“Four Years of Utopia, Then Prison!” by Neva Sly
Following her departure from Peoples Temple, Neva Sly Hargrave spent several years volunteering for the “Hot Line” in Reno and counseled adults and children who had been abused. She retired as a paralegal and started writing a book for children called The Land of Aurora Borealis, which will be going out to the publishers soon. She is a minister and teaches metaphysics and healing techniques. She now lives in Northern California. Her e-mail address is Neva2peace@yahoo.com.
By the time our family moved to Northern California, we had already left organized religion – we couldn’t deal with the hypocrisy of the church – and had begun our metaphysical training. Shortly after our arrival in Willits, we started an Edgar Cayce group focusing on the strength of paranormal experiences and healings.
We were very involved in our community. Don was the Mayor’s Recreation Commissioner, and I was in charge of the float for our annual Paul Bunyan days. We were also instrumental in starting the Junior Miss Pageant put on by the JC’s. Our adopted son, Mark – the light of our lives – had just started kindergarten. We were not able to have children, and Mark filled our dream, yet we longed for more!
There were several couples in our Edgar Cayce group and we got to know them very well. Our children became best friends too! We started enjoying other activities together, such as family picnics during the summer months. We met Tom and Sylvia Grubbs the day they came to town looking for a house, because Tom had a position as teacher in one of our schools. We clicked immediately and soon became close.
Two of the families in our group lived in Redwood Valley just over the mountain from where we lived. Their children went to school in Ukiah, where Jim Jones was teaching. When Jim started having a group of kids over to his house for discussions, they eagerly joined in. These kids were at the age of vulnerability and peer pressure to experiment with the drugs that were popular at the time, but Jim was able to stop them. The kids told their parents, and of course, the parents told our Edgar Cayce group. They wanted all of us to join them at the opening of the Peoples Temple church in Redwood Valley. Don and I were dubious – we had had our fill of churches – but then again, the church leader seemed to be working wonders with our kids!
A few days later I had to go to Ukiah. On the way home I stopped by to see this new church… you know, just a peek! When I saw the door was open, I went in. Much to my surprise, the first thing I saw inside the church was a swimming pool!
I couldn’t go any further, though. Eva Pugh and Helen Swinney stopped me, and told me they were preparing for the grand opening on Sunday. They assured me I would be welcomed at that time. Although very polite, their sternness caused me to leave promptly!
When I returned home, I told Don, Tom and Sylvia of my adventure. After a long discussion, we decided to go to the grand opening and find out what this was all about.
We were overwhelmed, not only by the crowd – a congregation from San Francisco was in attendance, and their choir sang – but by the feeling of love that seemed to wrap each one of us within it. The children played around Jim’s house, especially with the animals. He almost had a zoo back there, and the kids delighted among them. Although there were too many people to open the pool for swimming that day, the children were equally impressed at the sight of a pool inside a church. So was Don, who had been a Junior Olympic Swimmer when he was in high school.
We were served a marvelous lunch, and as we ate, Jim came over to our table and sat down with us. He began telling us of his dream: a group that was united for the Brotherhood of All; a group that took care of its people and put braces on the children’s teeth if needed, took care of its senior; a group that worked together for the common good. He said the group needed to be strong enough to help sway the government for the good of All, not just the corporations! He said children need to be nurtured, they need something worthwhile to feel that they could contribute to the common good. We could not have agreed with him more! He didn’t preach the Bible, he preached about injustice. He preached about the inadequacies and dehumanization of the welfare system. He preached about people coming together to change things and make this country one that shows it cares for its people!
After going to two more Sunday services, Tom and Syl decided to move to Redwood Valley, closer to the church. We may have been in shock, hearing their news, but we were both envious and wanted to move too… which we did, about a month later! Don and Tom had to commute to Willits to work, but Sylvia and I jumped in with both feet and took off… Flying high in the Temple work!
Jim was very excited about the Temple getting a contract for the concession stand at the ball park. So, Syl and I got busy making popcorn balls (which frequently grew into a popcorn fight with the kids), fudge and dipped chocolates (which we never made with either the kids or the hubbies around!). We even went and served in the concession stand.
Don was in heaven, as he was promptly put in charge of the pool and of the swimming lessons! We had a lot of good swimmers, so he was very pleased to be chosen to teach swimming. Jim also talked about building a school, which impressed all of us, especially Tom.
