(Editor’s note: This interview was conducted on 24 January 1980 in conjunction with research for Tim Reiterman’s book Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People, published 1982 by E.P. Dutton, Inc., 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016.)
Tape 1, Side 1
Tim: I have determined certain areas that I’d like to go over. I will just run through them. I wonder if you could start out by giving me a more detailed description of your first meeting. Tell me where it was. I think you gave me the date earlier – your recollections of seeing Bob [Houston] for the first time and your early impressions of him.
Joyce: The first meeting I went to was May 16, 1970. It was held at what later became the [Peoples] Temple in San Francisco. At that time it was the Way Auditorium. They had just rented it for the evening. I had gone there based on a phone call from a friend of mine, Laurie Efrein, who about two weeks before had been to her first meeting, and had been very impressed and had just joined. When she called me, she only said that there was a meeting that she thought I might want to attend. That the man who she had encountered was a good man, and she thought it would be of interest. So, I didn’t know anything at all about it when I went.
Tim: Was it a regular service with hymns? What was it like?
Joyce: Of course, the first thing was walking through the door and being met by all these people. I remember very vividly one of the first people who I talked to was Sharon [Linda] Amos, who appealed to me very much.
Tim: How so?
Joyce: What she had to say, talking about the work and about her life, how it had been transformed by her involvement with Jones, and that she had been the typical intellectual type, and she had been living in San Francisco. She was a dancer, and apparently was very involved with it. I believe it was modern dance – something that later no one would ever guess about her from the way that she appeared. She got to appear like a little dumpy lady. She was talking about her first marriage having been so unsuccessful, and that she had lived with this Black man who had treated her so awfully – just horribly and how masochistic she had been in the relationship. She had two children by him. I don’t know whether she married him or not. I guess she had, because her name is Amos. I knew her always as Linda Amos. Jim changed her name [to Sharon] at some point [after an early staff member by the name of Linda ‘defected‘ about 1971]. She told me her daughter’s name was Christa and her middle name was Wayborn – just a little thing that sticks out in my mind. She is the only one I really remember from that point.
Tim: Did she talk about Sherwin Harris, her first husband?
Joyce: Yes, I think she was just speaking about him, as I remember, in terms of being just a regular chauvinist man. I think she was putting more attention to the fact that her life was so unhappy and she had been so depressed, and she had these kids, and she just didn’t know what to do with herself, and she was into that whole bourgeoisie, pseudo-intellectual environment that wasn’t fulfilling.
Tim: Was that Berkeley?
Joyce: No, I think she was living in San Francisco. Now, we’re going back 9 or 10 years. My remembrance of it is thay she was in North Beach. I had shown up in jeans and a poncho. My little hip-trip, and walked into the auditorium. See, this is the second meeting they had had in San Francisco. They had had some with the Macedonia Church [dating back to April 1968 when Martin Luther King was assassinated], but I think this was the second one that they had where it was just in a non-church setting, so it wasn’t really that formalized yet. There wasn’t the security; there wasn’t anything. It was just this group of people who were saying that they believed in brotherhood.
Tim: Did the service start right away?
Joyce: Yes, I sat myself down in the front row – kind of wondering what I was doing there [chuckles], but I was game to see what was going to happen. There is a stage there. At that point it was really different. You’ve seen the San Francisco Temple?
Tim: I haven’t been inside; I’ve seen photos.
Joyce: Well, it was completely remodeled [later], but at that point it was literally a stage and had been used by some groups that were dealing with underprivileged youth, and they were putting on theatrical performances and stuff there. The whole stage was painted black, and it was kind of a strange setting. What they started out with – well, it was Sharon [Amos], and she had a group of kids: Stephan Jones, Clifford and Stanley Geig, Jimmy Jones [Jr.], they were all doing a modern dance type thing. “In the Streets,” I forget what that title is [‘For What It’s Worth,’ by the Buffalo Springfield, 1966]. It was a popular rock song that they did. It was just out – about revolution and kids that are hungry. No more fighting in the streets, blah, blah, blah. Some of the kids had hard hats on with clubs, and it was this group. They were Black kids who were being attacked. It was very well done, because Sharon was still more into the dancing part of it, and expressing that. And then they had the children’s choir. I was just taken by the children. I had just never seen such a group of beautiful kids. They were just unique kids. And the whole Black-White thing, of course, was very appealing. I don’t know how long that part of it went on; I suppose an hour or so. But there weren’t the testimonies; there was not the religious aspect. I probably would have left right then if there had been.
Tim: How long did it last you figure – a couple of hours?
Joyce: [Laughs] Nothing that he [Jim Jones] ever did lasted less than [many] hours. I probably got there about – it was still light. I remember driving there and it was still light. In May, so it must have started about 7:00 p.m., and I think it went on until 11:00 or 11:30 p.m. He came on stage finally. There had been all this talk about him – actually there wasn’t even that much talk. It was just that at some point this man is going to come out and talk. So he came out, and my initial response was – it was very sharp. It was like there were two parts of me. One part said, ‘Oh, shit!’ It was like a deja vu. And the other part was delighted. ‘I didn’t know you’d be here!’ I believe in reincarnation, and I did at the time, and I felt very much that I had known this man before. I was totally equally divided. Part of me didn’t want to see him again, and the other part was really happy. He started talking, about all of the political things, the socialism.
Tim: He was upfront about socialism at the first meeting?
Joyce: He didn’t use the word, I don’t believe, but the concepts. Of course, there was always the talk about the injustices in society, and the appeal, especially to well-off whites, to the guilt. ‘How can you be so well off when there are all these poor people in the world?’ It was something that at that time I didn’t know how to respond to, obviously. I got hooked in.
Tim: What were you politically at the time? Was socialism palatable to you? Did you consider yourself a socialist before, or basically a liberal?
Joyce: No, I come out of the Midwest. Fifteen miles from my home is Antioch College [Yellow Springs, Ohio], which most of the locals considered a Communist school. My parents said, ‘You can go any place you want, but don’t go to Antioch.’ That was the mentality. Of course, I went. Anything that was that off-limits had to be interesting. I remember doing my [high school] English theme; it was on the Russian Revolution. I had read Trotsky. These were just all things that I had done along the way.
Tim: So you went to Antioch initially?
Joyce: Just to visit. I was never a student there. I went to Miami University [Oxford, OH]. Then I got married , and married a Hungarian [Ian Shaw] who had been raised under the Communist regime, and had had 8 years of Marxism [studies], so he was adamantly anti-Communist. I jumped into his [conservative mindset] for a while. One of our parting arguments was that I wanted to join the Hubert Humphrey [presidential] campaign , and he said it was too radical, and that once you get your name on those kinds of rolls, governments can be changed by the stroke of a pen [and suddenly you are an enemy-of-the-state] – things that had come out of his background. At that point when we had moved out to San Francisco [in 1968 from Dayton, Ohio], I was beginning to want to get more involved [in social causes].
Tim: You had worked for Humphrey, then?
Joyce: No, I just expressed the interest. I went to one peace march [in 1970 through San Francisco Golden Gate Park], but I can’t say that I had any really defined political views. I was blowing as the wind blew.
Tim: Where were you working at the time?
Joyce: University of California Medical Center at San Francisco as a Psychometrist. I was giving psychological tests in what was then the Adult Psychiatry Clinic. It is called the Ambulatory Psychiatric Clinic now. I had finished my degree in psychology in Dayton, Ohio, where Ian, my first husband, and I worked. We came out west in 1968, and within about three months of getting here, I landed the job with my little B.A. I had worked there from January 1969. I worked there 2-1/2 years. I was giving I.Q. tests. The psychologists were doing a lot of work with brain- injured people, testing to see what kind of functions remained and so forth. At that point I had my own apartment, and everything was perfect. I had a bunch of cute boyfriends, and things were just great.
Tim: You had been divorced by then?
Joyce: Yes – a little over a year.
Tim: Were you divorced back there [Dayton]?
Joyce: No, here [San Francisco].
Tim: Were you looking for anything in particular when you came to this service?
Tim: Did you see it as entertainment?
Joyce: No. Well, I had been taking some tarot classes, and had begun to get into metaphysics a bit, which is the background for my being able to accept the fact that someone could heal. The possibility of healing is one of the precepts in that [philosophical viewpoint]. Before that point I would have just said boloney, and never would have thought about it. In fact, [regarding] my life at the time, I can remember telling a roommate that I had one of the trips going which could have been written up in ‘Cosmopolitan Magazine’ as a young successful woman living the grand life in San Francisco. It was excellent.
Tim: Did you see yourself in those terms somewhat, that you were happy doing what you were doing?
Joyce: Well, I was happy and yet there was this little part of me, that I knew about too, which was looking for something else. That was the reason why I went – why I would respond.
Tim: Where was your apartment?
Joyce: At that point it was on Market and 16th [at Divisidero].
Tim: Upper Market?
Joyce: Yes, it had a little garden in the back. When she [Laurie Efrein] called me I was sitting…. The image is I was sitting in my bikini, drinking a beer, I had a joint in my hand, and my dog was at my side and I was reading a book on astrology.
Tim: Is that true?
Joyce: It is true. In fact it’s so fateful because the phone was ringing and I was sitting there and I wasn’t going to answer it, and I kept counting the rings, and it kept ringing and ringing, and I walked very slowly. It was quite a distance into my apartment from the garden, and it kept ringing! I kept hoping it would quit. It didn’t, and it was Laurie saying, ‘Come to this meeting.’ And it was one of the few Saturday nights I didn’t have something planned. It was just one of those situations.
Tim: That’s great. And you have a dog there too.
Joyce: My little Samoyed. He was a little white furry puppy with a curly tail.
Tim: You were all set up!
Joyce: Yeah, I was making good money, and I had enough money. What is even more interesting in terms of coincidence is that after I had separated from Ian, I went into a depression, and I had gotten really skinny which you do sometimes, and so I had gone into [psycho]therapy, which I was in for fourteen months. That [previous] afternoon I had told my psychiatrist goodbye. Things were great. Everything was perfect. I didn’t need him anymore.
Tim: The afternoon of this meeting?
Joyce: It was like a Friday [May 15, 1976], and then I was sitting in my garden the next day.
Tim: You didn’t need your psychiatrist?
Joyce: No. He said he agreed. I had worked through some conflicts from childhood and blah-blah-blah, and that I was doing great, and the next day…
Tim: And the next day?
Joyce: The thing was – so I went, and it wasn’t with any particular openness or anything. I was just going to check something out, and I had the evening free. As I listened to the man [Jones] talk, I can remember thinking, ‘This man is either a Paranoid Schizophrenic with Delusions of Grandeur or he is someone very special [a divine messenger].’ You know, with my psychology background, I knew all these labels. So that was one of the things that were in the front of my mind for a LONG time with him. ‘Which is he?’ His statements were quite grandiose, I mean, even back then.
Tim: Did a doctor ever tell you that he had been diagnosed that way?
Joyce: I read it in the newspaper about two months ago. I was going back through some of the papers, and I thought, ‘How interesting!’ I had picked right up on it, hadn’t I? However, I made the wrong conclusion [that he was a messenger].
Tim: It is pretty close to the diagnosis I’ve heard too. So anyhow, getting back to that meeting, were you impressed with Jones?
Joyce: I’m sitting on the front row, and there is this little Black lady sitting next to me. Now here I am with all my testing of brain-injured people, people with strokes and so forth, so, I know that once you’ve had a major stroke, there is not that much regaining of function usually. In the course of the meeting, he calls this little lady out. You know, she is sitting there. Well, I know now that no doubt she was one of his little actresses. I didn’t look at her that closely, and she looked authentic to me. At that point I hadn’t seen that many Black people either – to associate with. He called her out, and so after the [quote] ‘healing’ [end-quote], he asked me to take her hand, and she squeezed my hand.
Tim: What was wrong with her?
Joyce: She supposedly had a stroke on the right side. And I could feel this grip, and I was really impressed. I was impressed! Because I was thinking, ‘I know [this is real], I’ve been around too many stroke people. I know!’
Tim: It was a good grip for someone with a stroke?
Joyce: It wasn’t even that strong a grip, but the fact that she was pressing back, I thought was just astonishing.
Tim: So you helped him confirm one of his miracles without really knowing what was going on?
Joyce: Which I hadn’t thought of until now. The meeting went on late, and they were having another meeting at 11:00 the next morning. You know, and there was the music, and the band. I think I probably saw Bob [Houston] then, because he was playing the bass at that time. What is real interesting its that he told me he saw me that first night that I showed up, and that he had looked at me. He thought I was really attractive – the kind of woman that he would really like to be with, but he thought I was beyond him. He didn’t imagine that we would ever get together, assuming that I joined, and blah-blah-blah. So even then, he had remembered me.
Tim: He thought that you were beyond him in terms of physical appearance?
Joyce: Yeah. Not a woman who he could hope to attract and court. Of course, he was married at the time, but he always had his active fantasy life. So he’s up there playing. I went back the next day in a [peach crochet] dress.
Tim: This is about 11:00 a.m.?
Joyce: Yes, May 17th . I remember I was sitting off to the left side at that point just taking it all in. It is amazing because the last few days in thinking about this, it’s like I can go back into my mind and I can see pictures. I can see total color pictures of everything of all those times. I know what I wore; I know what people were doing. It’s a trip!
Tim: It’s great!
Joyce: I do pay attention, obviously. That’s a long time ago [10 years]. At that point I was just getting impressions of the different people who were part of the organization, and as you said, I felt that a lot of people were really connected in there by the people and their friends – the connections that they had made [with each other] rather than even with Jones per se.
Tim: Did you sense these connections between people?
Joyce: Oh, yes, very early. When Bob joined, he had moved up to Potter Valley [from Berkeley] and gotten a teaching job – his first teaching job after he graduated. He moved up in August 1968, which coincidentally was the same time I moved to California. He moved up with [his wife] Phyllis and the girls [Patricia and Judy]. He was having some trouble in school. He was considered a hippie, because his hair was maybe an inch below his hair line.
Tim: This is 1968?
Joyce: Yes. Potter Valley is a very conservative community. And he ran into some problems there with his teaching techniques. I have seen him in action. He was an incredibly fine teacher – very, very, very good. I only had the occasion to see him conduct a band a couple of times. He is good.
Tim: Was he teaching music?
Joyce: Yes. He and Phyllis had gotten a little place in Potter Valley. You know his schedule before at the railroad and school and the marching band — all the things that he had been into, plus supporting his wife and kids and on and on. So this was the first respite that he had had in four years. He married Phyllis in 1963 in March, and Patricia was born in October, so he had carried on this incredible schedule all this time.
Tim: So while he was going to school, he was working jobs too?
Joyce: Jesus, yeah. He was doing the [Southern Pacific] railroad. He was going to Berkeley. He was the head of the Straw Hat Marching Band. They say it was the Berkeley Marching Band; it was really a subgroup of that.
Tim: I talked to the band director, and he said that he was the student director of the marching band too.
Joyce: Well, maybe they called it the Straw Hat Band, then, I don’t know.
Tim: The Straw Hat was an offshoot of the larger band. He was elected by his colleagues – about 130 or 140 members. That would have been the big marching band.
Joyce: He was always getting into trouble, and he got in trouble in that too. I don’t know whether they told you. He always used to say he felt that he was the victim of conspiracies. He said, ‘I know that sounds paranoid, but I swear to God!’ I don’t remember all the details now, but the thing was he had spread himself so thin, which was one of the complaints I had of him too. He never could say no to anybody. So there is the marching band; he was also teaching at St. Ignatius [College Preparatory, San Francisco] and for the first two or three years I don’t believe Phyllis worked. He was a junior at Berkeley when they got married, then he finished that and went on to San Francisco State to get his teaching credential. So that was about 4 years. He used to say, sometimes the pressure just seemed more than he could handle. He said, ‘I know it sounds terrible, but I was just thinking maybe if there was an accident or something….’ I mean, it was just overwhelming. Then I guess in the last year…
Tim: [Do you mean] an accident to himself or to someone else? He just had so many responsibilities for someone so young, and what to do?
Joyce: What I never understood was – and I’m sure the Houstons helped him out financially in roundabout ways – it seemed to have been a point [of honor] with him that he was married and he must earn his own way. I always said, ‘Well, I think you were stupid.’
Tim: You said he had one incidence of trouble while he was at the band?
Joyce: Yes, and I don’t remember the details now. He at least had the sense, with all that he was carrying, that he was not doing the job in any area that would have satisfied him. How could he? He’d like work on the railroad and get home and apparently Judy used to cry a lot. He’d feel like, ‘Anything to shut her up so that I can get some sleep!’ It was his just being so frayed, and having to get up and go to school again. He had a little motorbike that he used to go on to school and drive around. At that point Phyllis was not very supportive. He’d get home and the house would be filthy, the kids would be dirty and crying, there wouldn’t be any supper. There was no structure given to him to help support all this activity. She resented the fact that he wasn’t spending more time with them. She had gone one semester to San Jose State, and then had dropped out. Her father had withdrawn his financial support to her.
Joyce: That was such a strange family deal. Her mother had died of cancer when she was age 16, and from what Bob told me, the father had said, ‘You are responsible for her death,’ which was obviously a totally irrational bit of thinking. I don’t even know what his justification was for saying that to her. She was working in a hamburger stand in San Bruno.
Tim: Is that where he met her, or did he already know her?
Joyce: No, they knew each other from band. They had gone to the same school: Capuchino High School [San Bruno, CA]. I wonder if she went on that trip to Washington.
Tim: I don’t think she was in the band. I think she was in the orchestra. She played the violin, but they had known each other, and he’s at Berkeley, and he was living in some student housing – a cooperative. Apparently, he had just never found any woman or any gals who were that interesting to him. He said the big thing about her that he liked was that they could talk so well, and they had so many of the same opinions, and of course, she was a very attractive gal. So I guess in his junior year he started going down and visiting her every weekend. Initially, she was in school, and then after she dropped out, he spent all of his free time with her. He claimed that the first time they ever got together physically, that she got pregnant. The first time for either of them, and she got pregnant. Then there was a whole big thing, and Nadyne [his mother] wouldn’t tell Sam [his father], and they went off to Port Chicago [CA] to get married, and Sam didn’t know it. Typical Nadyne! Of course, Nadyne never liked Phyllis, and I think that was a lot of it. Nadyne would give you the shirt off her back, and wanted to be in there, wanted to be part of it, wanted to be the grandmother, wanted to give, wanted to give to the kids, and Phyllis wasn’t receptive to it. Nadyne was so frustrated, I think she just kind of withdrew.
Tim: Phyllis probably sensed their – or her – disapproval too.
Joyce: Yes, very much. And she [Phyllis] wasn’t that secure or outgoing a personality to be able to kind of bullshit her way, and to get herself into Nadyne’s [good] graces. The more she felt the disapproval, the more she withdrew. Then the housekeeping was an issue, and on and on.
Tim: Nadyne couldn’t handle that? I remember now that she did bring that up.
Joyce: Well, Phyllis was an awful housekeeper.
Tim: Jones brought it up too, in the church, huh?
Joyce: They had dogs in there, and the dogs had pissed on the carpet. The smell, it was awful. It was beyond being a messy, cluttery place. It was dirty. See, Phyllis told me at one point that she never wanted to have children. She never wanted to be married. She never wanted to be a housekeeper or a housewife. She got into it, and, of course, that was in the days before abortion. I asked Bob about it. I said, ‘Why didn’t you guys get an abortion?’ He just didn’t believe in it even though he knew – and he said, ‘I loved her. So I thought it was the right thing to do. She had the bad home situation with her mother dead and the father was not supportive.’
Tim: So, she [Phyllis’ mother] would not have had a role model for housekeeping and domestic things?
Joyce: According to Nadyne, her [Phyllis’] mother was a wonderful woman who was from England. I guess he had married her during the war [WWII] – just a lovely lady. Yes, she did have a good role model until the time she was 16 when her mother died. It was just a personal trip – a reaction from what you don’t know.
Tim: So, when you first encountered Bob, he has two children; he’s married; he’s in the band; he’s working.
Joyce: No, not at that point so much. He was at Mendocino State Hospital then as a Music Therapist.
Tim: So he had one job at that time?
Joyce: Yes. He was in the [Peoples Temple] band, and just getting caught up in whatever [church projects].
Tim: A Music Therapist uses music as a therapy tool?
Joyce: Yes, he worked with patients and was setting up programs. Wait a minute; I have a copy of his resume. Remind me, it would have all the specific time periods.
