Transcript prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
(Editor’s note: The original of this transcript – complete with verbal fillers and false starts – appears here.)
Stephan Jones: When I was little, we had a nuclear family, and it was really great. (Pause) I don’t know, we never had discipline the way– One of the things that struck me, I knew when I’d done wrong, and I think I felt much worse. Dad had a way of making me know that what I had done was wrong. He never put a hand to me. I’ve been spanked by teachers and stuff like that, and all it ever did to me was, make me hate, and I’d have a way of taking my mind on what I’d done wrong and directing my– I’d be hostile to the person that spanked me, but he knew how to make me know I’d done wrong. But we never had the violence in the family, none of the spanking. The parents argued over different matters of discipline– they disagreed over some, but I don’t know, it was just a good atmosphere. And there was never favorites, because they knew, in their own mind, they had to prove that they didn’t favor their natural born over their adopted children, because they knew the children’d have conflict over that. And I don’t know, they always had time for us, and Dad always had time for us, and used to wrestle around with us and stuff and show us love at the same time, and talk about it, and talk with us about what was right and wrong and everything. It was just anything you could imagine good about a family, that’s what it was. And as I got older, Dad got more involved with people, ‘cause he knew he had something to offer, and we all knew he had something to offer to mankind. People started coming in and seeing his goodness, and more and more, he was pulled away from me, and– not just me but all of us, and he had less time for us, and you could tell– I think it hurt him– I know it hurt him more than it hurt us, because– (Pause) (Sighs) It was sort of a combination with us, because not only did we feel hurt, because we didn’t have the time, but we also could see his hurt, that he didn’t have the time with us. And it made me hostile, very hostile, because the only thing I ever had to identify with was the nuclear family, was our family, because nobody ever tried to understand. Everybody hated. When you don’t understand something, you usually strike out against it, other than try to understand, and they just couldn’t understand me having a black brother [Jim Jones Jr.] and an Asiatic brother [Lew Jones] and sister [Suzanne Jones Cartmell], and it was a conflict with me and anybody that I would try to make friends with. So the only thing I had was the family, and I saw it falling apart, and it made me withdraw, really bad, and I started to care about animals. That’s when I started my thing with animals because they were all I had, and as long as I gave to them, they would give something to me, and then I kinda pulled away from people. So I guess that was a good part of my life, ‘cause animals had been, fulfilling to me and stuff. But it was hard for me to come to realize that Dad had something to offer. It was selfish of me to think that I could have all of such a advanced, mind and person, because he was far ahead of most people, intellectually. He knows what’s right and he’s been blessed with compassion, but at the same time, he’s always had the ability to let you know when he stands on a subject, and I’ve never known anyone to not respect what he has to say.
Woman Interviewer: So what was it like when maybe you were (unintelligible word) teenager (unintelligible word), when he started maybe developing a communal lifestyle for his people, and not just people who came to his church maybe once a week, but–
Stephan Jones: Mm-hmm [Yes].
Interviewer: – turn into a close knit community, maybe, I don’t know if it was in Indianapolis or if it was in Redwood Valley when it started it. How old were you when you started to have to really share your Dad with a larger community that was really close-knit, and it pulled on him, on his energy and his resources to a much greater extent than any other dad that you knew.
Stephan Jones: Well. I’d say I was probably eight or nine when we started, and Dad had turned towards a more communal way of life, not just the nuclear family, but anyone that believed what he believed and stuck with him, was part of the family. Which now, I see that’s right and I know that’s right, and it’s made my life a lot better, having people that you can fall back on and know you can rely on, but at that time, I saw my Dad just drained, what used to be a lively person, and an energetic person, just started to fade before my eyes, you could just see him just drained to the point of near death. From that time on, there was nothing for me to think that, Dad’s only got at the most a couple of years. I’m to this day surprised that he’s made it as long as he has, because he always made a point to talk to me, and let me let me know about my responsibilities if he isn’t always with us. And it was the loving thing to do, because I don’t know what I’d do if–I’m ready for it now, but at that time, I would’ve just gone completely insane if I’d lost him, because he’d been my only identification point, the only thing I had, to keep me in touch with reality, because everybody seems so cold and so distant and so selfish. It made me really hostile, like I’m surprised that I just didn’t totally (Pause) turn away from what we believe, and just become a totally self-centered person, and it made me hostile because I had lost everything that seemed good to me. ‘Course, it was later replaced by something that’s even better, you know. Dad made me feel secure, but what is one man or one family against a very hostile world? But it turned me against that way of life, and it made me very withdrawn, it made people dislike me at the same time because I was nasty, and I always thought I was right and I never would shut my mouth, and I started fights over little things, and I became what most people would call a– I can’t think of the word for it, but I would’ve ended up in some sort of reform school if it hadna been for my dad, parents that cared about me and I could go and talk to because I had become hostile to the world and people in general, because I felt they were taking something from me, but now I see they deserved it just as much as I did.
