Warren Schroeder from Bethel on Freddy, Klein and the apostate books!


Hi Randy, Just a hello from Warren Schroeder, [I was in] Bethel: 5/79 to 10/82. 

Over the years I lost touch with some common friends and was looking for a couple of names which I found through the ex-JW sites.  I live in the East Village with my dearest wife, who teaches at NYU.  We sometimes think we're the oldest people in the neighborhood... I just turned 53.  We can't imagine living anywhere else.... well, we can imagine, but not any time in the near future. 

I think back to my years at Bethel with great fondness, even though many of my closest friends were dismissed and treated badly during the "purge".  I made many good friends in and out of Bethel.  Many of us knew we were part of a significant movement inside Bethel which also found its influence into a few small local NY groups outside of Bethel. 

The powers seemed to tolerate the loose and liberal talk for quite a while.  The Towers and Squibb construction was complete, or near complete, and the Bethel population was growing very fast.  It was buzzing and alive.  Bible reading groups and bible commentaries were popping up everywhere.  Construction and spending money, including new 4-color presses and faster bindery equipment, was foremost and took priority with the "management".  Dealing with the heretics was put on hold a bit, at least until the great property grab in the Brooklyn Heights was completed. 

There were a couple new books published that were nothing like the typical FWFranzesque “prophetic calculus manuals.”  These books were not typical fare, and you could see the puzzled looks when they reached the book study groups and meetings.  Biblical commentary within scriptural context, with applied critical thinking, was a daunting task for the star-struck and lobotomized organizational faithful.  

There was a point when the committees finally started their inquisitions.  I had a total of three, two of which that included Don Adams (twice),  John Booth, and some Bethel elders I don't remember, and finally a one-on-one with Karl Klein in his writing department office (this was likely due to my relationship with Rinehardt Lengtat, who I had studied with for about a year). The Karl Klein meeting was most memorable.  Karl got quite fired up, doing all the talking, and began drooling on himself.  He always seemed to have a slight speech impediment.  He had two open books in front of him marked on various pages that he read passages from and stated the heresy of the ideas and how opposed these ideas were to "Freddy's".  He named the authors, clearly mentioning Ray Franz and Rinehardt Lengtat.  The books were "Commentary on James" and "Happiness".  

I do not recall the particulars of the discussion now and which were the problem passages.  It was an event to watch him so animated when he was simply sitting slouched in a chair. As far as the real purge,  guilt by association was easier for the elders to deal with than figuring out what you really believed.  I knew how to answer the "what do you believe" questions since I was primed by Chris Sanchez and Nestor Kuilan, who I had met with once, during their series of meetings with Bethel elders, and again, right after their liberation from Bethel.   In the beginning of the purge, who I knew and talked to would be problematic.  I was certainly "small potatoes" but the committees wanted information about others.  I got away with mostly saying I didn't know anything about how any person believed on specific doctrines.  The first committee I met was easy because it was early in the hunt, and the inquisitors were a bit lost as a group by not being very focused on anything in particular.  The 2nd committee was a few months later and made me sweat a bit more.  They had their people lined up and their questioning fine tuned, mostly with one person asking all the questions.  Overall, the meetings were short and, for me, ended with a little talk about bad association and reading worldly Bible commentaries. 

This is all so much water under the bridge and much more since.  I was never disfellowshipped and never resigned as a JW (with some criticism by a few others that I should do so).  By 1984 I never thought to attend a Kingdom Hall again out of my own volition.  I have never looked back with regret, or that my unpaid work at Bethel was a waste of my time.  I was a little later than many in getting my college education and attaining other economic benefits, but it was an irreplaceable learning experience, being a progressive free thinker inside a closed minded group, and surviving relatively unscathed. I look back and retell the story for an interested audience.  I reflect on who I am today, very different than who I was as a young JW.   Bethel was an important turning point in my life.  If it could have the same results I could only wish the experience for others. 



MORE from Warren Schroeder on life at Bethel…

It would be a book to discuss all the details of the studies inside and outside of Bethel. 

Greg, Randy Mangels and myself studied with R. Lengtat and his roommate Mark, through 1979 until it became too precarious for Lengtat.  Inside the Writing Dept., Gene Smalley focused and did what he could to subvert RL's position in the Writing Dept.  Lengtat described Smalley, Klein, and Schroeder as the kind that would read newspapers all day just to pluck some morsels that would support the existing endtimes doctrines.  

Karl Klein absolutely idolized Fred Franz, which was most apparent when I was called into his office for some readjustment.   Lengtat was the wunderkind who had the respect of RF and Ed Dunlap for his scholarship of scripture, ignoring the Fred Franz calculus that had shaped JW doctrine for so long, and this association would also become problematic for him when the dissention came to a head.   

In his room he had drawers jammed full of documents of commentary on Daniel, Ezekiel and the prophets, and whatever.  In particular, I remember reading several chapters of Ezekiel in some of the readings.  I believe that Greg was the only person he trusted to hold some of the commentary to copy some parts.  Greg very likely still has his large print referenced NWT, in which he wrote into every margin and crevice comments from our studies with RL.…  RL would carry documents on his person at all times.  He was always seen clutching his leather briefcase to the side or chest.  It was speculated between our small group that whatever it was it was in there was probably his quiet ticket out of Bethel. 

It did prove to be something, since he was not publicly disgraced on his exit from Bethel and was actually awarded a stipend, in the name of "Special Pioneer" when he left for Seattle.  His father was living there and he moved in for a short period.  The Watch Tower may have needed his help to complete some research, I'm not sure, and I didn't ask since he was completely paranoid, and maybe rightfully so. …

There was a group from WT Farms that I knew but did not stay in contact with.  The Watchtower Farm individuals were more connected to the Long Island group and we met mostly on ski trips and other recreation. I also did readings with Cris, Norma, Nestor, and his wife a couple of times in my room.  It was getting closer to their demise and everything just stopped between us. 

I had quite a bit of liberty of movement through the factory as an electrician, and I was becoming better known with all the supervisors and was able to go just about anywhere without question.  At that time, I knew something was wrong as Cris said he could not talk to me and had a meeting. He and Norma would be gone within some hours or days.  

 I also had brain cancer surgery at the end of February.  I'm ambidextrous, so the surgeon needed to be concerned about how my brain would react to cutting in certain locations.  This required me to talk to the surgeon while he probed and cut my brain.  I became more famous afterwards when he told me that I have a rare and special brain.  I asked what he meant and informed me that I was cross-dominant, and in his words, said it was a DaVinci brain.  Well, cool then.  He could only remove 45% of the GBM4, which left a lot of questions about my survival chances.  I've been through the radiation and chemo and a recent MRI shows the tumor gone, which is amazing.  I am in a clinical trial at NYU, which apparently works, and will continue with some more treatments of chemo and Avastin.  I have regained quite a bit of my energy since the radiation terminated about 5 weeks ago. 





Great... now I'm a star.


I will tell you a couple of stories you will appreciate as a pressroom member. I created some serious havoc in the pressroom on a couple occasions, and interestingly, it was indirectly related to my "punishment" by my department overseer, Steve Furnas, who intended to isolate me from the other members of the electrical crew.  Steve was a good guy, but it didn't save me from my very first committee (factory committee) meeting to address some liberal thinking that I expressed to a workmate about the 144,000.  This was around the middle of 1979 and they essentially told me to keep my thoughts to myself.  I have no special training in schmoozing, but whatever I said at these interrogations, including more to come, seemed to have plenty of grease on them.  As my wife tells me now, it's because I'm tall... :-)


My isolation job lasted almost a year with them assigning me to light-rounds for all 4 factory buildings.  That means I had to check, and repair as necessary, every single light bulb, lamp, and light fixture, in all the factory buildings.  That gave me access to every department, and nook/cranny of the buildings.  Believe me, some of those buildings are like dungeons in the basements.  (only one place worse... doing night watchman clocks at the Squibb buildings).  I got to know and befriend a lot of really great people, and gradually make my own schedule of places to be and go.  Don't get me wrong, it was a generally boring deadhead job.


Event #1: 

I was checking out the lamps in the Building #3 Electrical Service Room.  As I was doing my job checking and replacing lamps I leaned against one of the large disconnect switches, and heard a quick bang.  I looked around to see what might have caused the noise and saw nothing.  The handle of the switch had not moved, so I concluded that it was something else and I should not be concerned.  I then continued on to the corner stairs to replace the small 25W bulbs, of which all were replaced each month whether they needed it or not.