There were times when Syl and I would clean house for someone who was in the hospital having a baby, or who was too sick to do housework. We even washed their clothes, dried them and put them away! We really enjoyed the way we, the Temple, served the community and people who were in need. Neither Syl nor I had had a job outside the home in years, so we considered ourselves “Full Time Temple” and offered to do anything we could. Our offer was soon accepted, when Edith Bogue called and asked if we would assist her with the telephone tree. We were thrilled, because this would help us get to know all of the members!
After we moved to Redwood Valley, we started going to the Wednesday night meetings, which were quite different than the Sunday meetings. For one thing, it was just “Temple family” – no visitors allowed – so Jim could speak freely about his philosophies, without worrying about offending anyone. He spoke of his dream community, a place where we would all live communally and share and help one another, a place where the children would be schooled with love and lots of praise, with teachers who nurtured and cared for them all, a place where we grow our own food and live off of the land, a place where we would have our own medical clinic and be able to help local people too. We were in heaven. Truly, we were.
Then one night Jim brought the dream together with one word. We are all socialist! The church rocked with thunderous applause!
To Don and me, the way Jim talked about the community, he was talking about GOD’s way, certainly not socialism! We were shocked to the core, so Tom and Syl went home with us and we all sat into the wee hours of the morning talking about it. We finally decided that we were, in fact, socialist for dreaming this vision of communal life and brotherhood!
We wrote hundreds of letters to our congressmen and senators, as well as to the President of the United States, to try and sway their opinion on social issues. Was asked them to serve the people, not the wealthy, but the poor! Most of the time, we succeeded. There is strength in numbers!
Jim gave me the confidence to go back to work, after being a stay-at-home-Mom for six years. I was privileged to be able to work in the rehab workshop at Mendicino State Hospital, even though Governor Ronald Reagan closed it a year later. A lot of the people in the workshop were retarded adults, and there is no place where you can learn simple love and gratitude as well as through these people! It was wonderful, and I had a beautiful experience being with them all.
Throughout this period of time, our Temple was growing by leaps and bounds! We had a fantastic choir director, who was not only talented and wrote a great deal of our music, but who also had a talent for getting us excited over the music. He led us in such a way that we almost felt like we could move mountains! Jim’s wife, Marceline, who had a beautiful sweet voice, sang “Black Baby.” We had some great voices and finally made a CD of the Temple Choir that was fantastic!
When we started acquiring the buses, we knew that we were growing and on our way to the dream Jim envisioned: Equality and Brotherhood for All! Don was beside himself with joy when he was asked to be a bus driver, soon afterward, I was asked too! What a privilege, to be able to drive a busload of our people to San Francisco and Los Angeles to hold meetings in those towns and to bring people into our family! Each bus had a hostess for the driver and the people on the bus. That way, if anyone needed anything – be it water, something to eat or a diaper for a child – the hostess was there to help.
Marvin was in charge of the buses, training the drivers, and putting together the schedules. To keep the drivers fresh, we were supposed to drive only four hours at a time, and then let another driver take over. When we weren’t driving, we were told to sleep in the luggage rack under the bus. But they couldn’t get me to go under the bus. No way!
Since I had not been working long enough to take a vacation, I didn’t get to go on the first vacation, but Don and Mark did. They were both were so excited when they got home; they had had a great time with the Temple family.
Our two-bedroom house was small, so when we were asked to take in a young man, we could only offer our couch to him. But that was okay with Mel – who had come from San Francisco to get off the streets – and he came home with us. Archie (A.J.) and Jack Beam Sr. kept him so busy we hardly saw him, except in the evening. Little did we know, this was the beginning of the first communal home for boys!
During this period of time, our letter-writing campaigns became one of our principal tasks, and we worked diligently and continuously at it. We received letters from senators and congressmen, as well as our own state officials, thanking us for writing and expressing our opinions. More importantly, we saw a lot of them change their votes because of our letters! Although many of the politicians appreciated our active support for causes that would help people, there were those who did not appreciate us at all!
We were known for our love of animals, and frequently a basket with newborn kittens or puppies would appear on our doorsteps. Of course, we had dead cats or baskets of rank liver left at our doors too. The local people didn’t know what to think about us, and they began to have qualms about what we were all about.
The leeriness of the townspeople caused Jim to become suspicious of everything, from a group of kids going down the creek, to strangers coming to our services. He asked our church greeters to start questioning new people in our services, to find out who they were and why they were there, and if it was a reporter, they were dealt with separately. Some were not even allowed to come into the service.
