of severe opposition from the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police who, not surprisingly. strongly favor the death penalty. The FOP president, Richard Costello, was briefed by KIT and supplied with copies of the WCVB broadcast which he used to hold a press conference announcing that his "investigations' had determined that the Bruderhof was actually a cult whose members carry concealed weapons. The Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer dutifully reported his pronouncements the following day. Fortunately, the also carried responses from the Bruderhof and from outsiders who know us.
The supreme irony is that while these KIT leaders profess to oppose the death penalty, they linked arms with an outspoken advocate of the death penalty who has been widely criticized for racism, bigotry, and intolerance. What strange bedfellows politics made. Think about it: they actually joined with Costello to fight against a sincere effort to educate the public on an important issue to us all. Do they represent you? Does not the glee expressed by Ramon, Blair and others in reporting of their "success" in Philadelphia tell you something?" And doesn't their short shrift of the death penalty issue tell you something more? Has this not gone far enough?
Perhaps many of you have been unwittingly caught up in an orchestrated effort to hurt the Bruderhof and many whom you undoubtedly love. We merely ask for some reflection and further consideration of your individual missions in life, as we must constantly do ourselves. If you mission is to destroy and hurt, then you are well led. If you hold a more commendable goal, albeit arrived at by a different path than the one we've chosen, then perhaps your support of certain KIT leaders is misguided.
The two of us have elected to continue trying to communicate with anyone involved in "the KIT process" as long as there is a sincere desire to understand the Bruderhof and accept that it chooses a different path. We are willing to hear and address your concerns. Is there anyone left among you who still want to work toward reconciliation? Sincerely,
In family systems theory there is a concept about communications called "the Double Bind". This refers to conflicting messages from the same source at the same time. For example, the words of a message may be contradicted by voice tone, loudness, facial expression, body language, or behavior. A variation by the Bruderhof is to say something that sounds concerned about me and then contradict themselves by pursuing their own agenda in the conversation to influence me. Bruderhof people are always doing this to me.
For example: When Joel Keiderling called us, he said he wanted to hear about our concerns. (This is an old ploy I have often fallen for.) But then he went on to ignore what we tried to say, and to try to make us talk to him about why we say the things we do about the Bruderhof. When we tried to talk, he just wouldn't shut up. That is 'concern'? That puts me in the double bind because if I respond to the words conveying 'concern' I get hurt, and if I respond to his attempt to influence me, I am doing what I don't want to do. There is no sane way to converse within this kind of maneuver.
By the way, the Double Bind was first recognized in families with a hospitalized schizophrenic member. Professionals noticed how crazy-making the communication was in many of these families because of the contradictory communications I described above. So I should be thankful that because of limited contact with the B'hof I am not yet hallucinating. But I can understand how a kid could need to escape that way from such a family environment.
Bruderhofers visiting us and expressing 'concern' for us has gone on for years. But everytime I bring up a subject that they don't want to discuss, they tune me out. We can never honestly discuss or resolve anything.
Two incidents come to mind. Up until now, we have had an open door to drop-in visitors from the Deer Spring Bruderhof for two reasons: homesickness, and more recently to keep contact with old friends in case they wanted help in leaving one day. Although some visits are truly pleasurable, others really cost us. such as thef ollowing two:
Several years ago, Margery Hindley & daughter Amy who were visiting from England, and Jeremy Hindley with his wife Annie (Maendel) all arranged to come over. We hadn't seen them in over 30 years, and interpreted their visit as interest in us. I remember Arny fetching the album with photos from Wheathill, but they were not at all interested in reminiscences. Margery assured us that the Bruderhof really wanted to clear up past problems, and if we would only write to Mark Kurtz he would gladly answer. Well, Arny and I each wrote a letter, working on them for a couple weeks, and sent them off to Mark c/o Deer Spring. We never heard from Mark -- ever. So we responded to the words, and got hurt. But if we hadn't written, we would have felt we had missed an opportunity to be closer to people we used to live with and liked.
Another time Zana (Kleinert) and Peti Mathis came over. We hadn't seen them for 30 years either. I tried to discuss issues with them (big mistake) and then started to argue. (Arny calmly observed this and tried not to laugh.) Petie said he didn't want to argue with me, and Zana said loudly, "We love you, Judy." And automatically I responded, "I love you too, Zana." And I really did; Zana was one of my favorite people, and we had lived next door to Petie's family and been helped by them. But when I thought about it later, it didn't make any sense. How can people say they love you and have nothing to do with you for 30 years? We never saw them again after that either. So much for Bruderhof love. (Later, Arny said it was "love-bombing," a ploy cults use to trap and hold people.) I responded to the stated love, and felt abandoned. But if I hadn't responded, I would have felt I was abandoning them.
One of my mistakes was to think that people there act as individuals, and I let them visit us. But the reality is that I have to look at Bruderhof visits as coming from the organization. I am sure some folks were sent over as part of a policy that they were not aware of. Did Margery suspect that Mark would not answer us, or ever know that he didn't? So the organization gives double messages -- sending out its people to make promises, and then not keeping them.
I have come to the conclusion that I can simply not handle contact with any of these people. It is just too confusing, and I never know when they are going be part of some lying procedure.
I am very grateful to other ex-members I communicated with who gave me support, understanding, and suggestions for how to deal with Keiderling and Domer. We are very lucky to have real honest people with many different points of view to turn to when we need each other.
My work with substance abusers also helped me figure out how I need to act. Twelve-Step programs are very useful.
One concept is that people have to take care of themselves first. That is totally opposite what we were taught in the Bruderhof, but there are healthy ways to put oneself first, and it is necessary if I am to stay sane and fulfill my responsibilities.