Music for several seconds
Stephan Jones: We lived in Indianapolis up until the early 60s, because at that time, before we left Indianapolis, Dad was pastoring a church, and the way he could see it, he was kind of fighting a losing battle because people were drawing from him but never making any kind of commitments to any ideals, and he knew that in Brazil, which is where we went, and other Third World nations, that there were people starving that would be appreciative of what he had to offer, and at least he could do something for somebody, instead of wasting his life on people that were by no means ready to make any kind of commitment, so we left, I guess it must’ve been in ’62 or something for Brazil, and we set right off– I don’t remember much, but I know that Dad set right in to setting up an orphanage for all the children that their parents had just died off. The only thing I remember about it is that I never had a shortage of playmates, and I thought it was just great, because I always had somebody to go out and play with, and they never, looked down on me for having a black brother, because they were all darker complected. But I just remember that Dad never would live high, we always would live in the poorer sections of town, because he didn’t want to lose that identification. Plus he didn’t feel right living higher or anything, but he always made sure that we were fed and that we had the little things that he feels children should have. But I remember that people would constantly be coming to the door wanting food and needing something, because they were starving, just right and left. We had lived what would be considered poor in the United States, but when we came down there it just shocked me to see how people are forced to live in so many places, and it was hard for me to cope with for a long time, because it was just– I just never even imagined that people could be so degraded and so malnourished and so without anything, they had nothing. It was everything they could do to just keep their families alive, and themselves alive. (tape edit)
In a place like this, Dad always had something to do, he was always getting things done, from the orphanage where he was seeing about somebody, so he was away from the house quite a bit. Strangely enough, I’d identified with my father more than I had with my mother [Marceline Jones], because he always presented both sides, the strong figure but at the same time, the loving figure. So I didn’t see how I needed anything else, but with him gone, I kinda had to turn to my mother, and I think from her, I got a lot of my compassion. I never felt like I had to prove anything to people, at least not at that time, and I felt like I could say I loved somebody, I knew I could cry and not feel like I was a sissy or (short laugh) weird. So I kinda got a good balance of– (pause) I don’t know, I just got a good balance. And I also had another woman that lived with us. She received a salary from us, but she really didn’t do anything but she lived with us and she was kinda like a second mother. It was a good experience for me, because she was so down to earth, she was so practical because that’s the only way she knew to survive, is, you had to be matter-of-fact, you couldn’t get into a whole bunch of (Pause) fairy tale and niceties because it was a hard world. She’d go home every weekend and visit her family, and see how they were, which was shocking to me because my parents always could find time, to give us love and everything, but she had to make money or they would’ve died, so she didn’t have any time to see them but on weekends, and I went home with her one time, and it was terrible. She lived on a mountain, on a little hill, and you just looked around, and the rains had washed half the houses down the hill, people were walking around trying to rebuild their little huts that were just made out of scrap, it just looked like a junkyard. And it just had a hell of an impact on me, because I’d never realized that people could live like that. (Pause)
After being in Brazil for a couple of years, I don’t know the exact time, it became evident to my Dad that there was gonna be some sort of rightwing takeover, because there was too much unrest in the people, and they were getting tired of their living conditions and the way they were being oppressed, and Dad knew, it was sure what would happen, so we got out of there. And sure enough, eventually, there was a stronger government was put in power, but anyway, we out and we went back to Indiana (clears throat) and uh–
Person off mike: David George around?