The first time Jim called me at midnight, he said, “Darlin’, I realize it is very late, but we have an emergency and I need you to call all of our family to assemble immediately. Please try not to alarm anyone! I so appreciate all you do for the Temple and I want you to know that I love you very much.” He was always so considerate and kind.
When we assembled at the Temple that night, Jim said he had heard shots and felt there were armed agents behind his house. He thought the CIA was closing in on us, because of our political strength. This is when the security team was started. After that, someone was guarding the Temple and Jim’s house day and night.
People wore attire in the church according to their tasks. It was like everyone had their uniform and people knew who did what. The security guards wore black outfits, the counselors had red caftans, the choir wore green dresses and the secretaries wore blue caftans. Bonnie and I organized the women to make choir dresses .
We drove our people in the buses to San Francisco every other week for services. Frequently we brought back teenage boys who had been in gangs on the streets, kids whose parents had given up on them, and young people who were into drugs. They had to go through “cold turkey” to get off their drugs. We had a room for them to stay in – and someone to stay with them – 24 hours a day, until they were clean and ready to move into our home. By that time, we had moved to Redwood Valley into one of our members’ homes that had a grape vineyard. Although cramped for space, our communal family of teenage boys grew. At one time we had 19 boys living there. We didn’t have two-tier bunk beds, we had three-tier bunk beds!
There were other communes starting too. West house was the nicest. Most of the members who lived there were in an official position and worked closely with Jim, some handled the news releases for our family, others were counselors who worked with the members. We also had members who had homes for the mentally handicapped adults and homes for seniors, as well as homes for problem kids.
Christmas in Redwood Valley was something to behold. We didn’t have our festivities on Christmas day, but on the day after, several of us would go to San Francisco to buy toys for our kids. After all, that’s when everything was on sale! Bonnie did a great job of organizing what all of the kids wanted. By New Year’s Eve, we were ready to celebrate Christmas. Everyone would gather at the Temple, and then out would come Chris, a big hunk of a man, dressed as Santa Claus! He passed out the toys to the children and we had a great time. It was such fun for everyone!
Sylvia and I had become secretaries for Jim. He would call us up to take notes about what someone needed to do, to find a job or to take care of their health. We also took notes during the healing services and stood close to the person being healed with the nurses and Jim.
When Tim and Grace moved to the valley, I started working for Tim in the legal office. Although I knew nothing whatsoever about the legal world, Tim was very patient with me and explained what he needed. At least I could type (thank goodness!). Tim was one of the most gentle men I have ever met. He had a vision for the brotherhood of man that was overwhelming! I felt sad for Grace, since they were newlyweds, and Jim kept Tim working many times through the night!
Just about the same time, Jeanne and Al started the publication house. Patty, Joyce, Bob, Reggie, and I spent many a night brainstorming about articles that Jim wanted published in our newsletter. We got a Chief 22 press, composer and everything else we needed for our publishing enterprise. Since I had been doing the mimeographing for the letter writers, I found the Chief 22 press fascinating… so, I was sent to school in Los Angeles to learn how to operate it. I became the pressman, and Reggie became my assistant and started learning how to run the press! Even though I am tall, the press was way too big for me, so Archie made a step table for me. It was like two stairs with a platform so I could move around the top of the press. It was great! We got so busy, that I had to quit working with Tim, and devoted my time solely to the publication house. There were many weeks that we got a total of eight hours sleep, for the week. I also did not have time to attend the services in the Redwood Valley church very often. However, I did get to go to the services in San Francisco and Los Angeles, because I still was a bus driver!
All of the bus drivers took the job very seriously. We were responsible for our passengers as well as the maintenance of the bus. Since we were over the legal limit on the number of people that were supposed to be on a bus, we were very cautious. The bus drivers were a group of characters, each and every one of us. We joked and played a lot! But when it came time to driving, we took the job very seriously! Each bus had a CB, so we were able to communicate with each other and we used to get a bit silly when we were driving down I-5, just after it was constructed. We needed to be cutups – the scenery was boring, the traffic was light, and the road was straight – and we were!
However, our vacation to Washington DC was beyond my expectations! We held services in a couple of states along the way. One evening, and when we got to Gulfport, Mississippi, we stopped to prepare dinner. While setting the tables, I noticed some strange looking people with white hoods gathering nearby, but it didn’t ring any bells with me, until they started shooting. Then I realized it was the KKK, and they were shooting at our black people! The security team was yelling for everyone to get back on the buses, but most of the security team were black! So I yelled for all the black people to get on the buses, including the security team! Although we were scared to death, we all got safely on the buses and got out of there!
