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Chapter Four

The long, tedious journey to Michigan by rail took
three days and two nights. I had told my wife Linnie
that travel by rail would be a little more expensive
than by bus. However, it would be a lot more
comfortable, especially traveling with two small
children. I was very much mistaken.

Anthony Scott, our youngest, was now around
eighteen months old and had a fungus infection in
one of his eyes. He was obviously very uncom
fortable and he let us know it at every opportunity.
Linnie had to hold Scott on her lap constantly, and
he fussed and cried almost the entire trip to
Michigan. To add to our discomfort, we couldn't
afford the sleeper car and had to spend the entire
trip sitting up or lying across the seats, whenever
there was room. We also couldn't spare the money to
eat in the diner car, and Linnie had packed us
enough food to last the trip.

It was an extremely miserable three days for us all
and we were very glad to reach our destination.
When we got off the train at the station in Detroit,
my mother and stepfather were there to greet us. It
was an especially warm and loving family reunion,
and my mother and stepfather were particularly
happy to see their grandchildren whom they hadn't
seen for quite some time.

The following day, after getting my family settled
in, I borrowed my stepfather's car and set out to look
for work. I wanted to get a job as soon as possible,
so that we could rent our own house. My parents
were being extremely generous to us, and I didn't
want to take advantage of their kindness and
hospitality. However, there was another considera
tion that really bothered us. My stepfather Elburn
was a newly ordained Primitive Baptist minister and,
according to what the Witnesses had taught us, he
was part of Babylon the Great, the world empire of
false religion. Linnie and I believed that Dad was a
very kindhearted and considerate person. However,
based on what we had been taught by the Witnesses,
my stepfather was being used by Satan the Devil to
mislead people through false religious teachings that
would ultimately end in their eternal destruction at
Armageddon. This made us feel a bit uneasy living
in his house, and we knew that the Witnesses
wouldn't think well of us staying in that situation
any longer than was necessary.

The very next day after our arrival I was able to
find a job as a teletype operator with a company
called City Car Terminal. The firm was an auto
mobile loading and shipping operation for Chrysler
Corporation, located in the Detroit railroad yards.
The only drawback to the job was that I had to work
eight to ten hours per day, seven days a week. I
knew from my experience in Florida that working
seven days a week was not a good situation for a
family man, or for one of Jehovah's Witnesses who
was required to attend five meetings per week.
However, the pay was adequate, so I took the job
with the expectation that perhaps I could find some
thing better later on.

After several weeks of living with my parents, my
mother informed my wife and me, in the nicest way
that she could, that our staying with them just
wasn't working out. She further advised that she
sensed an "undercurrent" between us, due to our
drastically different religious views, and she felt that
it would be best for all concerned if Linnie and I had
our own place. My wife and children had started
attending the meetings immediately after our arrival,
and it was necessary for my wife to ask for rides from
the brothers and sisters, to and from the Kingdom
Hall. On one of those occasions a Witness sister
came to the door, to assist my wife with the children,
getting them to her waiting automobile. The woman
evidently whispered something derogatory to my wife
concerning the fact that my stepfather was a
preacher. My mother overheard the remark and was,
understandably, quite upset.

Because of this incident and other related prob
lems, my mother, along with my wife, set out the
following day to find us a house to rent. My mother
and Linnie were able to find a suitable two bedroom
house on Penny Road, located in Dearborn Heights.
Dearborn Heights is a small town adjacent to Taylor
and also a suburb of Detroit. My mother paid the
first month's rent for us and we moved into the
house several days later. My mother also loaned us
an old bedroom suite that had belonged to my
stepfather's mother, and we were able to buy some
other items of furniture that we needed, second

The next problem to be dealt with was transporta
tion. I kept watching the newspapers, and one day
found a used 1952 Chevrolet automobile advertised
for sale. The seller was asking only $89.00 for the
vehicle. However, when my stepfather and I went to
look at it, I couldn't believe my eyes. Words cannot
describe what horrendous condition this car was in.
It lent new meaning to the term "used car." The old
Chevy was dented and banged up all over and had so
many holes rusted through the body that it looked
like a sieve.