Tim: You were describing the second day [of the Temple meeting] when you went back. Was that any different than the first one?
Joyce: No, that was in May, and I left [and went home] and they left [returning to Redwood Valley], and I went back to my life. This is where I don’t know about this whole thing about mind control. Obviously at that point I wasn’t sleep-deprived, malnourished or anything, but it was like the thoughts and ideas that I had heard expressed were in my mind constantly. I couldn’t get them out.
Tim: Which ones in particular?
Joyce: Just the things that were said about the social justice, the conditions of society, my not taking an active role in it. The healing was never that big of an issue to me.
Tim: Was there healing other than that one stroke?
Joyce: Yes, there were other healings.
Tim: You felt that it was faith basically that healed people, or the power of their own minds?
Joyce: Well, yes, that whole psychosomatic thing, but I also felt that certain individuals of certain [high] evolutionary attainment can heal, like it’s almost like the principle of using atomic energy to rearrange molecules to cause the healing. I still believe that can be done. I was always just so delighted for people though. There was nothing wrong with me physically.
Tim: You saw that they were happy?
Joyce: Yes, I just don’t like to see people sad. [I was happy] when I saw people, especially these little old ladies and so forth, who I thought were being healed, and this feeling continued all the years I was in there.
Tim: Had you ever been to a Pentecostal service before?
Tim: What was your own religious background?
Joyce: Protestant. I was raised Methodist, and then I went to the Church of the Brethren because some of my high school friends were in that, which is a very pacifist group. I found out when I was 18 that the Methodist Church in its doctrine does not believe in drinking. I didn’t know that. It was so loose. I went to Sunday school and had perfect attendance records for years; I used to play the piano. When I was about 15 year old, I did go to a revival in Indiana [Taylor University]. Everybody was getting saved, and so I thought that would be a good thing to do. I tried to get into it [the Spirit], and I went up [to the altar], but in the middle of the so-called ecstatic experience, I remember opening my eyes and seeing some cute guy looking at me from the choir! After that I lost my spiritual focus. I came back and felt ‘saved’ for about a day, and then turned back into my normal self. [I was a ‘good girl” and did not smoke, drink, swear or, heaven forbid, have sex]. Then after starting to college I had gotten really anti-religious and anti-church – just totally, militantly, and vehemently so.
Tim: What do you think Bob was, or do you know? Was he religious?
Joyce: Well, no. But every time I looked at the man, I always used to see a minister there. I mean, it was like I could look at him and I could almost see a white collar around his neck. There was just something about him that gave off that impression.
Tim: The photos give that too, yeah.
Joyce: He was [appeared] like an Episcopalian, a strict Lutheran or maybe a Calvinist. He was a soft, nice man and yet there was this little stern something. In terms of organized religion, he wasn’t [a believer]. He was probably more flexible about it in his attitude than I was.
Tim: Backing up a little bit further, did he ever tell you why he joined the church?
Joyce: Yes, he was up in Potter Valley. He and Phyllis weren’t getting along very well at this point. There was some little gal there who was a teacher, and she was also branded as a hippie.
Tim: Was she a teacher in the church?
Joyce: No, in the Potter Valley School. Something that she had done had triggered the administrative wrath, and so he got on the band wagon. He showed me – he had some pictures of her. I don’t think they had an affair or anything, but there was this kind of fantasy, wishful-type thing.
Tim: And he was defending her?
Joyce: Yes, and she was a gal with long hair in braids who played a guitar – that whole thing. So he defended her, which got him into trouble then, and this is like in the spring of 1969, which is like the second semester of his first year in Potter Valley. And, of course, he had already been branded a hippie, which was a joke. So, Carolyn Layton was teaching at Potter Valley – married to Larry Layton at the time. And so, apparently, because he had become rather visible in the school structure, she approached him and invited him and Phyllis to a barbecue that was being put on by the church. At that point, they were 85 strong in number. They had a closed membership, and it was mostly the people who had come from Indiana with just a few additions of people who they had gathered from the local community. They were just beginning to select locals to approach. So at that time, he just wasn’t feeling very good about Potter Valley and here were these [church] people who were coming and were very supportive and got behind him. They were saying, ‘You’re okay. You’re not a freak,’ and blah-blah-blah. People who he could talk to and relate to. But he said, interestingly, it was Phyllis who got taken by it more than he was originally. Here she is up there, isolated with the kids, not working, not very satisfied.
Tim: It’s interesting.
Joyce: And all of a sudden here are these ‘sisters,’ here are these people. She was the one who was very adamant about wanting to continue the association. And, of course, Bob said the girls loved it; they loved the kids to play with.
Tim: They had the pool then in the church?
Joyce: Yes, that was 1969. The original group came out in 1965, and I think they finished that building in 1967-1968, so they did have that much. Have you ever been up to Potter Valley and around those areas? You can see what a lack of [cultural] stimulation. Unless you really can get in with the locals and so forth, there is nothing to do up there [socially]. You are on your own resources.
Tim: Really! If they freeze you out, I suppose that’s that.
Joyce: And that is what was happening to Bob in the school setting. So this offered an interesting alternative. And, of course, they had the barbecue, and there weren’t the projects, there wasn’t the work, they were just this little church in Redwood Valley. I think Archie Ijames [associate pastor] was there with his family.
Tim: Did Bob like Archie?
Joyce: Yes. And he always particularly liked Jack Beam [Sr.], although I always particularly disliked him.
Tim: Jack Beam had a sense of humor, didn’t he?
Joyce: Yes. He always reminded me of somebody who had walked out of the Russian steppes. There was something very brutal in the man, too, that I was always keyed into. The humor was one thing, but I preferred to keep my distance from him. But I loved his wife Rheaviana. She was like my second mother.
Tape 1, Side 2
Joyce: (Cont’d) She was just Rheaviana. She grew up in Kentucky. She was a dynamo of energy. She was a good business woman. She ran those rest homes. There was a very independent part to her. And she just told it like it was in this little reminiscent [‘hillbilly’] twang that was still there. Every time I would be over at their place, I always felt like I was back in my own home. I liked the kids: Jack Arnold and Joyce. She was going to teach me how to do patchwork quilts at one point, which we never got to. I worked with Rheaviana a lot; she was just a wonderful lady.
Tim: It is good to get another perspective.
Joyce: Yeah, she could be difficult, but then, who can’t be?
Tim: You were telling me about his joining the church. Did Bob have a need for a socialistic organization, or was he looking more for a community group – some place for his family to go?
Joyce: Initially I think it was more from the perspective of joining a church that his dissatisfied wife related to. There was just no notion of what was going to come with it at that point. There were very few Blacks there then – just the few who had come out from Indiana. They were mostly white, Midwestern types who were family groups, and they’d have the service and then they’d have the dinners afterwards, and the kids would go out and play: ride the ponies and play with the animals. I think Bob was a little bit flattered that he had been sought out, because it was made so clear that it was a closed group. His contract at Potter Valley was not renewed, I’m almost positive. He liked the area and then he got the job at Mendocino State [Hospital] doing something that was related [to music]. He actually only taught school that one year after all this training.
Tim: So he would have gotten the job at Mendocino State in 1970?
Joyce: 1969. He had it until they closed in 1971.
Tim: [Ronald] Reagan we can thank for that, right?
Joyce: If I get too detailed on this stuff…
Tim: No, this is fine. This is all very helpful. So after this first year at Potter Valley, he was solidly in the church?
Joyce: Well, at some point, I’m not sure exactly when, they moved into the apartment above what later became the [church] publications office [Valley Publishing] located on [the main Redwood Valley road across from the post office]….
Tim: Yeah, I know where you mean. The complex: the laundromat and all that.
Joyce: But at that time, it was not owned by the church, and they had the apartment there, so, of course, they were very close [to the church building]. I think it was just one of those things that happened with most people. It was just a matter of sort of being sucked in on an increasing basis — to projects and activities and being called, ‘Can you come do this?’ and if you don’t have a good excuse, what do you say? Most people are not capable of saying, ‘No, I don’t want to.’
Tim: It sounds like it was part of his personality, that he couldn’t say no, and he also was a tireless worker.
Joyce: Yes, it was amazing what he could accomplish.
Tim: Okay, so I guess that pretty much brings us back to your first services. When did you first meet Bob?
Joyce: I remember seeing him around.
Tim: I’m sorry; maybe I’m getting ahead of you. You said that after the first two services that you kept thinking about some of the things that were said there. Was that maybe a function of some guilt?
Joyce: A function of a viable alternative, because at that point I was getting dissatisfied with my job. The man I was working for was a really critical man, and I was not pleased working with him. I was living the good life and yet I was feeling somewhat empty. I was kind of one-toe into the whole counterculture thing, and I was contemplating really doing a counterculture trip.
Tim: In what way? Working for free schools?
Joyce: No, getting out of the city and maybe moving out to the country. Shortly after I went to the first service, I went ahead and I bought a camper – a VW camper. Here I had been this very proper well-dressed type, and I started gradually – I got my first rimless glasses, and smoked my first dope when I worked at U.C. Medical Center. I always felt like I was a freak, and I had never found anything to…
Tim: A freak to the extent that you weren’t fitting in?
Joyce: I could fit in – I’m really good at outwardly appearing to fit in], but internally I didn’t feel comfortable, which is why I had gotten myself out of Ohio and gotten out here. Yeah, I hear a different drummer. I’m here in Los Angeles now doing my little legal secretary trip, and everybody thinks, ‘Oh, God.’ I look very normal, but I don’t feel normal.
Tim: So, this is another reason why – this is a church where you could conceivably fit in? Did you see the people there as individuals who also were looking for a place, or had found a place?
Joyce: You know, the thing that is funny is like — I think it was the end of May  I went up to Redwood Valley for the first time. I drove up. I think it was May – with my dog. He was a Samoyed, which is a big dog in the city, and I was thinking he would be so much happier in the country. But I went up there and I was appalled. It [the church culture] was just like what I had come from [in Ohio]. I remember sitting there – and there was this whole issue with me about choir practice. If you belonged to the church, you were supposed to be in the choir, and I didn’t want to be in the choir. There was no part of me that wanted to do that, and wear these long blue dresses. And I remember sitting there in choir practice — it may not have been that first time, but anyway, the first time I was sitting there, it was sundown. I heard a rooster crow as I was sitting on these little folding metal chairs. I almost got sick, I thought, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t do this! I just don’t want to do this!’
Tim: You practiced all night?
Joyce: No, it was just a choir practice.
Tim: You would have rather been outside if you were in the country for instance?
Joyce: It was just that the people there were mostly Midwesterners who were from the same area of the country I was from. I grew up 100 miles from where Jim Jones was raised, and the people who he brought with him were the same type of people who I never felt that I belonged with and couldn’t fit in with. So, except for the very few like Bob, or Sharon, there really weren’t.… The other people I could interact with but it was all surface politeness and all very nice, but I had nothing to talk to them about, and I knew I was being viewed with a lot of suspicion by some of these people. ‘What are you doing here?’
Tim: It really was closed at that time.
Joyce: And I think Jones had the same idea about some of us. What are you finding here? Why are you here? Especially the few who had successful trips going on the outside?
Tim: Did he voice that or was that just a sense?
Joyce: I remember one time him saying, and it wasn’t in the beginning, but he said, ‘Some of you who are here – mostly the intellectuals – are like the frosting on the cake. You are not part of the downtrodden; you are not part of the ones who I am here to save. You don’t have to be here, but you have chosen to be here.’ But I think from Jones’ little head space, he didn’t really understand. And with a lot of types like myself, it took him a long lot of years before he developed (quote) ‘trust’ (end quote), which we know now there was none of for anybody. Mainly I didn’t want to go back to a small community in the sticks – the lack of social things.
Tim: But you did [go], didn’t you?
Joyce: Yes, I sure did.
Joyce: Well, I attended maybe 5 or 6 meetings during the rest of that year. In the mean time I’m taking psychedelics; I’m tripping around the city; I’m still doing everything that I had always done, but I couldn’t get this [opportunity to practice socialism] out of my head. I went back to Ohio in July of 1970, and I remember on the plane – I was writing in my journal and I said then, ‘I know I’m going to join this man; I don’t know how long I can put it off.’
Tim: You went back to Ohio?
Joyce: I went back for a neuropsychological conference – a training session [University of Indiana in Indianapolis], and visited my family [near Dayton, Ohio] while I was there. It [the Temple] was something that was just totally drawing me. It was like I tried to set up another trip. I was going to go into business with a couple of friends – and we were going to import things from Mexico. I mean, I tried to set up other alternative existences. None of them worked. So, I said, ‘Well, maybe that’s my fate.’
Tim: Had you reached a resolution of your basic question about Jim Jones?
Joyce: I mean that was the thing. I couldn’t find anything obviously wrong with him. In each of those meetings, believe me, he was under my microscope, and he was being scrutinized. I was listening to people. I would tuck everything I’d hear away, and compare it to see if I could find flaws and deficiencies. I couldn’t find a thing that wasn’t holding together.
Tim: Did you have a sense of Jim Jones and his family? Whether they were close? Whether there were troubles in his family at that time after the first 5 or 6 meetings? Everything looked together?
Joyce: Yes. Everything looked totally, totally upfront. Totally. You know, Marceline [Jones] was a very, very convincing person. Then there were the kids – the mixed family.
Tim: So how did you announce that you were going to join? Or did you? Or did it just evolve?
Joyce: Well, it was interesting, because it was New Year’s Eve. It was going to be 1971. I had a chance to go to Winterland [in San Francisco, to hear Joe Cocker’s Band and get stoned], or I had received an invitation to go up to Redwood Valley. It was like really a pivotal point, and I decided to go up there – so I drove up to Redwood Valley. They had community birthdays. Everybody whose birthday was in a certain month was celebrated. That was the first time – the first day [1/1/71] that he was issuing memberships. I went up to get one. See, there were other factors: I had also met a woman named Janet Shular who I had gotten to be friends with, and I was helping her on a few little projects in San Francisco. It was a very slow, relentless process.
Tim: Church projects?
Joyce: Yeah, some dinners that they were giving, and collecting clothes. But it was still very much whatever participation I wanted to give to it. San Francisco wasn’t a bit organized then. So Jim talked about the memberships for the first time on the first of January [which was also my 29th birthday]. I didn’t get it then, but I went up the following week. He said, ‘If you want to join, ask Eva Pugh. She’s the treasurer. Ask her what you have to do.’ So I said, ‘Okay, what are the requirements?’ She said, ‘Well, there are two. You have to ask permission before you take a vacation, and you have to give 25% of your gross income.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ She said, ‘Now, wait! You must not have heard me. You have to give 25%.’ To me that was not an issue, so, I got my membership card, which was the point at which I made the commitment to belong to the group. In retrospect, if somebody said that to me now, I would not consider it!!! So, I was going to move up there [to Ukiah], and asked Jones about it, He said, ‘Wait until you get a job before you move up.’ I took some time off and I put some applications in, one of which was the [Mendocino County] welfare department. In July of that year I got word that I had been accepted.
Tim: You would have worked under Dennis Denny? Was that his department?
Joyce: Yes. Sharon [Linda] Amos was working there plus Laura Johnston and Jim Randolph. Claire Janaro worked there later.
Tim: What would you be doing there? Were you an Eligibility Worker?
Joyce: Eligibility Worker, yes. They had just changed the requirements and now you had to have a master’s [degree] to be a social worker. They had just split up the whole system. I moved up there in August 1971. Well, we had taken the first cross-country bus tour in July, and I went on that. So the whole process took like 15 months before I actually moved up there.
Tim: The cross-country trip was basically recruiting and fund-raising?
Joyce: Yes, they had just gotten the  buses, and I signed up to go. I get there, of course, hoping to be on Jim Jones’ bus. I’m assigned with Janet Shular to a bus with all the kids — there were like 40 kids, and I think we had all the troublemakers on our bus, which was quite an experience – in close quarters. Then we got to Philadelphia, and we visited Father Divine’s Mission in Philadelphia there. I was assigned to give a testimony, and I was going through 800,000 changes.
Tim: What was the testimony? You had to come up with a miracle?
Joyce: Not a miracle – just a testimony. It was anything I wanted. So we’re sitting at all these banquets with this incredible food and incredible service – the linen and china, and everything. The people are lining up to say how much Jim Jones meant to them – what he had done for them.
Tim: This is after dinner?
Joyce: Yes, there were about two or three days of meetings, and Mother Divine was there, and all these little Black ladies. I didn’t end up having to give a testimony. I was in the line a few times, but they always were stopped before they got to me, thank God. Then I remember like in one of the places where we were changing clothes, a couple of the people [Mae Lewis] were joking about how they had gotten up there and said that they had been on drugs, and he had rescued them from drugs. Then they said [in a sarcastic tone], ‘Ha ha! Yeah, I used to take too many aspirins.’ I was just appalled.I was really appalled! I thought, ‘Now, wait! This has all got to be real!’ I was getting together my thing [testimony] – trying to talk from experience, because I was very serious about all this.
Tim: What were you going to say?
Joyce: Oh, God, who knows!
Tim: Maybe something about your lifestyle?
Joyce: I think it was probably more like Jim had given me meaning in my life, or something like that. I don’t know. I rehearsed it and rehearsed it and rehearsed it. That’s one testimony that went back into my subconscious.
Tim: So you were a little shocked?
Joyce: Yes, that they made so light of it. It was an arduous trip. Jesus, God!!
Tim: What was the point of going back there? Jones tried to raid the membership [of Father Divine’s Church]?
Tim: Father Divine’s people got very, very upset with Jim. Do you remember getting kicked out of a banquet hall or anything like that – or an announcement by Mother Divine?
Joyce: Yes, after which we precipitously left.
Tim: Right in the middle of dinner?
Joyce: I don’t think it was in the middle. But he [Jim] announced that we were leaving, and I think we all got up and filed out. He was trying to say that Father Divine’s spirit had come to rest in his body, and was getting all the accolades from the [Temple] members. He just took over anything that he was part of, which he did there.
Tim: You mean he dominated the banquet?
Tim: Just through force – not force, numbers I would imagine.
Joyce: Well, that — because Father Divine was their God, so he’s just in there boldly saying, ‘Father Divine has conferred his mantle on me, and I am in contact with him; I’ve been in contact with him, and, oh, we’re from the same planet. We’re both messengers, but Father Divine, who started out on a divine mission, blew it, and that you little people had been exploited. You had given everything to him, and here he was with his white wife.’ And then there were pictures of him everywhere. I have seen some real pictures of Father Divine, but in all the pictures he was bleached to look white, which was just incredible.
Tim: There were pictures of Father Divine?
Joyce: Yes, because we were staying in one their dormitories.
Tim: Who bleached him?
Joyce: Some photography studio, I’m sure at somebody’s instructions. He was a very dark-skinned man.
Tim: Right, I know. But was it done by Father Divine’s people or by Jim Jones to make the transformation more credible?
Joyce: No, by Father Divine’s people. These were photographs they had setting around of their savior.
Tim: I see. So this kind of played into Jones’ hands a little bit.
Joyce: It did in terms of talking to us. ‘Look at this man who is not proud to be Black, and he marries this white woman, and he’s sleeping with all these sisters. Here they are working in the kitchen, and living in these pitiful conditions…’ – all of which he later emulated to the tee.
Tim: Did he point this out publicly too?
Joyce: Yes, but not in the banquet halls. He was making a play to take over the whole thing and that was obvious to us and to them too.
Tim: Do you remember any order or incident which actually caused Jones to say, ‘Okay, get up, we’re leaving.’
Joyce: No, because I was out of it. There are all these kids that I’m trying deal with, and my own conflicts, because – in fact, on the trip back…
Tim: Before you go on to that, you were sitting with the kids in the banquets?
Joyce: No, but I’m just saying that afterwards there was some care, and I was in a lot of conflict at that point. I saw this seemingly fraudulent thing with the testimonies. The whole trip was not organized. I was hungry a lot of the time, and I was getting more hostile by the day. I remember being hostile to the point of being physically rigid. I didn’t want to move. You can just feel your whole body just rigid, and this was in July  before I moved up there in August. So I hadn’t made the big plunge yet.
Tim: But you were a member.
Joyce: Yeah, but that wasn’t anything. I could be an un-member too. By that time there was already so much conditioning. This was the first time I began to see any contradictions. Let me put it that way. And they weren’t even big contradictions, but just that something…
Tim: It was obvious that Jones was trying to take over. Did that seem wrong?
Joyce: No, because I believed by that time that he was really a messiah-figure. And if he said that Father Divine had blown his mission, then, sure, he blew it. I didn’t question that.
