I was born and raised in “the truth,” the 4th generation that attended meetings. I suspect that one of my Great Grandfathers heard about the “truth” in South Dakota or Nebraska, somewhere between 1900 and 1910. He had been recently widowed and had been left with 4 young children to raise. He was also a homesteader and was no doubt seriously strapped for cash. He had no extended family in that area. Maybe if he had had family to help him with the farming, house chores and child rearing, he would not have fallen prey to the workers. Some of the above are speculation on my part. A cousin in Nebraska has that family’s Bible, but he will not share information from it with me.
Nevertheless, this Great Granddad, married for a second time, so that he had a woman to help him with the kids. My Grandmother was his only daughter, with 3 brothers. Around 1910–1915, my Grandmother, a very young woman at the time, became pregnant. Of course, this development was disastrous at that time in history. She had the baby, and apparently, it was decided that she would relinquish the child to her Dad and Stepmother to raise. Not long after that my Grandmother did marry. The story of her child was pretty much buried, and did not come to light until several years after her death.
No one knew who the baby’s father was. That information went to the grave with my Grandmother. I don’t think my Dad or his brothers ever knew the father’s name either. My Great Granddad and his second wife took the baby and moved almost immediately to Canada. My guess is that no one in Canada ever knew the true story. The baby and her adoptive grandparents would have not aroused suspicion. The grandparents would have easily fit into the time frame. Many many years later, my Dad and Mother made contact with this woman in Canada. My Dad is the only one of her half-siblings who ever attempted to contact her. She was still in the truth and had raised her own kids in the faith as well. She also visited them in Oregon, and they sent letters back and forth. My mother has told me that she was a really wonderful lady, and that they had enjoyed meeting and getting to know her so much.
When I was 13 years old, my Grandmother passed on, and it was at this point that the skeletons from her past emerged. I was about 19 when my Dad shared the information with me. Frankly, I was not surprised, at this development. Dirty little secrets that are swept under rugs often show up years later.
It is my belief that my Great Granddad was humiliated with all of this, and he sought out assistance to help him deal with the situation. I surmise that the workers of this “new faith” were right there to pick up the pieces (so to speak). I also believe that my Great Granddad, INSISTED that my Grandmother attend the meetings, profess her faults, and ask for forgiveness. I can imagine that there were probably threats and a certain amount of fear placed on her for her sin. I think she professed and joined out of fear and intimidation. This fear etc. was coming at her from all directions; her Dad and the “workers.” The time frame fits so that she may have even heard Wm. Irvine speak. He would have been in the USA during that time.
My Grandmother and Granddad had 6 children, and possibly more that did not survive, and/or were miscarried. Again the family Bible would verify my speculation, but I can’t get my cousin to share it with me. Both of my grandparents professed and indeed, when I was a young child the Sunday AM meeting was in their home for several years.
I am not clear exactly the time that my grandparents professed; some uncles have said that Grandma professed for a long time, before my Granddad took the step. My Dad has said that my Granddad did like his beer, and my Dad remembers his Dad having a beer from time to time. Apparently my uncles and aunt did attend meetings, but during their “teen” years the attendance fell off. At one point, I did have 3 out of 4 uncles professing. This figure diminished quickly during the ’50s and ’60s.
There is another deep dark secret from my family of origin. My eldest uncle, my Dad’s eldest brother, Uncle Gerry and his wife and kids lived close to my folks in the late ’40s–early ’50s out in the rural area of Nebraska. My aunt’s name was Iola. I was about 4-5 years old, when my uncle drove up in his car to my home. He got out of the car and slammed the door. He had a rifle with him. He then stomped into the house. I sneaked up on the porch and heard him say these kinds of things. “I am going back into town and kill them both. I am going to hang him up in the town square. WHY did this have to happen to me? What the hell was she thinking??” At that point, my mother ran out of the back door of the house and called for my Dad to come immediately to the house. I stayed quietly on the front porch with the door open. My Dad soon came to the house, and he and my Mother sat for hours and hours talking to my Uncle, telling him that killing “him” would not solve anything and that all that would happen is that he (my uncle) would end up in jail/prison. I peeked thru the door to see my uncle holding the rifle. FINALLY, after what seemed like a long long time, my uncle gave the rifle to my Dad.
Seems that my aunt had become involved with one of the male workers, and my Uncle had come home in the middle of the day to find them in bed together. YEEEK!!! Even at the age of 4-5, I knew full well what was going on. How in the world I knew what was happening, I have no clue. My uncle and aunt ended up staying together, but my Uncle NEVER EVER went to meetings again. Not only that, he put his television on display in the front room, where it stayed. MANY years later when my brother was in mechanic school in Colorado, he decided to go to meeting out in the country. WHO DO YOU think the elder was?? Leedore Watson…the worker my aunt had been involved with. My brother had heard the story, so he knew what was going on.