When we got to Washington, D.C., we automatically picked up trash that had been thrown by careless people on the beautiful grounds. The Washington Post wrote an article about this group that picked up the trash and gave the maintenance men a day off! We loved it!
The next year we had a great vacation. We drove to Canada and held services in Vancouver, B.C. Then we drove down to Los Angeles, picked up some more people and went to play at someone’s private beach just below Roserita Beach in Baja, Mexico! We were really roughing it. We even dug potty holes in the beach each day! But we had a great time and really got to know each other. Our family had grown, and those in Redwood Valley, San Francisco and Los Angeles hadn’t had much time to get to know each other before then. Although I was in charge of finding homes for our people to stay in, when they were away from home, I still didn’t know the people as I wanted to, so this was great, as far as I was concerned.
I was astounded when all of the smokers were called up in one of the Wednesday night catharsis session. We got spanked for smoking, but that didn’t hinder me. I was bound and determined that I would keep something that was just me! So I continued smoking, but no one knew about it, except Don!
Because of our responsibilities, the boys’ commune was split up, and Don went to live at the ranch where he helped Richard and Claire and drove the mentally-challenged adults to the workshop, as well as did maintenance on the buses with Marvin. Mark and his friend Darcy went to live with Don and Bonnie, since Don was a science teacher at the high school, and Mark was into science in a big way. I moved to West House across from the Temple. We had particular chores in the house each week, and we scheduled different people to cook each night. Although I had never been in a house that was not mine, Jean was a wonderful house monitor and very fair. Don and I were too busy to miss each other, but when we drove to San Francisco and Los Angeles, believe me, we made up for lost time! Both Don and I loved the seniors that usually took our buses. They were so much fun!
About that time, Jim started asking people in the Valley who could earn a good salary to move to San Francisco and help earn money for our mission in Guyana. Since I saw Don and Mark only on the weekends, and since I knew I could earn a good salary, I volunteered to move.
I moved in with Bob and Joyce, who had already landed jobs in San Francisco. We lived on Fillmore, just off Haight, and on the weekends we had Bob’s kids and – frequently – Mark with us too! I slept in a closet on a cot. I must say, it was cozy! But we had a close tie from being in publications together, so we got along great.
I was also part of my new neighborhood, and although that was a very tough black area in San Francisco, we felt a sense of solidarity with it. One day, as I got off the bus at Haight and Fillmore, a black man began hassling me, until another, very large black man came over and told him that I lived there. The teenage boys that lived in our home in Redwood Valley were always on my case about driving around the Fillmore area alone, but I didn’t have any fear. They just couldn’t get their concern through my head, but on the other hand, I never did have any trouble with anyone there!
Helen Swinney was in charge of the communes. She gave us our allowance each week as well as the food for the commune. The communes took care of our basic needs, and we didn’t have expenses, so we really didn’t need much. We turned in our paychecks for a five dollar weekly allowance (although people with special needs got extra). I smoked only a pack a week, but no one knew except Don.
Although I missed Redwood Valley, we were too busy with letter writing, peace marches, working with officials in San Francisco, and going back and forth to Los Angeles. One of our letter writing campaigns was to thwart the King Alfred Plan, which was a way to put people that were not white into concentrated areas with fences around them. We were seeing fences being put up in San Francisco around vacant property, and naturally thought the plan was already under way. Jim had given me the document to read and prepare the sample letters for people to copy or to go by in writing their own letters to the senators and congressmen. Our letters thwarted the plan. It was voted down, we never heard anything more about it!
The Temple continued the weekly catharsis sessions, and much to my chagrin, I found that kids were going through boxing matches when they misbehaved! It was like beating, and I totally disapproved. In fact, Don and I did not believe in spanking: I feel there are too many ways to discipline a child without spanking! What was worse, the child being disciplined was frequently pitted against someone older and bigger!
I was in San Francisco only about since months when my office moved to Los Angeles, which Jim thought was great! I could help with the Temple down there. Unfortunately, I had to travel a lot with my job, as the Board of Directors usually met at a ski lodge. I also hurt my back moving a file cabinet at work, so I was incapacitated and finally moved back to San Francisco. But while I was in L.A., I learned that the catharsis sessions – with kids being disciplined in the boxing matches – took place there, too.