The main thing is the trust the man inspired. As long as you believed in him, he could do so much and get away with so much, and it would be rationalized. As I look back, the degree that I rationalized is just unreal. As long as the basic premise is that he is a trustworthy, good man; he knows what he’s doing; and maybe you don’t understand everything that is being done, but believe it’s right, it’s necessary – you’re still hooked.
Tim: Do you remember going back after being ousted from the dinner or after leaving the dinner so abruptly, going back to their hotels and trying to recruit them?
Joyce: Not personally.
Tim: Or going around the block with bullhorns, and that sort of thing? Grace told me about that one.
Joyce: That trip is rather dim in my mind. It was such an overload and just everything. I remember visiting Father Divine’s tomb with the group.
Tim: Tell me about that. Do you remember the tomb?
Joyce: Yes, it was a building. It was like a mausoleum, and there was like a raised dais of marble. Mother Divine was walking along with Jones. This is supposedly where the story came that after the group of us left, that she unbuttoned her blouse and threw herself on the coffin [laughs] of her deceased husband, and offers her body to Jones. Right!! What a lurid story!! [laughs] But he, he couldn’t do this! He couldn’t betray us! What a bullshitter!!!
Tim: When did he say this? When did you first hear this?
Joyce: After we got back to California. Or maybe even en route when we gathered at a rest stop. He’s spinning his tales. Some of those ladies came back with us – a few. Then afterwards, everything changed.
Tim: About a dozen?
Joyce: No, I don’t think there were that many – maybe 6 or 8. There weren’t that many.
Tim: So, about the time you moved up to Redwood Valley, things changed, partially as a result of these Father Divine people?
Joyce: Well, then we couldn’t wear jeans anymore. We had to wear long skirts, because they would have been offended. That’s when we started calling him Father, because these ladies were used to it. Therefore – this was the rationalization – therefore we had to call him that too in order for him to build their faith in him that he was the new Father Divine in a different body. Marceline became ‘Mother.’ That was in the fall of 1971 even. Then we started singing all these mission songs, but I think we put ‘Jim’ in there instead of Father Divine. It was a trip.
Tim: Well, he put ‘Jim’ in there instead of ‘Christ’ in Indiana. Were there other things besides those superficial ones?
Joyce: Of course, it’s difficult for me to separate [changes in Jim’s policy] from my moving there and by doing so being, of course, closer to what was going on [normally]. [Before my move] I had been fairly remote, and I had kept myself that way.
Tim: I see. So the changes weren’t all apparent then.
Joyce: Well, I don’t know whether they were because I had just moved in there and had gotten more into it or because there was a lot changing. I remember at some point along the way – I remember talking to Bob [Houston] in the yard out behind the church. The first thing I remember ever saying to him was, ‘Oh, you’re Judy and Patty’s father.’ He said, ‘Yes, I’m known by that to many. That’s my claim to fame to some people.’ So after I moved up there, I got a little cabin in the woods [on Road F, Redwood Valley]. I was working at the [Mendocino County] Welfare Department, and they [the church] had a project they called Files. Jim Randolph was in charge of it. I mean, I was living up there like two or three days, and I was trying to do a little painting and get myself settled in. And Randolph’s on the phone saying, ‘You’ve got to come and work [at Files]!’
Tim: This is at your new place?
Joyce: Yeah, and I’d been there like two or three days, right? And I wanted to paint and do a few things. Randolph’s putting the pressure on me, ‘You’ve got to come; the world’s on fire, and you’re worried about painting your bathroom!’ I resisted for two or three days, I think. You can’t believe the pressure. So I started going after work.
Tim: This is to work on a thing called ‘Files.’
Joyce: Yes, this is the names and addresses. Everybody who came into a meeting wrote down their names and addresses and telephone numbers, and we were compiling lists for mailing. You had to go through and you took the address, and you had to find zip codes with it, to sort it out, alphabetize it and everything. By this time there were a lot of people coming to these meetings. Bob was working on the project too, so that was when I first began to come into contact with him.
Tim: That time you talked at the church was the first time that you’d had words with him?
Joyce: Yes, and I think that was before I moved up. He was in the band; he was a very visible person. He was obviously someone who was more of my type.
Tim: Did you talk for long that first time? Or was it just to say hello?
Joyce: Yeah, just a little contact.
Tim: Did you have any further impressions of him at that time?
Joyce: I thought he was nice looking, and I thought that – well, very realistically, I thought, ‘Well, Jesus, if I’m into this for God knows how long…” I was looking for a companion. That was on my mind, not in the forefront, but it was something that was there. So Bob was one of the few eligibles in my mind – someone who I could relate to at all. Then there was that whole thing that I think has probably been discussed where Bob and Phyllis were up in front of the church. He was brought up because he had talked to a gal named Angel Addison, who was at that time Steve Addison’s wife. I don’t know whether you know his name. She was a little flighty thing who was Walter Cartmell’s daughter. Walter was married to Patty [a key staff person]. So Bob was accused of flirting with Angel, and he was brought up. This had happened in the afternoon, and this was the evening service. This was a little [group] catharsis [therapy] thing [officiated by Jim].
Tim: That had happened in the afternoon – the incident?
Joyce: Yes. Phyllis is brought [upfront]; the girls are brought up. It comes out about the housekeeping, and that he and Phyllis are no longer sleeping together. Their marriage relationship is not good. And the famous statement was made. What was it? Jim asked him if he thought about sex. He said, ‘Yeah, all the time.’ Jim said, ‘Well, what range?’ Bob said, ‘From 18 to 80.’ And Jim just flipped, because the big thing had become, ‘I’m the only heterosexual in the world, and any man who claims that he’s got that strong a sex drive is obviously fooling himself, and on-and-on.
Tim: Did you recognize this as a real faux pas at the time, or a challenge?
Joyce: Oh, sure [a faux pas].
Tim: Was Bob serious?
Joyce: Yes, he had a very active fantasy life, that man. I don’t think he and Phyllis had been sleeping together for a year or so, so you can imagine what pressures were building there. So at that time, in this public meeting, Phyllis said: No, she didn’t like him, and she didn’t really want to be with him that much, but she didn’t want to separate from him because of the girls.
Tim: Is this in front of the girls?
Joyce: I don’t remember if they were sent out or not. They may have been taken out of the meeting. A lot of times when parents were up, they would take the kids outside in those days. So, Jim said to her, ‘Well, Phyllis, what are you going to do? How do you feel about Bob interacting with somebody else?’ She said, ‘I don’t care. I don’t want it to be blatant. I don’t want it to become a thing of community knowledge. I don’t care.’ I don’t think this was too long after I moved up there. So, it was kind of left that if Bob could find somebody to relate to, that was fine. Permission had been granted. So with that background, we were working in Files, and it was in December  I took him home, because I lived just past where they were living. Phyllis was in Chicago driving a bus, and then we got together. We sat and we talked and blah-blah-blah. We decided we wanted to have a relationship. The ludicrousness of the whole thing – we thought we ought to be principled, so we better check with Jones to find out if it was okay, and blah-blah-blah. My whole relationship with Bob was just bizarre. I don’t know if you understand that.
Tim: Bizarre to what extent? Would it be better if you just went on and explained that?
Joyce: Well, that whole period then. So at that point,
Tim: Did Jones still say it was okay?
Joyce: Yes, he said, ‘Fine, no problems, be discreet.’ This was like around the 6th of December. Phyllis comes back. We’re really busy, but we were starting to see each a bit, and then I think it’s about two weeks later, he arrives at my cabin and announces that he has left Phyllis. I said, ‘You did WHAT?’ He wanted to move in there. I said, ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea, because I feel like you’re using me as a leverage to get out of something that you’re not satisfied with, and I don’t want to be in that role.’ So he took a place over at Mendocino [State Hospital]. They had some little cottages that the employees could rent, so he took one of those, and he moved out.
Tim: Was it in Redwood Valley?
Joyce: Mendocino Hospital was in Talmadge. He was on the grounds, and it kind of reminded one of a motel room. It didn’t have kitchen facilities. It was just a bedroom and a bath. So, he moved over there. I used to go over there a lot. Jesus, what a period! So then, okay, he asked for permission to move in with me, and that was granted. So, he moved in with me, and then we were called that there was going to be a counseling session. This is not very long – like two or three weeks after he had moved in – maybe not even that long. The counseling was held at Bonny [and Don] Beck’s house. They had just created the role of counselors at that point. There were all these brand new counselors looking for people to practice on, right? No, he and Phyllis were called into a meeting. And somehow I was over there doing something else, and so when the counseling thing started, they told me I had to leave. So I walked out and I slammed the door. I was pissed. Then they dragged me back in. ‘What an attitude!’ So there was this whole long thing, and I remember just sitting there. I was just furious, because they were basically saying that Bob and Phyllis had to live together. This is after he’s moved, and blah-blah-blah. For the sake of the community, they had to live together even though neither of them really wanted to; however, that we could continue to have our relationship. Then they winked! I think Archie [Ijames, Asst Pastor] winked. Everything was for the sake of the community; there couldn’t be any talk. He couldn’t leave her; he couldn’t divorce her because that would look bad for the community – so he moved back to their place. They were living right across from where Tim and Grace [Stoen] lived. Bob was annoyed and angry. I was just beside myself. I was just livid. I remember talking in the meeting and Archie at one point saying, ‘You’re not conducting this meeting! Shut up!’ So at their house, there was this other gal there: Rennie Jackson, who was living with Phyllis and the girls, and had her daughter there, who was a meticulous housekeeper. She was shaping Phyllis up. I mean, this was a trip – the most neat and the least neat people in the whole world together. So Bob moved back in there, and they had this bedroom. She had her bed on one side; he had his bed on the other side, and there was a dresser in between. They each had their own little area.
Tim: It doesn’t sound like they even had any affection for each other.
Joyce: Not at all. Not at all. And Phyllis the whole time was saying, ‘I don’t care.’ She told me numerous times that she liked me a lot better than she liked Bob. Not that there were arguments, she just wouldn’t talk to him. She had just gotten very hostile, and later I found out some of the reasons why. She had just gone into a whole passive-aggressive number – just hostile.
Tim: Hostile toward Bob. Do you have any idea why that was really?
Joyce: Yes, do you remember him being called ‘the professor?’ He had this very chauvinistic thing about him that was very much hidden with all his liberal talk. He really thought that men were superior to women, and that his own intellectual capacities were quite large, and he put her down a lot in that area. He had a lot of hostility built up towards her, which dated back to their San Francisco days, and a lot of it — it could be justified. There was just this subtle condescension that was there, which he tried to do on me. I said, ‘Hey, baby. I have as much education as you do; I’m as bright as you are.’
Tape 2, Side 1:
Tim: I think where you left off was, you were talking about these cross-currents, that Bob no doubt felt, but you were also talking about Bob’s moving back into the house with Phyllis. How was that resolved? He didn’t remain there obviously.
Joyce: Yes, for a long time.
Joyce: He remained there until he moved down to San Francisco in 1974. Well, not quite, but he was there most of that time. See, the sequence is that we continued to see each other throughout 1971-1972. In the meantime Phyllis has gotten a boyfriend by the name of John Harris [a/k/a Peter Holmes]. On Thanksgiving day of 1972 at the meeting Jones calls us all up, and said this thing about us going around together was just for the birds – totally reversing everything – and that we should all either get married or quit seeing each other.
Tim: All four of you?
Joyce: Yeah, Phyllis and John, and Bob and me. It was in a public meeting that this announcement was made.
Tim: What did you say to that?
Joyce: Well, the thing was we were really tight during that period. That was the time that the magazine, the Living Word, was being put together. Bob was the photographer, and I was working in composition and layout. It was the most incredible experience. Jim [had] announced in a meeting that he thought there should be a magazine, and so Jim Randolph and I and Tish [Laetitia] Leroy, Bob, and Garry Lambrev just took it upon ourselves that that’s what we were going to do. So we hustled around and Bob took pictures, and we were writing testimonies, and got a place over in Fort Bragg [Mendocino County] that was willing to let us use their typesetting equipment free. I’d go straight from work to this project and be up all night and then go back to work, or maybe get an hour sleep. It took months. Finally, we were to the point of getting it printed. Somebody had access to a printing facility in San Francisco. Our contact was a fellow who was working there; one of the people who left a long time ago – Jeremy Griffith. So after work we’re hopping in a car; we’re driving [125 miles] to San Francisco every day to work all night and drive back, and we put the whole thing together.
Tim: Sort of moonlighting there?
Joyce: Yes, the regular people would go home, and as soon as we could get down there, we’d be using the facilities at night. We were given no financial support to speak of. Lambrev was saying, ‘Does he really want this? Did he really mean it?’ We kept saying, ‘Well, all these obstacles! Are we doing the right thing by pressing on? Should we just forget it?’
Tim: Did you enjoy that period though? It was hard work.
Joyce: I don’t know if I did or not.
Tim: Did you enjoy being with Bob and working on a project together?
Joyce: Yes, we’d drive down, so we were able to spend some time together that way, and in church services we’d be together every minute. We were really tight, and we were pretty obvious about it too.
Tim: How so? Did you engage in public displays of affection – that sort of thing?
Joyce: No, just standing beside each other in a meeting was considered being tight, right? Oh, my God, not public displays of affection!!
Tim: You weren’t supposed to hold hands in church?
Joyce: You weren’t even supposed to sit with your companion in church, because that would make the people who didn’t have companions feel bad. Never mind that they didn’t want one, or whatever. So that [‘The Living Word’ magazine] came out in July 1972, I believe. I’ve got some copies of it.
Tim: Yeah, I’ve got one somewhere.
Joyce: After that was done, I remember Jim being shown the first copy, and going, ‘This is good!! This is really good!! I had no idea!!’
Tim: Did you all parade up to him and show him?
Joyce: One of us handed it to him. It was all done, all complete. We were getting ready to mail them out to the whole mailing list. The thing was that his hand was in it even then though. He had to approve all the testimonies in there. The man had charge of everything. Nothing was done independently. We did it, but every word in there was something that he had approved. But the whole layout – how the whole thing had come together [we were responsible for]. So we’re saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to have another one, but we’ve got to have some financial support, and we couldn’t understand. We got a printer who was willing to print them up with color for $2,000 or $3,000 – like 10,000 [glossy] copies. He went, ‘No, that’s too much money.’ Bob was really pissed off. He’s saying, ‘I don’t get it. The man wants it, but he’s not going to pay for it.’ We had put ourselves through just a trip to get this thing done, and it could be done by a printer and collated and stapled and everything for not that much money considering the return in contributions and stuff. At that time neither of us had any idea how much [money] was rolling in. Anyway, at some point after a whole lot of hassles, that whole printing complex was bought up there [in Redwood Valley], because he saw the idea of it.
Tim: A short time later he did actually buy the printing presses and set up Valley Enterprises?
Joyce: Yes, I was still working at the welfare department, and in January 1973 I was given permission to quit and work full-time for Publications, and at the time I quit they were just doing the remodeling to turn it into a full-time operation. I was mostly working with Tish Leroy [first head of Valley Publishing] then. So, well, that was actually pretty quick – from July when it came out. We got a couple more out, but they weren’t.… But in the meantime, all this friction and all this work, and Bob and I were starting to have some problems. I suppose if you think about getting maybe 2 or 3 hours sleep a night, it’s amazing that we could even talk civilly to anybody, because that doesn’t improve one’s disposition.
Tim: That was the norm?
Joyce: During that period, yes. It was just outrageous. I can’t believe how.… Some nights it would be more, and on and on, but it certainly wasn’t eight; it wasn’t six – maybe four, maybe three, sometimes none at all. Imagine going to a job at the welfare department all day and doing these detailed things. My caseload was like 120, so I was also putting in free overtime just to handle my cases, because I felt responsible for these people, and it just goes on and on. So by November  ….
Tim: How did you feel about that? About the time you were spending, and about these horrible hours you were keeping? Did you feel cheated in some way? What was your attitude about it?
Joyce: I wasn’t very happy about it.
Tim: Did you figure others were doing it too, and so you couldn’t really complain?
Joyce: I saw that some of the time it was a contest. People got into ego trips. ‘I ONLY got one hour of sleep!’ This was like a test of loyalty. I tried to get as much sleep as I could – always. It was just that there was so much outside pressure to be at places, to be doing things that with my best intentions I didn’t get very much sleep.
Tim: How about Bob? Did he try to get as much as possible?
Joyce: Uh-huh. Sure, but he couldn’t say no. I just got a little more choosy about things I would accept. If somebody called me at 3:00 a.m. with some bullshit thing, I would just say, ’I can’t do it. I won’t do it. Have you tried so-and-so? Use your other resources, and if I’m the last source – then maybe I will.’ Of course, I was feeling guilty all the time I was telling this to them.
Tim: Was there a concerted effort to keep people tired, or do you think it was simply that there was so much to do they were calling on everybody and demanding a great deal of them?
Joyce: I used to think about that. In the beginning I thought there was so much to do, and then later when I was in P.C. [Planning Commission], we’d have basically finished the agenda at say 3:00 a.m. I thinking, ‘Yeah, I’ll get three hours of sleep. Wonderful!’ Then there would be a pause, and Jim would shuffle through his notes, and go, ‘Oh, yeah, and Norman and so-and-so. Yeah, we have a report here that you were blah-blah-blah.’ I could feel the natural pause in the meeting, and then the artificial regeneration of it. I was getting hostile then too. But in the beginning, it wasn’t apparent that it was contrived, but I believe it was contrived all along.
Tim: The people calling you wouldn’t necessarily know it was contrived?
Joyce: No, I was one of those people that they had the phone number of. So, to them it might have been a legitimate something or other. [The question is] how do you keep all those people busy 20 hours a day? There’s just not that much to do.
Tim: Did you get close to quitting, or confronting anybody? Did you and Bob ever talk about doing something about the horrible hours at this point?
Joyce: Let’s see, it’s December 1973. I have been working at Publications for a year full-time. I had been without sleep. I think I went 4 or 5 days one time – no pills, no coffee; I just didn’t sleep. It was one of these deadlines. We’d get something done and he [Jim] would make a change, and then we had to go back and start over. And then he’d make another change, and we had to go back. We once had 10,000 papers printed, and he didn’t like one word in there and we had to scrap 10,000 papers and start over. At that point I’m [rationalizing] that he [Jones] knows best, sort-of. There was another part of me that was saying, ‘I don’t know about all this.’
Tim: Is this called ‘Peoples Forum’ at the time?
Joyce: Yes, that [newspaper] was just starting in that period – in the fall of 1973. I participated in the first one, and that was the one we had all printed and ready to go and they scrapped it. There was an article about Mr. Muggs, the chimpanzee, and we had used the word ‘vivisection’ in there, and he [Jones] somehow felt that this would not appeal to a certain type of person who might read it, therefore, we had to [scrap it].
Tim: Was this the 10,000 papers thing?
Joyce: Yes, it was the first Peoples Forum. I’ve still got one of them someplace. So then, okay, I had been living in my cabin and when I went to be full-time, I moved into Gene Chaikin’s [church attorney] office there on Road K. I was sleeping in the hall in a little bed. I had turned over my place to Mike Prokes. I just pretty much walked away and left it furnished.
Tim: Why did you do this?
Joyce: At the time it seemed like a good idea.
Tim: This was in the fall of 1973?
Joyce: Yes, this was the beginning of 1973 because [that’s when] I was going to get the grand privilege of working full-time for the church, which I took as a great honor. Since I was going to be doing all this work it seemed.…
Tim: This was in a hall of an office you were living – in Chaikin’s office?
Joyce: It was a little house behind his big house on Road K. It was three rooms. There was a front room; there was a room here [sketches in air]; there was this little hallway here; and there was another office. And this little hallway there was where I stayed.
Tim: Were a lot of other people staying there?
Joyce: Not then. Tish [Leroy, his legal secretary at the time; later first Manager of Valley Publishing & Printing Co.] and Gene each had an office. So once the Publications Office was finished, I moved and was living there with my sleeping bag. [I was given the title, Assistant Manager] and I had my own little office, so I’d bunk out under the desk in my sleeping bag. The problem was getting food, because I didn’t have any money. I was getting hostile again. I guess I was called a troublemaker by a few sources. I told somebody that we were being treated like ‘niggers’ [in the sense of niggardly]. Oh, my God! They had a counseling session about what to do!! I told the full council we were being treated like ‘niggers’, and they just came unglued. Unglued!! Lee Ingram, Don Beck and Bonny Beck, Linda [Sharon] Amos, Jack Beam, Archie Ijames, everybody was there. Jim Randolph. That was just blasphemy! I said, ‘Well, we are! I don’t know when I’m going to get my next meal.’