Now for myself. I was 15 years old and at convention that fall I was serving water, or coffee in the meal tent, and the head worker for Nebraska, literally yelled over the tent noise at me, and said, “JUST HOW OLD are you this year?” This head worker was Garrett Hughes. I was horribly humiliated because everyone working or eating in the tent heard him, and all eyes fell on me. I was so ashamed and embarrassed, so rather than HAVE to deal with him, I stood to my feet when he tested the meeting that weekend. Thus, I professed under extreme pressure. He was a very tall, and very intimidating man, and I was scared to death of him. Over the next few years of my life, I had occasion to be FORCED to deal with this man–more on that later.
Yes, I finally professed, but my heart just was not in it. I took part in meetings as expected, wore appropriate clothing, etc., but I suspected that this whole business was just not RIGHT! So going off to college in 1966 was a huge relief, because while I was out of my parents’ sight and sound, I rarely if ever went to meetings in the town where the college was. I lived with massive amounts of shame for not attending, but I had always been my parent’s “pain in the neck” very headstrong and stubborn, so I’m sure they were not surprised.
To their credit, my parents had NOT held a hard line on activities for a teenage girl. I was able to attend G-rated movies, I went to the library and was allowed to read anything and everything I wanted to. I was also allowed to listen to the current “rock and roll” music, I even had my own little record player. I was also allowed to go roller skating and swimming in the summer. My parents also allowed band, school choir, and parties at school. I didn’t realize at that time that I was being given many benefits that other girls did not get, AND of course, during that time, my status in meetings was circling down the drain. I was considered a bottom feeder at the very best.
I had no girlfriends in the group, EVER, because in the area where my family lived at that time, there were no other girls my age. We rarely if ever went to gospel meetings, so I did not know anyone I could be friends with. ALSO once I was 13 or so, I just ignored them, and sat by my Mother. I spent hours and hours reading, so between meetings, if I was not working in the meal tent, I just went to the car and read my own books. My parents seemed to be OK with that. Sometimes I even had my transistor radio with me.
Convention was torture for me. My mother wouldn’t let my hair grow. She would braid the top, but let the rest be about ear length, and kept a permanent in it. I’m positive that this was one of the reasons for all of the censoring of me, by other girls, by other parents, and by the workers. I am not sure, nor did I ever ask my Mother, just why she wouldn’t let my hair grow. I would have been OK with it growing, but she seemed to have an issue with it.
I don’t think that she fully understood the ramifications of short hair. She had VERY VERY VERY HEAVY THICK HAIR. She was a surgery nurse, who could not ever risk her hair falling down out of her surgery cap. I remember that she would wash her long hair on Saturday night and it would not be fully dry to her scalp until Wednesday. My hair was very thick, but not as heavy as hers was and my hair would not have presented the problem as her own did.
I remember that the sister workers would come to our house, and spend hours trying different hairstyles on my Mother. They would use dozens of hairpins and rubber bands, etc. They would try every trick in the book to keep my mother’s hair on the top of her head. As soon as my Mother would get up from the chair and move her head, all the pins and rubber bands would fall down on the floor. I used to sit in the other room and laugh at their attempts.
I was 28 years old, after leaving Nebraska when I was finally able to grow my hair out–one of my actions to turn over a new leaf. My mother had no choice but to keep her hair short, and permanented. Had her “long” hair fallen out from her surgery nurses cap she would have been in BIG trouble
When I was home on weekends, I would stumble out of bed and go to meeting with them. My only sibling brother had become the family’s golden child. He did everything right, attending school, going to EVERY SINGLE meeting he could get to, worked part time, got good grades in school, etc. (you get the picture). He NEVER dated any “worldly” girls, took workers to places, picked old ladies up to go to meetings. He WENT to convention preps, every year, and had endeared himself to all the friends and workers who knew our family or him. I believe he had been earmarked as a future worker also. My parents seemed to like the idea, as well.
I need to mention that even as a very young child, I suspected that all was NOT OK with this group. I rarely if ever did what a worker told me to do, AND usually I would do just the opposite of what had they recommended. I did not like any of them, and I did not trust any of them. It seemed to me that even when I was little that they just stood up in front of everyone blabbing stuff from the Bible. Even very young, I did not understand why they did not “have a job.” I would question my mother WHY we had to get out the “family china” for them to eat from, when normally our family used heavy plastic dishes. And the dislike went both ways, I didn’t like them and they did not like me either.
Now, returning to that head worker in Nebraska, Garrett Hughes. When I was 19, I was working at the hospital in the town where my family lived. My mother also worked there. She was a Surgery Supervisor. I was a laundry aide, providing bedding packs to all of the patient rooms. As it happened that summer, my Granddad had been quite ill and had been hospitalized several times that summer. I was working one morning when my Granddad was still in the hospital, and my Dad called me to say that Grandpa was in the process of dying, and he wondered if I could come upstairs. I checked with my supervisor who allowed me to go to Grandpa’s room.