Later that morning, I found my way back to the electrical department.  Steve Furnas called me in and then asked me if I was working around any of the electrical rooms.  Uh oh, what happened?  I replied that I had replaced a couple lamps in the Bldg3 electrical room.  He asked me had I touched anything?  I knew something was about to be bad.  I lied and said no.  He asked me if I was sure... I again said no, and then asked why the questions?  He told me that Harris #1 (maybe #2) had gone down and they didn't know why.  Of course, there must have been a huge mess when the press shut down at high speed and no brakes.  I had watched many other times when the pressroom was waist high in crumpled up masses of white paper.  The electricians also spent more hours investigating why the event happened before they could repower and restart the press.  Generally, any further press production for the day was pretty much over.


By my examination of the electrical room at a later date I saw where I must have bumped into a small red button on the large Pringle switch.  It's a release of the spring loaded switch mechanism inside.  Being a newboy electrician, I had no clue at the time.  I suppose this has remained a mysterious secret for some until today.


Event #2:  

Working in the MAN pressroom on light-rounds I noticed that one of the 8 foot fluorescent lamps above a press was burned out.  The press was running.  I had seen the pressmen walking the upper catwalk often while the press was running, so I got the idea that I could go up there to and take out the old lamp.  It was no problem making my way to the top and grabbing the lamp, and even started making my way to the metal ladder, when the lamp decided to bump the handrail.  Only a small part of the 8 foot glass lamp broke off but a few small pieces of the glass fell onto the speeding paper web.  I watched the glass bounce and skate on the paper for a couple seconds and then disappear into the machine to wherever.


I continued down the ladder to the floor and saw the pressman frantically looking at the copy coming off the press and then started touring the press.  They saw me on the floor holding the lamp in my hand and asked me if I was working near the press.  I said yes and told them the story about the small glass pieces.  Actually, it was  sigh of relief for them.... at least they understood the real reason.  While upset with me they explained that there is so much pressure between the plates, paper, and rollers and anything will mess up the print on these letterpress machines.  They showed me some of the print copy that showed clearly the large blank areas in the type.


I learned from Steve Furnas that the downtime and fabrication of new plates was going to be very costly.  All I could say was sorry and it was dumb move on my part.  I really thought it was end of my Bethel career, but it turned out to be my savior.  I was taken off of light-rounds for good from that day and they "promoted" me in charge of electrical operations for Building #3!!


Realize at this point I still have about 1-1/2 to 2 more years in Bethel before I would leave.  After this point my story is possibly one of the more unique as a factory worker.  I would, until I left Bethel, not be allowed to work on group projects again, especially the new MAN conversion project that was just starting.  Within a few months though I would be allowed complete autonomy as a electrician/engineer.  Permission from the top, maybe Wisegarver (not sure), was that I would be given my own area and workplace to pursue my own designs which I had recommended earlier to resolve some downtime problems with the bindery equipment.  Also, there was a new move toward electrical energy conservation and I had recommended the design of some new programmable devices.  My department overseer and his assistant would only walk by and ask how I was doing.  Nobody understood a thing I doing.... and I mean nobody, except Bill Hunkins, and only maybe.  Bill was a real electrical engineer from Iowa and cared less about what I was doing.  He was a factory elder and I think he was asked to look over my shoulder from time to time to report to the overseers, who weren't comfortable being clueless about their subject or what he was doing. 


This, in itself, is a whole other story to tell.  (Like how I and the factory mechanic's overseer, a genius mechanical artist, together would create a state-of-the-art machine that would be later called the 'Starship Enterprise' by not so creative bindery workers).  This period proved to be the most productive and fascinating of my stay at Bethel.  In fact, my final year at Bethel, I never spent an hour in Field Service and rarely showed at my congregational meetings, except Sundays mostly, in Lindsay Park, Brooklyn.  I had an excuse due to my "special" Bethel work.  Finally, the elders had a meeting with me in the summer of 82, which I thought was to say they were going to put their foot down and report me for my non-existence.  Instead, they wanted to let me know that they were recommending me for elder.... only that they hoped I would put some time in for field service. I told them that I wasn't finished with the "secret weapon" yet and needed a bit more time, and therefore declined... for now. 


Cheers for now,




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When I was there in the late 1980's we were not allowed to use the Writing Depts' library........I often wondered why that was the case.

Also, I remember during Morning Worship on a Friday, I think it was Karl Klein who used to like to really "go off" on things on a regular basis.

During this one Saturday morning, he told the story of this JW couple who started their relationship by cheating on their mates and getting disfellowshipped.  After getting reinstated and married they had a Down's Syndrome child. 

Klein went on and on about how this couple had a "mongoloid" child as a punishment from God for their unfaithfulness to Jehovah when they committed adultery and were disfellowshipped.

It really got the Bethel family upset and the Saturday morning he apologized for his comments.

Ironically, a good friend of mine was asked to leave Bethel a few weeks later for, among other things, being publically critical of comments made by a member of the GB.  Evidently, they (meaning the Bethelite spy network) had been working overtime to get rid of my friend and they finally got something.  I guess it did not matter that my friend's critical comments on Klein's Morning Worship tirade were well taken and also one of about 2000 critical comments.........

I really believe that the tone of Bethel changed after the 1970's and those of us who served there in the 1980's and beyond were subjected to much more spying and control in many respects.  What do you guys think?

Jeff S.


When I was first working in the Writing Dept. doing research for the Proclaimers book, Karl Adams asked me to find information about something in the first song book the  WT ever produced. At the time that songbook was not found in the Writing Dept. archives and Karl wanted to see a copy. So I decided to talk to Karl Klein who supposedly knew everything about all the song books and was involved in all the music produced by the WT. After I knocked on Karl's door, I heard his very gruff, annoyed voice tell me to come in. He was slouched over his desk reading something and said to me, without looking up, "What do you want?" I didn't feel especially welcomed. However, I noticed that his tie was hanging loosely around his neck and the top button of his shirt was unbuttoned. He looked very relaxed, but also very annoyed.  I told him that Karl Adams wanted to see a copy of the first song book, and that we thought he, Klein, knew everything about the song books, and  that's why I came to see him. Before I could say anything further, Klein sprang to his feet, quickly buttoned the top button of his shirt, tightened the neck of his tie, buttoned one button of his suit jacket, then discussed the subject at hand. To say the least, I thought his behavior was quite peculiar. BTW, he didn't know anything about the WT's first published song book. At the time, I thought he behaved quite child-like and it was obvious he wanted a certain kind of attention so badly. He cared nothing about showing good manners or being kind, until he found out the reason I came to see him and due to his starving ego, he put on a different face and became the professional, the "music" expert.

I'm enjoying Warren's experiences very much. His words bring back many memories. When I was assigned to the Writing Dept., I also had freedom to explore Bethel without getting that special look from overseers. It was great. I could even go outside and walk to a library or the Long Island Historical Society without permission.

Our son, Lance, worked in a pressroom running one of the big printing presses in Brooklyn when Warren was still there. It is possible that the small shards of glass Warren spoke of, fell into a press Lance was working on. If he wasn't shunning us, I would find out.

When Joe went to Bethel in the 50s, he too was assigned to work in the pressroom for the whole time he was there until he left to marry me. Like Warren Schroeder, Joe has the stories to tell. One thing for sure, in Bethel the fun was found in the companionship of so many young people, who never ran out of good humor and bad jokes.

Barbara Anderson


I am Greg's brother. He started at Bethel in ‘75 or ‘76 I believe, and left by ‘80, the year he got married. Steve Lupo was my roommate for most of my stay at Bethel. We were in a 4-man room in the Towers Hotel. We had no problems missing the worst meal of the day, supper. Steve would always bring food to the room in the evenings.... the good food. He had a fixation on Pink Floyd and their new Wall album. Since I played guitar (also played in a great family night production) I knew all the songs. To this day I don't think I would miss a note after nearly a 2 year daily brainwashing of the same music. Steve and I suffered the most when they clamped down on "satanic music". I think he got his "bad" albums shipped back home. I wasn't so lucky. I hid my "blacklisted" ones, like  Led Zeppelin) under some things in my closet. They were fine there for a while until I got a letter in my room that stated that I still had music that was not approved. You see, all music albums were to be in the open, for whoever, to decide which ones should go. Then I knew there was no privacy in the Bethel rooms. Between housekeepers, spies, and service department police, the "while you were out" crews were plenty busy rummaging.