Recovering addicts are constantly told that in order to stay clean they must change people, places and things. They have to accept the fact that they cannot associate with old friends without relapsing back into old addictive behavior. Some people cannot even visit relatives because they use drugs. Or they take a support person with them for a hello-goodbye visit. Accepting that I cannot associate with present Bruderhof members without getting confused and crazy is hard for me to do. But when I don't, I get myself into trouble. I need to stay completely away from them. I must remember that I empower myself when I take control of my own life and keep them out.
Another is to leave what we cannot handle to a higher power. Sadly, I really cannot help any present members of the Bruderhof, no matter how concerned I am about the effects on them of living in a cult. So I have to leave their lives in the hands of God.
We live in a democracy with laws to protect us from unwanted intrusion. As a citizen I can use those tools to protect myself from people that hurt me. So I will send a letter that acts as legal notice to the Bruderhof telling them all to stay away.
My last thought is a sad/glad one. Joel Keiderling's mother was a classmate of mine at college. Arny and I and Ellen (Yacht) joined the Bruderhof in Wheathill at the same time. Joel is around the age of our Ian. If the Bruderhof had not thrown us out, we could have had a son who turned out to behave like Joel. What a sad thought. I am so glad we got away!
The fact that you don't know a Brian Jones is just like saying you don't know who was carrying the bag and driving the car in Kingston when the Methodist church was being invaded. Even I know that - why shouldn't you know?
And then I find you lied to me in your apology [for staking out the Purcell house two years ago - ed] because you were really after Jason Barton. Your apology was self-serving and inappropriate. I accepted it when made; I reject it now...
Are you suggesting that what I am doing takes me further away from repairing the relationship with my (our) relatives that you s.o.b.'s have taken away? that's a crock, Joe, and you know it. you took it away LONG before I was even involved in the KIT process or COB. You (or the Bruderhof) took it away from my wife even before she and I met.
Margot and I have at least a degree of integrity. As long as any of us are denied access to family, we will not visit the Bruderhof. period. So, you're right -- we have nothing to gain. And, worse for you, nothing to lose.
[In reference to Joe K's suggestion that it might be good to talk about the 800 phone line harassment and death threats] Pay the bill for the 2,000 calls and I might be willing to talk. [Although] it wasn't appropriate to do and I'm not interested in hearing your side of the story. Nothing justifies criminal activity. And as for my "accusing you of making death threats," so sue me!
...COBI announced an 800 line for former members of the Bruderhof who might wish to find out the details of a meeting in Kingston. The number was published in KIT. The same day the announcement in KIT was made, the harassment began. Why? There was nothing in that announcement of a meeting that offered the least threat to anyone from the Bruderhof. This is the same meeting to which we invited Christof Arnold -- who didn't even show the courtesy of a personal response. That came from the two stooges, not Him from whom all blessings flow.
And I have never accused anyone from the Bruderhof of making death threats. What I have said is simple -- watch my lips: out of 2,000 calls, I got three death threats. If I wanted to really tar the Bruderhof, I could have said I got 1,500 or even more. Two of those death threats came from National Airport. On that day, according to xxxx [name deleted], your old buddy Christian called xxxx to ask how things were going. Christian's call to xxxx occurred at about the same time of the afternoon as the calls to me from the airport. Christian told xxxx that he (Christian) was at National Airport when Christian called xxxx . Now, those death threats were reported to the police prior to xxxx telling me that Christian was at the airport at the right time...
Just the same, I have never said that Christian made the death threats. He probably just put the pink stickers on the pay phones at the airport so that some other nut would make the threats. Uh, huh! The airport police have the stickers and it's part of the police report.
Joe, all I'm doing is telling people what my phone bill proves and what the police reports corroborate. If you didn't want that to happen, you shouldn't have orchestrated the harassment. The Bruderhof did it and will not accept responsibility for what it did. The elder courageously blames the children and you want to tell me your side of the story. And we haven't even brought up my inside knowledge of what went on -- and you know that exists and so do I.
[Regarding Joe K's insistence that no attempt was made by the Bruderhof to place electronic eavesdropping equipment in the Kingston Methodist Church] there is a police report on file in the Kingston police department describing what happened. The equipment was seen and it appears you are suggesting that Reverend Arlene Dawber and Linda Breihaupt lied when they described what was seen. Could that be the case? Let's get on a conference call with both of them and you and me and see what they say. Or better yet, let's have a press conference in Kingston that you don't run away from when the going gets tough. The Daily Freeman quoted you as making an apology to Rev. Dawber in connection with the incident. Are you now withdrawing it?
...You folks are used to being in a position of power which has enabled you to control bruderhofer and non-bruderhofer alike. It doesn't work with us. Your suggestion that you could "help" me reach my goal carries overtones of the granting of visiting privileges in return for "cooperation." Bribery will not work. Coercion and intimidation have not worked. Harassment has not worked. Maybe you're beginning to get the idea that I'm serious about what I say?
And if you name those who have achieved their goals of family contact, I will suggest that most of them have compromised their principles for a mess of pottage. Privileges (why should familial love be a privilege??) gained can and will be withdrawn at the whim of those in power. You know what my goals are: family reunification for all who are willing to be friends of the Bruderhof on an honorable basis. If you think you can help me reach my goals on these terms, I would be delighted to hear that -- but actions speak louder than words. And I can't hear you for the noise.
Don't think I can't be a friend of the Bruderhof. All you have to do is give me a chance to demonstrate it. I am quite serious about looking for way out of this dilemma we find ourselves in and will accept suggestions for serious consideration either in written form or by e-mail. No more private meetings with you or Christian. No phone conversations. You want to give it one more try?
Even from a strategic point of view, the decisions that have been made, not only by the leaders of SOB, but by many other similar organizations, including military, are mostly shortsighted and their outcome often runs contrary to the very interests they pursue. If, for instance, the SOB had thought a bit better about visiting rights policy, they would not have prevented Ramon visiting his daughter, and probably would have avoided much of the stupid suffering and loss of prestige which the SOB has earned with its policy. This, just from a civil point of view. From an ethical point of view, of course, prohibiting visits from family members is a crime and totally contrary to the mandate of universal love. Jesus would never have instructed his followers to follow such a policy. Remember 'forgiving 70 times 70'? The more leaders or spokesmen of the SOB prohibit or restrict in the short run, the more impetus for reaction will build up and eventually overthrow their scheme.