I had been too busy to go to the services when I was in the Valley, but when I moved to San Francisco and Los Angeles, I got to the services and was absolutely shocked at the difference! Our family was so uptight and rigid, I couldn’t believe it! I excused it – as Jim said frequently – as something we had to do for the All or – as he also said – the Means satisfies the End result!
I moved into the children’s commune that Joyce and Bob had on Potrero Hill. We did a lot with the kids, even though we all worked, and we had a lot of fun, especially on hair-cutting day in the back yard. Several of our children were considered to be problem kids, but they weren’t, not for us anyway!
I got a job as Assistant Controller at the local radio station, KFRC. My new job required me to have nicer clothes, but we found them at the local thrift shops. Soon my boss asked me to join Junior Achievement and teach kids about bookkeeping. Jim was very pleased about my being asked, as well as having me working for the main radio station in San Francisco!
We had our meals at the Temple with all the other communes, although the food was good, it was mainly starches, like spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and the like. One day, Joyce and I went to the local Soup Factory for lunch and felt totally paranoid about someone seeing us there, but we enjoyed it so much, that we just didn’t care! Eating out was something communal folks didn’t do!
In general, the Temple counselors were very loving, until someone did something wrong, then they became like policemen, and were very cruel, I thought! The weekly communal catharsis session in San Francisco was like going into court before a judge! Jim would sit at his podium, while members complained about something another person did. Although the family decided the punishment, it was Jim who would finally announce the decision, and give it to the counsel to be carried out. That way, he didn’t appear to be involved.
I was very troubled about this treatment and felt sorry for the kids as well as the members who were being punished. Most of it was for small infractions, such as being seen eating out, and the person was put through such a grilling, that they were shamed for just being human!
I used to drive to the beach at 3 in the morning, just to get out and be by myself! Joyce was concerned because of the time, but she understood that I needed to be in my own space for a while. One of our teenage boys caught me one night, and said he would tell if I didn’t take him with me. So, I did!
Because of my back, I still could not drive the bus or travel, so I stayed in San Francisco when the family went to Los Angeles. It was really hard for me to have to stay. I felt so left out! At the same token, it was like I was free for the weekend! My emotions were very mixed, to say the least. You see, I felt like I was in prison and couldn’t do anything on my own, without someone there watching me. Now, I think my back problem came about just to get me away from the hubbub and turmoil within the Temple, because as long as I was busy, I didn’t have time to think. I just moved and did what I needed to do!
But when I had all this time on my hands, I began to hear a voice in my head saying, “You have to leave! Neva, you have to escape!” Over and over. I was shocked at the idea, and couldn’t believe I was telling myself to leave. Still, the more I observed what was happening within the Temple as well as the changes in Jim – with people calling him “Dad” and “Father” – the more confused I got.
We were very good to our seniors, they were very important to us, as they had come from unbelievable backgrounds and deserved peace and a lot of love! Most of them came from religious backgrounds. Yet they all called Jim “Dad” or “Father,” so I stopped calling him “Jim” and called him “Father” too, for the good of All. But when Jim said he was the reincarnation of Jesus, that stopped me! Somehow I knew that was not true! I had always had a good relationship with Jesus – and still do – and I just knew that was not true!
One weekend after everyone left for Los Angeles, I went to the Temple for our communal dinner. Of course there weren’t many people there, and after dinner I decided to go up and see how Jim’s mother Lynetta, whom I loved dearly, was doing. She was bedridden by then. Although Vicky doled out Lynetta’s medication, I was asked to give it to her when Marceline and Vicky were at work. I didn’t like pills, nor did I like giving them to anyone, but there was no one else, and I was happy to help. Lynette and I chatted for quite a while, and then I got up and got her pills. But something was wrong. I didn’t think they were the right color. I didn’t know what to do! I told Lynetta of my confusion and asked her if she thought I should call Marceline, since I didn’t know how to reach Vicky. We agreed, and I called. Marceline came home, and sure enough, they were the wrong pills.
When I walked into the communal Catharsis on Monday night, I knew something was very wrong. Jim was seething with anger, and the whole Temple was immersed in his angry energy. I thought to myself, “Oh my, someone is in trouble tonight!” Little did I know that it was over Lynetta’s pills!