Stephan Jones: Uh-uh [No]. No. (short laugh) And we were going back to Indiana for a short while, I think, a year and a half, and it was about that time that I started school. I went to kindergarten. And before that time, I had never really ventured out into the world much, and the only thing I knew about the world was my family. And it was hard for me, because ever since I can remember, I had a black brother, and I had a Korean brother and sister, and until I was well along in life, I wasn’t even told that they weren’t my natural brother and sister, I thought that they had come from the same place I had, ‘cause we’d always been taught that nobody was any different, and I just couldn’t understand. It just seemed irrational to me. There’s no way I could understand that I was acceptable to these people, but my brothers and sisters weren’t. And from the start, I was incorrigible. But I guess after a while, I learned to cope with it and then I did better in school, but I was only in school for like a half of year, I was in kindergarten in Indiana, and then we moved out to Redwood Valley, because the people were starting to call us up on the phone and shoot at us and just mess with our car. They were starting to harass us, is all they was trying to do, and once again, we had to run. We had to get out of there, because he wanted to protect his family. And not just meaning us. There were other people that were loyal to him and he cared about, and we all made the move. But my mother and Jimmy and I were the first to go, ‘cause we came out and we kind’ve got the house and cleaned up and all that, before everybody else came. So I started first grade in Redwood Valley, and if anything, it was worse. There was nobody. In Indianapolis, we lived in the poor area, and we lived in the black area, so there were at least some black children in school, but there was nobody here. It was just unbelievable. And they acted like they’d never seen a black person before, they acted like they were inhuman. You’d hear the chants every day, and eventually you just kinda got immune to it, but– At least one thing that was different about Redwood Valley, I wasn’t acceptable either. We were all unacceptable. My brothers and sisters were unacceptable because they were colored, and I was unacceptable because I accepted them. So at least I could understand that, I could understand that people– (Pause) people would be people. But at least I felt like I once again had an identification with my family, and I didn’t have to worry about them resenting me. (Pause)
Pretty much all my early years, I knew that we were different, that people saw us as different, but I always thought that they would just stay there, I would have my family, we would feel how we feel, and everyone else would feel how they feel, and that it would stay that way, and then it all one day just kinda all came crashing down on me, that that wasn’t true. I was about 12 years old, I was out in the parking lot– (Pause) I was out in the parking lot and Dad got shot and I’m just– I just remember the loud noises and I just– There were hundreds of people around, and he was out seeing the people and it just hit me hard, because at that time, he was doing what he’d done all his life, reaching out to people, showing them love, giving them something they’d never had before. I heard the noises and he was slammed hard on his face. It was traumatic for me, but then, at that time, I came to realize how far people would go to wipe out anything they didn’t understand, or, even worse than that, that they could hinder their exploits.
Interviewer: How did it happen that you– Describe the (unintelligible word) where it happened? How?
Stephan Jones: I remember, we were in Redwood Valley at the Temple we had there, and there was a big weekend meeting and we had the band outside and everything, and everybody was eating outside in the parking lot, it was kinda like a big picnic, and Dad had come out, like he always did, to give, as the best of his ability, everyone attention and love, and I was over with a bunch of the guys, we’d just played some basketball, and we were talking, and joking around and they were teasing me about this girl I liked or something. The band had been playing loud and everything, and they had stopped, and then I just heard three really loud noises, and I looked in that direction, I thought it was a drum or something, I saw Dad, slammed down on his stomach, and all I remember, that I just started screaming, a high-pitched loud scream, I didn’t know what else to do, it was kinda like everything just happened, it just came crashing down on me. I didn’t know what had happened, I had no familiarity with any kind of guns or anything, I didn’t know what it was. I remember he had reached out and touched some woman’s hand, and it was like, right when he did it, he just fell down. It wasn’t just falling down, though, it was like something like a big weight had just come down on his back and slammed him down. I knew, from the way he was hit, that the person had to come over from a great vineyard around our house, all around the property. From the way Dad was shot and the way he was standing, you know that’s where it came from, and I know he knew, I know he did. I had a big dog, his name was Husky, I thought he was scared, because he went charging out into this vineyard, I thought he was scared of the gun, or the shots. But Dad pointed and said, No, it’s over there, it’s over this way, because, I know now that he knew that people woulda torn him apart. I remember this old guy, Richmond Stahl, who I’ve always liked, he’s a drunk and, everybody calls him a good-for-nothing, and he was just that, good for nothing, but I’ve always identified with him, because, I don’t know, I knew a lot of religious people, a lot of people that thought they had their morals together, but they were so phony– I’d always remember the phoniness, I never got anything out of them but phoniness, they had an aura about them, you just picked it up every time you got around them. But I just remember Richmond, he looked around and all he saw was a pick, and he was sick, he was having trouble with his heart, and he picked that pick up, and I just know that if he woulda got hold of that person, that they wouldna survived it. And Dad knew this, and so he steered them wrong. To this day, I don’t know who did it, and I don’t know what it was done with, I guess it was a pistol, a handgun, but I never saw the person, but it kind of made me realize that, from then on there’d be one hell of a fight, it would be more than just a disagreement, it wouldn’t be a conflict, they would be constantly trying to snuff us out, because they just knew that the way of life Dad was trying to bring about would go against their exploitation and the way they wanted to make money, everybody wanted to do their own thing, they didn’t care about who they hurt, and there were other people that knew their selfish way of life, and they knew it was wrong, and every time they saw us, they were reminded that it was wrong. For that reason they wanted to get rid of us. There were just people that didn’t understand us, and for the most part, when people don’t understand something, they strike out against it. But I think that was the time that I realized that it wasn’t going to be easy.