Dad and I couldn't determine how many miles the
car had been driven, because the speedometer was
completely missing. The worst problem was that the
floorboards were rusted through in the front, and
you could stick your legs through the holes and
touch the ground with your feet. However, the
engine ran fairly well and the tires weren't completely
bald, and I figured that I could put some pieces of
plywood over the holes in the front, to keep our feet
from dragging on the pavement. Besides, I reasoned,
what could you expect for only $89.00? And,
inasmuch as we couldn't afford anything more
expensive, I decided to go ahead and purchase the

Since there was no Kingdom Hall in Dearborn
Heights, my family was assigned to attend meetings
in another adjoining town called Inkster. The Inkster
Congregation was made up almost entirely of black
brothers and sisters, which at first made us feel
rather conspicuous at the meetings. It occurred to
me that we must be feeling the same way a black
couple probably feels when they are the only blacks
in an all-white group. I had known quite a few black
people, having grown up and gone to school with
some in Indianapolis, Indiana. Also, I had met and
worked with black people in the Navy.

My wife, on the other hand, had been born and
reared in McCreary County, located in Eastern
Kentucky. Linnie had never laid eyes on a black
person until she was thirteen or fourteen years of
age -- and that was from a distance when she and her
family were visiting relatives in Williamsburg, Ken
tucky. There were no black people where Linnie lived
in Pine Knot, and it was many years later before she
came into contact with any again.

I don't know if the people in the Inkster Congrega
tion were unusually friendly to everyone, or perhaps
they were trying extra hard to make us feel welcome,
because we were different. Whatever the reason for
it, as a group they were the warmest and friendliest
of all the Witnesses that we had ever encountered.
There was one family in the Inkster Congregation
that we were especially fond of. Their last name was
Reilly. Brother Reilly was of unusual stature. He
was almost seven feet tall and weighed over three
hundred pounds. I felt almost like a dwarf next to
him. In stark contrast to his imposing appearance,
he was an extremely soft spoken and gentle man.
I very seldom went out in the door-to-door ministry
after we moved to Michigan and only attended the
meetings when Linnie nagged me or there was a
special event such as the annual "Memorial Celebra
tion," the "Lord's Evening Meal." The next several
years in Michigan were not very happy ones for our
family, primarily due to my immature and fatalistic
attitude, which had been implanted in my young,
impressionable mind by Jehovah's Witnesses. The
Witnesses had taught us that, in order for a person
to be saved from God's wrathful vengeance at
Armageddon, he must adhere to certain moral ethics
and vigorously apply himself to the works program
prescribed by the organization. That consisted pri-
marily of meeting attendance, literature placement,
and the Society's proselytizing activity.

The Witnesses had convinced my wife and me that
they were God's sole channel of communication --
that they, in fact, spoke for God. Even though intel
lectually I felt that what they were teaching us was
"the Truth" because it seemed to be so logical and
was based on the Bible, for some unexplainable
reason it just didn't seem right for me personally.
Because of this feeling I had concluded in my heart
and mind that I probably just wasn't "teachable" or
"sheeplike," as the Witnesses termed it. Therefore, I
constantly carried around a vague dread of God's
judgment and a fear of Armageddon. I had no hope,
and this generated an attitude of, "Eat, drink and be
merry, for tomorrow we die," that would adversely
affect my life and those around me for many years to

My wife Linnie's attitude was just the opposite of
mine, and this caused a great number of problems
for us that sometimes resulted in extremely fierce
arguments. Linnie continued to attend the meetings
faithfully and went out in service whenever she could
arrange it. She conscientiously studied the Watch
tower and Awake! magazines, as well as all the
other books and publications that the Society re
quired us to read. Linnie's unswerving dedication to
the organization, in addition to caring for the needs
of our two small children, left her very little time for