As I walked in, I saw all of my uncles and aunt. Garrett Hughes, the head worker, was also standing at the bedside and small talk was going on. Then all of a sudden, Garrett Hughes said to my poor Granddad: “See what you got? You know you deserved this, don’t you?” I was immediately viciously angry. I wanted to jump across the bed and pull his lungs out.
My Dad had been watching me, and when Hughes said what he did, my Dad hauled me out into the hall in a very big hurry. I was spitting and sputtering and insisted that someone needed to call that evil man to task. My Dad then threatened me, saying that if I said even one word, he would take my car away for the rest of the summer. I had no choice then but to swallow my anger and deal with it. I DEARLY loved my car, you see…
I tried for the rest of the summer to find out just what Hughes had meant by that evil statement. My Dad and mother would NOT TELL me, but instead told me to stay out of the situation or my car would be gone. TO this day, I have no idea why Hughes would say what he did to my Granddad on his death bed.
From that time until moving to Oregon, I avoided meetings, did not go to convention, did not go to Sunday AM. meetings, did not attend gospel meetings, and I would NOT go home for the weekend if I found out that there had been a worker staying with my folks.
As I have been researching and reading up about the group, I have discovered that the Hughes family were very BIG in the “truth” in South Dakota, and indeed that family was considered one of the earliest elite families. Hughes would have been just a bit younger than my grandparents, and now I suspect that there was bad blood between Hughes and my grandparents for years and years. I just wish I knew the full facts behind all of it, but actually, it no longer matters.
My folks moved to Oregon in 1974, and the golden boy went along. I was still in nursing school, when they left. I followed along in 1975, kicking and screaming all the way, because I had no clue just WHY in the dickens my family wanted to live clear out there away from family on both sides. BUT I have NEVER “done” my life well, if I was far away from them, and my life after nursing school had fallen into dangerous pursuits. I KNEW that I HAD to move away from Nebraska or my life would never mean much. The people I called my friends during that year from 1974 to 1975 ended up becoming very dangerous for me.
So off to Oregon I went and ended up being horribly, horribly homesick, not only for my so-called friends, but for the prairies of Nebraska. I STILL do not like not being able to see a horizon. I go to the beach occasionally just to be able to see a horizon. Upon leaving Nebraska I had made a decision to change my life and to stop being involved in slippery areas. I decided that I would turn over a new leaf, start going to meetings, stop drinking, stop calling in sick, etc.
My parents’ first suggestion was to pay attention to the way my brother and his new wife were leading their lives. What they meant was that I needed to go to every single meeting, go to convention, and get baptized. So I listened to their suggestions, and for a while, I felt that my brother did indeed have all the answers when it came to the 2x2s. He was a very devoted hard-working, upstanding young man, with a professing girl as his dear wife. Neither of them had ever had another male/female relationship. Neither of them had ever dated “worldly” folks.
I on the other hand had had numerous boyfriends. I started attending everything that I could. I tried as hard as I could to respect the workers that were around here at the time. I actually did turn over a new leaf and even though I was very homesick still, I had a good nursing job and was just focusing on my job, going to meetings, and being with my family.
In the summer of 1977, I met a man from California, and we got together, eventually becoming engaged in the fall. I moved to California and we were married in March of 1978. I won’t go into all the issues with him. Suffice it to say, he did not forbid me to go to meetings, but he never joined. So again, I did the best I could to conform to the group. After my daughter was born, I REALLY tried as hard as I could to fit the mold. I wanted to raise a professing girl.
During ALL of the time, after leaving Nebraska in 1975, questions were constantly stirring in the back of my mind. Things like: What IS this group? Why do the male workers have so much power and control?? Has my family been hoodwinked into this group? I would search my Bible for the answers but never found what I needed to know, so I just went along. I had learned early on to NOT ASK QUESTIONS!!
At a spring Special Meeting that I attended, there was a pickup sitting out by the curb proclaiming that those of us that were attending were in for big surprises and that this group was indeed a cult. I was advised to simply ignore that pickup; that the individual inside of it was an embittered former believer. My questions escalated.
In 1990, my husband went out and found himself a girlfriend. When I found out, I immediately moved me and my daughter out of his house and never looked back. Two years later, I moved back to Oregon. There I was back with my family and I was very happy. I went to meetings, joined my brother, his wife and kids, attending conventions, and Special Meetings, etc.
This went on undisturbed until 2008, when I became very ill, had lost my job, wrecked my car, and found myself cashing out my retirement accounts just to pay the rent and utilities. I spent many many nights sitting alone in my home with my cats. It came to my knowledge that my brother and his family thought I was drinking again, which could not be further from the truth. Rather, I was very very ill, physically AND mentally. I had no health insurance, so could not seek medical aid. My parents had both passed on by then; and my daughter had grown up and had her own life.