Tim: What did they do? Did they shout at you?
Joyce: Oh, sure.
Tim: Did anybody hit you or anything like that?
Joyce: No. Well, they were trying to placate me. I didn’t realize it then. At that point Rose Gieg, was living in the apartment overhead. I had been able to use her place to take showers, but there was never time. Every three days I’d go and take a shower, or something. The food was catch-as-catch-can. So it was at that point that they said, ‘Well, Harold Cordell’s house is vacant, so all the publications people could move in there.’ We’d have our own commune – and our food. I said, ‘Swell!’ Bob didn’t move in there, but we [the rest of publications] did move over there. The place was a mess.
Tim: Where did the Cordells go?
Joyce: They had moved someplace else. By this time the whole thing is starting to be communalized in Redwood Valley. We became known as West House [Commune]. Jean Brown and Jim Randolph were the heads of another commune called East House. It was interesting that they had the guest house down there and it was East House.
Tim: Bob was in this West House with you?
Joyce: No, I don’t think he was allowed to – no, he couldn’t move out yet. He was still trapped over on Calpella Road behind the dresser in the corner with his bed. But I was also working with this stubborn mule [Bob]…. Okay, so in 1972 winter we were told to get married or get out of it [our relationship], and I decided I didn’t want to get married because things didn’t look that rosy between us. For the full next year we were working together though in Publications, because he was the staff photographer at that point and the darkroom man. No pictures were taken of any of us [West House Commune] during that period either, or not very many. I’ve seen a few, but I don’t have any of them. The whole rural setting, and this little commune, and Archie’s building us triple bunks. We got together a really nice place.
Tim: This is West House?
Joyce: Yes, the commune. We had a place for dogs, and we were starting a garden, and we were getting into it. Helen Swinney at that time was the head of the communes, so she’d deliver us our food every week. We’d request what we wanted, and then she’d give us what she wanted [laughs], which usually wasn’t what we asked for. I was in one bedroom with two other people. I had my own top bunk now. I had my very own bed.
Tim: Who were your roommates there?
Joyce: You know when I said that – I don’t remember [people in the commune included Maureen and Don Fitch, Reggie Upshaw – maybe it was Laura Johnston]. So, anyway, the whole thing is going on and in December 1973…
Tim: Things were better? Is there a feeling – are you feeling a little better about it?
Joyce: No, not really.
Tim: It was a small concession?
Joyce: Yes, I was making the best of the deal. So I’ve got a cold or I’ve got the flu. It is a miracle that I was not sick during those years. God knows how.
Tim: This was in the fall of 1973?
Joyce: This is December 1973, and I’m lying on my top of a 3-tiered bunk bed and I’m trying to decide will I die if I throw myself off. I didn’t think it was likely [laughs], but I was really depressed, and just really had had it. I still wasn’t thinking about leaving the church though. That was not even a point in my mind. So, I got busy and I wrote a letter to Jones, and I said that I didn’t think that I was required as a full-time staff person there, and I went through a whole long thing about how I didn’t think the operation was very economical, and I should get a job. Well, the response was incredible! Not only did they tell me to get a job, but they started bugging me how soon could I get the job. Tim Stoen came down to the printing office. ‘Well, how many places have you inquired?’ I said, ‘Wait a minute, it was my idea! [laughs] If it was my idea, obviously you’re not dealing with passive-[aggressiveness]. I want a job! Give me a chance!’ I can remember, at this time after a year of living in just – trying to get together something to wear out for a job interview was a trip. I was going through my old stuff, whatever I had left, because I had been living in jeans and tennis shoes or worse. So at that point, December 1973, I’m supposedly looking for a job in Ukiah, and not having any luck when Bob and I get called to a counseling session. We don’t know what it’s about. In the meantime, remember, I’m also thinking about throwing myself off the third bunk to see what will happen. Jones is there with all the people, all in this living room. He announces that he wants Bob and me to get married. We’re going to be missionaries and go to Africa!
Tim: Was this at his house?
Joyce: No, it was in the house to the south of the church.
Tim: Beam’s house?
Joyce: No, the other side. Emily Leonard used to have that house with senior citizens, and then they converted it – a pretty house.
Tim: He wanted you to get married and wanted you to go to Africa?
Joyce: Yes, and of course I’m thinking, ‘Jesus, this man really can read minds; he knows the stress I’ve been in and blah-blah-blah.’ In preparation for doing that, I should move to San Francisco. I’m thinking, ‘Hallelujah! San Francisco! Woo!’ I mean, I had just had it with Ukiah. I didn’t like it from the first day I ever went there. So that was one evening. He said we could think about it and the marriage. We didn’t have to consider it anything permanent; if we didn’t like it, we could get divorced. It was okay. [The marriage was to be] very casual. He said we should talk about it. It seemed like a good idea; it seemed okay. Never mind all of this other stuff that’s come before. Bob and I had such a bond between us. With all the bullshit, there was something that was just really there – always was. We used to have these outrageous fights, and people thought we hated [each other], but part of it was a show, because if we didn’t look like we got along then we could spend more time together and nobody would know. Can you imagine living like that?
Tim: Is this early on that you faked fights?
Joyce: They were part fake and part real. I think both of us would dramatize the intensity. I mean there would be some issue that was in contention, but the way that it was handled was pure drama.
Tim: Did you say to Jim Jones that night that you’d think about it, or had you decided. I think once you told me you said you’d go away – or you went away to San Francisco and thought about it for a while.
Joyce: I don’t remember now. So, I’m probably repeating a lot of stuff. It’s been so long, I don’t remember.
Tim: I think we went through that once, but you’re giving me some details we didn’t have before, so that’s good.
Joyce: It seems like that was the 12th of December  that that happened, because I remember I had my stuff packed and was in San Francisco by the 13th in the evening. Now, that’s pretty fast!
Tim: Where did you go? Was that the place off of Haight Street?
Joyce: Well, I went to stay with Janet and David Shular. She was my old-time buddy, and she’d been down in San Francisco. She’d never managed to move up to Ukiah. I stayed there. Janet told me she’ll never forget the sight of me dressed up. I had borrowed somebody’s suede coat [with a fur collar], and I had makeup on and heels. And she said, ‘There you were tottering down the street in high heels, with your shoulders all hunched up, just looking lost – just totally freaked out.’ [That was true.] But by God I was back in the city, and I knew I could function there, finally. I went down to a temporary agency and got a job, and I was working for — I mean, I always do well in jobs. So, I was working for the division manager of White Trucks after a while, who liked me. I think he knew I was into something, but he kind of shielded me. If I slept on the floor of the office when he was gone, he didn’t care, which I did. If the phone rang, I had to sound like I was awake. Now, Bob by this time has already been laid off from Mendocino State [Hospital]. Then he got a job working for Xerox as a Xerox salesman. Sales are just not his forte.
Tim: In San Francisco?
Joyce: No, in Mendocino County. Imagine, here’s a Xerox salesman driving around in a 1964 beat-up Pontiac. He’s got one suit that Sam [his father] had gotten him, and big [dark] circles under the eyes from this incredible press schedule. So, obviously, he wasn’t good at it. He used to say to me, ‘Jesus, this is just ridiculous. Here are these guys who drive around in these brand new cars, and they’ve got all their clothes and all this stuff that is going to allow them to do a good job.’ He said, ‘I have none of that; how can I do well?’ So, he was in that for, I don’t know, the times are in the resume. So, I don’t know if he got fired, or laid off. I think he got fired maybe. I don’t remember. He may have been laid off. So, then he went to work at one of the milling factories. Now, here’s Bob the intellectual carting around big boxes or something. In about two or three months he had lost 30 pounds. He had a second shift, and was [living] in this commune at the time which Helen Swinney was running. Because he couldn’t be there at dinner time, which was at 5:30 or whatever, he didn’t get to eat – unless he could scrounge up something from leftovers! He’s working from 3:00 to 11:00 p.m., so he gets his breakfast and maybe lunch and that’s it. He was protesting. He was saying, ‘Look, I can’t do it. I’ve lost 30 pounds in 3 months!’
Tim: That’s terrible.
Joyce: So, at that point he came down to San Francisco in January 1974, and we looked for a place. That’s when we moved down to Haight and Fillmore. It was a lovely neighborhood [sarcasm].
Tim: That’s needle alley or needle park or something.
Joyce: God, yes. What was amazing is, people used to shoot their heroin on the steps that led up to the roof, and we lived on the third floor right by the steps. Every morning we’d get up and there would be all these empty balloons [used to hold the heroin] and nobody ever tried to break into our place. We never had any hassles. Nobody bothered us. And of course, we’re saying, ‘Oh, God, we’re protected by Jim Jones,’ because everything [good] that happened right, he did!! And maybe it was just exuding that kind of faith that nobody…. They probably thought we were narcs or something, actually! We were two little white people in the middle of all this stuff with their little suits going off to work.
Tim: Was Bob working at Xerox at the time?
Joyce: No, he went from the mill where he had worked, then he came down to San Francisco in January. Now, in the meantime, in all these years he’s never gotten a divorce. So there’s no way to get married because there’s no divorce, which I wasn’t too unhappy about – [I thought, we’ll get married] in good time [later rather than sooner]!! I’m not really a marrying person. So, we had this little apartment and got a little furniture, and I’m working during the day in this office as an executive secretary. At this point this guy from U.C. [University of California at San Francisco] contacted me. He was one of the psychologists [John S., who I used to work for] and wanted me to do some testing on a project that they have – as an independent contractor. This really pleased me, because I thought, ‘Jesus, this is a chance to get back into the old thing.’ So I got $20 every time I tested a patient, and I had to set up the schedules and go visit them in their homes and so forth. It had to do with old age, and I used a couple of people from the church [Lynette Jones (Jim’s mother) and Clive Sweeney]. So, Bob started doing substitute teaching then. He was really pleased with that, although he wasn’t working full-time by any means, but he was back in what he liked to do.
Tim: Is this in public schools?
Joyce: Yes, in San Francisco and Oakland and a couple of jobs in Santa Clara County. See, the thing was this is the whole of 1974 and it was like regrouping. I’m back in my own home territory, and so is Bob. I disconnected totally from Publications at that point. I realized that by working and turning in a lot of money I didn’t have to go to church [services] as often, and there became some sort of normalcy for a period of six or eight months. Then he got the job on the [Southern Pacific] railroad and was on the Board [job openings were posted on a daily basis].
Tim: He had to go to school, didn’t he, for some training?
Joyce: A week I think. So that was May 15, 1974 when he got back on the railroad. He was on-call.
Tim: How can you remember these dates?
Joyce: I write things down, then I go back and I can remember. So, he was alternating then between the railroad and teaching. Then he had put in an application for Juvenile Hall, and that came through in August – I think it was. So then he quit the teaching and was alternating between the counseling and the railroad. Then his divorce was final September 16, 1974, and we went around and got all the paperwork to get married. I was having, I think, a psychotic episode. [I’m whining,] ‘I don’t want to get married. Are you sure?’ Bob was saying, ‘Yes, yes, I’m totally sure. This is the right thing to do,’ blah-blah-blah. So, we got all the paperwork together and took it to Jones at a meeting in Redwood Valley. He looked at it, and he signed it, and we started to walk away. I think I told you this before, and as an afterthought, he said, ‘Whom God has put together, let no man put asunder,’ and he waved his hand in our direction as we’re walking away. Right! It is after the meeting and all these people are milling around, and nobody had any idea what was going on. People still ask me if I was married to Bob, if I was really married, because so many people were calling themselves married, but never went through the ceremony.
Tim: What were they doing? Just talking after church?
Joyce: Well, after the meeting, they had the folding chairs – there was a whole process of everybody helping put the chairs back in the chair racks, and then the committees that had little projects, they’d get together and talk about it, and people would be socializing, the kids would be running around, and they’d be gathering the sleeping kids up off the floor and hauling them out. How many pages do you have there?
Tim: No more than one. I’m on the first one still.
Joyce: That’s what I just noticed.
Tim R. You’ve covered a lot of this already. Then you went to Potrero Hill a short time after that.
Joyce: Okay, we got married in October [2nd, 1974]. At that point Phyllis is dating Danny Katulus who has left the church, and gone back to his mother’s house in San Francisco. There was a whole thing [issue] about how he wanted her to go with him, and she.… I think there was a serious question in Jones’ mind whether or not she might do it [leave], so she was put into the position of having to get Danny to come back, and we were sitting in a P.C. meeting.…
Tim: She told?
Joyce: Oh, yeah.
Tim: How did she do that? Or go ahead about the P.C. meeting.
Joyce: So, there comes Phyllis walking into the room and there is Danny coming in behind her on his knees – going along on his knees. He has returned.
Tim: Where was this P.C. meeting?
Joyce: In San Francisco [on the stage].
Tim: Who told him to do that?
Joyce: Well, Phyllis got overzealous apparently, and Jim said he really didn’t mean that.
Tim: She took him literally?
Tim: Jones said I want him to come back on his knees and beg?
Joyce: He did. I’m laughing, but Jesus, when you think about it.
Tim: It’s terrible. Did people laugh, or was it kind of all serious?
Joyce: No, everything was serious!
Tim: What happened then?
Joyce: There was enough conjecture though that she might be a defector that he told her she had to give up the children, and said that they should come and live with us. Well, we’re living in a single [studio] on Haight and Fillmore. I wasn’t going to take them there, so, we asked about getting a house to have them. I had promised Dee Dee Lawrence [a/k/a Joanette Harrell Duckett], a little girl who was living below us that if I ever got a house, she could come live with us, because her mother [who was a PT member] was not exactly the motherly type. She was a former junkie [who was working to rehabilitate herself with the church‘s help], but the kids were left down there, and I think that Dee Dee had been sexually abused by some of her mother’s [former] boyfriends and girlfriends, and there was no food in the house, you know, on and on. So then, Frances and Odesta Buckley were [living with their mother and siblings who were PT members] up in Ukiah, and they were getting a lot of racist interaction in the school system. They were Judy and Patty’s good friends, so they said, ‘If we move, could they come and live with us too?’ [We agreed.] So, we went out looking. Bob had worked as a school teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary School the last day of school that year. He was normally only a junior and high school teacher. This was 5th and 6th grade, but he was so impressed by the school and the neighborhood and everything that he said he thought that’s where we should look. We got into the car and we went out, and a postman was walking down the street, and we said, ‘Do you know of any vacant houses?’ He told us he did, and we went, and it was vacant.
Tim: Patrick Henry is on Potrero Hill?
Joyce: Yes, and it was just snap-snap. We found the house; there was still somebody living downstairs who told us the landlady’s name; we called her and we had it. In about three hours from the time we started looking. It was perfect. It was just a perfect, perfect deal.
Tim: Now, that was a miracle!
Joyce: Yeah [laughs]. There was a park up the street, and the junior high was just three blocks away, so they could all walk to school. It was a safe neighborhood. It had a little garden and a dilapidated 2-story shed in the back which they could have as a play house. So, that was as of the first of January . See, where we were living on Fillmore and Haight, some other people had started to move from the church, so Sue Ellen [Williams] and David Galley, I don’t know if you know their names, were living there with their baby [Will Galley].
Tape 2, Side 2:
Tim: Potrero Hill Junior High: some of the kids went there, right?
Joyce: Yes, and we kept adding kids. Originally, most of them were going to Patrick Henry. Odesta [Buckley], Dee Dee [Lawrence] and Patricia [Houston] were sixth-graders that first half-year. So, it was all Patrick Henry [Elementary School] the first year, and then that following fall, we got some more [children] and they were older, so about six of them were going to Portero Hill [Junior High]. We started off with Patricia [Houston], Judy [Houston], Odesta [Buckley], Frances [Buckley] and Dee Dee [Lawrence] when we moved the first [Jan. 1975]. The 27th of January, I don’t know why I remember these dates, Agnes Jones calls up. We had had Jim Arthur [Jones] visiting us. This was Jones’ grandson. She said that Ray, her husband, was really abusing him, and beating him up, and she thought he should come live with us. I had a lot of questions about that, because I knew Jim Arthur [who was very hyperactive]. I don’t think I gave an answer, and then Marceline [Jones] came and talked to me saying, ‘I think it would be just wonderful. You and Bob are so great with kids, and Jim Arthur relates to you.’ So we took him in. And we just kept adding kids.
Tim: Was he black or white?
Tim: Agnes is Korean? Is that right?
Joyce: No, that’s Suzanne. Agnes is his adopted daughter from back in Indiana, who he claims was mentally retarded. She was a limited lady in some ways. I liked her though – a nice feisty lady.
Tim: But Marcie then visited and asked you to take the boy? Then you grew to something like 24 or 25?’
Joyce: People altogether. I’ve got one picture. It’s my prize picture. Sam took it. I don’t know if you’ve seen this. [At this point she pulls out a scrapbook to show Tim.] It gives some faces to some people. There’s Nadyne [Houston – Bob‘s mother]. This is just after we moved in. There’s Vonn Smith [who survived]. There’s Patricia and Judy and Bob. That’s Odesta and Frances and Dee Dee. There’s Jim Arthur. [none survived]. And that’s Sue Ellen and David Galley and their little boy, Will. They both survived, but the little boy didn’t. He was down in Jonestown.
Tim: Where were they?
Joyce: David was in San Francisco, and Sue Ellen was still up in Redwood Valley, but the baby had been sent to Guyana.
Tim: Whose dog was that?
Joyce: That’s Princess, Judy’s dog. That’s taken in the front room. That’s when we invited the Houstons over for dinner.
Tim: Did you have guardianships on all of these kids.
Joyce: We had guardianships on Odesta, Frances, Dee Dee, Jim Arthur, also on Dee Dee’s brother [Ronald Duckett, a/k/a Nicky Lawrence] who didn’t live with us that long. We also had one for [Kelin] Kirtas Smith.
Tim: You told me, I think, you had eight.
Joyce: Six guardianships. It was six, and then the two [Houston] girls.
Tim: Odesta and Frances, Dee Dee and Jim Arthur, Patricia and Judy?
Joyce: I didn’t have guardianships on them [Patricia and Judy] because Bob was there.
Tim: So, Odesta and Frances Buckley, Dee Dee Lawrence, Jim Arthur, and who are the other two?
Joyce: Ronald Duckett who was Dee Dee’s brother, Kirtas Smith. He had sclerosis of the spine. [His father, David, and mother along with 3 siblings died in Jonestown. [She shows Tim some photos.] Lerna [Jones] was a little girl whose mother and she lived with us. Lerna and Brenda Jones, both of whom died down there. They were lovely, lovely people. I don’t have very many pictures. Oh, that’s Sue Ellen. This was in the [San Francisco] Chronicle. She was down begging on the street [to raise money for PT], playing her saxophone, and wouldn’t tell the reporter who she was. Then these are the [newspaper] clippings I have. I have a very complete collection of clips. Oh, that [photo] was taken when my parents came down. They visited. There is Kirtas again. These are lousy pictures. These were taken at Great America [Amusement Park]. When my parents came out to visit in June 1976, they took all the kids to Great America.
Tim: That’s great.
Joyce: The kids loved it. They [my parents] paid the whole way. It was $100 and some dollars. I so proud of them because they are from a very limited background, and all these little kids – black and white – and they’re all calling them grandma and grandpa. They [my folks] still talk about that day. We get out there early, and it was as many rides as all of us could do. I was with the kids. We went on so many rides I think we were all dizzy. My folks were buying the popcorn, and as much junk food as anybody could eat. This was only three weeks before I left [quit Peoples Temple].
Tim: Is this the house on Potrero Hill?
Joyce: No, this is the house on  Sutter Street that we had moved to [April 1976].
That is my letter of resignation to the church shortly thereafter. I just don’t have many pictures. This is one of the ‘needs’ slips. After you turn in all your money [to PT], this was the form you filled for what you wanted. So, here I was requesting $10 gas money, $2 dryer money, and my allowance of $8 a month. This was the money I had turned in that week, not to mention my salary. Sometimes you didn’t get all you asked for. That’s when.…
Tim: That’s horrible.
Joyce: Really. Now, Bob was talking with me at that point [after we moved to Sutter Street] about our pulling out of the communal system and setting up our own household. I was taking a photography class [points to photos]
Tim: You took a few of Bob [in Golden Gate Park].