Greetings Warren! 2008 is Bethel reunion year for JWD. Simon (host of this here board) is an honorary Bethelite apostate. (BA, for Bad Attitude)

check out his story so far at:


Clinton, Oklahoma - out west from Oklahoma City on the old route 66.  I served as substitute CO for about a year while we were in between special pioneers.  It was around 20-25 regular attendees during that time and had the kingdom hall in a sort of dugout storm cellar type of building.  There was a lot for my little Airstream trailer, and eventually the special pioneer that the society assigned behind the hall. 

Lots of weird stories from that era - but I was pioneering like I was told to do.  I can tell you that two of my "bible studies" actually consisted of taking the old children's book and trying to teach the back country family (father & mother as well as kids) basic English.

  It was in the library of that underground KH that I first discovered the hypocrisy of the name YHWH all through the NWT without convincing documentation...turns out that one of the sisters got challenged on that by a college prof from Weatherford, Okla - just down the road. 

That was why I asked Schroeder Sr. about the issue, and got told to go play in the street.




Gangas would always ask biblical questions like he was testing your loyalty to God or something.  If there were 2 or 3 of us in an elevator with him you tried to go unnoticed so he didn't ask a question you didn't know the answer to.   I think he did it to keep his memory strong.

George Couch as the most anti-gay heavy (non-GB member) I ever met.  Every time he spoke at morning worship or in person he had to throw something in about homosexuality (when he said the word he would stttreetttccchh out the pronunciation.

Anyone remember when Fred Franz would give a prayer?  He would semi-whisper the entire thing and then yell out AMEN, JEHOVAH!! and scare the poop out of everyone.

I also remember (either Couch or Gangas) saying their prayers and going on and on about how great Jehovah is.  Something like "oh Jehovah, you are wonderful, wise, our mighty God, our rock and counselor, mighty and wonderful Jehovah God....."on and on he'd go.  I'm thinking it was Couch but I could be wrong.  I do remember counting the number of adjectives.



Here's a question that I hope some former Bethelites might know the answer to:

Does the Governing Body/Writing Dept. send out letters to the "anointed" all over the world, when 'new light' is going to be released, before they put it down in the WT?  Gumby was talking to a young 23 year old who was recently axed from Bethel and this kid was under the impression that that's what happened.



For Mary,

RE your question: "Does the Governing Body/Writing Dept. send out letters to the "anointed" all over the world, when 'new light' is going to be released, before they put it down in the WT?"

I used to think that same kind of thing. By dad was a believer in all the big Bethel legends about divine direction, etc. It is all a fairy story.

The entire teaching about two classes was a Rutherford fabrication. It is all theory, no practice at all, a total fiction. And it always has been. The suits up there at headquarters don't have any idea who the "anointed" are, except the ones they know personally, and perhaps they could guess in the case of JWs who were active prior to 1935. But most of the "born before 1925" set are more concerned with whether or not their Depends need to be changed, than they are with any "new light".


One of the still-major figures up there believes that the entire 144,000 number (which he still takes literally) was filled in the first century (most credible Christian historians think there were at least a million Christians by the end of the first century, when the Revelation was written), so this guy thinks that there haven't been anything but "earthly class" since then.

One of the big surprises for me at Bethel was to find out that the vast majority of the material in the publications, including study articles in the Watchtower, study books and any other thing that could possibly be construed by JWs as "New Light" is written, published and enforced by "other sheep". The only notable exception besides Ray Franz was Freddie Franz, and you could always detect his stuff a mile away because its style is what one would expect from an author who was given to fantasy fiction.

The other big surprise for we was that hardly any of the people who write the publications believe what is written in them in the way they expect the average WT reader to do. They are nearly all "apostates" in that sense. But they are all willing to publicly toe the party line to avoid the kind of unpleasantness that honesty begets in a place like that.

In the mid-70, when I was at Bethel, my friend Dan Sydlik told me that the other sheep of John 10 were the Gentiles. That made so much sense to me, and it fit so well with the actual state of affairs, that I rejected the two-class fiction then and there, even when I thought that the WTS was still God's organization.



Page 4


I knew several of the "old" anointed, and even more of the new anointed.

Voting at the annual meeting was about all the say the old anointed had with anything, and they were pretty much told how to vote at that!

There was one new anointed, Bob Matwijcow, an elder in several congregations in NJ and VT from the 60s on, who I think seriously thought that the GB and WTS were interested in his thoughts on subjects. He'd write the WTS all the time about things. Very smart guy, but I don't think the crew at Bethel gave him much attention.

How funny that someone still thinks that all the "new light" is approved by the 8500 or so who claim to be anointed!! As Tom brought out, the anointed have little to do with anything like that. The handful in the GB, and that's about it.

The WTS F&DS teaching is a theory only, and has never been put into practice. A WTS fantasy.



Those with special privileges 'tho not at Bethel, such as city overseers, convention overseers, and elders who were held in high esteem in their own congo due to excellent teaching/speaking skills or were just well-connected to WTS heavies, almost all had a "rules don't apply to me" attitude.  This is pretty much true of most of the "prominent" elders I ever met, and I met quite a few.

Rank and file dubs would be shocked to overhear private conversations between elders who could read and understand what the Society wrote and said, and were able to think for themselves. But that was in private. Publicly, they protected their positions.

Watchtower leadership is often comprised of two camps: the cerebral boys, who do most of the writing and talking, and the mindless company men who do what they are told. Each group looks down on the other.



Shortly after I came to Bethel, around 1968, I was invited to go down to the sauna on a Wednesday night once with Freddy and Nathir Saleeh (who seemed to always be around him), and a couple of other new boys. I remember Freddy pulling on the big chain connected to the steam valve to let in lots of steam, and saying "Ooooh, hoooh, ooooh, hoooh" over and over again. The place smelled of musty wood and dampness and the whole experience was a little too weird for an Arizona farm boy. Once was enough for me. I never joined them again.

Boy, there is something I hadn't thought about in nearly forty years!

Tom C


For Jeff Schwehm regarding your post on page 2 of this thread:

Regarding that couple that had a Down's Syndrome child... As little respect as I had for Karl Klein, I am amazed that he told that story as an example of God punishing someone for their actions. I guess that says something about how he thought about God.

The couple in question was Colin Lake and Maggie Maes. Maggie and Colin got infatuated with each other and ran off together, at almost exactly the time that the Eagles song "Lyin' Eyes" was released, I think around 1975. I remember listening to the song and thinking about them. What they did scandalized Bethel, and that was not easy to do.

Colin was in Dispatch, and Maggie was the wife of one of my dearest friends, Fred Maes, a former Spanish Circuit and District Overseer. Colin's wife Dorothy was a good woman. (At the time, she looked very much like Dustin Hoffman as "Tootsie") She was more than an acquaintance, but not really a close friend.

Fred later left Bethel, remarried, went back into the District work for a few years, then dropped out of the org. He had a pretty good life. He was never df'd, to my knowledge. He died of cancer about ten years ago, in December, 1998, I think. I spent a few days down there with him just before he died.

I remember being so sad, both for Colin and Maggie and for their mates, Fred and Dorothy, all of whom I knew pretty well. I believe that Maggie wanted a child so badly, but the end just wouldn't come and her biological clock was ticking away... She must have been in her mid-forties when their baby was born. Dorothy was still at Bethel when we left. I wish them all peace and God's blessing.

A little side note about Karl Klein. One day I was sitting in Dan Sydlik's office. We were shooting the bull as we did almost every day. Suddenly the door burst open and Karl Klein was at the door. He was so excited, he didn't even look to see if there was anyone else there in the office. When he opened the door, I was sort of hidden behind it, because Karl didn't come right in, but stood there in the doorway, gleefully announcing his big news: "I've made it, Dan!" he said. "I'm finally at the top of the heap! I'm the Chairman of the Governing Body! Can you imagine!?!" Dan looked at him as he was speaking, then he sort of shrank a bit in his chair, then he looked at me, then back at Karl. Karl stopped in mid-sentence. He said "Oh, I didn't know anyone was here." I excused myself and left, leaving him to exult over his new job (which he only held for a year, as the chairmanship rotated). Dan and I never discussed it. I think Dan was embarrassed for Karl. But I don't think Karl was embarrassed for himself.