Some outsider may ask us, "Why do you insist on writing and worrying about happenings which belong to the remote past ?" Well, I have given this some thought to this, and I feel that we, who spent our childhood in the community, carry a great treasure of wonderful experiences in our hearts. The community was a very nice place to live in before the crisis of 1961. (I don't mean that there weren't any dark spots here and there, but on the whole we were very happy). From 1961 onwards, the situation suddenly changed. Long-proclaimed tenets of brotherhood were twisted into cruel exclusions. My best friend Felipe Badessich committed suicide, abandoned in Montevideo, without the faintest idea of what was happening and why he had been forsaken. This sudden change in the brotherhood's principles (after 1961) was not accompanied by a clear and systematic explanation on part of the adults and leaders in the community to justify the change in policy. When I asked some brothers in Primavera, in March 1961, the reason for all this turmoil, I was told that it was "a new spirit". When I left the community in 1961, I asked a Paraguayan friend of my father what he thought about the closing down of Primavera, he told me: "No entendemos estos gringos. Ellos parecen locos" ["We don't understand this. Northeners -- They appear insane."]
What this boils down to is that up to this day, I have not heard of any satisfactory and systematic explanation of this episode (the closing down of Primavera and El Arado, and exclusion of 700 or so members). If the SOB really wishes to be "a light for seekers of a new way in Christ," if it wishes to comply with the barest minimum of civility and specially, if it wishes to be remembered and cherished in the future by its members and ex-members, I think it should follow through a program of reconciliation, such as: 1 - Prepare an honest report of the Primavera episode, with a financial account of the Primavera and El Arado assets in 1961, as far as possible. 2 - List the members who were excluded as from 1961 and propose an indemnification, proportional to the number of years of exclusion, pro rata of the 1961 Primavera and El Arado assets. 3 - Open up the communities to visits from family members outside, with the least possible interference on part of non -family members. 4 - Change the attitude of hostility toward ex-members to amiable mutual respect of differences.
This proposal is based on the premise that the key to a successful and happy life is reconciliation. It is the key message of Christ. Thousands of battles in the history of mankind have proven to exhaustion that there is no stability, happiness and durable success when one side is defeated and not reconciled. (Recall Ireland's struggle against British domination). If the SOB follows a program such as the one I have proposed, it can count on a tremendous leverage in its prestige, admiration and valuation by everyone inside and outside of the communities, as well as compliance with ethical standards. Their leaders will be much more admired by cultivating reconciliation that by exclusion and persecution, which is its mark today. Please do not understand this as a sermon on my part. I am just as worthy or unworthy as anybody else. The question is that time is running against all of us. Everybody who dies unreconciled is an opportunity that was missed by us all. Love to all of you,
At the same time, I think there are things that the average KIT Newsletter reader may not be aware of. For example, I wonder how many readers know that in February, 1994, KIT staff put together, under the KIT letterhead, a thick packet of information about the Bruderhof for anyone they thought would be interested in reading it. This collection of anti-Bruderhof articles and reports (many of which have been published in KIT Newsletters) includes a two-page listing of former Bruderhofers who were allegedly abused at the Bruderhof. Almost all of those people listed individually are identified by their real first names (and often last names). The nature of their alleged offenses are noted (e.g., homosexual acts, peeping, sexual misconduct) along with the punishment/type of abuse that was allegedly meted out (e.g., isolated, sexually abused, beaten, etc.). Most of this package, including the list of people who were allegedly abused, is also posted in its entirety on the Internet on the Peregrine Foundation's web page under the heading "Media Packet." I spoke with one person on the abused person list. They had no idea such a list existed, much less that it was available on the World Wide Web.
I am definitely not defending or condoning those actions on the part of the Bruderhof which have been wrong or that have hurt people. I often disagree with their manner of dealing with, and relating to, former Bruderhofers. On the other hand I also seriously question the sincerity of some former Bruderhofers and KIT staff who claim that they want to improve relations with the Bruderhof and bemoan the fact that this isn't happening. Do they really think they are going to accomplish that when they are pursuing every opportunity to publicly criticize the Bruderhof including publishing and distributing things such as the "Media Packet"? If I have a dispute with a neighbor, can I expect him to invite me into his house, or even meet with me in a trusting way, if at the same time I am furnishing negative information about him to the local press and making it available on the World Wide Web? Let's get real!
Over the past year, the KIT Newsletter has reported on some of the things that were said by Christoph Arnold in the TV broadcast out of Boston last summer. One statement which was made in that broadcast by someone who helped organize the now defunct COB, was not reported in KIT. That statement was: "Yes, we are out to destroy the Bruderhof. We are out to destroy it as it is currently governed." Need more be said?
The past 6 months any communication with my parents, sisters, brothers and their families has been cut off at my Dad's request. This came as a shock in early February during a casual phone call. Knowing how much even a strained family relationship means to me, the pressure was applied, conditions set and any expression of family or love again put on hold indefinitely. Unless I capitulated and fulfilled these conditions, I would have no family. This has been painful and lonely for both sides and some wonderful, joyous and sad occasions have not been shared.
Knowing full well that any of us could die at anytime and as my parents become seasoned citizens, I have allowed this pressure and guilt to go against one of my most deeply held convictions: Freedom of information and knowledge with one's conscience as one's guide.