Tim: That was good.
Joyce: I was practicing with a 35mm camera. That’s our marriage certificate signed by Jim Jones. Even then I used to look at his handwriting. I don’t know much about handwriting [analysis], but I was thinking, ‘That’s not good.’ I used to think that then.
Tim: Was it the inconsistency or the style? Those ‘J’s’ are pretty elaborate.
Joyce: Just this whole blurring – and I’ve looked at handwriting things since, and that kind of messiness and stuff is often…. I remember at the time thinking, ‘That’s the handwriting of a criminal,’ and passing it right on by. What can I say?
Tim: He signed the marriage thing?
Joyce: I have a couple of samples of his handwriting: notes that he wrote, and it was just this wild, inconsistent – well, that also points to drug use, because there is a motor function that is a little bit disturbed there. That’s our announcement in the paper that we got married [application for marriage license].
Tim: It didn’t happen in San Francisco then?
Joyce: Well, it happened in Redwood Valley.
Tim: How did you get the [notice of marriage license application] ad down here?
Joyce: Because I sent the certificate in to be recorded [in San Francisco], thank God.
Tim: You actually appeared before the date on there – October 2nd, 1974. Oh, they are licenses. I see you got that in the city. This is an amazing photograph. Is this in San Bruno?
Joyce: This was on Potrero Hill. This was like in February 1975. We had moved in. This is the first group that moved into the house. So there aren’t as many kids there as later showed up, and all the other people.
Tim: How did the kids do in school generally? Did it vary a great deal?
Joyce: Well, I picked out the kids pretty much who we had. I had been interacting with all these kids, and I knew who I wanted.
Tim: You knew that some would be possible problems?
Joyce: Well, Jim Arthur was not one of those who I had picked out. Frances and Odesta, Patricia and Judy, they were all bright kids. I had picked out the bright rebels pretty much. They were kids who were not doing well in the church structure. They were kids who were not necessarily doing well in school. I just thought I could do something with them. I thought I could give them some kind of a structure that would be beneficial to them. We were asked to take in a lot of kids who I didn’t accept. There had to be a limit too. It didn’t seem like with 14 that there were any limits set, but [there were].
Tim: Did you consciously, when the kids went to school, try [to tell them] to avoid discussing the church?
Joyce: No, that was drilled into their heads. They did that naturally.
Tim: That was a rule?
Joyce: Yes. When I got these kids in, it was amazing – the whole moving-in process and pulling together furniture, and everything. The guys, Bob and David [Galley], painted the inside of the house. We painted it [which was two-story] from top to bottom. The kids arrived with these little raggedly clothes. They didn’t have clothes; most of them hadn’t been to the dentist in a long time. They were neglected children. I borrowed a sewing machine from someplace. I can remember sitting there on the back porch for the first 2 or 3 weeks doing nothing but mending clothes, and just trying to get these kids presentable. I was going out to Good Will with them, and of course, at this time we had charge of the money, so we didn’t have to ask anybody. We were being very economical, and we were getting their clothes used, but you can some nice stuff there too – especially for kids. The kids were all really happy about being there. We were all real happy. It was just seen as a really nice thing that we were all doing together – in my memory of it.
Tim: How was it structured?
Joyce: There were degrees. That’s when Bob and I got into this major [power] struggle, because he believed that there should be no structure. It should be a total democracy.
Tim: With the children being equal?
Joyce: Yeah, and these are kids who are off the streets. These are kids you know, I mean, it’s one thing if you are dealing with middle-class, suburban kids who have had internal structure put into them. I can remember in the beginning. One night we were trying to get [rent] the bottom apartment, so then we would have the whole house, which would add two more bedrooms, another bath, another kitchen and a living room. So, the landlady was going to come visit us. We had been there a month. Everybody has gone off to L.A. – all the kids and all the [adult] people. Bob and I are there. I’m working 12 hours a day [in a law office]. I got off at I think 10:00 at night. The house is in shambles! Clothes, dishes, you can’t believe what it looked like. It was just like a tornado had struck, and this [land]lady is coming at 9:00 in the morning. So Bob and I worked all night to clean that house up – I mean, all night. We were moving stuff around, and we were also putting some finishing touches on it too, that we had never had a chance to do with all the kids around. We cleaned the floors and the table and everything. Of course, we’re not telling her how many people are [living] there, obviously. So we’ve got it all set up. She walks in, and she’s so impressed, because she does know that we’ve got a number of children living with us, and she knows [vaguely] what we’re doing. She was an attorney in San Francisco: Dorsey Redland, if you know the name. So, she thinks it’s good; she knows we’re connected with something, but she doesn’t really care. She sees we’ve painted her place, and everything is improved, so she agrees to rent us the lower one. So [after this], this chaos continues. I mean, we have it ready, and the kids come back, and it’s chaos again. I remember, it wasn’t too long after we’d been there – maybe six weeks, and I got home from work. Everybody’s gone off to L.A. again and the same thing [happens]. I was so infuriated I sat down and I made a schedule. When they all arrived at 5:00 Monday morning from L.A., [I met them at the front door] and they were each handed a xerox copy of their schedule, which I think I still have a copy of. There is the upstairs schedule; there’s the downstairs schedule; there are the times that people are going to be in the bathroom; they have so much time. It was the only way I could conceive to do it. So, we took the adults, and each adult was assigned one or two children to be responsible for in the care of their clothes, and their cleanliness, and their school. They were basically in charge of these kids, because, otherwise, if one person is trying to wash clothes for 14 kids, there is no way to do it. Bob got really resistant about it though. I think we had a big fight at 5:00 that morning with everybody standing around. It was the whole thing of getting a structure of the place going, and I said, ‘Look, babe, you can be the head of this place, I don’t care.’
Tim: This is Monday morning when everybody came back?
Joyce: I’m at the front door with my pile of papers. I said, ‘We can discuss this schedule; we can change it to suit people’s needs, but we are going to have a schedule.’ I said to him, ‘Look, I don’t even want to be the head of this; you can be head. You are welcome to be head of this, but you are going to take over the responsibilities too. You’re not going to be titular head, and I’m not going to do all the work and you’re going to have all the glory.’ I could just see [visualize] him sitting there in his big arm chair with the adoring children around his knee while I’m out in the kitchen, right? I said, ‘No way!’ So, we had a lot of struggles, and that’s something I haven’t even gone into too much with you, I don’t think.
Joyce: I mean, there were struggles involved. Jones got into it. It was a very ugly period in the beginning.
Tim: There were struggles about how to run the household?
Tim: How did Jones get involved? How did Jim Jones get involved in these struggles?
Joyce: See, by this time we’ve added more people to the household: Teresa King, who is an unmarried white woman about age 28 at the time. Vern Gosney moved in; Vivian G., and we were getting bigger all the time. So there was a division. It wasn’t working initially very well, and so there was a group then who got behind me and was opposed to Bob and his way of trying to do it. He [formerly] kept saying there were all these conspiracies in his life. Well, here was another one, poor man! So, the thing is in these first few months, you know there’s abrasiveness, friction, everything to get anything going. Everything was getting established, the kids are in school, and the kids are doing very well. They are obviously flourishing right from the beginning. I wrote up the situation in the household to Council, and what I perceived was going on. It was brought up on the floor, and all of us trooped up. This became a regular occurrence – the 25 of us converging on the stage [of the San Francisco Church].
Tim: You said you submitted it to Council: These are the counselors?
Joyce: Yes, and this was before I was a counselor – just right before. I wrote that I didn’t perceive that Bob was being very cooperative in this whole thing. I was asking for advice.
Tim: Was the outcome of your list of duties that Bob wasn’t cooperating?
Joyce: Well, I’m trying to remember just what the… Well, he was messy. He wasn’t particularly willing to clean up his own mess. We divided up the kitchen chores; we divided up everything. It was more an attitude, I think, than anything. It was just kind of a stubborn non-cooperation. I’m just trying to remember the incidences, and I don’t right at the moment. I hope maybe they’re in the notes. The outcome of the counseling was that I was handed the leadership of the commune, and something else had come up about Bob. There were two or three things that were brought up about him at the same time [by other PT members].
Tim: Was it male chauvinism?
Joyce: Well, that was certainly there. That was one of the issues too. So then after it was established that I was going to be the head, he didn’t want to do what I said. He just didn’t want to. He just didn’t want to from the soles of his feet to the top of his head, because I was a woman. Women didn’t know nothin’. He disagreed about the way I was doing it.
Tim: Who made you head of the commune? Was it Jones in particular?
Joyce: Yes, that was the decision.
Tim: Now, prior to that, you both had been running it?
Joyce: We had taken the house together as a couple, and then these other people joined us, but it was that we were the titular couple that was the head of it in a family type sense, that we would be the main parents and everybody else would be like auxiliary parents.
Tim: Was that in fact what happened? Were you the main parents?
Joyce: Yes, we did remain that.
Tim: How was that manifested? What kind of problems or what kind of experiences did you have as parents to these various children?
Joyce: Well, mostly we interacted in terms of medical care for them. We would take them to – because like Judy had her eye surgery [for a lazy eye], and Kirtas was in and out of Shriners Hospital for Children. He had had very delicate surgery on his back. He had to go back there periodically. There were also dental appointments. All their teeth were rotting out. Bob was particularly good with the school. When any problems would arise, he would often go there and talk to the teachers. We were the ones who were maintaining the show that it was our house – for the community, and that we had this undefined number of children. Teresa [King] was called my sister.
Tim: I see. Do you remember any episodes where he went to school for any specific problems when he was functioning as a parent?
Joyce: All the teacher’s conferences; we would go to those at Potrero Hill and Patrick Henry. We became very quickly known.
Tim: To the teachers?
Joyce: Yeah, the teachers. They knew that we had these kids, and there was a lot of support given us from the school system. The landlady kind of knew what was going on and closed her eyes to it. Her property wasn’t being hurt and the rent was being paid on time. At one point, I applied for welfare for a couple of the kids, after I was their guardian, and the social worker came out. We did a big front of there being six children there, and everybody else had to go out to play. ‘Don’t you dare come home early!’ The whole thing really worked in that sense. It worked beautifully. I remember one time Dee Dee – well, I went down to the school then. She was taking shop class, and she had gotten mad at somebody and thrown something, so this was a big issue. She said somebody had made a racial remark to her, so I marched in there and was told the other side of the story. Mainly it was to let the teachers know that the kids did have support in the background and there were efforts being made to help them. We would have tutoring sessions in the afternoon. Bob would do that. He started teaching a couple of them music lessons. We bought flutes for Patricia and Odesta, and we offered any child who was willing to make the effort to practice – that we would first rent an instrument and then if they showed that they were interested, we would buy it for them. So, both Odesta and Patricia were in the band and doing very well.
Tim: I wonder if you would describe one particularly memorable outing with the kids, other than the Great America one.
Joyce: We never went any place special.
Tim: One that was particularly satisfying to you, or do they all sort of blur after this much time?
Joyce: We would have an outing once a month to celebrate the birthdays, so the [birthday] kids got to pick out where they wanted to go. Well, they were all memorable.
Tim: You went to the beach and you went to the Exploratorium, I think you said.
Joyce: Yes, Bob took them there.
Tim: You’d go to the movies sometimes?
Joyce: The drive-in. We’d get the driver – and had sleeping bags. I remember Patricia and Judy were in the trunk one night. I was down under the seat with a sleeping bag over me, because I said, ‘Well, I can’t let the kids do it, and not do it too. I was so darn closed in!’ We’d get in for about five bucks for ten people. We had a station wagon by that time. Well, just one little thing was, I remember taking all of them to the Hyatt-Regency Hotel just so they would see what a neat place it was. We just rode up and down on the elevators – the glass elevators.
Tim: This was right after it was built?
Joyce: Yes, not too long afterwards. That was just a spontaneous thing. It was after school; we’ve got some time; let’s go do it. Then we went over to Chinatown and walked around.
Tim: The same trip?
Joyce: Yes, we were just kind of in the neighborhood.
Tim: Some of the kids had never been to fancy hotels, never been to Chinatown, never been to the beach?
Joyce: Yes, and it is my belief that the more a child is exposed to what’s going on in the world, the more they are equipped to deal with it. I felt that I was kind of like the Show-er. I knew these places, so I would take them.
Tim: Would Bob go too?
Joyce: Oh yes, he loved that.
Tim: You mentioned earlier that you had to remind him to show a little bit of extra affection for his own daughters sometimes, because he was taking the church’s mandates very literally.
Joyce: Well, he’d gotten into so much trouble for letting Patricia sit on his lap, and he was accused of being a sexual pervert. He loved those girls! There was no two ways about it. He was very fond of them. This was always one of the things in the background, that if he showed affection that somehow, he had these suppressed sexual fantasies for his daughters. It may be true, and if that’s true, then it’s true for every man, you know what I mean?
Tim: Jones accused him of that?
Joyce: Yes. It was also, I think, a way of making people not be demonstrative to anybody.
Tim: He wanted first loyalty to Jim. He didn’t want you to…
Joyce: Any affection expressed was ‘compensation,’ you were compensating for the fact that if you were a woman you were a lesbian, and if you were a man you were a homosexual. So in order to offset what you were really about [paradoxically], then the people who were the most attracted to the opposite sex were really the least attracted. What can I say? So there was Bob, who was definitely attracted to ladies. There was no question about it.
Tim: So Bob was really afraid to show affection to any of the kids – or just his two?
Joyce: That’s one of the things in thinking back that I have thought that I wished were different – that I had been more demonstrative. I mean, I was the good mother; I was taking care of them; I was defending them; I was doing all of these things, and yet in terms of saying, ‘I think you’re a really neat person.’ – or just touching. There wasn’t nearly as much of that as I think I – that I would do now if I were in the same position, but it was one of those areas that.…
Tim: Was it more clinical than it might have been? Is that what you’re getting at? You mentioned for instance being parents. We got them medical care. You were doing a lot of concrete things. You were taking them on these outings, which seems to come closest to the mark, but as far as…. Did the kids feel that they could just stroll into your bedroom for instance if they had a problem, and sit down on the side of the bed and start talking to you about it?
Joyce: Yes, if they knocked on my door first. Because I got to the place where I’d come home from work and there would be 10 people lined up. ‘Joyce, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.’ I had been at work for 12 hours, and I was facing an all-night meeting, and there are 10 people lined up to talk to me. Finally, I said, ‘Look you guys, you have to give me 5 minutes when I get home to get my coat off and to change my clothes. Don’t talk to me for five minutes. Give me that.’
Tim: So there was that kind of exchange?
Joyce: Oh, sure. I mean to the point that I couldn’t deal with it.
Tim: What about school problems? So-and-so problems with playmates? Can I do this? Would they come to you for permission?
Joyce: Of course, you have to remember the context. They stuck to each other pretty much in school. They had their other little friends, and on a couple of occasions they brought them home, and then I don’t know, somebody was visiting – some other church member and they were saying they thought this was really unwise. That would have been my preference. ‘Sure, let them come. The more the merrier.’ The whole church mentality permeated everything. They’d get home from school and they’d change their clothes, and we’d have snacks for them. We always had something for them, and they had their play time. They could go play at the park, or go down to the school and ride a bicycle – that was free time. Then we’d get dinner. They’d take turns helping in the kitchen. No, it wasn’t clinical at all. There was just so much interaction, and, of course, there were so many people there too, but they were healthy, normal kids.
Tim: So you didn’t see deep scars in the children as a result of being associated with the church?
Joyce: No, not from the church. Most of their scars came from the families they came out of. You know, Dee Dee with her junkie mother.
Tim: She lived in Ukiah too. The kids seemed to be pretty normal from most indicators we use for that sort of thing. There were some areas that were a little bit sensitive such as the healings and the things they couldn’t talk about at school. Were they told not to discuss those things at school by you and by Bob?
Joyce: It never had to be said. It was already so inculcated.
Tim: In the church itself?
Joyce: It was WE and THEY. That’s the basic premise. WE could discuss anything together, because we were the family. THEY were always suspect, which is an unfortunate, unfortunate thing. I didn’t share that attitude.
Tim: So they couldn’t derive the full benefits of being in school I suppose. They couldn’t interact completely with their school mates?
Joyce: No, not in the sense of going over to someone’s house – not in the real sense of forming a deep friendship with somebody who wasn’t in the church.
Tim: Were there ever any instances where the church and practices in the church found their way to teachers, administrators, when they wanted to know why the children who had been on bus trips were tired on Monday morning or something like that?
Joyce: No, not to my knowledge. Well, the kids slept all night long on the bus, and a lot of times, too, if there was going to be a late meeting, I’d put them down for a nap. I was trying to give them everything to make their lives as normal as possible.
Tim: Did they call you Mom or anything like that?
Joyce: Yeah, some. Mostly it was Joyce, but I know Judy wrote me a card for Mother’s Day and she put ‘Dear Mom.’ If there had been more freedom in the setting, [they would have].
Tim: Did Phyllis come and visit with the girls very often?
Joyce: I encouraged all the parents to visit the children there, because I never felt that I was a substitute mother. I felt like the primary relationships were between the parents and their kids, and that the kids had to work this out someplace. My thought with the kids was that if we took them for a while, to give some relief to the parents so there could be just maybe visitation without all the parental] responsibilities, that there could be a new approach between the children and their parents. On weekends, we’d have a house full of parents.
Tim: Were those visits by Phyllis tense, particularly?
Joyce: No, we got along fine. She and I got always got along fine, and by that time there wasn’t really any hostility between she and Bob because that thing had grown so old.
Tim: I remember you mentioned – this is getting into more general matters. You mentioned that Bob indicated when he saw some of the pictures he was printing of the healing services that maybe he saw something or captured something on film that he wasn’t supposed to see, or he had some doubts about it. Was there anything beyond that that leads you to believe that he was questioning the healings? Or were you questioning the healings at this time?
Joyce: Of course, during the time that he was taking the pictures was 1971-1972, so it was still very early, but his main remark was that all the spectacular healings were never captured on film. He couldn’t understand why. That was always true.
Tim: Spectacular ones like what?
Joyce: There was one in Seattle when we went up there, and that was in 1972 I guess. This little old Black man came in all hunched over, dah-dah-dah. He ended up running around the auditorium to the hooplas of everybody. It just didn’t come out on the film. I don’t know whether it disappeared, or it just didn’t come out. So, I remember then, later, it must have been in 1974, and he [Bob] pointed this out to me. So I’m sitting up in the balcony in San Francisco, and I see this very well-dressed Black man with white hair and very, very attractive features – very refined features — too refined perhaps – and supposedly deaf. That was the first time that I looked and I thought, ‘This ain’t real. That’s not a real person!’ And the thing is these people would — oh, and what he was also saying is all these spectacular healings and people always disappeared. They never came back to another meeting; they weren’t around later to do a follow-up interview with. They just were gone, which was very frustrating to him.
Tim: They just vanished? You would expect that somebody who is healed would have tremendous faith, and it would bring them back.
Joyce: Yes. Bob was an astute man – in just the same way that I kept noticing things that didn’t fit.
Tim: In what vein did he say that, though, Joyce? Was he doubting, or was he just making an observation because it was curious?
Joyce: I think he was testing me really, when I think about it. He was just kind of putting out a feeler to see what my response was, because of all the things that – with everything and everything and everything. The whole fact was that with this built-in paranoia and the built-in reporting system for [anyone] expressing any negative things, it became so difficult to really express oneself to anybody else. You weren’t supposed to have outside friends, so there was just this isolation. Even a husband and wife didn’t have that complete interchange which you would expect. There was the built-in mistrust. If you said something, you didn’t know, maybe they’re going to turn you in [to the Council for disciplinary action].
Tim: Here you were on a day-to-day basis operating in an extended family framework, you’re working very hard, and you’re contributing much if not all of your income to the church.
Joyce: All of it one way or the other.
Tim: What did you see down the road? What was the goal, and what was the justification for doing what you were doing?
Joyce: The justification was our life itself. We were living the social dream.We figured that our collective income was $45,000 net, and we put $25,000 of that into running the household; and the other $20,000 went to the church.
Tim: You had $45,000 income – is that after taxes?
Joyce: Yes, that we had in our hands. And $25,000 went to supporting 25 people completely; $20,000 went in cash to the church in the year of 1975 when we had the commune. What I was seeing, and I think what the other people in the household were seeing, is that our children were flourishing. And that was supposedly what we were all about. The whole purpose of our being there was to help those who needed it.
Tim: How explicit was the socialism at this point within the church? Did you consider yourselves to be socialists?