I was amazed myself that Klein made it on the GB. I guess technically he met all the requirements, but his articles were ridiculous. So while Ray Franz ("anointed") and Ed Dunlap ("other sheep") were assigned (by Karl Adams, Writing Department Overseer and also "other sheep") to write study articles and study books, Karl was assigned to write articles for Awake! about things like dung beetles and banana trees! Other writers told me that it used to burn him up with envy. So he played a key role in the 1980 "Franz/Dunlap" incident, thus eliminating his rivals. Finally, he got to write some "outstanding" Watchtower study articles. My favorite was his classic about "tacking into the wind." In that article, he destroyed any credibility the WTS may have had by revealing their secret: that no one at WT HQ had divine direction, nor any clue as to what they were talking about; that they were all just feeling their way along like blind mice looking for their tails. Or is it "the blind leading the blind?" That was adapted from one of his service talks. (I'll bet Karl Adams was ready to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge when that one got published.) Yes, Karl was one of a kind, a true "Watchtower man."




Hey Warren,

I sent an email to Christ and Norma about a year ago, but got no reply. Maybe I have an old email address.

I still have the pictures from that get together at Greg's. I think I brought my son, Matt, who was going to be a senior in high school at the time. He is now married and expecting our first grandchild, a little boy in October. How well I remember Carl Johnson!  I would love to hear from him also.

This thread has brought so many funny stories to my head. So many crazy things happened while I was there, and I met so many wonderful people. I worked hard, but I had fun, too, and laughed my head off so many times. I had a ball with the Pressroom guys when I was Overseer there. Guys like Randy Watters actually ran the Pressroom (in the sense of doing actual work), once we got the thing running well. After that, it was mostly my job to take the heat when the guys did something to get unfavorable notice from the Factory Committee.

I learned a lot at Bethel, too. Maybe not what I (or my family) expected I would learn, but it turned out to be very useful in the long run.




Randy: Great thread... this has brought up many memories... even though I was at Bethel from 89 to 92...

I remember the Saunascapades... a good friend of mine would go religiously every week (Luis Navarro... anyone know him?) and would tell me stories about sitting in the sauna naked with Freddy and Karl Klein too.

Comment for Mary: (adding to what others have said)

I was raised by an "anointed" brother. He got his publications just like the rest of us... no special communication there. I asked him about it recently. He said that he was of the domestics, so the GB does the feeding... although sometimes he has thought of some new idea, and, lo and behold, some time later, it gets published! (He must believe that the FDS has some sort of collective consciousness, then, lol)

Comment for Tom:

One of the big surprises for me at Bethel was to find out that the vast majority of the material in the publications, including study articles in the Watchtower, study books and any other thing that could possibly be construed by JWs as "New Light" is written, published and enforced by "other sheep". The only notable exception besides Ray Franz was Freddie Franz, and you could always detect his stuff a mile away because its style is what one would expect from an author who was given to fantasy fiction.


In the mid-70, when I was at Bethel, my friend Dan Sydlik told me that the other sheep of John 10 were the Gentiles. That made so much sense to me, and it fit so well with the actual state of affairs, that I rejected the two-class fiction then and there, even when I thought that the WTS was still God's organization.


[Regarding the disbelief of the “other sheep” identity by Sydlik] I realized the same things when I went through Gilead. As I sat through a propaganda talk by Carey Barber (who in his late 90's could barely even think) and who just read off his notes, I came to the same conclusion. The talk was called "The 1900 Year Old FDS", and I was unsatisfied with the description, which didn't match reality. I realized from my Gilead stay that almost everyone in writing was of the Other Sheep... so how could they say that the FDS feeds everyone else? The Governing Body fulfills most of what they apply to the FDS class. This is when I started waking up in Gilead.

When we got to the book of John and we reviewed the meaning, I discovered that Christendom teaches that the OS are the Gentiles. This made so much sense to me that I couldn't get it out of my mind. Additionally, the idea of 2 classes of Christians is not taught in the Bible.  I could see this from reading the Bible twice in 8 months.

Now I'm upset that good ol’ Dan Sydlik didn't believe in the OS doctrine either... what a hypocrite for going along with the fake religious system all those years until he died.

Awakened at Gilead


Page 6, 7

Hi Randy,

Here are a couple of 34 Orange stories. For a year or two, my wife Gloria was the housekeeper at 34 Orange. The first floor apartment had a well-stocked kitchen, a TV and air-conditioning. George Couch, Max Larsen, Lowell Dixon and others would bring their friends there and entertain them well. On Monday mornings, Gloria would empty the waste baskets, and there would be lobster shells on shrimp shells and lots of empty liquor and champagne bottles. It was something to notice since we were actually living on Bethel food and $20 each per month for "extras" like underwear, and since my parents were in the Circuit work and hers were retired, we got no money from home. One time, when her parents planned to come for a visit, she asked if they could stay there. The office told her some cock-and-bull story about needing to leave it open in case some "important" guests came in at the last minute, so they refused her request. Of course, no one used the place while her parents were visiting, but the office didn't want "just anybody" to stay there.

Shortly thereafter, one day Gloria said to me "After work, don't come home. Come to 34 Orange, first floor." It was summer and stiflingly hot. I came down the alley and into the back door. When I got there, she had bought steaks from our meager allowance and had made chocolate chip cookie dough. Gloria made cookies, with the oven going and air conditioner blasting. It was marvelous, and was made even more so by the fact that it was totally illicit. We closed all the blinds up tight, had a wonderful meal, watched TV, and spent a cool, comfortable evening there. It was truly one of the high points of my 12 years at Bethel.

Later, two of my good friends (who shall remain nameless for their own protection, as they are both still JWs) lived at 34 Orange on the second floor for awhile, and we had many a great party in that room. One time they decided to make wine in their room. The Bethel Office got wind of it and told them that they couldn't do that. One of them got very angry at them, especially because he was working on the first Harris offset press with ultra-heavy ink coverage on the original version of the "Bible Stories" book before we bought the afterburners. The press was belching out lots of smoke, which was illegal, and the EPA was trying to catch us, so we were running the press at night so the Society wouldn't get caught polluting and have to pay a big fine. One weekend this same guy had had a few beers, and he started thinking about it, he got so worked up, he peed out the window onto the air conditioner down below. As it happened, some important guests happened to be staying there at the time, and I got called before the Factory Committee over the incident. It took some fast talking to keep the guys from getting kicked out, as I recall. After the Factory Committee relented and let the guys involved stay at Bethel, they got together and bought me my first bottle of Wild Turkey. I still drink the stuff.




Hi Warren,

The Wood-Hoe was a loser from the beginning. It was badly manufactured, and the potential for quality was dismal, almost nonexistent. I felt bad about assigning Randy to try to get it producing, but he was the man best qualified for the job. From every perspective, that press, although it could be made operational, could never be cost effective. I often wondered if I was the only one who ever thought about things like that. No one I spoke to on the Factory Committee or Governing Body thought in terms of quality and cost-effectiveness.

Regarding whether or not I was there for the MAN "2 to 1" conversions, I had strongly recommended against it in a study I did when I was overseer there. I had to do all my own work and calculations (without a computer, with a pencil and adding machine only) but I learned an enormous amount from doing those studies, and what I learned helped me quite a bit when I had to work in the real world where if you don't make money, you can't just put an article in Kingdom Ministry and get money pouring in the door; you just go out of business.

The longer MAN cutoff length (the amount of paper used for one magazine) compared with the American Harris presses meant enough extra paper waste for each magazine that over the life of the machine it would make financial breakeven impossible, especially when one added the conversion cost. The more they used it the more costly it got. So I recommended that they ditch the MAN presses and buy new Harris presses (That was the $8 million plan which Randy made into one of his famous cartoons posted somewhere here on this thread). The Factory Committee didn't implement their conversion plan until after I was gone.

