My dad worked in a lumber mill and my mother washed clothes with a scrub board and Maytag washer on the porch, made garden, canned, cooked and did her best to care for my one brother and I.
My first grade year in Whipple District 88 was my last good year for many, many years to come. Whipple was a rural school. All eight grades in one room with a hand pump well and out-houses. One teacher, different most every year. My class was me and Rose. There was one other boy in school, Martin Green, until Roger, my brother, started in '52.
I often walked to school and the Dakota wind blew cold, but not as cold as what was coming. The beatings started. The yelling started. I was a shy and scared little kid in 1951 when I went to school with a note for the teacher about why I couldn't do the same things I had done the year before. When Christmas came I sat at my desk and cried with the note from mom to the teacher in my pocket. The stress put on me was too much for me to handle, I started to stutter, I bit my fingernails, I wet the bed, I lost all interest in school and did poorly from then on. The beatings continued. The Jehovah's Witnesses meetings were held in abandoned store fronts and apocalyptic thinking ran high and just flowed from the publications and the lips of the local members. I was praised when my looks and behavior mirrored the group leaders and shamed and beaten, poked and pinched, when I acted like a kid. The leader of the group was a round bellied short man named Martin Anderson who could speak like Joe Rutherford.
When I was in grade school I was told that school was not important, that in the new world everybody would be perfect, smart, and good looking automatically and that I wouldn't have to ever worry about going to high school. The beatings continued. In 1958 I went with my parents, my brother and my aunt and uncle in dad's 1953 Chevy 4 door to the New York assembly. That fall I started high school. In high school the Witnesses told me that I would never have to worry about after high school, getting married, or having kids in this old world. I still stuttered, wet the bed, and bit my finger nails. When in high school, the folks took me to a doctor to find out why I was so "nervous". He prescribed a new drug...valium. I was on it (and out of it) for the next year and a half.
After high school I got a job in a bakery and bought a 1948 Harley Davidson motorcycle.
In 1967 I married Delores Osborn. She had been a pioneer...a Jehovah's Witness like me. We lived in an 8' X 40' trailer. She had leukemia. Blood products and organ transplants were not an option for her. She suffered terribly and died in January 1971 believing that she was a martyr for the "truth". She was fun, smart, interesting, and loyal to the "truth" to the death. About the only thing left of the "truth" that she died for is the blood transfusion ban that she suffered because of. She wouldn't even consider an organ transplant (bone marrow, now allowed) that doctors said would give her a 50% chance of recovery because in 1967 the Society brought out "new light" that all transplants are cannibalism.
In September of 1971 I married Nancy Kittleson. Nancy was a Jehovah's Witness. We had 4 babies, Brice, Layne. Brady, and Brook. All still living as I write this.
My last Watchtower straw was in 1974 after seeing the Society building spiritual escape routes and back doors relating to their soon to fail 1975 prophecy. I was reprimanded for not wearing a neck tie to the Kingdom Hall one Sunday when I was microphone delivery boy during Watchtower study. I had my suit and white shirt and shined shoes but no tie, i.e. incomplete costume. I quietly retreated to the custom cabinet business I had just entered into with my dad, and waited for Armageddon to come, and waited, and waited, and waited. I bought my dad out in 1983 and waited, and waited.
In 1992 while in a Christian book store waiting for a clerk I picked up a book on cults off the shelf and was shocked to find Jehovah's Witnesses listed. I looked in all the books on cults they had and JWs were in every one so I went to the library and found the same thing in other cult books. This led me to books by David Reed and Ray Franz.
By January 1995, I hadn't had any contact with any former Witnesses other than one friend I have who just happened to be an ex-JW. I decided to make a few phone calls to see just what is going on in the group. I made some good calls to Diane, Joan, Jan, Jerry, Duane, and Randy and talked to some really caring people. Within days my mail box was loaded every day. I decided to try listening for a change. One guy I listened to was Dr. Jerry Bergman. That was a good move for me. The next guy I listened to was Randy Watters. That was a good move too. Randy started sending me stuff...different than I had seen before...tapes. The first set was audio tapes of a couple with a hidden microphone being disfellowshipped by these elders. This tape had a profound effect. Randy sent another tape. This one a video about a girl, Gloria Muscarella, being disfellowshipped by elders, one of them her uncle. Incredible behind the scene view of the reality of the heavy hand of Watch Tower discipline.
From '91 to 2000 we toured the USA by motorcycle as well as continued to help our sons with their educations and getting established. We traveled far and used a pop up camper to sleep in when it made sense. We have been up the west coast highway from Morro Bay, CA. to Port Angeles, WA, rode the Highway to the Sun, the Blueridge parkway, the Natches Trace parkway, and all over the Midwest. I have a small wood hobby shop where I do small projects for fun. I play guitar...sort of. Currently I work at Real Estate brokerage and property management, research and write, and enjoy my family and many friends.
These "Letters from Home" and others I do for fun and it started out as a dumb reply to a letter Randy Watters sent. Several of the stories are true.
Gary Busselman, AKA Clem
7201 East Madison Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57110
of Gary's stuff
e-mail Gary Busselman at: email@example.com