Joyce: Yes, definitely.
Tim: Jones had become more explicit in that as time went on?
Joyce: I remember one service. Jesus, this was back I think before I even moved up [to Ukiah in Aug 1971] when he had this thing [song] called the ‘Jesus-Lenin Rock.’ Jesus-Lenin Rock <boom> goes the bass, the band is playing, and by this time he has announced that he was [reincarnated] Lenin.
Tape 3, Side 1:
Tim: Were you trying to do your own thing in a small sphere and have the satisfaction of following your principles, or did you have a larger vision of whatever?
Joyce: There was the whole theory of the world and the ways things were going to be with the race wars and the eventual nuclear war, and we were all going to be safe in South America during that time. We were going to be the only organized group that was going to survive this holocaust intact, and we were going to come in and take over. That’s the most broad, broad, broad [stroke]. The man was definitely predicting a nuclear war.
Tim: Did that remain a constant?
Joyce: Always, yes, from the first meeting until the last time ever.
Tim: Can you imagine the momentum he’d pick up during these times? Whew!
Joyce: Believe me, that thought crosses my head every now and again. So the next stage after San Francisco was definitely going to be Guyana.
Tim: But that would be as a haven, right?
Joyce: Yes, as a relatively temporary place, and [Jim presented] all the visions about nobody having to work and resting in paradise.
Tim: Did you ever see a film of it?
Tim: Did you see that early silent film of that trip, I guess it was Christmas-time trip?
Joyce: Yes, I think that was Christmas of 1974 they went down there. That was right before I was on Planning Commission. Yeah, I was scheduled to go on one that was then canceled – in July 1975.
Tim: How did it look? Inviting?
Joyce: Yes, except I had read this book called, ‘Famine in 1975,’ [‘Famine-1975, America’s Decision: Who Will Survive?’ by William & Paul Paddock; Little, Brown & Company, Boston, Toronto, 1967, p 84-87] which I still have, talking about jungle agriculture and why it wasn’t feasible. I had picked this up at the library. I was just reading [Mark] Lane’s book [The Strongest Poison, New York, Hawthorn Books, a division of Elsevier-Dutton, 1980] talking about why this project could not succeed. It’s got a quote in there that is almost identical to Lane’s thing about what they encountered: the infertility of the land, the heavy rains washing away the top soil, the insects. I remember at the time thinking – because I was thinking all the time – ‘Wow, there must be something I don’t know about it, because if it’s truly a jungle area then why wouldn’t what this man is writing about apply [in Jonestown]? Why aren’t they developing jungles all over the world?’ Because he [author of ‘Famine in 1975’] was asking the question: There’s going to be a food shortage and what about [farming] each of these kinds of areas; why can’t they be developed agriculturally. Well, that was why.
Tim: Yes, there are severe limitations, and Jones is saying he can grow anything, and it’s extremely fertile.
Joyce: And the average temperature was 74 degrees and there were the trade breezes from the ocean – paradise! This is not the description of a rain forest.
Tim: It sounds like a Hawaii brochure or something.
Joyce: Yes, we’d be picking bananas off the trees [sarcasm]. I found out later [from Al] that the bananas had been purchased from Georgetown and hauled out to Jonestown and tied to a tree.
Tim: Elmer Mertle’s [a/k/a Al Mills] photography.
Joyce: See, but this is the thing too. I’m looking back and I can remember the thoughts that went through my head at the time.
Tim: What happened to that thought about that book? Did you just kind of say the book was wrong? Or did you tell yourself that, well, maybe he’s talking about a different area and different circumstances?
Joyce: I put it in one of the ‘No Conclusion Files’ in my head. It was like, I don’t know. I wasn’t totally convinced. I believed the book, but I also thought that there were people there: Tom Grubbs, Don Beck, and Russell Moten, who were supposedly studying jungle agriculture and investigating all of these things, and maybe they knew something I didn’t know. Maybe something about where they were located was not quite as jungular and maybe did not fit the rain forest model.
Tim: I wonder if you can describe that period when Bob had to leave the house [Potrero Hill Commune] and is working on the burned-out church.
Joyce: That was early. See, that was right after our conflicts. He got pulled out in March, and at that time he was on unemployment.
Tim: That would have been March 1975. Was he actually pulled out?
Joyce: Of the house, yes. He was told to move by Jones. I have to admit I was a little appalled, because we had the conflicts going on about how to organize the place, but in my wildest imagination I wasn’t thinking about him being pulled out of the house. That was just so extreme, but here he was; he was getting his unemployment check and Jim needed people to work at the church.
Tim: He was getting unemployment from what – the railroad?
Joyce: I think he had been laid off of the railroad at that point. He has been on the “extra” board, and this was before he started at Juvenile Hall. No, no, no. Okay, wait. He must have been laid off from the railroad, because there was some deal, and he wasn’t working at juvenile hall yet, so he was getting something like $107 per week.
Tim: So he could collect unemployment, work on the church, and the church could save money in the course of rebuilding. I don’t know whether they collected anything on the insurance.
Joyce: Oh, yeah. Jim claimed that he only got $50,000 as a result of that fire. I strongly believe that he set the fire himself.
Tim: Did you have evidence? Was there anything strange? I’ve read the arson report and it’s bizarre. Jones told these arson investigators that he had a premonition about this fire.
Joyce: Right, and then there were these college students sleeping there, and he had warned them and saved them. We got back from Redwood Valley from a really super-late meeting and he kept holding us in this meeting, and holding us in this meeting, and holding us in this meeting. It was like 3:00 a.m. before the buses rolled for the drive to San Francisco, so it was like 4:00 a.m. and we drive by the church and it’s on fire. He said, ‘See, my prophetic visions! I knew there was something was going to happen. I knew; I knew!’ It had just finished being constructed. It had just been done.
Tim: The San Francisco Temple had just been built?
Joyce: It had just been remodeled completely after it had been purchased. The Purifoys had worked on that – free labor, and they were contractors. So the thing was gutted.
Tim: Yeah, I’ve seen photos.
Joyce: It was something, and so it had to be done all over again. Well, one could have the thought – and he claimed there was only $50,000 insurance on it. I believe there was something like $100,000. And if you figure that he’s getting all the materials from various sources, and the labor is totally free, he rebuilt that church for a fraction of what its value would be if you went out to have somebody else do it.
Tim: Sure. There’s no question about that. So you drove by in buses that night and it was on fire? What were people saying?
Joyce: Isn’t Jim Jones wonderful!!
Tim: Really? That he saved everybody?
Joyce: Well, I remember him one time saying he makes his own prophecies come true. I remember him saying that a couple of times. I remember being taken by that statement, and as the years have rolled by, it becomes more and more evident that he was literally telling the truth. Well, I don’t know if it was on fire then, or maybe it was smoldering. I don’t know if I remember the actual burning flames. Oh, but he made a mint. He had choir robes that had been smoked and he used to cut those up and sell them. I think too from the standpoint of keeping people busy: the church had not been expanding much from the [outreach] work in San Francisco, the Purifoys were running out of work to do. When they would take the kids in off the street, most of them couldn’t really do very much because they weren’t skilled, so they could always put them to work building, or working in that kind of [unskilled] labor job. So he had a ready-made project then for another couple of years.
Tim: It took that long to rebuild, huh?
Joyce: I was living in Redwood Valley, I think, at the time. I don’t remember when it was. I think it was 1973. Well, Bob was still working on the Files stuff in 1975.
Tim: Who started it? Jones couldn’t have started it?
Joyce: The fire. He had somebody do it. He might have paid somebody. He claimed that the [Black] Muslims came in there with gasoline cans and doused the back stairway, because they were [located] down the street, but later we became buddy-buddy with them, so who knows!
Tim: They were concerned that the church was trying to recruit their people and was moving in on their turf, or didn’t they like a white minister?
Joyce: I don’t know.
Tim: So shortly after this, Jim Jones tells Bob to leave home and go work at the church?
Joyce: It’s a Sunday meeting in San Francisco, a note has been written to Council. I think there have been three notes in like the course of a week or two that have gone to the Council saying this man is not cooperating.
Tim: By you?
Joyce: By me and others in the household. [The notes said essentially:] This is what he was told to do after the first counseling and this is what he’s done which bears no resemblance to what he was told to do. I think by the time the second or third one was written, this was like a Sunday. Bob is in his brown checked suit that Sam bought him, looking very spiffy, and he’s told he can’t go home. He is going to start working immediately in his suit.
Tim: Are you in the burned-out church at this time? Where is this meeting?
Joyce: The church has been reopened by that time, but there was just a lot of the internal stuff that was still being done. The heavy construction had already been done. The beams were back, the roof was back on. Of course, my memories are not as sharp at that time because there was so much going on with our household, and it was in such an uproar and turmoil that…
Tim: How did he take that? Did he say, ‘Yes, Father.’
Joyce: Uh-huh. He was not pleased about it. David Galley who was living in our household, was also working on the church. I wasn’t pleased because I didn’t want Bob not to be there helping. We had taken on this joint responsibility and suddenly he’s not there. At first, I don’t think it was that he had to move. I think it became a matter of expediency because to get back and forth was about a half hour drive [each way]. He’s working there 18 hours, and then just comes home to sleep. He gets home at 2:00 a.m. and the kids are all asleep. It didn’t make sense, because he was riding the bus back and forth.
Tim: It was partially expediency to stay there?
Joyce: The thing what was real interesting as a side effect is that Bob, who was not good with his hands (he was a typical intellectual) was learning how to do stuff. He was so pleased, because after he came back in July he became the handyman. He would fix anything. That was his job, and it was a source of pride then, because this was an area he had felt very deficient in, and he’d learned how to do that.
Tim: Where did he sleep in the church?
Joyce: In a sleeping bag wherever. I suppose he had a given area.
Tim: Did he work with Archie [Ijames] and the Purifoys – the people who had skills?
Joyce: He respected them very much, all of them. He always was very fond of Archie. So he felt good actually that this was a growth period for him, but he missed us, and when he had the opportunity…. He was called back to the railroad in July, and I remember him coming over with the notice and saying…
Tim: So how long was he living at the church? About 3 months?
Joyce: About 3 months I would say. And it wasn’t like he wasn’t at the house. He’d come over whenever he could. He wasn’t barred from the house by any means.
Tim: I see, he just couldn’t live there!! He was a visitor, right? In July the railroad said they had another job for him.
Joyce: Yeah, and so he came over and said, ‘What do you think about my coming back?’ And I said, ‘I’d love to have you back, if we can get all this stuff worked out.’ In the meantime, the house had had a chance to get set. It’s running very well by then. I missed him. We’d see each other hit-and-miss, but not very much and of course with all the kids and stuff.… So he came back and from then on it was great.
Tim: Was that with Jones’ permission?
Tim: Did you have to get permission first?
Joyce: As I remember it was basically up to the household, because he was going to be obviously making so much more money on the railroad than on unemployment. The dollar was always the bottom line with Jones.
Tim: Were you aware of that at the time?
Joyce: About the almighty buck? Yes, well to the extent that I knew if I worked two jobs I could just show up at church at 11:00 p.m. and no questions would be asked, and I did it. And that’s what Bob did too.
Tim: You’d rather work than go to a meeting?
Joyce: Yes, very definitely, always.
Tim: Why was that?
Joyce: Well, the beginning of the meetings was: first they’d start off and get everybody rides – because that was the policy, everybody had to have a ride home. That could take a long time. Then there would be testimonies. People would line up and there would be 2 or 3 hours of testimonies sometimes. Then there would be offerings. That would be the first offering. And then there would be some songs, then Jones would come out and talk. Now, if it was an evening meeting and . . .
Tim: And he might heal at the end of that?
Joyce: Yes, and I wasn’t that hot to see the healings?
Tim: What was the first thing though that happened?
Joyce: They’d get rides for everybody.
Tim: Get rides. Just pick people up?
Joyce: So that people wouldn’t have to be on the bus late at night. Somebody would say, ‘I’ve got to go to 830 Haight Street, whose going that way?’ [They were finding out] who could take them home, so everybody would be matched up for rides, which was valid.
Joyce: But a boring process.
Tim: No kidding. This is a standard Pentecostal service basically.
Joyce: Is it? I wish I had known that.
Tim: I was in Indiana and saw Russell Winberg, who was one of the early preachers in the church do one, and it was the same routine except for the rides business. Well, maybe that went on before I got there. I was a little late, but it was testimonies just like that, then some offerings and songs. There were songs at the beginning though too, then the main preacher and healings. Then you get up – it wasn’t imaginative at all.
Joyce: Well, I hadn’t been to one, and the ones who had been to them and were hooked into the Pentecostal, that was just up their alley, huh?
Joyce: They felt right at home. I liked to hear him talk. I thought he was a great speaker and when he was up there blasting everybody, I suppose that’s part of my [rebellion] — Well, I was thinking about it. It’s like, he was up there saying the things that many of us would like to say, and for a very good reason don’t. He was being Mr. Tough Guy. ‘I’ll take on all –, and I said this to him – blah-blah-blah.’ [We thought he was] calling it like it is. So he was doing that for us.
Tim: That’s interesting.
Joyce: Because I’m not a very aggressive person generally. I have my moments, but I know how you get along in the world, and it’s not by being aggressive — abrasively aggressive.
Tim: Actually, in terms of his relationship with people in powerful positions, he was always pretty conciliatory.
Joyce: Yes, but I didn’t know that, because he’d come back with reports of how he had handled it.
Joyce: Yeah [to them], but see, but to the congregation, [he’ say] ‘… and I told him this and I told him that!! And I said, you son-of-a-bitch, blah-blah-blah.’ [with great emphasis]. This is what he would have liked to say [but actually didn‘t].
Tim: That’s amazing. But you’d have no way of knowing, huh?
Tim: And then when you saw public figures show up, I would imagine they would be on their best behavior, and Jones could say whatever he wished after they were gone.
Joyce: Sure, and he did. He’d say, ‘This ass-hole and blah-blah-blah.’ If people had known how they were talked about after they left, they would just [be appalled]. Just like dogs. He talked about them like dawgs.
Tim: You told me about a couple of cases where Bob was in boxing matches. Were those prior to the time that this discipline was going on, or that he had gone into the house?
Joyce: Jesus, I’m remembering two periods, and I’m not sure. It seems to me that the boxing was done during the same period.
Tim: About the same time as all this other trouble?
Joyce: See, it was all one period that all this stuff happened.
Tim: Over the house?
Joyce: It seems to me, yeah.
Tim: It’s most logical. Now, do you recall either incident well enough to relate it?
Tim: Do you know with whom he was boxing?
Joyce: They were big. I remember that.
Tim: Some people have said they start you out against very small people —
Joyce: Or at least your size.
Tim: And if you fight back, bigger. .
Joyce: And bigger and bigger and bigger.
Tim: Did he go through people?
Joyce: Yeah, he fought back.
Tim: So the people got bigger and bigger?
Joyce: Well, the thing is that if you stood there completely still and didn’t defend yourself at all, you were ridiculed. It was a no-win situation totally. If you were too aggressive, then that was equally bad, so there had to be this kind of token resistance. I mean, all these little subtleties and all these little unwritten things. And there were some people who didn’t understand you weren’t supposed to fight back, and they just kept hitting and hitting the people.
Tim: Really, they were out of it? They couldn’t pick up on it?
Joyce: Or they were so new that they didn’t understand all the subtleties of all of the everything that was going on.
Tim: So Bob fought back? Why did he do that? Or did he really fight back?
Joyce: Well, partly it was to keep from being beaten up so badly, I think. He got really creamed. Because he had to go to work on the railroad that night, as I remember, or to Juvenile Hall, and I think he had a black eye, his nose had been bleeding. Even to me then, it was obvious that Jones was taking much pleasure in watching him get beat up. There was something from Jones toward Bob that was very visible, I think, to anybody who was around. There was a special animosity toward him. It seemed like the more Bob tried to tow the mark and to please him – nothing would placate that animosity that was there, which I felt that Jones had toward me but to a much more limited degree.
Tim: Do you think that Bob’s father has anything to do with that? Was Jones really afraid of Sam?
Tim: What makes you say that?
Joyce: Because the press was such a big issue to Jones, and I don’t think that Jones understood that Sam was a sports photographer. He knew that he worked for the Associated Press, and I think that was just like a neon sign. He had visions of him putting things on the wire.
Tim: As he did.
Joyce: As he did. Yes, but it wasn’t until after Bob’s death, because I am more and more inclined to believe that Bob’s death was an accident – one of those twists of fate that just.…
Tim: I hope you’re right.
Joyce: I don’t know. I’ll never know probably, because anybody that I suspect — I thought for a long time that maybe Jack Beam [Sr.] had something to do with it, but he’s dead.
Tim: Why do you think Jack, because he had a capacity for being cruel?
Joyce: He could have killed anybody. I don’t think there would have been a moment’s hesitation.
Joyce: Really. The man had a very sadistic streak in him, which used to come out — he was one of those who used to beat on the people with the big board or the belt. He obviously relished that. I just had this whole vision – and who knows – that Bob was out on the railroad yard. I’ve had this [phone] conversation with him [two days earlier]; something has transpired that’s unknown between Bob and the church officials and Jones, but the talk being that he had resigned. And I just see it as so easy that he’s out there, it’s after midnight, it’s a deserted railroad yard, Jack Beam, who Bob liked, comes up, ‘Hi, Bob, how are you doing?’ [She makes a sound like ‘chew’ to indicate pushing Bob under the train.] It could have been that simple – just that simple.
Tim: Or people could have conceivably roughed him up, and just knocked him unconscious.
Joyce: Could have. I don’t know exactly what the state of the body was. Apparently, it was mutilated enough that you’d never know.
Tim: You wouldn’t know if somebody had beaten him up first.
Joyce: Well, Nadyne [Houston] said something in her letter about somebody [Neva Hargrave Sly] said that they thought he had taken his glove off to shake hands with someone, and then she says, ‘Well, I guess I’ll go for now, Sincerely, Nadyne.’ This was in her letter, and I thought, ‘Oh, God!’ [laughs nervously]
Tim: Short attention span, I guess. Well, it’s mysterious – the circumstances.
Joyce: In a sense it doesn’t even matter anymore because the part that he inadvertently played in this whole thing is so big – for being dead. He would have played less a part if he had lived probably.
Tim: That’s probably true. As you say, it’s probably something that we’ll never know.
Joyce: Because anybody who could have done it is dead.
Tim: But I’m just trying to figure out how he was regarded. He was humiliated; he wasn’t thought highly of by other members of the church.
Joyce: This [attitude] was because of the way that Jones obviously felt toward him. The people in our household didn’t particularly like him. You know, however you were regarded by Jim Jones was how you were regarded by everybody.
Tim: Did Bob know this?
Joyce: Sure. How could he not? After having your ass kicked, and Jones is sitting there laughing at you.
Tim: Well, how did he work that out in his own mind?
Joyce: I think he probably said, ‘It’s my deficiency.’ A lot of people did that. If Jones is so powerful and all-knowing and psychic and a messenger from somewhere else and he ain’t relating to you, then there has got to be something wrong with you. And so, then the typical [reaction] often was to just keep trying harder and harder and harder, rather than to say, ‘Look, this is a crock of shit!’ The man’s power over people was really important.
Tim: That’s very sad. That’s similar to what every person whoever left the church probably went through, a period of wondering whether the fault is within me rather than outside of me.
Joyce: When I called Jones up after I had left, I almost apologized to him. I said, ’I just can’t do it any longer. I don’t agree with many of the ways that things are being run. I believe in the ideals still. I just can’t take it anymore.’ And that’s sad. It took me months to begin to sort out all this stuff. It has taken years actually. It’s hard to recapture that feeling of loyalty and absolute subservience to him, but it was there.
Tim: That business of – I imagine it’s in the same period we’re talking about – where Jones wanted Bob to show the spirit and do what the elderly Black people did.
Joyce: To stand up and clap, which he did. He didn’t mind that. That wasn’t any big deal for him.
Tim: Did Jones think he was humiliating him?
Tim: Was that in the same period where this other stuff happened?
Joyce: Yes, this all happened within a few months. It was a very concentrated period. He was gone from March 1975 and came back into the house full-time in July, so until I left the following July, it was good between us. And within the household it was fine. He did go through a change of attitude when he was away, and he did miss the kids and I think what happened too is another one of these deals where he couldn’t say no. I said, ‘Let’s start this thing [children’s commune] and have these kids,’ and he said, ‘Sure!’ And suddenly we’ve got all these people and all of these things going on and I think he freaked out. I think that was basically what happened – underneath it all.