Like I said, from that point on, it was a fight, just a fight, we just thought we were just holding out just for a few days longer, and I always felt that way, I never kinda expected to last much longer. I mean– (Pause) Either we would be totally snuffed out or we would change the way we felt, that was the only way of doing it. And I guess– I know that we finally realized that people had been given just enough to make them satisfied, because for the most part, human beings and animals in general, if they’re doing okay, that’s fine, that’s all they need, there was nobody willing to change anything. So it was kinda like a waste of time. And Dad knew that he had a couple of thousand people that acted like they wanted something, and they wanted to change, or knew their way of life was wrong, and they knew that they just weren’t happy. So I guess he thought it’d be better to do something for these few people than nothing at all for anybody. And we moved down here.
I came down early, and all that was down here was the people that came originally and a few other guys that had had so much trouble in the States that they were just on their way to prison. And Dad knew it, and we all knew it, and it was the parents’ decision to send them here, (Pause) because we all expected to come anyway, eventually. And just from the time that they left till I got down there, which was like like a couple or few months, the change in them, it it phenomenal, I mean they felt– I don’t know, I just like– let’s say Ron [Ronnie James]. He was what I considered a punk in the States. I just had no time for guys like him, and now I come down here, and he works and he brightens up my day, because (unintelligible word), I might feel down or something, and he’s funny, and he cares, he points out little things that I’ve even stopped noticing because I felt like it didn’t do any good, because you just sat there and you noticed it, and there was times that I would mention it to people, and they’d just look at me like, you’re weird, who cares? It’s not happening to you, and it feels good to me to know that there’s somebody else that pointing it out to me. And that’s been good for me. I’ve seen that change in everybody, because, at least now Dad has worked to the point that he’s ready to fall any minute, but at least he’s been able to work with these people and get something into their heads, get feeling into their heads. Andyou get the feeling that people care, at least somebody cares, and that they’re trying to at least. (tape edit)
Stephan Jones: I don’t know. Here, I don’t know, I guess I see my role– I don’t know, I kinda of think of myself as an identification point for guys my age and people in general, because Dad no longer can be that like he used to be, you know. That’s why I don’t carry– They want me to get into more of the administrative part, and I’ve gotten into the Steering Committee and stuff, but I still feel like I’ve gotta stay down. Not that physical labor is the only work there is, I know that’s not true, but around guys, I feel like the way to give leadership, and the only way I got it from Dad, is just on a personal basis. It wasn’t from just him preaching to me, it was, you know– I got it from him. And that’s the best way to get it across to a lot of these guys, it’s not to just throw it at them, and to say you’re wrong for feeling that way or preaching at ‘em what’s right, they’ll rebel against that. I just feel like you had to take it gradually, and point out little things, like with Ronnie, I know, sometimes he’ll make jokes about things that just shouldn’t be, and I’ll say, Put yourself or somebody you care about in that place, and try to feel that way, how bad it would be. I guess I’ve seen myself as a person building this place, you know. (Pause) I had a lot of hostility, but I’m trying to show by– and I think I’m making progress by not fighting. I don’t even think about fighting anymore, and trying to be more loving with people and I’m trying to break down competitiveness between young guys competing over who’s the strongest, who can do the most work and everything, I’m gradually trying to break that down. I kind of see myself as the identification point, a person that, carries it– I don’t know. (Pause) I don’t know.
Interviewer: (unintelligible beginning) your voice was loud enough.
Stephan Jones: That would do better, ‘cause it makes me feel like I’m reciting (unintelligible word). But like I was saying, what I mean by an identification point would be, I don’t know, something that people could relate to, because like I look at somebody, and I’m just seeing them break their backs, just but people don’t see ‘em enough, and people have no way of knowing, and they don’t want to know. For the most part, people just don’t come up with feeling, you have to put it right in front of their face, they have to know. Because I know, Dad doesn’t have the time – right? – to do give everybody what he gave me, the personal. Because I know it has to be personal, you have to touch, you have to be able to feel, before you can relate to it. Like you were saying about Victor Jara, they can tell you what he went through, but you just don’t identify as much, you identify more with, like you said, Johnny Spain, because you knew him, you know what I mean? So I feel like, it’s my role to in some way show them, be like they were, be like they were and what they saw important, and get to know them in that way, and gradually break it down, and lessen this image, the big tough guy image, and take it slow, because by feeding little things and a pat here, a pat there, or point out wow, that was good, and just do it slow, because if you just walk up to a guy and start hugging him and (unintelligible word) kissing him, he’s just gonna say, this guy’s weird, so– that’s the way I see it, is to take it slow, because you don’t just totally change people’s way of thinking overnight, it has to be taken slow. So. That’s the way I look at it, you know. (tape edit)
Well, for the most part, (unintelligible word) we went to school with were a lot of liberal crapheads, you know–
Interviewer: At Drew.