Thus it is with a feeling of self-betrayal that I request to be removed from the KIT newsletter mailing list and again (as many times before) state that I do not support or condone anyone or group that is trying or will try to destroy the Bruderhoefe. My family lives there and their survival and well-being are my foremost consideration. In saying this, I do not pass blanket judgment on anyone's motives. Your heart and conscience will, of course, discern between destructive and constructive approaches-
Now the ball is in their court, and let's see if Dad, Mom and others concerned live up to the promise of open communication and true contact as I formally state my removal from your mailing list. Feeling guilty, but hopeful,
Reading several issues of the KIT newsletter, my sense is that we give it a name: T.W.N. (The Winge Newsletter). How lucky we are. Whatever our individual situation may be, we have one glorious scapegoat. We can load all our ills and misdemeanors onto one final hook -- need I say the word? The Bruderhof. The Bruderhof makes a fine Goat. It's so versatile and just about covers ever angle. Thank God for the Bruderhof. (I almost said "Where would we be without it? No KIT, no COB, no letters and no one to read them, etc.," but I won't).
I look back on my childhood on the bruderhoefe in the Cotswolds, Loma Hoby and Wheathill with utter nostalgia. Not that all was rosy rose petals, but what a splendid childhood we had, i.e., when all the big boys in Loma ran away one afternoon on the prompting of Leo and did not get back until dark, though Ben went back to tell them we had gone, and Balz only looked stern and gave no punishment. The trip to Santini was it with Peter C. and Walla and the Schimmels, both horse and bread. Then the hikes we made up Titterstone, not to mention Scotland and the Lakes. The visit to bombed-out Germany with Rudy. We COB all have tales to tell, and how! Can you remember good times, Michael?
I must be brief. To you all who only grew up in Community, life could and may be very tough, Let's face it, there have been mental illnesses, and also suicides. These also occur elsewhere. Let us also give thought to all the bombings in World Wars 1 & 2, Ruanda, Cambodia, Zaire. To us baptised members, we must admit there's no excuse. Either we should not have tried or, having set our hand to the plough, we should not have looked back.
May I point to one simple fact easily overlooked: at our baptism, we gave our lives to Jesus Christ and to His Church. The Bruderhof was the venue. In return for Life, we committed our good, our possessions, our self-will and promised to live by one law only -- Love, i.e. Christ. No one can now take any of this from us, as all this is a bond between us and Christ. And if, and so long as we abide by the bond, we are the Church.
I do not write (with acknowledgments to Shakespeare) to honour the Bruderhof, but to bury it. But also let us see to our own good behaviour. Let me just say one more word about brainwashing. Baloney!
What also comes to mind is the conversation that I had quite separately with two of the Gneiting boys who still to this day don't know that they both said something very interesting about a statement their grandfather made to both of them on separate occasions.
During his times of sickness and slow recovery, Adolf Gneiting told them and others what was on his mind. He did a lot of thinking and spoke of his many mistakes, plus regrets that he hoped that he could pass on and spare others from making the same mistakes. What was so amazing was the concern he had for the young leadership and the direction the community was going vs the direction that Eberhard Arnold had when he started the community, and that he, Eberhard, would be shocked to see it as it is now. Out of this came the comment to the two boys that he was more than ready to meet his Maker, and all of those who had gone before him and who he felt had served better and been better servants of God than he had. I found this very interesting and questioned the two boys about what they had told me. I also asked if they had talked to each other about this and other conversations with their grandfather. They both told me that they have never talked with each other on these topics.
An interesting footnote for thought: Julius Rubin and Alfred Gneiting (two men who have no personal connection whatsoever) had the same opinion of Eberhard Arnold's upset.
There was a war, so all the women smoothed their hair and put on their headbands, adding polka dot babushkas for the road. Why was it called 'Bruderhof' if this story is all about women? You may very well ask. Every man on Roundhof and Suchahof took a vow of openness to do no violence in self-defense. This vow was required by the brotherhood. Since women is less violent by nature, this nonviolent vow was hardly significant to her. So to signify that she stands by the vow of every nonviolent brother, she also takes the vow and agrees to wear a uniform dress, setting her apart from women without this vow. One woman set apart is only an odd and strange women, so there had to be a group of women to sign the original documents and be set apart together. Now it becomes quite clear why the headband had to be so important: it takes togetherness to make the circle. Later on, in another land, a woman could be told to take off the headband to impress on her that she was not pleasing to the Bruderhof -- it was a group thing.
Dear me, how did I get so sidetracked when those women were running for their lives! The made their move as quickly as possible. They found a place to stay in the land of sundown and called it Somehof, but soon they had to move again so they crossed the sunset ocean and began again with Firsthof, Islehof, Halfhof and Hofhouse. Many other people fleeing the war had joined them. It was a very sad journey for the women that had lived on Roundhof and Suchahof. It was with sadness that they sang their roundilays of joy. It was so hard to remember the sacred circle because their most sacred brother, the founder and leader of the first open circle, Brother Matter (the first brother) had fallen in all his running to and fro trying to be in two places at once. When he fell, he had broken something that couldn't be mended, and so it was that many of the women gave up their hearts out of empathy -- all broken and couldn't be mended. In their grief, they gave Brother Matter the honorable title of "Lord Matter." This all the women agree with, although most of them had never met him or even heard of him before they were told the most wonderful sad, sad story of Roundhof.
This faraway land was different, and that only increased the sadness of the Roundhof memories. But there was hope in the land of sundown, because another small band of friends had started Thathof. When the war was over, it was possible to visit Suchahof again and begin to fix the roof. And yes, finally some of the homesick travelers could move back. Not too far from Thathof, Thishof building was renovated for open circle living.
Now, Lord Matter had had three sons who had all escaped with the open circle women. There was Myman, Yourman and Hadman. They wanted to be known for humility. To be humble, they insisted, was the greatest virtue. Even though Hadman was against the title "Lord" for a son because it sounded to much like the father god himself, he had a need for the title "King Had."