Tim: Do you think Jones became envious on one level? Of what you had going for you? Are you talking about Jones?
Joyce: No, I’m talking about Bob. I just think the responsibility suddenly was just overwhelming, which it was to all of us, because we really just jumped into this full-fledged giant operation with very little preparation, and so I think by the time he came back in July the household was functioning well, people had settled into roles; there was an order, and from that point on it was fine. But even when he was working at the church, if a problem came up at school, he would come out and go to the school to handle it, or if one of the kids had an appointment, and I was at work, he’d arrange his time and come pick them up and take them. So he never withdrew his participation, which might have happened in any setting like that. There were some heavy people there who were trying to learn to function together. We had some very interesting personalities.
Tim: Did Bob ever feel cheated when he talked about his musical career or music. He was doing stuff in the church band. He was tutoring the kids, but it sounds as though he had the potential to be a professional musician, if not a great musician.
Joyce: He always said the reason he went into teaching was because he liked kids, and that’s what he wanted to do, and that was a very conscious, deliberate choice. He didn’t like the fact that Jack Arnold Beam was made the head of the band when he had the [academic] training and the background to have assumed that responsibility. And the reason why – he was told – that Jack Arnold was put there was because he was rebellious and if he didn’t have that, he might leave. That just didn’t seem fair to Bob.
Tim: How about favoritism, because he was Jack’s son.
Joyce: I don’t think that was mentioned, but there it was.
Tim: Do you think that was an element?
Joyce: Jack Arnold was also a talented musician. He’s up in Ventura now working with music. He has his own production company, I think. I don’t know exactly —
Tim: I didn’t know that.
Joyce: Yeah, and he had a rock band before he came back and joined the Temple. I saw them a few months ago. God, they look great!! His wife [Cindy] has turned into a beautiful young woman. A little good living has not hurt them at all. He’s a very handsome man, and they have a wonderfully successful marriage it would seem after all this. If you want to talk to somebody — I think he’d be very willing to talk to you. He’s just full of stories. He can go on for days. Of course, he’s been there since when he was a kid.
Tim: That’s right. He’s in Ventura somewhere though?
Joyce: Yes, in fact, I’ve got the first three chapters of his sister, Joyce’s book he gave me. I made a copy of it. It’s good!
Tim: What is she doing? Is she writing it for anybody in particular?
Joyce: She’s in San Francisco. They were telling me this whole circumstance that obviously books have not gone well from all of this. And so after she…. She went to high school with this guy named Dennis Weed.
Tim: Doug Weed.
Joyce: Doug Weed. She went to high school in Oregon where he went, and so they knew each other. So somehow or other after all this happened, he called her aunt’s home in Indiana, and she was staying there. And so he is collaborating with them on the book, and apparently he’s had some very big selling books in the religious circles.
Tim: Phil Kerns has got a book out.
Joyce: I got it, but I haven’t read it.
Tim: But it’s with Doug Weed?
Joyce: Yes. See, I’m in contact with his [Phil’s] sister, Jeanette.
Tim: Yeah, I’ve gotten to talk to Jeanette too. I’m going to go down. I’m going to try to see her this evening.
Joyce: She’s got a lot to say about that book.
Tim: Yeah, I got a little sample. I can’t see how Doug Weed could do two books. That’s tough – on the same subject.
Joyce: But the first three chapters that I’ve got are great. They are good. They get right into where she’s at. It is done first-person, right into the conflicts – a very good description of what was going on, how she ended up down there, how things were – the inequality, and her rationalizations for why she was still there, and she’s in graduate school right now. She’s a nurse practitioner, and she’s doing well. I talked to her a few months ago on the phone, but I haven’t seen her since she came back.
Tim: Phil Kerns?
Joyce: That’s such a crock! I didn’t even know the guy.
Tim: He wasn’t in very long.
Joyce: Jeanette said too, ‘He put my picture in but he should have put a picture of himself in there.’ He didn’t ask her. And he said he sold like 50,000 copies or 500,000 copies. It is outrageous how many he sold. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘He didn’t sell very many,’ and she said, ‘Yes, he did!’
Tim: I think those paperbacks that came out really quickly did okay as far as numbers.
Joyce: I’ve never read those yet.
Tim: Don’t bother. I think if you read the newspapers you would have at least as much information. They came out within a week, and so little was out then.
Joyce: In just reading Lane’s book [‘The Strongest Poison] though. There are some things in there that had to do with his perception of Jones’ state of mind that I found very interesting. And it rings true, some of that beginning stuff — you know, about the failure of the agricultural mission, and his thing about going to Russia.
Tim: He was talking to Terri Buford, and she was close enough to make observations. Anyhow, I think we’re about at the point where you get called to Sutter Street.
Tape 3, Side 2
Tape 4; Side 1 [Discussion of the Jonestown residents who asked to leave, and the aftermath of the shootings on the Port Kaituma Airstrip.]
Tim: Her note.
Joyce: What did they say? That conditions are bad and we want out, basically?
Tim: Yeah, ‘Help us get out of Jonestown.’ It was very brief. They wanted out.
Joyce: That was the first crack in the whole deal.
Tim: The Parks’ hadn’t come forward yet.
Joyce: What a tragedy that Patricia [Patty Parks] didn’t make it out. Vern Gosney said he saw the little one [Tracy Parks, her daughter, after her return from Guyana] and she’s just a walking zombie. She just isn’t doing well at all.
Tim: She’s having trouble from what I hear. She saw her mother killed, and she went through that horrible experience.
Joyce: I was reading someplace in one account of the newspaper that they fled [from the airstrip] into the jungle after the shootings – and Dale [Parks] stayed back.
Tim: Dale was with us.
Joyce: He wouldn’t leave until they were found. Was that right?
Tim: I think Jerry wouldn’t leave either. I don’t think Jim Bogue would either. Tommy Bogue had a number of the kids with him, and they were very confident that Tommy would lead them out of there.
Joyce: He’s a hell of a kid.
Tim: They said if anybody gets out, he would. I wasn’t so sure.
Joyce: He’d been trying to get out since he was knee-high to a grasshopper.
Tim: Jim Cobb I was worried about too, because no one seemed to know where he went and he was by himself.
Joyce: Just what his state of mind was?
Tim: I was less concerned about that than that he was wounded somewhere out in the jungle, and there would be no way to find him. That he had run in and bled to death, and whatever.
Joyce: Which if Vern [Gosney] had gone unconscious, he would have been lost, wouldn’t he? He wouldn’t have been found.
Tim: If he had run any distance. I don’t think he was in any shape to go anywhere though. Somebody wounded in my circumstances maybe [shot in the arm]. Enough so that you bled quite a bit, could conceivably make some distance, and then not be able to get out. I didn’t know what happened to Jim, but I thought maybe that’s what had happened.
Joyce: Vern said that he heard them looking for him finally, and just said, ‘Well, I may die anyway, so I might as well answer.’
Tim: I didn’t even know that he’d gone into the jungle.
Joyce: Yeah, and he lay down and thought he was dying. There were these [bullet] holes, and he didn’t go unconscious. And after he laid there for a while in incredible pain, and could hear the people looking for him, he figured he might as well answer. If he hadn’t been able to answer, from the way he described it, I don’t know that he would have been found – if he had been unconscious.
Tim: He must have been in a little better shape than Anthony Katsaris, because he couldn’t move. And Steve Sung was in a lot of pain, but he could walk by the next day.
Joyce: Steve could?
Tim: It was miraculous. I saw him on his feet getting on the plane. Boy, that guy’s tough and muscular. I wonder if we could pick up with Sutter Street – when you were told to move to Sutter Street and how you were told.
Joyce: At one point while we were still on Potrero Hill – I don’t know when it was, maybe September, 1975, maybe later. No, it was more like the first of the year 1976, Lois Ponts, had been causing a lot of problems in the church, threatening to leave. She’s the mother of Jack Arnold Beam’s wife’s [Cindy] – a registered nurse who was from Ukiah, and Jim was going through a whole bunch of manipulations to try to keep her in for whatever reasons, and she came to live at our commune. The instructions were to make her happy – to bend over backwards. So we cleared out one room in the downstairs part and she had her own room, but the lady was crazy. And we had another crazy one there by the name of Vivian, who had been there most of the time and who was always giving us fits. So now we had two crazies – two clinically crazy people – adults with all these kids, and Lois didn’t particularly like children. She was supposedly going to be in there until she found a place of her own. It just put a lot of additional strain on all of us. Then starting in January 1976, instead of maintaining our own household money and turning the excess over, we were informed that it was all going to be handled through the central bookkeeping department, so we had to turn our checks over directly, and then those little slips that you saw, had to be turned in. They would pay the rent, the phone – the basic expenses. We would turn our checks in, and for any needs we would receive the money back, and we were supposed to go to the church for dinner. We were supposed to eat all our meals at the church [including breakfast and receive a brown-bag lunch].
Tim: I remember you told me how horrible it was to try to get the whole household there. It was time-consuming?
Joyce: Unproductive, and we had one car so we had to make two trips to get everybody over there or take some on the bus. So at that time, Rheaviana Beam and I was working on the project to get everybody moved to San Francisco into the communes – that was the whole thrust at that time.
Tim: You were working on that?
Joyce: Yes, with Rheaviana. We were interviewing people. In fact, I helped make out the form – the compulsive form used for everything. All kinds of information about their background, education; also, it was the idea that we were so disorganized; we didn’t know anything about these people – who their doctors were, what their physical conditions were, and Joyce Parks helped on that angle. So, Rheaviana said that she could get us a house on Sutter Street that she thought would meet our needs. So, you know, with this food situation, which I would say was primary, plus these couple of [crazies], especially Lois, a very problematic person who was just so disrupting the household, we decided to move, which presented other problems, because we wanted the kids to still be in the same school district, so then we had to get them over to school every day, but it was easier to be closer to the church to eat. We got the place and it was a typical ghetto dump, and so everybody pitched in and painted and cleaned it up.
Tim: What color was it originally? Did you repaint it yellow and white as I saw in that picture?
Joyce: No, it was the inside [we painted]. It was just filthy dirty, and we were scrapping things out of corners, and just trying to make it livable, in which we succeeded. It turned out to be a very pretty place. We got all the beds, and we made the big move. But at that point, and that was in April 1976, so we had been working and working and working to do the food thing and get everybody back and forth. But from the point of that move – see, I also rid of Lois and Vivian; there was method in the madness.
Tim: So you weren’t made to do it? But it was just the realities that —
Joyce: Yes, I figured if we made the move these people wouldn’t come with us, and we could kind of sort out a little bit. I invited the mother of the Buckley girls [Odesta and Frances] to live with us – Luna [a/k/a Minnie].
Tim: How many were living in that house on Sutter?
Joyce: Maybe twenty.
Tim: It was really crowded there then.
Joyce: Well, it was a big place though. It had what would have been the front living room, and the dining room which was separated by doors. That was two bedrooms. There was another bedroom behind the kitchen, a bedroom past the kitchen, and then a little porch-like thing that was usable, so we had five usable bedrooms but no real living area, which proved to be a problem. So we had three people per room- yeah, so we must have had fifteen people there.
Tim: Did you and Bob have to share your room with somebody?
Joyce: Oh, no, there was another room. There were six bedrooms. Well, at that point, I had a room with two girls [Sue Hess and Patricia Houston]. He had a room with two of the boys [Jim Arthur Jones and Kirtas Smith] in order to supervise them.
Tim: Was that less than ideal, or were you happy with that arrangement?
Joyce: Yes, it was less than ideal. In fact, one of the things that we were getting ready to do the week that I ended up moving out was to move back into together – to take the smallest room which was pretty little, and in fact I had moved into there. But it was at that point that I made my exit.
Tim: So, how many months were you on Sutter Street?
Joyce: I was there from April to July, and then I split.
Tim: What caused you to do that?
Joyce: Leave? [laughs sardonically] Well, it was a whole sequence of things, because I can remember in May  all of a sudden I started having – it seems almost like questions started pouring into my head.
Tim: What kinds of things?
Joyce: Well, in September 1975, I had written Jones a letter. I think I talked to you about, where I asked him 14 questions, and had basically said that there were contradictions in this organization that I don’t understand, and I would like to have them clarified.
Tim: What were some of those? I don’t think you went into any detail about that.
Joyce: It was not very tactful. Why did he always say that he liked criticism, and then why did he get so mad when somebody criticized him? I don’t have a copy of that anymore.
Tim: The white leadership?
Joyce: Yes, questions about the white leadership. I don’t remember any more.
Tim: Could one question have related to food and the circumstances under which you were living.
Joyce: Not then, because we still had control of our money then. We had a great circumstance, so these were just totally separate issues.
Tim: How did he respond to those questions, or did he?
Joyce: Oh, he did, yeah, for hours. I was standing there for hours being confronted by the entire P.C. At one point somebody started to go for me like they were going to attack me, and other people restrained him; it was quite a trip.
Tim: Was that set up, do you think, this business of lunging for you?
Tim: This was in San Francisco? The P.C. meetings were in the church?
Joyce: On that stage. From my perspective, the letter was motivated by real sincerity. I didn’t understand! And I thought that … Of course, I believed to that point that everything was great, and most of what was happening that seemed out of line were just organizational problems. In fact, I was thinking, I have a memo that Bob wrote to Jim, where he puts forth some of his ideas and points out areas where things aren’t going well, which you might be interested in looking at.
Tim: Yeah, I would be.
Joyce: Because I was thinking that more than anything that would show something about his relationship to Jim, and the fact that he felt very free to — he thought Jim was a good man. So why wouldn’t he feel free to point out where things could work better?
Tim: So, what were some of the other things that in 1976 were bothering you? So, there was this response to your earlier criticism.
Joyce: Well, what happened was, and I threw in one little question that really was meaningless, really – that became the focus of his whole response. I said, ‘If Jean B. is such a loyal and willing worker, why don’t you go to bed with her, since she has expressed that she would like to do that? And this was the time that he was coming up with what a great lover he was, and every woman would want to be with him, and this was like a special treatment. He devoted the entire many hours to talking about sex. He did not answer the 13 other questions, or made no attempt to. And I was just standing there looking at him, and I was thinking — I mean, after all these hours of grinding on – and he’d just wear people down. And it wasn’t that I was worn down particularly, I just figured that there was just no point to pursue it and say, well, look, how about you answer questions Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10, 11, 12 and 14?
Tim: So, what did he say about that? How could he talk for hours about that?
Joyce: You didn’t know the man!! He could talk about sex forever. You know, his great prowess, his great….
Tim: Did he talk about that in response to this?
Joyce: Yes!! Without batting an eyelash.
Tim: What was the context though? Did he say, no, he wouldn’t sleep with Jean? Is that what the bottom line was?
Joyce: Oh, no. It was, umm, how to say in 25 words or less what he took several hours to say, which is also so dim in my mind because I was also falling asleep on my feet. That’s why I think he would get some garbled responses, because so many people were half out of it during those times — about half awake. Well, he would just get into the cosmology, and he would just weave everything around, and the man could just talk. What I’m saying is, it wasn’t an answer. It wasn’t an answer in my mind to my question to him about Jean B.; it wasn’t an answer in my mind to how he was conducting himself sexually. It wasn’t an answer of my other more relevant questions, and I was really sorry I had put that one in, because it was the least important of what I felt that I had asked.
Tim: So, you got a non-answer basically?
Joyce: Yes, hours of non-answer, and it had started out, as I said, from such a sincere motive [on my part] of just really having genuine puzzlement about certain areas.
Tim: So, were there other things that were bothering you on Sutter StrTim: What were the signs?
Joyce: The kids were talking back to us. Everybody was kind of irritable. Whatever feeling of unity was just gone. Well, you know they say psychologically that eating together is really a way of staying together – between people. So, we’d be at the church, and the kids would be off in every direction. We didn’t have those times together anymore – or very few of them.
Tim: So, he was really consolidating his people by having them eat together too. That’s a very strong symbol in preparation. Did he start to talk increasingly about going to the Promised Land sooner?
Joyce: Yeah. In fact, this was another thing, because he was saying that when Jimmy Carter got elected, there was going to be a big civil war in this country in November, and that we had to speed things up, and this was basically his rationale, because at that point, that’s when I started to get into this thing with Jim about we don’t have enough to eat, we need some food in our place for the kids so when they come home from school – to have something to eat. They’re growing kids. They need more food. That became the subject in many P.C. meetings during that period. I would say in April and May . I was putting the questions to him. ‘How come we’re supposedly taking care of kids, helping people, but we’re not helping them. Our kids don’t even have the standard of living that some of the kids in the slums have.’ I’m telling him that I don’t understand that. I know it’s a rich organization. I know there’s a lot of money here. Then came the answer, ‘We’ve got to get out of the country. That’s why we have to tighten up our belts.’ I remember going with you into the whole thing about the 60 cents a day per person [food expense in our commune], and was told the church was feeding people for 16 cents a day. So, okay, at that time I was starting my conversations with Janet Shular and Kay Henderson, who calls herself Curry now. By living on Sutter Street I was three blocks from Janet’s house. And we had this bond about the kids, because she had always taken in children her whole time there. And we just started spending more time together. I’m not sure just how it happened, but after P.C. meetings we’d go home together. Maybe we’d go out and get coffee and a doughnut and talk. I don’t remember exactly the time, but this all happened actually very fast. But at some point, I remember sitting on Sutter Street. Janet lived further up Sutter Street. We were sitting in her bedroom with the door closed, and we had some sample cigarettes that David, her husband, had brought home from his job [as a charter bus driver]. We’d talked about it, and we lit one up each. God, what a rush! And she had some wine that somebody had given them. So we broke out a bottle of wine. I think that Kay was there too. I don’t know, maybe going back to those old patterns of socialness triggered it, but we started to talk.
Tim: You really relished that – that cigarette and that first glass of wine?
Joyce: Well, I had quit smoking before I joined the church. It was a voluntary thing, and I hadn’t smoked in 6-1/2 years. And, it hadn’t been felt like any deprivation. But, yeah, it sure did [taste good]. It sure did!!
Tim: What did you talk about? These inconsistencies [between church philosophy and practice]?
Joyce: Yeah, and then Janet, who had been in public relations knew a lot of things that I didn’t know, because she’d been with Jones a lot on these social affairs in San Francisco. And see, it turns out that she had been very aware of — she had pretty much figured it out about two years before – what was going on in terms of Jones being a rat. But she’s sitting on Sutter Street; she’s got nobody to talk to, and she’s trying to get these [two] boys adopted, which ended up taking a long time. So she figured if she pulled out at that point, she would lose these boys. And just a lot-of, lot-of reasons. She as an individual hadn’t arrived at the point of leaving. I don’t know if you have met Kay [Curry].
Tim: I talked with her on the phone once.
Joyce: She’s very intense- a very bright lady who misses nothing. And when we began putting these inconsistencies together, we about scared ourselves to death. Because, when you’ve heard day after day after day that traitors will be hounded. As long as you are part of the in-group, you don’t even think about it. ‘Well, I’m loyal! What do I have to be concerned about?’ As it began to dawn on us that we had somehow moved over onto the other side, it was very frightening. You know, I had Bob and the kids, and all these connections, and everything, and yet — So, okay, this was going on, and then my parents came to visit, which was in June.
Tim: You didn’t tell Bob about this?
Joyce: No, he just knew I was spending time with Janet. We started to go out and do a little shopping. I had an old VISA card. I bought a sweater [June 10, 1976]. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it. Well, see, I was also working a second job just sometimes. So I was getting a completely separate paycheck – maybe $25 or $50 a week that I started not to turn in. So I had a few bucks then. Then my mother came, and she bought me a nice three-piece suit. It was just this whole — I started to care how I looked. I hadn’t cared for years. Of course, Jim always said those were the signs that people were about ready to leave. I painted my finger nails. I hadn’t had polish on my nails in years.
Tim: So you started to care about your appearance again?
Joyce: Yeah, I had been working down on Montgomery Street all these years in these just raggedy clothes, just looking like shit.
Tim: What were you doing on Montgomery Street?
Joyce: Legal Secretary. I was working as a Mag-Card Operator, which is what I’m doing now. So, I worked for Fred Furth (The Law Office of Frederick P. Furth), among others.
Tim: Did you get to know him at all?
Joyce: A little bit. I didn’t particularly care to. I thought he was a pompous asshole.
Tim: He did some work for the church at one time too. Was that when you were there?
Tim: Just to digress for a second. Was there some problem with the church?