Stephan Jones: Yeah.
Interviewer: What kind of school was Drew?
Stephan Jones: It was a private– It was progressive, but every teacher thought that they had the answer to the world, they’d (unintelligible word) us, they– they (unintelligible word), good teachers, we had all college books, and they made it so you could understand it. But they– (unintelligible sentence)
Interviewer: That’s what ultimately turned you off of (unintelligible word)
Stephan Jones: No. I felt guilty about going to this school because, it was uppity, and, people would just be dropped off at school–
Interviewer: Rich people with kids?
Stephan Jones: Huh?
Interviewer: Rich people.
Stephan Jones: Yes. People got dropped off in limousines, chauffeur-driven limousines of– guys in schools would drive up in their Camaros and one girl had a Mercedes. I don’t know if it was her parents’ car or not. And you just couldn’t relate, you couldn’t relate to these people. You couldn’t relate at all. We used to knock ‘em on their ass a couple of times, throwing stuff at ‘em, they just were not ready for. They agreed with me, most of them agreed with the way we believed, but they weren’t ready for it, but– (Sighs) I don’t know. And then we’d come home and we’d be talking with kids in the Temple that weren’t going to this school, and you just felt bad for them. I felt bad for them. And I don’t know, I never– (Pause) For the most part, that was it, and we knew the fantastic amount of money they were paying for the school, and I just didn’t feel it was worth it. Because I felt the only education I really was getting was from Dad, you know. And reading and writing would come– I know we were learning more than reading and writing, I’d already learned how to read and write, but that was– that (unintelligible word) education was (unintelligible word), because I didn’t think it would– would do any good.
Interviewer: So, just to give a little background, how many students from the Temple went to Drew and for how long?
Stephan Jones: Let me think? I’d say–
Stephan Jones: I’d say, 15? I’m not– not– I can’t be exact, but fifteen to 20, at the most. At the most.
Interviewer: Well, how long did they go there?
Stephan Jones: Uh– Probably three months.
Interviewer: And then the students decided to withdraw from school?
Stephan Jones: Um-hmm [Yes]. Yeah.
Interviewer: Because of the expense that it was costing the organization, and also because you felt bad about receiving such a high quality education while other teenagers in the Temple were going to public schools?
Stephan Jones: Right. Because one thing that would make me realize that with some of these kids there had just gotten kicked out of other schools because they were so incorrigible, right? And their parents were well-off enough to send them to this place, but they were black kids, so they still rebelled, so they came to this school, because none of the public schools would have ‘em, and to be in class and have them called on, and just sit there, and you had just been called on before, and you knew the answer, and you’d run off a big thing, a big intellectual spiel or whatever, and this kid would just– he’d drag you right back down to what it was really that there really was no education for the common folk. And, I don’t know, it just seemed a contradiction. All that we believed in, that were going to this school. You know what I mean?
Stephan Jones: And not all of us, thought about it the way I did. Some people just plain old wanted to go to public school and uh–
Interviewer: Just to hang out.
Stephan Jones: Hmm?
Interviewer: Some people wanted to go to public school just to hang out.
Stephan Jones: Yeah. I don’t know, I think what brought it about is I was, I played basketball, I was playing basketball in this gym, and this guy came and asked me what school I went to, and he was from Washington High, and he wanted me to come play for them and everything, and we got to talking about it and how we didn’t like the place anyway, and I said, it cost too much money anyway, and the guy could get me in the school, so I figured, you know– That’s how it came about, I don’t remember exactly how, but then we got to talking about it and how we all really hated it, because I was already cuttin’ from Drew, because it just seemed stupid.
In September, everything was starting to point, things that were happening in government and things that were being said about us, and just the whole trend in general was pointing towards a rightwing takeover. It looked like to us that our position here wasn’t secure any longer, and we were expecting anytime to see an army coming up at us, and at that time, we were having a lot of harassment from I don’t know who, we saw people come, and they’d come in, with weapons and stuff and take shots at us, and just totally harassed us, and had us on edge 24 hours a day.
Interviewer: Previous to the actual day, what we call on the line here, there had been a direct and unequivocal assassination attempt on Jim Jones, because he was in his house, and there were shots fired from a high-powered rifle that came within inches of his head – right? – so it was clear to us there was a move to destroy us, and then there was a sudden, quick– something happened in the government that we thought that, on that day, there would be troops out to take over Jonestown. (quiet voice, second person?)