There were many occasions when I wanted my wife
to accompany me to Christmas festivities, New Years
Eve parties and birthday celebrations, as well as
other social functions with family members or other
persons that I had become acquainted with. How
ever, Linnie's conscience wouldn't allow her in most
cases, because The Watchtower had taught us that
almost all worldly holidays were of pagan origin and
true Christians wouldn't participate in celebrating

Also, Jehovah's Witnesses have an attitude of
superiority toward other persons who are not "God's
People" or "in the Truth." The Witnesses are taught
that everyone who is not a member of the Watch-
tower Bible and Tract Society is under Satan the
Devil's influence, so they do not like to associate with
people outside the organization. This exclusivistic
mindset shared by my wife wasn't confined to just
strangers. This "us and them" mentality applied
equally well to family members. As a result, my wife
spent as little time as possible with my mother,
stepfather and also my sister who had moved to
Dearborn Heights from Indianapolis, Indiana. To a
certain extent Linnie's superior feeling also applied to
me, since I had "fallen away" and didn't seem to be
measuring up to the Society's standards. Because of
this situation Linnie and I never had any friends in
common. It was always "Linnie's friends," who were
Jehovah's Witnesses, or "my friends," who were
usually acquaintances from work. On occasion I
would consent to socialize with the Witnesses, but it
was rather awkward, because they viewed me with
suspicion since I infrequently attended the meetings
and no longer went out in service.

However, as strange as it might seem, even though
the majority of the time I resented the organization
monopolizing my wife's attention and energies,
sometimes I actually encouraged Linnie to attend the
meetings and participate. This was because, in the
back of my mind, I truly believed that her loyalty to
the Watchtower would result in Linnie and our child
ren being saved at Armageddon. The Society had
taught us that as long as one parent of the marriage
was a member of God's organization, any children
resulting from that union would be saved.

Another problem that Linnie and I encountered as
a result of our religious beliefs was the occasional
confrontations that we had with my stepfather
Elburn Dorris. As I stated previously, Dad was a
recently ordained Primitive Baptist minister, and we
had been taught that he was being used by Satan the
Devil to promote false worship, as were all of Chris-
tendom's ministers. Fortunately for us, my step
father was an unusually patient person and he and
my mother tried to pretend, most of the time, that
our unorthodox religious beliefs didn't bother them.
However, when we discussed religion and Dad would
quote a passage of Scripture to prove a point and
Linnie or I would contradict him with the Watch
tower's interpretation, he would sometimes become

On a number of occasions my wife Linnie and I
unequivocally informed my parents, as diplomatically
as possible, that the Watchtower Bible and Tract
Society knew more about the Bible than anyone else
in the world. We further explained that the Society
had brothers at the headquarters in Brooklyn, New
York, who had devoted their whole lives to the study
of God's Word, in an effort to inform their followers of
the proper understanding and interpretation of the
Holy Scriptures. After all, we explained, the Watch
tower had millions of followers worldwide, and we
were convinced that they were Jehovah's only true
organization, doing his work, separating the "sheep"
from the "goats" in these "last days" prior to the final
Battle of Armageddon. "Who else was doing this type
of religious work?" we reasoned.

After a number of similar discussions, I believe my
stepfather finally saw the futility in arguing with us.
What probably hurt my mother and dad the most
was the fact that we wouldn't allow our children to
attend church with them. They were very fond of our
two boys and wanted to show them off to their
friends. However, we had learned from the Wit
nesses that to allow our children to enter a place of
false worship would have been a terrible and idola
trous sin.

After approximately six months at City Car Ter
minal my sister Donna Cable helped me to get a job
as an office clerk at Clark Equipment Company, the
Brown Trailer Division, where she was employed as a
secretary. The job was better paying and it was only
a five day work week. After almost two and one half
years working at the Detroit branch, the position of
Office Manager became available at the St. Paul,
Minnesota, office. I applied for the job and was
accepted. Once more, my family and I packed up,
and we moved to the Twin Cities.

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