Then, while King Had was inspecting his kingdom, the open circle was found to be often bent out of shape. The women no longer wore the headbands and some were misplaced. Then I heard the story:
In the village of Shiltburgh, the Kommunity leaders came to the decision that the Shiltburghers needed a church. A floor plan was copied and scaled down to fit Emptylot. Every Shiltburgher was assigned a duty and taken to task whenever the one happy attitude didn't show enough. Anyway, the roof was finally celebrated, only to find it was totally dark in the little church -- they had forgotten to put in windows. Never mind! The most important leader had an idea: the Shiltburghers were all given garbage bags to collect light and take it in when going to worship. To this day, they still try collecting bags of light. Some have claimed to see it. I heard this story on the Bruderhof.
Believe me, I remember Thathof and Thishof, and there are still those who say, "Long live Lord Matter and King Had!" No matter what happens next, King Had's son reigns on Barkhof. Nearby there are Under hof and Wherehof. Further afield is Gonehof. Also there is Lesserhof and Leasthof. Neverhof is in the land of sundown, almost to Landsend. Nevertheless my efforts to explain all this most stop sometime. Do you read me? Over,
While a large percentage of U.S. citizens headed for the beach, lit barbecues and drank beer, four young members of the Deer Spring Bruderhof headed for Philadelphia's Town Hall. We are a singing group and were going to sing at the cracked Liberty Bell. Before we got to the Liberty Bell we joined 850 men and women in front of the Town Hall, where M.O.V.E. was leading a rally and march for Mumia Abu-Jamal (more on him later).
M.O.V.E. is a group of incredibly courageous and outspoken men and women. Starting in the mid 70s they lived a radical communal lifestyle based on the teachings of their leader, John Africa. A short selection from them will help explain them. "It is the position of M.O.V.E. to confront any speaker -- so-called informed personalities who say they have answers -- and demand that they substantiate, qualify, what they are saying or stop misleading people."
M.O.V.E.'s fight is for the deprived inner city against the empty words of upwardly mobile politicians. The 'tough-on-crime' policy got them votes and served racist emotions. Of course M.O.V.E. was constantly in court and jail. Finally in 1978 the police opened fire on the M.O.V.E. compound while flooding the basement with water. Nine M.O.V.E. members are still in jail for the death of one policeman they did not kill. Then in 1983 the police dropped a bomb (with illegal explosives) and ended up burning the entire black neighborhood. Eleven M.O.V.E. members and children were killed in the blaze.
The July 4th rally was led by the few M.O.V.E. members not incarcerated and, as said before, it was to support Mumia Abu- Jamal. He is a black journalist who covered M.O.V.E. and helped them uncover police racism and brutality. He was almost executed twice for this. First in 1981 on the street where Officer Faulkner was killed and his death blamed on Mumia Abu-Jamal. Then last year when his execution in the electric chair was stayed only by massive international effort. A song about Mumia says: "there they go again/They want to kill an innocent man/'cause the truth can be so dangerous/oh, so dangerous/Hear the children cry/all we want was freedom."
Now we must push for a new trial for Abu-Jamal. It will be a fight because men like Pennsylvania's Governor Ridge got votes by promising to execute Mumia !
So it was an excellent day and as we drove home we remembered our history in Germany in the 1930s. Raids by the secret police, brothers and sisters lined up against the wall. Expelled from our homes with 24-hour notice. The escape of my grandfather en route to a concentration camp. Accusations of fraud from the very officials who put economic sanctions on the community ! Even though we searched for other Germans to help us fight Hitler, none stood with us. The apathy of that time permitted the evil of Hitler to flourish. Remember that we cannot and will not remain silent and quiet in the face of injustice and prejudice. We need your help too- join us !
Please be aware that I disagree with the writer's viewpoint. MOVE was an organization that used force to get what it wanted, not some namby-pamby social organization fighting for "freedom". Unlike Danny Meier, who intersperses truth with what can only charitably be called his opinions, I will quote from sources available in the library. Incidentally, since the organization's initials stand for nothing (Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, May 8, 1988), why does Danny Meier insist upon the periods? None, and I mean NONE of all the articles I read use periods.
Extracted from the Editorial Notebook,The New York Times, Apr. 6, 1996, 'Reflections on a Firestorm': "MOVE's house in West Philadelphia was filthy -- with cats, dogs and rats -- violating every imaginable health ordinance. MOVE children were kept out of school in defiance of state law. Water, gas and electricity bills went unpaid. MOVE members harassed and threatened neighbors at will. They barricaded a public thoroughfare and built an illegal bunker on their roof. ...After a siege of several days, the police firebombed the house, killing six adults and five children. The fire burned out of control, eventually destroying 61 houses."
It is possible that the police were: "...reckless, excessively violent and without rationale." However, it does not effect the point that MOVE was an organization dangerous to the general welfare.
One of the reasons that the fire raged out of control was that the fire hoses were turned off sporadically: "...to protect the men from gunfire out of the MOVE house. ...televised hearings began two weeks ago with neighbors of the MOVE house detailing how the group harassed them with violent threats and obscene diatribes from a public-address system. For Lloyd Wilson, who lived next door, the worst was the bugs that infested his house from the cult's trash and meat-littered front yard. Wilson said when he told MOVE member Conrad Africa he planned to exterminate them, Africa replied: 'The bugs are our brothers and sisters. If you exterminate the bugs, you exterminate us.' Neighbors said they despaired of ever getting help from the police." (Newsweek, October 28, 1985, p. 42, "Inquest on an Inferno")
Does Danny Meier really say that: "M.O.V.E.'s fight is for the deprived inner city against the empty words of upwardly mobile politicians."? MOVE was only out for themselves. They neglected and abused their neighbors when living in Philadelphia. Now, all of a sudden, they are changed and are 'nice-guys'? Let's be realistic!