Stephan Jones: And it was kinda like the first time I saw Dad shot, I had subconsciously, I guess, kind of come to think of this as a, a world of its own, I thought that we could go on, without any harassments from the outside, without any trouble, we could build– The whole idealistic trip and it kinda once again made me realize that it’s a struggle, wherever you’re at, because there’s too many people that are living good off other people’s oppression, and they do not want to see communism, and they know Dad, and they know, his leadership, and they know his potential, and they know what he can do with people, and I think they kind of see this as a kind of breeding ground for communism, right? And so, they want to snuff it out. (Pause)
Okay, all I remember is, the first thing that happened, they didn’t even expect it, is, when Dad was shot at that night, and uh–
Interviewer: That was like at the end of August or the very beginning of September, right?
Stephan Jones: Right.
Stephan Jones: It was 77. And we had just been down there talking to Dad. And me and Johnny [likely Moss Brown, could be Cobb] were walking up here and we heard it, and we came running back there and right then, my heart sunk, because I realized that it’s just gonna start up again, I just knew it.
Interviewer: So it brought back the whole extremely painful thing for you, of thinking that your Dad is a (unintelligible word under movement). Right?
Stephan Jones: Right.
Interviewer: –just because you didn’t know at the time whether he had or hadn’t been, walking away from the house. The thing that you saw him hit the cement, maybe about two years earlier.
Stephan Jones: Right. It was just–
End of side 1
Interviewer: Okay, back to (unintelligible word)
Stephan Jones: Yeah. When they took the– they shot (unintelligible word), it was the same feeling, that there’s no way that we’re gonna survive independently from the rest of the world, and that people are gonna sit back and watch us build communism, there’s just no way. It’s the same thing like, when Dad was shot the first time, I thought that we could– I knew people didn’t agree with us and people were against us, but I thought they’d just be content with the way they felt and we could stay to ourselves, but I know that there’s no way, it was just, the whole idea was to (unintelligible word) with it, that we were going to build separately from the rest of the world. And it kinda just hit me again, the same feeling, I didn’t react to it the same way, ‘cause I’d learned to cope with it, but the same time, I don’t know. Like with Tim Swinney, was supposed to be a big burly tough guy, that’s supposed to be unapproachable and everything, he’s so sweet. We were in the last few minutes that me and him were like a team, and we just kind of broke down and just said, I couldna gone down fightin’ with a better guy, and we hugged and he just said, well, this is it, kind of, and that felt good to me. And like we’ve been closer ever since, we’ve been able to relate a lot better ever since, because we both felt distant, because we both had this tough image. Not necessarily– I don’t think that we had that image of ourselves, but everybody else has the image, and we didn’t know how to relate to each other, because I didn’t know if he believed it about himself, and I’m sure he didn’t know whether I believed it about myself. And we didn’t know how to break the ice, and it kinda was a blessing, I guess.
But the thing that hit me really hard was that, I was separate from Dad. I knew Dad. I knew Dad well enough that, if anything went down, which we saw as inevitable, and it was just a matter of time, I knew Dad would be the first to go, I knew he’d be right there. And all my brothers were with Dad. They went around with him everywhere, and I was separated from him, because I knew a little bit about warfare and stuff, I had done a little study and a little firsthand experience, and I was on security, to be guarding the place, and so, you know, I kinda resented it, because all my life I’ve felt that I had made more of an effort than my other brothers to relate to Dad and try to please him, try to be close to him, and I wasn’t hung up on a lot of the stuff that the other guys are. Or were. And I always would fancy myself in my fantasies, about coming in at the last minute, ‘cause I knew someday, they were gonna finally get Dad and he was gonna be on trial or something, or they were going to have him back to the wall, and I’d come in at the last minute and just we’d fight together to the finish, all right, and– I guess, just like the rest, like my whole life has been– nothing has worked out the way I’d like it to, and (unintelligible word). I was stuck off away from Dad and I knew we were going to die away from each other and I’d probably never see him again. Yeah. And I remember how good I felt when people saw these guys on the edge of the bush, and he called me over there, and (unintelligible word) I was just praying that it would happen then, because I knew it was gonna happen, and I’d hoped they’d come in, ‘cause I was with Dad. But I remember looking at all the people and how they’d never experienced this before. They’d never been on the edge of death. They’d never identified with dying, or fighting for what they believed. I’d always pulled away from all the people because I felt that they had rode in on Dad’s love