After I left Bethel, the Society decided to sell the Wood-Hoe press. They used a used equipment broker in California, a guy I knew named Reggie Dewar (also a good friend of Dan Sydlik's, and coincidentally the one who brought Randy Watters "into the truth"). Reggie used to call me up after Randy left the organization, all upset because he left. I told him that Watters was a good man (what was I thinking!?!) and that Christian living was more important to me than doctrine. I said that if Russell had been around now, he would have been disfellowshipped. Russell, I told Reg, believed in two heavenly classes.

Now for a little aside: As it turned out, Reggie's contact at Bethel was Ralph Lindem, the Society's purchasing agent. Ralph knew me well, and in fact he was one of the four of us who Randy mentioned in another post who made a trip together, when I first presented some of the ideas I had been discussing about law versus undeserved kindness, and which started Randy on the road out of Bethel. He remembers us on the way to DC, but I remember us on the way to a trade show in Boston. (The fourth guy was Werner Bohn, the Overseer of Photoplate. He was rather new at Bethel at the time.) Now back to the Reggie Dewar story.

After I had helped Reggie in his efforts to sell the Wood-Hoe in some long conversations with a buyer in Australia, Reggie confessed to me that he had gotten me into some trouble in a conversation he had with Ralph. Ralph had been on the judicial committee that disfellowshipped Ed Dunlap, and he could be like a bulldog when he wanted to know something. Reggie told me that Ralph kept asking questions until he got Reggie confused, and he ended up telling Ralph that I believed in two heavenly classes, which I am pretty sure started the ball rolling which ultimately led to my being disfellowshipped. I told Reggie that what I had said was that Russell believed that, not me! He said "Yes, I know, but Ralph just kept asking questions until he got the answer he wanted. I'm so sorry." A year or so later, that conversation was brought up to me just prior to when I was disfellowshipped, so I know that somehow it got back to my local committee.




Hey JW,

The only two brownstones the WTS had when I was there, to my knowledge, was 34 Orange and 86 Willow, (where Doc Dixon lived on one floor and some guys lived on another floor). I was in 86 Willow, but never got invited to Dixons' floor. I would not call these homes "luxury" from my current perspective, but nicer in important ways than a standard Bethel room, which was more like a cheap but clean hotel room, (like a Motel 6 in Indiana, for example). These brownstones had a real kitchen, not just a sink, and some even had window air conditioners (but no central air). They also had nice finished wood trim, hardwood floors, and the like. Standard Bethel rooms had metal door frames and metal casement windows. No frills, if you get the idea.

Ed and Betty lived at 119 Columbia Heights, in a nice room there. We visited Ed and Betty in their room, but it was not like a regular apartment, (no kitchen) just a nice room with a private bath. Not much character (read no hardwood), but new and clean.



Hi Tom - and thanks.  It has been many years now, but the apartment where we visited with Ed & Betty was on the first floor of a brownstone for sure.  It must have been around 1972 or 1973.  It had one bedroom, kind of set apart from the living area but in the same general space, and a little kitchen not unlike what you would find in a "Homewood Suites" hotel I say - pure luxury compared to what I saw of the living quarters of my young guy friends who were doing time at Bethel.

BTW - I had completely forgotten about Doctor Dixon - I knew him too, and actually went to him for medical purposes after he had moved back to Oklahoma City.  Nice guy - I always wondered what such an educated man could have possibly thought of the whole Watchtower experience.

For some reason, neither Ed nor his brother Marion ever mentioned Dr. Dixon again - maybe we were all just pre-occupied with the big tragedy of the Franz rebellion.

BTW2 - you did know, I guess, that at the latest word Betty is living in an assisted facility in Edmond Okla.?  She has pretty much fallen to something like Altzeihemrs, much like my mom.  Ed of course passed away years ago of a sudden heart attack, and Marion finally died from just extreme old age about two years ago.



Tom wrote: The press was belching out lots of smoke, which was illegal, and the EPA was trying to catch us, so we were running the press at night so the Society wouldn't get caught polluting and have to pay a big fine.

I got involved in a meeting not long after the dryers were installed on the Harris presses. The gas fumes were polluting and it was my understanding (no verification of this folks) that they were caught by the EPA. We received these large drawings of catalytic converters. You can guess what was the new priority project for the department.



I heard a story that the society supposedly had a computer system that could translate any publication (including the bible) into any language desired, by itself. As someone with some knowledge of linguistics, I know that translating any text is impossible without human input, so this story is definitely questionable. Supposedly, this system was bought by IBM for a undisclosed amount, which sounds like another untruth. Have any former Bethelites heard this story?



You're probably thinking of MEPS, a type-setting program. It could easily switch from one language to another when setting the type (i.e., the layout) for a printed page. Obviously, setting the format for a printed page in 2 different languages is enormously different than translating between 2 languages. If I had a nickel for every time I heard a JW talk about "MEPS, the program that translates the Watchtower into dozens of languages", I'd be buying Microsoft from Bill Gates.  The Society did a rather poor job of communicating just exactly what the program did, and JWs heard what they wanted to hear.



Fred Franz (called Freddy by old timers at Bethel, not disrespectfully) was quite an enigma. I think a lot of us admired him, as he was a purist of sorts. He shunned normal social affairs, yet was very sociable. And he would break out and step into the worlds of others at times. They were impressed.

I never did the shower thing, with Freddy or anyone. Never had time for "luxuries" assuming I would want to do such a tacky thing anyway.  :-))

But Freddy disdained the other members, the newer members of the GB at the time. Bethel men were always hung up on position, and keeping the new boys in their place.  Freddy was, surprisingly, warm and quite friendly to the average joes. Sure, if he didn't bore you to death with his monotones and story illustrations, that were actually at times comical in their own right (he could be very funny in a dry sort of way-LOL), he would show his humanity and vulnerability SPADES more than some other members of the GB.



Sydlik decided to give the Bethel boys a new dress code, this was circa 1979 and they were all in the dining room. It might have been lunch, I don't remember, but there was a big crowd. Sydlik says it is proper that we COME TO THE TABLE dressed like we were going to be in ministry (i.e., dressed UP ).

Now this went over like a lead balloon, not the least with Freddy himself. Normally fairly respectable looking at the breakfast table, the MEAL you did not miss, Freddy came down and sat at the table head all five mornings that week wearing a T-SHIRT (no other shirt or jacket) saying, "Where in the Hell is McCook, Nebraska?"

ONLY Freddy could do that, no one else.




I am probably in the minority, but I actually think Freddy Franz actually believed his own predictions. In that way, I think he was much like Russell. Both of them bought into the theory that somehow one could actually calculate the time of Christ's return. (Most Christians for the past two millennia just took Jesus at his word when he said it would be unexpected, like a thief in the night. Only a few like Russell and Franz forged ahead, trying to outsmart him.)

Rutherford, on the other hand, was not deceived IMHO. He was nothing but an opportunist who saw a golden opportunity in Russell's disappointed followers. He stepped right into Russell's shoes and published the seventh and final volume in Russell's series. But the tables got quickly turned when his little scheme landed him in jail. So he fabricated the whole story about captivity, and set out to create an "organization" (the word means a group of people used as a tool, it was used during that time in connection with labor unions), his own little army to send out, primarily to take revenge against the Catholic church for the role they played in having him, a "Judge", imprisoned. That, I think, is where he came up with his whole fabricated story about God needing to "vindicate" his name. No orthodox Christian ever thought that God's name needed vindication. God needs nothing from us, least of all vindication. That was just Rutherford talking about his own need for self-justification and vindication as being a really good guy, even though he had been put in the clink. That is my informed opinion, anyway.

So thinking was the problem. Until they either got rid of the thinkers or forced them into self-imposed lobotomies, things could not return to a semblance of normalcy.

Regarding Bethel being an apostate breeding ground, I think you are right. The Society got way off the WT track during the seventies. It started in the late sixties with NHK's idea to have a Bible dictionary. He thought it would be a big money maker. But producing the Aid To Bible Understanding book had an unexpected by-product. It made some of the writers actually think more logically about what JWs were doing and why. I doubt that anyone had ever done that before. The result was big changes like the elder arrangement and the GB. Unfortunately, some of the rank-and-file started thinking, too. Before you know it, people were reading the Bible without the publications, and even Bible commentaries and discovering to their surprise that other people besides WT writers read the Bible, too. And that their guesses about what it means were in many cases a heck of a lot better than the ones they were reading in the WT publications (Remember the article "Figs that Give Pleasure Even to God"?) Obviously, that kind of thing (thinking and reading outside publications) had to be stopped. (In the late 1970s, several of the Brooklyn Service Department staff kept a copy of Barnes' Notes right on their desks.)