Another interesting article that also corroborates the true direction of MOVE is condensed from the Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine article of May 8, 1988, entitled: "Journey of a Cult Child". It tells the story of a boy taken into the cult by his mother and not being allowed any visits by his father:
"...Where is my son ? Andino (his father) worried. Back in the States, he turned in vain to lawyers, police and welfare officials for help. Visiting Rhonda (his wife) in jail, he begged for news of Wolf (his son). Rhonda was unyielding. She told him MOVE would kill the boy rather that give him up." !!!
MOVE is described as a "radical organization whose initials stood for nothing in particular, but whose members shunned cooked food, clothing for young children, the killing of living things (even insects) and much of modern technology that most people take for granted." When his son was rescued from the fire and went to school, he was underweight, "Michael's (Wolf's new name) former diet was deficient in both calories and protein. It was more primitive than that of hunting and gathering tribes, and Katz (a growth expert) concluded that it had delayed his physical development. He probably would never recover fully what he had lost." His IQ tested at 57 because of his lack of schooling (it later jumped to 74 after his first year of schooling).
It is ironical that Meier quotes John Africa about "substantiation" and then says (as if it is a fact) that Officer Faulkner's death was blamed on Abu-Jamal. Just because the facts in the trial brought out that Abu-Jamal fought with, then pulled Officer Faulkner's own gun and shot him, does this mean that, now, any and all "informed personalities" should be confronted, and that just because Abu-Jamal claims it was a racist plot to get him, that he should be believed? After all, African-Americans cannot be racist, can they?
The nine MOVE members in jail also had a trial. Does this mean that every time an "incredibly courageous" MOVE member disagrees with the American justice system, they are correct? Somebody had better wake up and realize just because you really and truly believe in something doesn't mean that you cannot be terribly wrong.
I also wonder if the State Police realize that the Deer Spring Bruderhof considers the police as racist and brutal.
Danny Meier's statements about the "brothers and sisters lined up against the wall" and "the escape of my grandfather en route to a concentration camp" do not seem accurate in light of the documentation of what actually happened at that time. The article: "The Dissolution of the Rhoenbruderhof" from the Diary of the Hutterian Elder, David Hofer (The Plough, Vol 1, No. 3, Sept. 1938) told of how the rooms were searched. The community was allowed to have their common meal during which the officials complained: "Have they a whole ox to wolf up in there that they are taking so long about it?' After the meal they ordered the whole community to assemble outside the door. ...they only wanted to take photographs. Then the order was read that the Bruderhof was now dissolved." Afterward the community met for prayer.
Regarding the escape of his grandfather, Hans Meier (and Hans Boller and Karl Keiderling), en route to a concentration camp, the facts do not agree with Danny Meier's statement. On page 92 of the same Plough publication: "These three brothers were imprisoned for three months on a charge of fraud, which was later withdrawn and they were set free."
For those of you who ask why I am writing this, it is because I cannot and will not remain silent in the face of ignorance and prejudice, no matter where (or who) it comes from.
We currently see the degeneration of an organization (the Bruderhof, Society of Brothers, etc.) that now supports a recognized destructive cult. Is it possible that they are now headed in the same direction and have the same values as MOVE had? It would be a pity, but from what is happening with their present history of refusing relatives' visits, insisting that they are living the "right way" and that G_d is on their side, etc., it seems that the Bruderhof is slowly sliding toward the same sort of attitude as MOVE.
The following story has made its way back from the other side, as being told around the camp fires by those who have past into the happy hunting grounds of eternity.
It came to pass that Heinrich Arnold, the self appointed bishop of the Woodcrest Bruderhof, a.k.a. Hutterian Society of Brothers, a.k.a. Societies of Brothers, a.k.a. Sociedad Fraternal Hutteriana, a.k.a. Barbudos, and possibly other aliases, met his maker and had to start the long journey to his final destination in the after life.
The first mandatory stop was purgatory, no short cuts even for a fellow like Heini. As it turned out this stop proved annoying and difficult. After having grabbed sole possession of Eberhard Arnold's leadership position through chicanery, political hard ball, deceit and out right theft he attracted special interest and had a lot of explaining to do. What entitled him to inherit the cloak of Eberhard? Why did he think to be the most qualified, even against the wishes of his father?
What did he do to his brothers and sisters to claim this position? Heini, what about your brother in laws? You kicked them out and or neutralized them to gain sole position of leadership. Heini, you sacrificed whole communities in South America, England and Germany just to attain your goal. You dissolved these communities, kicked out the majority of members, young, old, feeble and helpless with no means to support themselves. You sold their possessions and kept the proceeds from the sale for your fiefdom Woodcrest, USA. Your excuse, most of these people were not worth of community living, they were not true followers of Eberhard Arnold. Heini, you missed the point, these people never intended to be followers of Eberhard Arnold, they were looking for a peaceful and meaningful life in communal living. By peaceful they also understood it to be pacifism, not gun touting bullies like your son Johann C. Arnold. Heini, Heini, please explain? How can you justify this arrogance and conceit? Do you believe it possible that the people you have wronged can forgive you???
Heini hemmed and hawed, squirmed and scratched himself. His eyes became as big as saucers as he searched for some help in the accusing faces all around him. Finally he stammered, you see, you see, you don't understand! I did all this for the cause. I meant no harm to any of my dear fellow community members, but we had to be pure, they did not understand. I am sorry for all the suffering this might have caused. Maybe my actions were extreme, I did not want to harm or hurt any body. Falling to his knees, wringing his hands, begging for forgiveness, professing remorse he appealed to the crowd to believe him and to absolve him from any crimes or evil doing.
His crying and wailing found little if any sympathy. By now, Bruderhof begging for forgiveness has been recognized as a cheap ruse, which has never been backed up with concrete action and willingness to correct and or repair damage done, unless on their terms.
Heini made no converts as he had long lost his credibility, even purgatory wanted to get rid of this sorry fellow. To get him moving again he was told that he would have to plead his case at the gates of heaven. Please pick your self up and start the long climb, conserve your energy, it won't be that easy.