and his compassion, and never had to suffer like we’d had to suffer. We’d had to suffer with Dad, so it was like, we’d paid for the love we got, and I always felt like they just got it, and I resented it, and it was kinda like the thing that that whole six days brought me closer and closer to the people because I felt like they were now experiencing what I’d experienced in my 19 years, and I felt now that maybe they’d be more appreciative of what they had and I felt they deserved it more now, you know. So I think that the six day crisis was a blessing, it was a hell of a blessing, because it brought me back to reality, it brought me closer to people, and because that was my main flaw, if I ever wanted to get anything done for people, I needed to be able to relate to them better, and I had a hell of a time relating to people because I resented them so much. And I think it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. (Pause) (tape edit)
All I know is when I came down here, at first I didn’t want to stay because Dad was going back, and I’d always felt– seeing myself as Dad’s personal overseer, I was the one– (Pause) (sighs) I honestly felt like all the security I would look at, the guys who were watching over Dad and stuff, I never felt like they took interest in it, and I always did, worry about him and watching and stuff, and I was worried about him going back there and having nobody, which is unfair, because I know there were people that did take concern in his personal welfare. But after I was here, I started to have a purpose, because I would– (pause) I just started rebelling against everything, but I got down here and I started having hours again, I’d wake up at a certain time, I knew what I had to do. In the States, I never knew what I was going to do, I had no structure. And I got here, and I could go out, and work, and long as I was doing something– because in the States, you knew what was right, but you knew you weren’t doing it. You knew you weren’t doing a damn thing. (Pause) If anything, you were turning people off, (unintelligible word), I was turning people off, by the way I approached everything, ‘cause I was such a hostile person, such a hostile human being. And I don’t know, I came to myself there, I think I got out of big machismo thing, because like, that– that woulda been, I don’t know, it made it hard for me to– I could always relate to guys, I guess, that was only half the people, and it made it easier on me. I came out of the machismo thing, and I became interested in my work and getting something done, and it wasn’t important anymore, because it’s the atmosphere in the States, you gotta be tough. In reality, you gotta be– you gotta have a tough image, I guess, to survive, to get people to leave you alone. I think I had acquired that also, to get people within the Temple itself to leave me alone, because I figured if I was mean, people wouldn’t come up and talk to me, because I saw what they were doing to Dad, you know. They took advantage. But down here, I could think about it, and I got out of it and everything, and now it’s helped me because I can relate to females too, because I know what a bitch it is to be a female, and every guy walks by you and look at you and just like this sexual (unintelligible word), they look at you like, that’s all that’s on their mind, and now I feel like that I don’t come across that way, and I don’t think there’s any woman (unintelligible) there’s anybody that thinks I’m (unintelligible word). Because I– That’s not important to me. What’s important is relating to them, and letting them know that there’s somebody here that cares about what they think, and gives a damn about their mind and I guess it’ll make it easier for them to– like, if (unintelligible word) they feel like they gotta prove that they’re not objects, and when they do it, they come on too strong, and when they come on too strong, they just turn people off, and they make guys hostile and make guys worse, and uh– (Pause) I don’t know. Like let’s take Ronnie, right? The whole big thing with him has been trying to get him to appreciate the companion he has now [Shirley Ann Edwards], and to respect her, because she comes on pretty strong, she lets you know what she thinks and everything, and he used to come saying, she had the nerve to say this or that, and I changed the word nerve, I said, she had the right, she had the right to say that. And I got him to respect it, and to appreciate it, because one thing I always hated is to have people honestly believe something, and instead of checking it out with you, they go on believing it, and it gets worse and worse and worse, and half the time– more than half the time when they come check it out with you, it’s not the way they think it is, and it’s not the way it looks. And I just think that communication between people would be– the world would be better, it sounds dumb, but the world would be better if people would say how they felt right then, and get it out of the way, because then you could feel at ease, you could know if the person thought something about you, they’d say it. But now, you’re always paranoid. Does this person really like me, or does this person feel this? You know what I’m saying. If you knew the person would come to you when they were mad, you never worry about them being mad, because you’d know it.
Interviewer: It’s true.