Prior to 1980, I had never heard of anyone ever being disfellowshipped for apostasy. It was theoretically possible, but extremely rare, like getting disfellowshipped for gluttony or envy. (Look up the word in your WT index and check out its frequency and use prior to 1980.) That is why Cris Sanchez and Nestor Kuilan were so open when questioned. Why shouldn't they be? It said "READ GOD'S WORD THE HOLY BIBLE DAILY" in big green letters right on the side of our factory building. Who knew they didn't really mean it? So thinking was the problem. Until they either got rid of the thinkers or forced them into self-imposed lobotomies, things could not return to a semblance of normalcy.

Bottom line, any stories you hear about Bethel in the 1970s are atypical. The WTS was never like that before, and it will never be like that again, at least not in our lifetimes.





Hi All:

When I was at Bethel, I worked on the Paint and Scaffold Crew. This was when the JWs were buying up property in the Brooklyn Heights like crazy. However, if I remember correctly, they did not buy it up directly. They had a front corporation known as Co-Hi that bought the Bossert and the Standish and then let the Watchtower Society use the buildings and remodel them. I think this is how they got to buy the property on Columbia Heights where the old Margaret Hotel once stood.

I can remember this very guy in a suit coming in periodically and visiting and inspecting the remodeling work on the Bossert periodically. Everyone said that he was in charge of Co-Hi.  I am wondering does anyone know anything more about this group? Around 1988, Co-Hi gave the properties it owned directly to the Society.

Jeff S.


With regard to the Co-Hi group, it was basically a financial syndicate of people that invested or raised money from different sources to buy the real estate. It kind of shielded the WT until they took ownership. One of the main people in that group was from Michigan. He may well have been they guy you saw periodically. He was in New York so much (sometimes half the month) that he bought a home in Patterson to live there when he was on organization business. He was a pretty well-healed guy that I knew very well. They were always tapping those with money, although it was somewhat discreet. Although I was never a member of Bethel, I was there many times. My folks were well connected at the top and supplied many of the top players with cloths and money, especially [George] Couch. He really wasn't a very nice guy. Because of my deep involvement in other areas of the organization, during my eldership I was also in NY a number of times on company business and attended 4 annual meetings (it was worth it just to see the old timers on the "Launching Pad" in the front rows just waiting to be ejected to heaven!) Does anyone here know Martha and Ray Rambo. Been in NY since the 60's. I think they called her the laundry queen because she worked there so long taking care of everybody's dirty cloths.




In the 70's, after 4 years of pioneering -- much of that time spent with sisters about my age -- I had fully expected Bethel to be sisterless. I spent only a couple months in the bindery before getting transferred to the air-conditioned Photoplate department on 1-8, and there were 3 sisters there and several more on the same floor doing proofreading/translating. I did artwork and graphics all day sitting on a high chair at a large glass "light table" next to a single sister, and after a promotion, my normal height desk faced directly towards this same single sister. My eyes now even with her legs, which were always in a pastel-colored skirt, 1 inch above the knee, but tight enough to ride up about 3 to 4 inches above the knee when she sat. (I'm thinking that her name was Judy Martin, but for some reason I remember the exact shape of her legs more clearly than her name). I always thought of her as cute, maybe even pretty, although circumstances could have clouded my judgment.

I talked to her daily and sometimes we'd get away with hours of time talking and working together in the darkrooms. Oddly, she always put on a perky, flirtatious front, but I quickly found her to be lonely and depressed. She was probably 10 years older than me, so we never let the conversation drift toward "romance". I remember once she was mad at me for two days when I referred to her as coquettish, but she forgave me. A very jealous brother in the same department hated me for spending so much time with her. Looking back, I'm surprised he got couldn't get me kicked out, although I know it was the difference in our work assignments that saved me. Judy was one of the first to know of my "apostasy" (my Bible questions) in full detail, and she never turned me in even after two years. She may have thought I had a "spiritual" death wish. It was big news in the department, when Dan Sydlik called me to his office. She and one or two others thought it was the end of my Bethel and/or JW career -- and my always jealous nemesis was gloating.

(As an aside, Sydlik knew I read the Bible with Lengtat and that I was a friend of other "personae non gratae" but when he hinted about this, I merely told him that I didn't want to talk about that, and that I was hoping he'd give me some marriage advice, since I was planning on leaving Bethel in a few months to get married to a sister -- a sister well-known by Fred Rusk, Rinehart, Doc Dixon, and others. His face brightened and he looked relieved himself that I wanted to change the subject.)

I never really noticed a difference in the beauty of married sisters and non-married sisters, with the possible exception of "Sister Sydlik". One of the prettiest sisters at Bethel was a doe-eyed Dutch Gilead student who was rooming with a single sister who was also a friend and next-door neighbor next to the Gilead Library. We spent some study time together but, alas, she was engaged to meet her fiance in her upcoming missionary assignment. I had an older version of U.V. Glass's Gilead notes and we spent some time comparing notes. The most "immoral" thing I ever did at Bethel was give her roommate, Wynn, a back massage. I never thought the back massage was immoral, but we weren't supposed to close the door. Her roommate knew but didn't turn us in. Wynn finally got married, too.

Your comments on racism are interesting. The most racist comments I ever heard at Bethel were from Fred Rusk in Writing. They were about me and how my marriage to his "daughter" (his highly-paraded, freshly baptized "Bible study") was doomed to failure because sooner or later I would end up using the "n" word in anger. So far I've been married to his "daughter" for 28 years and the "n" word has never crossed my mind, except musically.



Hi TOM!!!

I have always wanted to ask you Tom, about subliminal artwork in the WT publications.  There is subliminal artwork that can be found in the WT publications.  A good example of this is Pascal Petits pic on page 93 of the Live Forever book.  She had already done several Lesbian movies by the time that she shows up in the Live Forever book back in 1982.  The Live Forever book and the Revelation/Climax book both have Jests.  Examples: the face in the hand in the r Revelation/Climax book. Jests can also be found in the WT magazines both in the text and pictures. A notable example is the lame horse in the Feb 15, 2008 WT. Also there has been discovered a triangle that has made 3 appearances in WT publications. The purpose of this triangle evidently is to convey a subliminal message.  The triangle is being used a sort of a hypnotic visual cue to convey the intended message to select target audience.  This is just one way the GB portrays itself as being so omnipotent.

So, when you were at Bethel, were you aware of any members of the art dept who might have put jests into the WT publications?



Thanks for the kudos, 1914, but I had lots of help to do what we did. I did learn a lot along the way, but we all did. Randy was a great foreman. So was Jim Petrie, Darryl Block, Dana Primiano, Harry Johnson, and many others. And just about all the press operators were good guys, hard working, honest and sincere. I think one reason I was as successful as I was at Bethel is that I never forgot that these guys were volunteers, that they (at some point at least) wanted to be there, and that if I could just smooth the way for them, they would work hard and have a good time in the process. And just about all the time, it worked.

Regarding your questions about subliminal artwork, I am not much of a conspiracy theorist. I have a book or two that shows WT artwork with things like goats and other stuff in it. Some of it is pretty convincing, as far as the shapes themselves. Of course, when I was there, most of the artwork was pretty simple. It has gotten much more complicated since the switchover to offset printing that happened when I was there.

It is of course possible for some artist to put some little hidden drawing in his work, for any number of reasons (the late caricaturist Al Hirschfield used to always hide his niece Ninas' name in his drawings just for fun), but since it will be printed and distributed to millions, he or she had better have a good reason for it if someone catches it, and with that many copies around, that could happen pretty easily.

Psychological manipulation using subliminal messages is some pretty sophisticated stuff. Things like that require mental resources that are just not available there at Bethel. I would find it nearly impossible to believe any of the people I knew there capable of doing something like that.