I had only one girlfriend I could turn to. She would come and get me and take me to the Baptist church that she had attended for many years. I was treated like a queen and included in activities. Not only that, I was also listening to the sermons of her pastor and learning more about the Scriptures than I ever had before.
During this time, much of my time alone was spent researching the ex-2x2s websites. I read several books about the Mormons and about Freemasonry. At one point, I even joined a Mormon chat group just to find out what they were all about. I was shocked beyond belief to read what I was reading, about the horrible destruction of families, due to mind control, and brainwashing techniques used by the Mormons. And not only that, I found out that MANY of the beliefs of the Mormons are SCARILY similar to beliefs held by the devout 2x2ers. There was also a horribly similar look and behavior of the 2×2 workers and the Mormon “prophets.” I told my girlfriend that I was now highly suspicious that this group that I had grown up in was a cult.
During those days and nights when I was alone, I would sit at my computer reading about the early days of the 2×2’s. Twice during those years, I saw two arms with brilliant white sleeves reaching towards me from above the computer. I have always been suspect of “visions” or such things, and never set much store by that sort of thing, but in this case, the feeling of peace and love overcame me immensely. That brilliant clean and clear white light in those sleeves was a sign to me that the Lord had been saving and protecting me for all those years, and that HE loved me just as much as he loved my devout brother; just as much as he loved anyone else, and that I was a treasured child. I had NEVER EVER HAD that feeling while I was in meetings.
In the fall of 2009, my health nearly took me to death’s door. I was hospitalized for 10 days, had major surgery on my stomach, was started on antidepressants, ended up having four pints of blood. Finally, I began to feel better. During ALL OF THIS TIME of my illness, my brother and his wife never called, and never came over to see if I needed anything. I also never ever heard from anyone from meeting, nor any worker.
Late in November of that year, just before Thanksgiving, I attended my last Sunday AM meeting. During the passing of the emblems, another lady was handing the cup to me, and my sister-in-law reached in front of me and took it away from me…BEFORE I even had my hands on it. I sat there dumbfounded at what she had just done. It was blatantly clear to me that I was NOT going to get the cup. My mind went wild, wondering just who died and made her my judge and jury?? THAT WAS THE FINAL STRAW!!
My brother happened to be the elder in that meeting that Sunday AM meeting since the regular elder and wife were on vacation. Many months later I finally did tell my brother what his wife did to me. All he said was, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” Not a word from him about how inappropriate it was; not a word about speaking to his wife about that action…nothing. Actually, I don’t think that my brother is fully aware of just why I have quit going to meetings. I think he thinks that one day I will return…NOT!
That was my last meeting. Since that time, I have become involved with the Baptist church, and I was baptized in the Baptist church in the spring of 2010. I attend their morning service and also attend adult Sunday School. Those in my Sunday School class know my story and they treat me like I am the most valuable person in the class.
I have learned more about the Scriptures, about God and about Jesus than I ever learned for 60 years in the 2x2s. I now understand systematic, organized and rational Bible studies. I no longer read one verse here and there and try to make sense out of it. I have learned how to read entire books of the Bible so that I can gather a full understanding of the message. The pastor is excellent and explains verses and chapters with great skill. I now truly know the “TRUTH”! The truth that Jesus came to earth to die for me and for you, that HE is the Triune God, that God has granted us this unspeakable gift of free salvation, if only we believe in God and accept Jesus as our personal savior. The secret is that it is all so simple. ONE STATEMENT says it all. If those in the meetings could just come to that realization, they would be released from the clutches of the workers.
Now I pray and read far MORE than I ever did while attending the 2x2s. I pray night and morning for the workers and the friends that remain tied into that false belief. I pray for others. I pray for their daily needs, to help them get over an illness. I pray for the leaders of our nation, for the homeless, the hungry, the ones with illnesses. I pray for the alcoholic on the street, that he/she might be able to break the bonds of addiction. I pray for the children in our family, that they might learn to enjoy the true blessings of God and Jesus. AND most of all, I pray for my brother and his wife that the Lord will somehow open their hearts to TRUE PEACE and LOVE.
I made the HUGE mistake over the years of worshiping my brother, I had put him right up there with Jesus and God, believing that Bob had ALL the answers, and knew his Bible, TRULY BELIEVING that he and his wife were doing EVERYTHING RIGHT!! Now I realize that the LORD loves me every bit as much as HE loves the golden child. I have been given SO MUCH over the past several years,
ALL MY LOVE IN JESUS TO EACH AND EVERYONE,
Carol (Staack) Hammond (aka theolegranni)
Woodburn, Oregon, USA
April 9, 2012
Note: Leedore Watson died April 14, 2010, aged 97.