Stephan Jones: And uh– So– That helped me (unintelligible under moving mike)
Stephan Jones: The best way of saying it, in the States, I felt impotent, I just felt all the time, you just can’t– You can look anywhere in the States – right? – you can just open your eyes, anywhere, and you see something you want to change – right? – there’s not a place, there’s nothing, there’s no place that there’s not something that can be changed. And for the most part, everything needs to be changed. And you know there’s nothing, there’s not a goddamn thing you can do, because people don’t relate to you, and if you want to take it slow, like I’m talking about, you can’t get to know a guy well enough, because right off the bat, it’s the competitive tough guy conflict, and there’s no real way of expressing yourself, other than to say you’re a jerk, or even if they know you’re right, they’ll say you’re a jerk, because they know that’s what they’re supposed to say, and so there’s nothing you can do, you just sit there, and you see somebody getting beat on, and you see your friends– I’ve been walking with guys I hung out with, and they’ve been arrested, and you get searched along with them and everything, and you just feel impotent, and I come down here, and I feel just the opposite, I feel potent as hell. I feel like I can go out, I’m building this place. Like when I came here, it was clear that there was no cottages, that was bush over there. There were no dorms. All that was here was the original community building, the office, and the warehouse and the shop.
Interviewer: Oh, Christ.
Stephan Jones: And boy– God– To feel so worthless and then to feel so alive and, I felt like I was doing something, I knew I was building something, and that the big thing was to get as much as we could built before everybody came down, you know. I wanted to make a city out of this place, you know. It was great, and it still is. But, yeah, it’s still good. And that gets back to– When people came down here, I didn’t think they’d appreciated it. They weren’t appreciative. And that six day with the crisis going on, I think it made them appreciate this place more, you know. At least you own something now, you know. At least you know you ain’t borrowing something, you know this is yours. And I think I’ve got that. A few of the other guys who were down here before probably have that feeling more than most people do, because we put it up, we built it, right? And well, that’s like– when I see somebody go out trashing, well, it’s like they’re messing with mine. But I don’t see it that way (unintelligible word), I see it as everybody’s, because that was the way we looked at it when we were building it, we weren’t building it for us, we were building it for everybody. I resent it when people– It’s like with Dad, you know. People ride him, they didn’t have to go through the shit that he had to to build the place, and they ride him, and they don’t respect like I respected Dad and I appreciated what he’s giving, and they don’t appreciate it. And after the crisis, now they appreciate it more. So like I say, it gets back to that one thing, that people– unless they’re made to appreciate, if they’re just given something, if they’re just handed something, they don’t appreciate it. And that’s why it’s good for people to have to go through something to get it. (Pause) I just tell you, this place has given me some meaning, ‘cause boy, I’d lost it all. I really had. I’d lost any kind of meaning, and I just felt like there was this (unintelligible phrase), you know. And I just– (Pause) I had no meaning. And now I got some meaning, and every time I see them kids, and every time I see a little guy, and they come out here, and they’re so alive, there ain’t nobody telling them to shut their mouths when they got something to say. Even if it’s wrong. You tell them it’s wrong, but you don’t discipline them for it, they’re young enough and they’re responsive enough that you can tell them, and explain to them. That’s one thing I really had wanted for everybody, to’ve at least had what I had with Dad and Mom, too. They were both– They were an (unintelligible word) ideal combination. It’s good to see us, (unintelligible) be raised the right way. But I think, I’m watching evolution, right here, the process, they’re going to be totallysuperior human beings.
Interviewer: When you say evolution, evolution from what to what? I mean–
Stephan Jones: From (Pause) selfish human beings to caring human beings, motivated not by selfishness but by caring, you know what I’m saying, they feel, they feel. The only foundation I’ve had is Dad, and it was with Dad and Mom’s love, especially Dad, that’s the only real foundation, ‘cause for the most part, we’ve had to move around, and I’ve never been able to become attached to anything, but I’ve always had one thing that has made me feel good about myself and about everything is that I feel, and I look around and I see a lot of people that do not feel, that don’t feel. To be able to look at something and say, I appreciate things that other people don’t even notice, not all other people, but a lot of people.
Interviewer: Like what?
Stephan Jones: (Pause) I don’t know. I laugh at things that other people don’t even find funny, It’s hard to describe. But I just– Well, okay, I’ll tell you one thing. Like, when I’m with Lew, I think he’s the brother I would identify with the most. (Pause) If I do something that makes him– there’s an expression he gets on his face that nobody even nobody else even notices. They don’t even know what I’m talking about, but it’s an expression, I’ve known him long enough, when I see it, I just hurt so bad inside, you know. I don’t know, one time me and him (unintelligible phrase) a little argument, he got physical, I didn’t, but I saw that expression, and I feel I feel guilty for doing that to him, you know. But it makes me feel good to know that I feel, and I know that I won’t do anything (Pause) stupid, because I won’t hurt anyb– I will hurt people, I’m not perfect, I know that I can avoid hurting people, because I at least identify, and I try to know what’s going through their head. That’s the only way I can describe. (Pause) I feel. I’m alive, and you notice, a lot of people I think just go along and take what they can get when they get it. (Pause)
Recorded music for balance of tape
Tape originally posted May 2016