Even assuming that there is some evil genius there that could design and implement subliminal psychological messages, (and there isn't; trust me on this) what would the messages’ purpose be? Loyal JWs will obey just about anything the WTS wants them to do. If you can tell people in plain English that they may not take a blood transfusion and they obey even if it means their child will die, what more could you possibly expect from them through some subliminal messages? I saw some silly brochure recently that says that women cannot wear denim skirts when they tour Bethel. Believe me, if they have that much control, why waste time on subliminal messages?

Really good cons are hard to pull off and are mostly the stuff of movies (like The Sting, one of my all time favorites). In the real world, they are pretty rare. Remember the debacle about the staged rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital? If the US Government with all their brains and resources couldn't pull one over, what chance does the WTS have to do so? That is my opinion anyway.




Since I worked in Photoplate for a few years and did several pieces of art for the Art Department, I'd have to concur with you. Granted there may have been some artists before I was there or after I left who managed to slip something in to make their mark, but I never saw it attempted on purpose from 1977 to 1980. And I think it would have been even more difficult in the following years after 1980. They still had some of the same people behind the cameras for years after I was there, and I know how difficult it would have been to slip something like this past Brother Robinson or ANY of the others for that matter. (By camera, I mean the cameras that took pictures of original artwork to ultimately create printing plates for the presses.) 

When I used to post more often on this site, I wrote up my feelings about it here:

I believe it was David Taciak I was talking to (also in Photoplate at the time) who joked with me about a certain artist at 124 who might have been crazy enough to try putting his initials, or some other form of signature, on a piece of art. (David finally got transferred from Photoplate to a permanent position in the Art Dept.) But as I mention in the link above, it was more trouble to keep accidental "subliminals" OUT of the artwork. We'd often see something that came too close to looking like a face in a bush or cloud, or the smear of erasures that didn't "drop out" as well as the artists hoped. We'd often have to shoot something 10 times on the camera to avoid places where we suspected the final print was going to have unrealistic looking water reflections, or shadows that were too strong, or the like. We were pretty good, but sometimes the artist would sometimes see something on the proof that we missed, and sometimes they'd redo it, or we'd touch up the art for them.

In reality, very few of the artists were actually very good at folds in cloth and clothing, or folds in the skin of a hand or wrinkled brow. When an artist is drawing, they will often see a face forming in the cloud and redo it. Even a photograph that might be copied for a picture can have branches making swastikas, and crosses, or clouds that look like a fist "flipping a bird" and the artist is sometimes aware of these problems in a graphic or photograph and UNDOES these things in the art even where the original innocent photograph accidentally created them. (Photos are sometimes too perfect, and don't look natural enough without changes.) But that doesn't mean the artist is going to catch all the subtle things that can show up in his final art AT ALL ANGLES. Some bored person at the Watchtower Study is going to scrutinize a picture from upside-down or sideways and see a face that the artist didn't catch, or a "NINA" in someone's hair. 

Also, we were always trying to get used to how the new printing methods were going to treat color and shadow. And then sometimes you guys would just lay the ink on too thick and it was unpredictable.

I think that a lot of people don't realize that the mind is pre-wired to pick out faces from the surroundings and certain "out of place" objects, shapes and edges - even if these differences are extremely subtle. Too many straight lines in nature will jar the mind and make us conjure up a man-made object. Even babies are psychologically wired to pick up on the slightest variations in faces. Everyone sees a man in the moon. Animals with honed hunting instincts have extremely keen senses for picking out "edges" that don't belong: such as fur among leaves, eyes hiding behind bushes. And there have been numerous studies of how the human mind will automatically get tricked to fill in white spaces with imaginary "suggested" edges.

I haven't given much thought to why so many people tend to find "demonic" images. But faces tend to be unavoidable, and especially the ones that are missed in quality control will often be distorted and therefore might naturally look demonic. It's almost a cliche that a frightened, restless child can see a few extra claws and scary faces in the shadows and branches of a tree scratching near his window after the lights go out. Perhaps it's somewhat analagous that those who now see the dark and scary side of the Watchtower will, therefore, pick up on a few more of these problems in Watchtower artwork, even if it's no more purposeful than those random scratchings of branches through the glass, darkly.


Ulysses and I were pretty good friends, as I was the lead voice for WT dramas in the 1970s, and Ulys and I spent a lot of hours together in the recording studio every spring, getting the dramas ready.



While I was single, I lived in the 124 bldg, mostly the seventh floor (739 and 735) My last roommate as a single guy was Baltazar Perla. Some of you may remember him as the guy who used to play "Malaguena" on the piano in the 124 lobby. He was on track to be a concert pianist when he decided to dedicate the few short remaining years of this system to something much more worthwhile: he was the coordinator of the Spanish congregations (Spanish Desk in the Service Department). I liked Balta very much, and told him many things before we left. He never turned us in. But I haven't spoken to him since we left Bethel in 1980.

After Gloria and I got married on May 25, 1974, we moved into her room, 458 in the 107 bldg. Later, when the Towers opened up, we bid on and got a room on the 13th floor, T1316. We had a nice view of the lower Manhattan skyline and a little balcony. A few GB and other heavies lived on the floor below us, including the Franz' and the Schroeders, and I think Ulysses and Ann Glass.

Ulysses and I were pretty good friends, as I was the lead voice for WT dramas in the 1970s, and Ulys and I spent a lot of hours together in the recording studio every spring, getting the dramas ready. Usually, the summer dramas were first preformed by the Gilead classes for the preceding year, at the graduations. So they had to be made long in advance of the conventions.

Listener [re: Dan Sydlik],

Dan and I got to be friends when I first moved into 739 in the 124 bldg. He lived next door, in 740, and somehow we just clicked as friends. We did social things together outside of Bethel. Dan was single at the time, and worked in Writing. He was interested in a British sister, and Marina came to Bethel about the same time as my wife-to-be, Gloria. Marina did not make friends as easily as some, but she and I got along well from the very start.

When Dan had a falling out with Karl Adams, he was sent to the factory to work in Composition. (Dan told me that he had interviewed a young brother who had used drugs, for an article he was preparing. The brother talked to Dan on condition of anonymity. Karl Adams (overseer of Writing) demanded to know who the brother was, and Dan refused to tell him. Karl sent him to the factory because of that. That kind of thing happened quite a lot at Bethel. There were a lot of similar cases in the Pressroom files, which I had access to when I was Pressroom Overseer, but I didn't spend too much time going through the archives. I was too busy. Later, after I left, I wished I had made copies of some of them.)

By chance, I was closer than most were to the discussions that led to the formation of the GB committees. Fred Maes, John Bechtel and I were once called into a meeting with the entire Governing Body, in 1974, while discussions were underway as a follow-up to “Black Thursday” (that's another story).

After Dan was put on the GB, and their Personnel Committee, he had an office on the ninth floor of Bldg three. I used to visit him nearly every day after I was the Pressroom Overseer. We talked about everything, including a lot of confidential stuff about things going on in the GB and personnel matters. I told him things about how the guys were reacting to things that the GB was doing, and made suggestions as to things that could make Bethel life better for people.

Dan shared lots of stories with me. After I left, I could have gotten many people at Bethel in trouble with what I knew, had I revealed it, but that is not part of my agenda. I simply wanted to know and live by what is true, an accurate picture of reality. I never wanted to get revenge or hurt anyone, least of all Dan. Next to my wife Gloria, he was probably the closest friend I ever had in my life. Losing him as a friend (when we left) hurt me very deeply. I tried unsuccessfully to contact him a couple of times.



Fisherman sez,

DS is an engineer. I think that he was from Texas. He had secular training. I don’t think that Randy Watters did. I was surprised how a young bro like Randy knew so much. Some one had donated some monster press to the WT and Randy W was to put it together? “Where did he learn how to do that?” I thought to myself.

I was a Ford tune-up mechanic on the line, as well as a used car mechanic, and could mickey-mouse anything! INCLUDING the Wood Hoe press. I was no genius, but they had taught me as a press mechanic, an operator, and R&D. Cab and Peach had a lot to do with my training. Plus we actually TRAVELED AROUND (gasp!) to see what others were doing (and could not do) in printing.

Milan Miller was my first roommate. His job was setting up presses around the world! So no one had better training that I apart from the older mechanics, at least on the MANs. I even wrote a lubrication manual for the presses, which did not exist prior to that. Maybe old Reggie Doer had some strings to pull there, I don't know. I just thank God for all the incredible experiences I have had, and so many with you fine folks. What a life!