Heini bounced up like a rubber ball. Oh, he said, that won't be a problem. Up there they have a better understanding about the full meaning of living community life as to the gospel of Heini Arnold, you'll see, you'll see!, and off he pounded. Brimming with confidence he sang the Sonnenbund song, "Wenn meine Bruder zum Kampf sich rusten "(When my brother prepare themselves for battle." It did not take long when the going seemed awfully tough, the road was steep and his legs felt like lead. 'It should not be like this,' he thought. 'As one gets closer to heaven, mind and body should feel light and elated. I should be floating like on clouds.' But new doubts crept into his mind as he let his whole life story go through his mind. 'What did I do that this is so difficult? If I did wrong, I did not mean it please forgive me, I can explain it all.' So on he toiled, climbed, scratched and clawed his way up the steep hill which by now had become a mountain with no peak in view. He was a sorry sight, his saucer eyes searching the horizon, his hair standing on edge like boars' bristles, and beads of sweat rolling down his sparsely covered head. 'This is worse than the Affenhitze ('monkey heat" - temperature that only a monkey could endure, an expression used by Europeans to describe the heat of Paraguay) of Primavera,' Heini thought. 'All this should be behind me by now.' With stubborn determination, he continued the arduous climb, his head hanging low he could not even look up anymore. When all of a sudden the path flattened out and -- lo and behold! -- he stood at the Gates of Heaven.
Heini jumped and cried for joy. He pounded against the gate, shouting "I'm here! I'm here!" The gates were opened cautiously and, to Heini's utter surprise and relief, an old familiar face confronted him. Friedel Sondheimer was on gatekeeper duty! Now wait a minute, why should Heini be so overjoyed seeing Friedel? Heini's attitude towards Jews was not always so friendly. Wasn't Friedel considered a simple, if not even senile, poor individual? People who knew Friedel well also could tell of another side: Friedel with his full black beard, rather stiff walk and awkward mannerisms, had sparkling black eyes that could speak volumes. In his impish way, he dared to say things other brothers and sisters were too cowardly, or too afraid to say, even if it was the truth. Friedel knew Heini all too long, and did not hesitate to call him a false prophet right to the end. Friedel was not fooled by Heini's show of affection, and knew that Heini would just use him as a stepping stone to enter Heaven. Friedel blocked the entrance to Heaven, tand old Heini, "We don't know you here, mach das du weg kommst! (Get lost!)" and slammed the gates shut.
Heini was dumbfounded. 'Nothing makes sense anymore,' he thought. 'Well, I can understand that Friedel might not recognize me. After all, we did consider him retarded. Let me knock again and see if I can persuade Friedel to let me in. Once I'm inside, everything will be cleared up.'
So, knock again he did. Friedel opened the gates a crack -- one only could see his sparkling eyes peering from inside. Seeing it was Heini again he shouted, "Ich habe dir gesagt, mach das du weg kommst! (I told you, get lost!) Te rehota nde poguazœ ivai! (Go away, you rotten big shot!" - in the Guaran’ language) and slammed the gates in Heini's face. Heini was beside himself, he was at his wits' end. He started to wail in front of the gates, banging against them, beseeching Friedel to let him in.
"Friedel, mein lieber Friedel ,du kennst mich doch! Du darfst diese Entscheidung nicht alleine machen! Spreche doch bitte mit dem heiligen Snt. Petrus -- der laesst mich ganz bestimmt herein! (Friedel, my dear Friedel, you do know me! You cannot make this decision on your own! Please speak with holy St . Peter -- he will certainly let me in!)"
"No," said Friedel through the gate. "It was not my decision, but I'll give you the benefit of doubt and ask again about your disposition. It should not take long."
'Endlich, endlich, (Finally, finally') thought Heini as he heaved a sigh of relief. To regain his composure he hopped from one leg to the other singing the little ditty, "Drum wart, warte still und murre nicht!" (So wait, wait quietly and don't complain!')
Friedel was back within a couple of minutes. Opening just a little peep hole in the gate he said, "Heini, I told you -- they don't have any room for you here. They did tell me however, you may try and go back to Woodcrest -- that is, if they'll have you".
"I tried it first on myself," Dr. Braun explained in muffled tones, winking the eye in his left forearm. "But we had a little problem with the reassembly of my body parts upon arrival. This will be corrected the next time I travel -- at least I hope so! It gets a little tiresome talking through my hat."
The real purpose of responding to your letter is to comment on your views on how the Klapsmuhle is knit together. Knitting needles are, in reality, far more central to Community Kontrol than merely performing as therapy tools and sermon antidote treatments. It is the actual click-clacking sound that the needles make which helps control the flock. Long before the discovery of music therapy or Muzak, the founding Kommunity Leader, Dr. Inntergiest Prediger, was rather fond of giving marathon sermons to his young and zealous recruits. He was dismayed to discover, however, that after hard day's work, the zip had been all but sapped out of his merry congregation, and snoring could often be heard accompanying his monologue. In an effort to end these disrespectful intrusions, Dr. Prediger discovered, quite by accident while studying Medieval Catholic practices, that Pope Gregory I, the musical pope, had decreed that knitting be adopted in the Church Mass, and everyone took up knitting at once. (In those days people did as they were told!) While this new practice improved church attendance as well as wealth (to the delight of the pope) it also put an enormous strain on the sheep and wool market, and the supply of wool was soon depleted. Over half of the sheep population died due to pneumonia caught from over-shearing, and the practice of Mass knitting died out as quickly as it had come -- and was soon forgotten.