When Jim said my name, I knew what was coming. He asked me what happened about Lynetta’s pills. I retold the story; after all, Vicky had just made a mistake that anyone could have made. But Jim went wild, telling Vicky that she could have killed his mother. Finally he asked us what we thought her punishment should be. Several of the counselors said she should be whipped! Paul pulled out a garden hose that was about four feet long. I absolutely freaked, my mind was going crazy, I knew I could not beat anyone, much less with a rubber hose! Then I heard the voice in my head saying, “Put your arms up like you are crazed and flay them around. The hose will pass you by!” And I did. I would have done anything to keep from having the hose passed to me. It worked! But the hose still passed, and Vicky was beaten by everyone there, except me! I couldn’t believe we had come to this!
Then Paul asked me if I was still smoking! I said that I was, and Sylvia came down and got on my case. All of a sudden, she had the hose in her hand and was beating me, seriously so. I was in such shock that I didn’t even feel it! I just couldn’t believe that we had come to this point. It was a dictatorship that you either followed, or you got punished! Again, I heard the voice saying that I had to escape, I had to get out NOW! But I had no idea how to do that. After all, Jim had told us that anyone who left would die!
When I went to work the next day I had pants on, but when I sat down on a pillow, to protect my bruised rump, my bookkeeper saw the marks on my legs and went in and told the boss! She called me in, and hiked up my pant leg. The welts were unbelievable! She asked what happened. I told her I had been beaten for smoking. She didn’t know I was a Temple member – we were not to tell our employers – but I told her. She called the station manager, and Pat put the advertising reps to work calling apartment buildings and motels to find places for me to stay. They were incredible. I could never have done it on my own.
At the Wednesday night meeting I knew I could get out, because I was one of Jim’s secretaries, so I told the guard that I had to get some aspirin for Jim. I drove home, packed my few belongings in the car, and went to the first motel that had been reserved for me under another name. I moved to two other motels that night, three the next night, and two on Friday night, keeping my car out of sight. I was in the Marina and knew that the members didn’t go to that area of San Francisco. Still, I was too paranoid to sleep; I just knew someone was going to kill me the minute I stepped outside! That feeling lasted a long time, even after I got my first apartment.
Friday I learned that people from the Temple had called the radio station, searching for me, but my co-workers always said that I was in a meeting or out of the office at the time! Then one of the reps came up to our office and said he had an apartment for me in a secure building on the Bay. Immediately, my boss had the advertising rep drive me there, and I rented the little studio apartment that I soon loved so much. It was mine alone!
Still, I continued to be harassed at my job. Even my boss received threatening calls. Temple members followed me everywhere, and they let me know it. They would call me at home and tell me where I had been that day. When I got a private investigator to try to get Mark back, I learned that my phone was tapped.
Bob Houston’s death really shook me up, because I knew he had been about to leave the Temple. He was found crushed between two trains in a railyard, and the official ruling was one of accidental death. I met the California Attorney General in the private investigator’s office and told him that Bob had worked around trains all of his life and knew never to work around the railyard without his gloves on. When I took him to work at 4 in the morning, he put his gloves on before he even got out of the car. Yet when they found him, he did not have his gloves on. Many of us who were now outside the Temple believed he had been murdered, but if the Attorney General ever investigated Bob’s death any further, we didn’t hear about it.
I still find it hard to believe that we went from a sense of Utopia and family, to one of Prison and separation! When I realized that I would rather be dead than go back to the Temple and live in a prison, that was when I also realized, I had the strength to leave. I could not tell my husband or son, for fear they would report me to counsel and I would be punished!
About a year and a half later, I ran into Jeanne and Al. They had started the Human Freedom Center. They took me home and spent two days deprogramming me. They called people who had escaped to explain why they had left. I heard things that were almost impossible to believe. One was an old lady who had been healed of blindness and could not walk, I was overwhelmed with her healing at the time, so when they had me talk with Linda – who had been one of Jim’s secretaries before she escaped – she said that she had acted the part of the old lady and was scared that I was going to recognize her. I never did. She had acted the part well!
It has been said that Jonestown, Guyana was a Utopia for everyone, until Jim arrived. Then it turned into another concentration camp, with speakers all over the compound and Jim preaching all the time! My son, Mark and his friend Tommy spent many days in a 6’ by 6’ hole, because they were rebellious. But their rebelliousness never got them out of there.
Mark and Tommy died in Jonestown. My husband Don died in Jonestown. Tom and Syl died in Jonestown.
I had come to the conclusion that you can’t allow yourself
to become a sheep, following one leader blindly! You can’t allow
yourself to get into the position of being brainwashed! I only wish
all my friends and family had come to the same realization before
they left for Guyana.