Can you guys confirm (or otherwise!) a story we London Bethelites heard in the 70s about "big, bad Brooklyn" ...

If a guy with more seniority than you was in competition with you for a promotion (or perhaps just a different job), one way to 'clear your path' would be to stash a Playboy magazine in his locker and get one of your pals to report him to his overseer. And voila, he's no longer in the running ...

We heard this was a fairly common practise over there.



IT Support,

No, what I was told happened when that sort of stuff was found is that the contraband material would be confiscated, passed around among the Factory Committee and other overseers above my level. (Nothing like that ever crossed my desk, I know that much.) They would thoroughly review it to make sure it was "really" bad, then they would carefully file it away as "evidence", in case it was ever needed in the future for disciplinary purposes. At least that is what I was told by my friends in Service. Really! (I doubt that they would mislead me about so serious a matter!)

In all seriousness, to my knowledge, that never happened in the Pressroom during the years I was there, (1969-1980) nor did I ever hear about it as any kind of practice. Maybe it happened once or twice. Perhaps that kind of thing was more likely to happen in Service, Writing or the GB offices, where competence wasn't as easy to determine prior to promotion as it was in the "blue collar" departments, who knows?

Another story: One night, after 11PM, I was on my way home from a meeting, and Doc Dixon (whom I knew pretty well) was standing at the 124 Columbia Hts elevator. "Will you please come with me, Tom?" he said. "I need some help." We took the elevator to the third floor, where the Infirmary was, and where old guys were moved to live out their last years. He took me into the men's room. Adelle Ledley (mentioned elsewhere in this thread) who was a nurse, joined us there. She had been on duty that night. One of the old guys (who shall remain nameless) had died and was lying on the floor of a bathroom stall. The doc and I picked him up and carried him to a gurney which Adelle had brought into the hallway. Later, when they cleaned out his room, I heard that they found some girly magazines between his mattress and box springs. I imagine they were also confiscated by the Bethel office. What they did with them after that is anybody's guess.





Warren’s Comments regarding his stay at Bethel:

Personally, I did not suffer greatly in my Bethel experience, although there were some rough patches. Greg had gone ahead by a few years and prepared a house for me. I was already considered a token Bethelite because of frequent visits on weekends (yes, I could afford to fly up for the weekend and buy all the beer). As Greg mentioned, Bert Schroeder accepted him as a second son, and I also benefited by simple proximity besides being a namesake.

Back in Missouri, I was sick of pioneering and was totally depressed, even though my business was doing quite well. I was beginning to tire of my pioneer partners in the congregation and was ready for a complete overhaul emotionally/intellectually/spiritually. Bethel was perfect for me. New York was energetic and I was soon accepted into a group of liberal intellectuals/scholars right from the start.

My newboy instructor was R. Lengtat. Because of Greg, RL later let me participate in a bible study in his room which included my brother and his roommate. He was always wary of me because of my newfound enthusiasm for fresh ideas, which he thought would find their way back to himself through the wrong channels.

I was actually reading the Bible for the first time in my life and now the questions started. I was a raised a JW and had never deliberately read whole books of the Bible. Every new Bethelite is required to read the Bible cover to cover in his first year. This requirement would be the start of some eye-opening information and would soon change my world view as a JW. Did I mention I was developing a collection of Bible commentaries by worldly authors? My biggest supplier of these books was Ciro Alicino. But not too much time would pass when being a liberal thinking JW was not fun any more. There were the thought police, and then the requirements of the religion were becoming difficult to manage with my new beliefs about christianity. I was beginning a non-doctrinal phase.

I finally left Bethel and my next move to becoming an inactive and invisible JW was not a difficult decision, and actually not too hard to do living in NYC. A couple address changes and you're free of the elder calls/visits. Now all the impositions of guilt by others would go away.... and they did.


But his brother Greg has the “Last Word”:


You said:

"Greg had gone ahead by a few years and prepared a house for me."

That sounds a bit too Christlike for me. [lol] "In your brother's house were mini mansions, otherwise I would have told you." (John 14:2, The Misapplied Translation)

You added: "I was already considered a token Bethelite because of frequent visits on weekends (yes, I could afford to fly up for the weekend and buy all the beer)."

And that 5 gallon bottle of Chivas or Seagrams (only partially disguised under a lampshade) sure was popular in a 4-man Towers corner room. (That's a lamp to get "lit" by.) As I recall, 3 people finished 5 gallons in the 4 weeks we spent in Europe. I hope they shared with their neighbors. Those guys would have gladly run a still to make their own Bethyl alcohol.





You said:

"Greg had gone ahead by a few years and prepared a house for me."

That sounds a bit too Christlike for me. [lol] "In your brother's house were mini mansions, otherwise I would have told you." (John 14:2, The Misapplied Translation)

You added: "I was already considered a token Bethelite because of frequent visits on weekends (yes, I could afford to fly up for the weekend and buy all the beer)."

And that 5 gallon bottle of Chivas or Seagrams (only partially disguised under a lampshade) sure was popular in a 4-man Towers corner room. (That's a lamp to get "lit" by.) As I recall, 3 people finished 5 gallons in the 4 weeks we spent in Europe. I hope they shared with their neighbors. Those guys would have gladly run a still to make their own Bethyl alcohol.



Something like that happened to me ... I think.

When I started dating my wife-to-be, I moved into her congregation (while I was still at Bethel) where there was a "Bethel elder"/"Cong elder" (Elder X) originally from a Midwest congregation that was not far from "back home". There had been recent discussions of "elderhood" although I was an MS and had told them I would turn it down. I was beginning to think that even that responsibility was too dangerous. I had regularly been giving hour talks, and was often invited to give talks in other congregations around the city. I was told that this didn't sit well with this local Bethel Elder X.

C*ro Aul*cin*, a fairly liberal thinker at the time, got word to me that this brother X was out to get me. The thinking was that he (X) might be asked to leave Bethel soon due to his wife's health problems and he desperately wanted to bag an apostate to earn potential "spirituality" points to win his request for them to stay. This same story got back to me from another Bethel elder in the Home Office who had also "turned in" Warren, although I later heard that this other brother apologized because he had thought he was doing it for Warren's good.

I started getting unexpected and not-so-friendly visitors from Bethel for my hour talks (including a Circuit Overseer who "happened to have some time" on an off-week, a brother from Writing, but not one of my friends). I also started getting assignments every single week on the Service Meeting, twice my allowance of TMS instruction talks, and was often asked to fill in for many impromptu talks of this sort. If there was any talk on the subject of "Organization" I would get it (and these were getting common in 1980/1). I guess if someone suspects you are an apostate, the best way to catch you is to make sure you have infected the whole congregation first. Collateral damage.

I knew some sisters from the elder's home congregation. One of those sisters sent me 4 little booklets that were anti-JW in the extreme, but mostly on account of Trinity and Hellfire doctrinal differences, and several problems the author had with Russell and Rutherford chronology and Watchtower history. The sister said that these were from a Bible study and they thought I would have better resources for answering the questions. I did respond, but it was very easy for me to support the Watchtower view of Trinity and Hellfire, because I didn't believe in either of these doctrines, and I could give the usual line about imperfections and mistakes being rather meaningless because, after all, it's Bible we should follow, not men. I knew better than to admit to actually reading these booklets, but it seemed extremely odd that someone would think to send "apostate" material to 124 Columbia Heights in 1980.

No one asked me about the booklets, but I had immediately passed them to my soon-to-be wife. She was a "Pioneer" but already a liberal, non-conformist. So I'll never know if a housekeeper or Bethel spy had already searched for them. In early 1980 nothing would have surprised me!




Cab sez,

Later, when they cleaned out his room, I heard that they found some girly magazines between his mattress and box springs. I imagine they were also confiscated by the Bethel office. What they did with them after that is anybody's guess.

M. Miyamoto worked in the infirmary when she got married and first came in with her husband Ron, who was also one of the elders in our congregation. They were from Hawaii. Marion used to tell stories of the older ones in Bethel and the crazy stuff they would be caught doing, like taking the flowers out of vases, drinking the water and putting the flowers back in. One VIP well-known died and his stuff was examined and he had a baby diaper and bottle stashed away! I won't EVEN give the name.  :-))