Dr. Prediger decided to reintroduce the practice with fabulous results. He found that by having the Schwestern knitting while listening to his long sermons, the sound produced by the knitting needles actually transformed the droning sermon from a monophonic solo into a homophone masterpiece, which at the same time also drowned out any would-be snorer. The female flock, possessing greater patience, finger dexterity and domestic drive than their macho male counterparts, became the unsuspecting accompanists to his performance. The sound of knitting needles clacking added a rhythmic-free and hypnotic dimension to the sermons, thereby increasing mind control and group passivity. What other possible reason could there be for all those boxes of unused knitted caps, scarves and mittens made in Paraguay? I hope this explains why the Klapsmuhle refuses to Klaps!
I must also correct you on an understandable error. The Welder does not take, nor does he need, harp lessons, for he considers himself Master Harpist. After being blessed by Mother Theresa, the pope and other important Catholics, is that not proof enough? The Welder's main goal now is to secure the guarantee to win the coveted position as Heaven's Harpist-In-Chief upon arrival. Rumor has it that the Heavenly Choir strongly objects to the Welder's appointment because they say he cannot sing, and also because they do not like the sound of knitting needles clacking during their practices. "At meetings only," they protest. And I add to close, Sempre giocoso ('always in a playful manner'),
Anyone know more of the ROBME groups? Scholars? The "anti- cult" movement doesn't appear to have a file on them. And what of this poem? Could it be a hoax? The ROBMEs were once thought to be a pacifist group, but that would conflict with the poem's content. One notable fact: the site of the ruins of ROBME have evidence that the buildings were destroyed by lightning. Fragments of books and letters recovered from the site indicate a fascination with fire. Phrases such as "being near to the fire" appear in transcripts of meetings. Books entitled "Fire-walking Together" and "Scorches Rekindled" were apparently staples in the reading diet of the faithful. No complete copies have been recovered. so this group will probably remain a mystery forever.
I worked on the Ford truck, got the cooling system back together and the engine running. It runs quiet! It's just plain surprising how smooth and quiet this engine runs. It reminds me of going to the Brooks, Maine summer Fair a couple years ago, where an elderly gentleman had an exhibit of small antique engines. He could start any one in a minute, and he did if people were interested. I was especially impressed with a Maytag washing machine engine he had, it ran so smooth and quiet that one had to look twice to see if it was actually running. Well, I think it must be related to this Ford V-8, which is almost as smooth and quiet.
I fixed the stuck clutch, but the brakes need work before I can take it for a drive. I have the master cylinder off and on the work bench. Tomorrow I will try to get a rebuild kit for it.
Yesterday I helped Patrick Terry (Bill Terry's 17 year old son) remove the steering wheel from the 1977 Chevy pick-up he wants to use. We left it with the wheel off and the front seat full of parts and tools. I thought it would stay that way until the new switch gets here from the GM parts warehouse in Boston. They have overnight service to the local dealer. After school today I was surprised to see Patrick and two of his school buddies driving around with the truck. When they brought it back to the shop I noticed that the steering wheel wasn't even bolted on. I pulled it off and laid it on the front seat, although I wanted to wrap it around Patrick's head. But that was just a momentary impulse.
I intend to help him install the new signal light switch and tell him that he needs to think about his actions, especially if he is going to be in control of a vehicle operating on public roads.
Good Morning! Friday, June 7.
I did more shop work yesterday. In the morning I went to Waterville to pick up a brake master cylinder rebuild kit for the 1946 Ford. The parts person looked up the part I needed in the brake parts catalog, found the correct application in the left hand column on the page, then looked at the part number column to find the number 1. That's all there was, just a 1. I'll be damned, he says!, I found the part with the number 1. He thinks he discovered the foundation of the auto parts inventory system, at least in the brake division.
After lunch Bill Terry and I went to Brooks, Maine, to visit a man who specializes in used small engine parts, mostly for all kinds of motorbikes. He has two barns full of parts, all placed in some kind of order on shelves. There are shelves everywhere, some were built and filled with parts 25 years ago. There they sit, dry and comfortable, waiting for a request from someone restoring an old bike. From the road his place looks like any other Maine country homesite, with a house close to the road and two barns out back. Behind one of the barns there is a small field of wrecked and rusting motor bike frames. The owner used to run a diving service in Massachusetts years ago, he hired out to anyone who had work to do underwater. He said it was before the era of regulations and they pressurized the tanks to 4200 pounds. When the compressor started straining, they said,, that must be enough. He would wear three tanks, plus equipment on a normal ocean dive, waiting until he was in the water to put the equipment on because it was too heavy to carry when out of the water. I don't know what we were thinking he said, we went through all the trouble to work underwater, and did good work, but we forgot to charge for it! The amount they charge for one dive today, would have paid for two weeks of his service back then. In his present shop he has all the tools needed to do any repair work on small machines, including the Rolls Royce of bench top lathes, made about fifty years ago, which he wouldn't trade for any new one on the market today. Bill Terry was looking for a special clip which holds a slide mechanism on a carburetor. The man handed Bill the correct carburetor and said here, "take it out yourself, I can't see like I used too, damn diabetes!, that and two heart attacks have slowed me down some". "My own damn fault, self-inflicted pain, the most common kind, from cigarettes and too much alcohol in my case, I should have quit both years before I did". He looked in good health, one certainly couldn't tell that he has had two heart attacks. And he has a wicked sense of humor.
I installed the new signal light switch on Patrick Terry's truck and everything works. The license plate light needs to be fixed, then the truck is ready for a safety inspection. Bill and Patrick replaced one of the steering linkage ball joints while I was working on the lights. I told Patrick I would present him with a bill for parts and labor, with labor charged at $32 per hour, the going rate at dealer garages around here. He smiled because he knows I'm not serious. He is paying for the parts, and that's good enough this time.
I'm off to work. Kerri and I are going to Lisa's house for tea (is that work!?) and to mark some trees which are too close to triplex cable leading from the transformer to the Wygant house. Central Maine Power will take them down without charge. The homeowner is reponsible for cleaning up the wood, although they chip the branches, and chip into a trailer, if you don't want the chips in the yard.