Joyce: No, that’s when he was running for Senator, and the church was serving as his ward workers and people going down and doing whatever they were doing – passing out literature.
Tim: Did he know that?
Joyce: Sure! Of course, he knew it. I mean, free labor! To do that kind of work of stuffing envelopes and — I didn’t see the operation. I know they used to volunteer people to go down and work for Fred, because I was working there. Okay, so my parents arrived, did we go over this stuff before?
Tim: Yeah, you went and visited the Houstons, or they went and visited the Houstons? You didn’t have your parents come to your house. They went to the Houston’s house, is that right?
Joyce: No, that was the rub. It was time for the annual summer trip cross-country, and I had signed up to go, which was real interesting, even earlier, and I remember Helen Swinney standing up and saying, ‘Well, can you afford to leave your job?’ I was in this like last spasm of loyalty, or just trying to get myself to get back with it, because I was slipping fast. It was a fateful statement that she made, because I remember standing there and thinking, ‘Fuck you!
Helen Swinney, was the big momma of all the communal finances. It is amazing that woman survived. But I liked her. I was one of the few people I think who liked her.
Tim: So, what did you say? You said, ‘No, you couldn’t.’
Joyce: I said, ‘Well, okay, I’ll stay.’
Tim: In the Bay Area?
Joyce: And keep working. I won’t give up my salary.
Tim: So that kept you there when you were visited by your parents?
Joyce: Yeah, so, they arrived and like on a Friday, we took the kids to Great America [amusement park]. The next day, all but one of the kids — Kirtas who had the bad back, who was in that picture, the little blonde boy – he stayed. The whole household took off — all the kids. Now, the adults were still there. So, my parents had come in and seen the commune. It looked great. They were super impressed.
Tim: So the whole household took off afterwards – after visiting Great America?
Joyce: Like the next day all the kids, except Kirtas, left to go on this vacation. And all the adults were still in the house — just the adults. My parents had been there. They knew that there were like 14 empty beds in the house, right? So why shouldn’t they stay there? And I thought to myself, ‘Well, why shouldn’t they stay there?’ There was nothing about the place that wasn’t presentable. There was nothing – there was nothing to hide there. We had a very upfront operation. So, I invited them to stay. I didn’t get permission, which one obviously should have done. And I just moved them into one of the rooms that had a hide-away sofa. And so they had a wonderful visit. They took Bob, Kirtas and me out to China Town for a dinner. We all went down to visit the Houstons. They were only there I think for three or four days — not very long. So, Vern [Gosney] got hostile because my parents were there. ‘Did I get permission?’ And I sort of said, ‘Well, yeah, uh-huh.’ And, of course, being on the Planning Commission, people didn’t tend to question me very much. And I knew I was on thin ice. But in my own mind, it was like there was nothing to hide. And they [my parents] had spent this couple of hundred dollars on the kids for this outing. They were friendly. They weren’t hostile. They weren’t being critical. There was no reason. It was the first time they met Bob, and were real impressed with him. They were really happy. In fact, my mother said later, ‘I was just so happy; I thought you had made it. Everything was perfect.’ Three weeks – or four weeks later I left People Temple!! So, Vern wrote a note to Council or to Jim about it. And it was brought up about them being there. And Jim passed it over. He didn’t make any issue out of it at all, I mean in the Planning Commission. But what he would tend to do sometimes — he would always side with the Planning Commission people. There was such a distinction — if you were on it or if you weren’t. And I think he said, ‘Well, you should have asked,’ and just went right on, which surprised me, because I thought there would maybe be more [flack]. I’m spending a lot of time at Janet’s, and the whole household by that time knows that something’s up.
Tim: The church did?
Joyce: My household knew, because I was radically changing my participation in the house. I wasn’t participating very much anymore. I just withdrew. I just didn’t see any point — as the head of it, or as the leader. Kirtas’ mother was now living upstairs; Luna was now in the house [with her children Odesta and Frances]; two other kids: Pat Hess and her children [Sue and Sharon] were back together. I was getting all the families back together before I left. But until the day I left, I didn’t know I was leaving!!You know how you split off your brain? And that was the period I got some sleep, when the kids were gone. And that’s more important than anything else.
Tim: Did Bob get sleep too?
Joyce: During that period? Yeah. Well, everybody did. All the adults did. Which was probably why some of this hostility started, because you’re just saying [to yourself], ‘Wait a minute!! Where am I? What am I doing? What’s going on?’ [laughs] The neurons in the head are firing.
Tim: You’re feeling used?
Joyce: I was feeling scared mostly.
Tim: For having these treasonous thoughts?
Joyce: No, not about the thoughts.
Tim: Because you were at the brink of actually doing it?
Joyce: Uh-huh. And it was like I had never entertained the thought of leaving consciously in all those years. I mean, I’m telling you about the letter and this and that — and the critical thoughts, but I had never entertained the thought of leaving. And, the first time of having that thought, it was just like, ‘Oh, my God!’ Because all the ramifications of —
Tim: Did you really believe Jim would know you had that thought?
Joyce: No. I never worried about that. A lot of people did. And I talked to a lot of people who said they stayed because they thought he could read their mind. And I said, ‘Well, I didn’t.’ No, the main thing in all this, and with his response about the food and all this, is that I finally got it through my head: JIM IS NOT A GOOD MAN. As soon as I had that thought, the rest just fell into place, like the whole domino thing. There was no question about leaving at that point, but then you’ve got all this conditioning that is also playing back against you. I didn’t really think that I — you know, we had been told, if you left, your life’s going to get shitty; you’re probably going to die in an accident. Everything is going to be awful. While I didn’t believe that, that’s what has been implanted, and I’m sure that that has to have an effect. It’s been repeated thousands of times. But see, I was one of the fortunate ones. I had skills. I knew I could make money. I had a family I could go back to. They had made that abundantly clear in their recent visit. In fact, they never withdrew their loyalty or their support of me in all the years I was in it.
Tim: And you didn’t freeze them out completely? It doesn’t sound like it.
Joyce: No. No!! They are good people. I had some serious conflicts growing up with them, but they’re good people. And how do you do that? No, and see they were smart. They used to send a little bit of money to the church every now and again. So, every time church people used to say, ‘Don’t write,’ I’d say, ‘But look, they’re sending money.’ And money was always the magic word. So I was really kind of bold in one sense because I started going through all my papers. Right in front of God and man, right! And I took a big box of stuff over to the church one day and burned it up in the fireplace. Now, I would think that somebody would have thought that something was a little off. But then the other coincidence was that an old friend of mine [Gene Bloom] who I had known for years said he’d been going through his phone book, found my name, called me and invited me to his place for a visit. He said I could leave my stuff at his house. So I started taking stuff [belongings] over there.
Tim: This is in San Francisco?
Joyce: Yes, this is all on Sutter Street – from the time that we moved over to Sutter Street [April 1976], and talking to Janet later. She said, ‘Well, when he [Jim Jones] broke up your commune, obviously that was [deliberate]…’ So even though I didn’t recognize that it was consciously being done at the time, that did it for me. That did it.
Tim: So, you bought a bus ticket, I think?
Joyce: To Santa Rosa.
Tim: Why Santa Rosa?
Joyce: Because this friend was working county fairs. And I had gotten in touch with him, and said ‘Look, I’m leaving. I need someplace to go,’ and he said, ‘I’ll be up in Santa Rosa at the fair, so you can come with your sleeping bag and stay there until you get your head together about what your next move is.’ So, I had been to work that night. I had my two pay checks. I went back to the house to pick up a couple more things. I had some taxi coupons from work, you know, to take me down [to the bus station]. And Brenda [Jones], one of the commune members came home and was saying something about, ‘Well, there’s something going on, and she thought it ought to go to Council.’ And I was just thinking, ‘Well, you may go, baby, but not me.’ I picked up that statue [pre-Columbian], that little Buddha thing, and a couple of things that I wanted, you know, and I had them in a bag. It was a cold, windy night. I got out into the street, looking around for the last time. Bob was at work. And I walk over to get a taxi. I was going to hail one. And I don’t know if I’m being followed. I’m paranoid, because to me it has been pretty obvious. I don’t think my exit [preparation] was that unnoticed. And the cab takes me to the bus station – the good old San Francisco bus station, which is not exactly a…
Tim: The Greyhound Bus Station?
Joyce: Yes, and at 1:15 I boarded the bus with my little bag and couple of little suitcases.
Tim: 1:15 a.m.?
Joyce: Yes, on the 16th of July . I took the bus and I get to the bus station up in Santa Rosa, and it’s closed. It is 3:00 a.m. I had a little money but not very much. I’ve got all this baggage, and I can’t get hold of Gene. There is no way to call. So I parked my stuff in a bus station locker, and started walking in high heels, and I stopped at a coffee shop and bought a pack of cigarettes. But walking! I had never been out walking like that before. All these dogs started barking at me, and started trying to attack me. I mean, here I am. I’m in an absolute, totally spaced-out state; I am paranoid; I am in the dark. I don’t know if people have followed me. I don’t know nothin’. These dogs are attacking me. If I’m caught … [laughs nervously]. I finally made it out there.
Tim: To the fairgrounds?
Joyce: Yes, then I had to walk up and down looking for their truck and stuff.
Tim: Was he working in the midway?
Joyce: Yes. He was selling [batik] T-shirts. And also, it was the total shock of having gone from total activity. And like the day before I left, too, I had gone to see…
Tape 4 – Side 2
Joyce: … Chris Kice [a nurse] and took all the [medical] files that I had, because I wanted the project to go on. It was valuable and was something that meant a lot to me.
[Note: There was a urologist, Dr. Finkle, who was sympathetic to our cause. Many of our members, particularly the older Black seniors were on Medicare, and had a hard time getting medical care by specialists. Joyce Parks and the other nurses were contacted by church members with medical problems. My job was to interview the people they referred to me, get a description of their symptoms, and then present them to Dr. Finkle. He would then decide what kind of specialist they needed to see, and would contact an appropriate doctor. Dr. Finkle was well-known in the medical community, and his colleagues would usually agree to see an individual if he asked them to do so. I believe he called in a lot of ‘favors’ in so doing. I saw him every couple of weeks, and would often present a list of twenty or more people at a time. After Dr. Finkle phoned a doctor, often while I was sitting in his office, and got agreement for an appointment, I would contact the church member and help them arrange an appointment, and was on-call if they had problems making the appointment. I did this when I lived in San Francisco from sometime in early 1974 until I left in July 1976.]
I took them up to Chris Kice, and just gave them to her. I remember her kind of looking at me [strangely]. I said, ‘Well, I thought maybe you ought to have these records.’ So, I had closed off [all my projects], and I was still performing everything [normally]. Then the next day, I’m sitting there [at the county fair]. I’ve got nothing to do. Nothing. Nothing. After six and one-half years of just absolutely incessant activity. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t know where I wanted to live. I didn’t know anything. I was out. I called Bob the next morning to tell him I had left. It was interesting, because the night that I left, Bob had taken me to work. And he had started to voice a thought about maybe we should withdraw from the communal system since it wasn’t working, and just set up our own household. And somehow to me that didn’t seem like it would be workable. I mean, in the sense that it would be disruptive to the organization, and even to that point I didn’t want to screw with the organization.
Tim: What did you say? Or did you just let it slide?
Joyce: I just let it slide, because he was very unhappy. He was very, very unhappy with the circumstances. But as I said, he had just been put on Planning Commission about three weeks before I left, because the signs of my leaving were obviously there. So both he and Janet’s husband [David] after all those years were suddenly standing in a Planning Commission meeting one night when Janet and I walked in. We about died, because we knew what that meant!
Tim: It meant that they were watching you, basically.
Joyce: Uh-huh. A lot of times – there were more women on the Planning Commission than men in many cases. Many times it was like – if the man was content and doing okay, he [Jim] didn’t put them on. I mean, if they were the loyal kind of worker. But a lot of times, like if the one, especially the Planning Commission member, was acting up, they’d bring in that other one, because he was trying to solidify [their loyalty]. So Bob was in the thralls of having suddenly been acknowledged after all those years.
Tim: Right. I remember your telling me about that, and yet he remained loyal to you when he was in there.
Joyce: Yeah. Yeah. So I called him immediately, the next morning. Jim was in Guyana at the time, I think.
Tim: What was that call like with Bob? This is the very morning after you left?
Joyce: Yes, like the morning of the 16th [July]. I don’t even remember what day it was now [Friday]. I called him at Juvenile Hall, I think. I got hold of him and just told him … No, I started to say, when he took me to work that night, there was just an especially good feeling between us, and he had made a couple of comments that let me know that he knew that I was possibly getting ready to leave. But he didn’t say anything to stop me. It was almost like acknowledging that he knew, and there was a kind of supportiveness there in some funny way.
Tim: Do you remember what it was that he commented on?
Joyce: No. I remember sitting in the car in front of the building there on California Street in the old 1964 Pontiac. You know, well, I was in so much turmoil at that moment. I am hours from taking off. I obviously wasn’t going to acknowledge what he had said.
Tim: Were you afraid to?
Joyce: Yes, because we didn’t have that level of communication, and with his [now] being on the Planning Commission, I wasn’t sure just where he was at. I felt that before I could say anything to him, I had better be on out of there, and then I could call, and then we could talk about it.
Tim: So you called him at Juvenile Hall then on the 16th, and he knew you were gone, I’m sure, by then.
Joyce: No, not specifically. I could have been at Janet’s; I could have been 100 places, because nobody kept tabs on each other. There were all these [projects]…
Tim: What happened in that call? Can you describe that?
Joyce: Not very well. I just told him I had left – was gone. But, see, I remember even then not going into the details with him of the things that I knew or had put together with Janet and Kay, which were the basic reasons for my leaving.
Tim: You didn’t go into any of that?
Joyce: No, not in any great detail.
Joyce: Well, it’s a thought that obviously was there then, and it has stayed with me. I felt that each person had to come to their own individual decision to get out. That it was an internal process. It wasn’t something that — I didn’t think it would do any good to bad-mouth Jim to him at that moment. He knew what the circumstances were. I think he was doubly disappointed because we had just moved back in together into the same room. I think he saw that as a chance for us to get closer. I would say that if it hadn’t been for Jim’s move to put him on P.C., I would very likely have taken him into my confidence more. But I knew he was getting special attention and treatment from Jim, which was flattering to him. Because the thing with Bob…. Janet especially, I’ve talked to her so much. She was saying, ‘God, you’ll never know what kind of life you could have had with Bob, because there was never a day of normalcy in your relationship with him. It was conceived in the church, it was in the church, and it ended in the church.’ We never spent a night in a motel together. We never took a vacation together. We just didn’t do the things that you think of in a ‘normal’ relationship. From the moment of the marriage almost, and thinking back to it, the whole idea of all those kids, which was Jim’s idea, and we expanded on it then. But it was putting so much responsibility on us that as a couple we never – except for those few months when we were living in the Haight-Fillmore Street area together – [had a chance to be alone]. And even then, Neva Sly came to live with us not too long after we moved in [to the aforementioned studio apartment]. She came in March, and then they sent another teenager there [Vonn Smith] into this tiny place. There were just maybe two months when we were just actually alone together in the place. I remember him back in the cabin [in Redwood Valley] when he was there [living with me for 2 weeks], and then they yanked him out and sent him back to Phyllis. I always felt that Jones was threatened by our relationship. I don’t mean personally, but that he saw that between us, as the kind of people that we are, the real possibility for ‘treason’ [Jones’ word].
Tim: Did you know of other cases where he did this? Didn’t Jim divide just about every couple, so it wasn’t an exception?
Joyce: No, but it’s like – it was not to me at that time though- it wasn’t apparent exactly that he was deliberately, maliciously, consciously doing that. There were so many reasons why [Jim split couples up]. ‘Men were chauvinists, and women were dependent, and look!!’
Tim: I see.
Joyce: It wasn’t understood [by me] until shortly before I left that it was a deliberate divisive technique to break up the family, because it was always put that the family was the basis of so much that was sick and wrong — the nuclear family. It was an unhealthy institution.
Tim: It got to the point where even these semi-autonomous communes were a threat to him?
Joyce: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
Tim: So you’re out and you’ve talked with Bob once. Did he at this point ask you to come back?
Joyce: Well, I talked to him two or three times. I kept calling. I kept calling Janet too. But see, I figured.… Well, I called him at Juvenile Hall because I figured he wouldn’t have any taping equipment. When I called him at the house, I assumed that our conversations were being taped by him or others, because at that point I wasn’t sure that every phone in the place wasn’t being bugged from outside.
Tim: So you called him at work?
Joyce: Yes, from a pay phone.
Tim: Did these conversations evolve in any particular direction?
Joyce: No. Well, I stayed out at the county fairs. I went around with them [Gene B. and Steve H.] for about three weeks.
Tim: You traveled to different county fairs?
Joyce: I was at Napa County Fair. I figured that would be the last place they’d look for me, right?
Tim: Napa. You were in Santa Rosa, isn’t that the Sonoma County Fair.
Joyce: Yes, and there was another one, the Contra Costa Fair, I think. I was sitting there in the Midway.
Tim: For a couple of months?
Joyce: For three weeks. It just seemed like a long time. And then I called my mother, and she was beside herself, I think I told you that.
Tim: Were you selling T-shirts?
Joyce: Yes. My God, I didn’t know what was going on. I was just in limbo, and I couldn’t really talk to the guys.
Tim: It was a place, and it was a job.
Joyce: I wasn’t making any money, but they were feeding me.
Tim: Sure. So, you called your Mom.
Joyce: Yes, and she was frantic, because she had just been out there to visit us and she had figured out what my schedule was, and after they got back from their trip she had called, and she got some kind of bullshit thing about I was at work, but she knew that I was working from 5:00 to 11:00 in the evenings, and she would call me during the day. She knew I wasn’t at work. And she called again, and she got another excuse. She is just an intuitive lady. We’re very tuned into each other, and she just knew that something was really wrong. At the point I called her, which was maybe a week or ten days after I left, she had talked to my brother and they were getting ready to board a plane and come out here. She said, ‘Oh, my God, I’m glad to hear from you!’ Well, what happened was that right before I left, I wrote my ex-husband [Ian Shaw] a letter and told him what was going on. He had visited the church once in the very early days [summer, 1970]. He was living in Vienna [Austria] at the time. I figured I had to tell somebody. I just had to get it on paper, and I said, ‘If anything happens to me, the church did it!’ I’ve still got a copy of that someplace. Getting this letter in Vienna (and I have always remained in some kind of contact with him), he didn’t know what to do! So he sent my parents a copy of the letter.
Tim: Do they get that about the time they are starting to look for you, or did that prompt them to look for you?
Joyce: No, she had just started calling and couldn’t get through to me, and then the letter arrives. So she was just frantic – they were frantic, because in very few words I had said, ‘Jim Jones is a madman. He is crazy. He is threatening people. My life is in danger.’ So they get the phone call from me, and she says, ‘Just come home for a visit. I’ll send you a plane ticket. Anything. Just a little visit!’ So at that point the county fair was obviously not a very satisfactory solution, and Jones had always said, ‘If you leave the church, and go 500 miles away from the nearest Temple, I won’t bother you.’ As I said, I had been very neat. I left all the records. My act was clean. I called Jones from one of the county fairs, and talked to him about 45 minutes one time, and told him that I didn’t believe that the revolution was going to take place and blah-blah-blah, and I had to look around and see what other groups were doing, because I just didn’t believe that what he was presenting was accurate, but on the other hand I was apologizing to him [for having this opinion], as I said yesterday. He encouraged me to go, which I thought was real strange, because he never encouraged people to leave, but he encouraged me to, and he said, ‘You can come back any time you want.’ So, I flew back to Ohio [August 8, 1976].
Tim: What else did you say in that conversation? Did he encourage you to leave?
Joyce: Yes, to look around. And he told me that I should find a [Time or Look?] magazine that had recently come out that was discussing two different types of communal structures: one was authoritarian and the other was anarchistic. And that it was his belief that the authoritarian structure was the only one that would work, and he made it clear to me that obviously I had been operating out of anarchistic motives. Now, I don’t mean [the common use of the word: anarchism] in the sense of tearing down structure, but [the philosophy] that you’re your own person and you’re coming into a situation and doing what you feel moved to do [and accepting full responsibility for your actions], so [Jones’ position] was kind of a shock to me.
Tim: So he thought you had an anarchistic one [belief] despite all the earlier conflicts over structure and that sort of thing?
Tim: He said he believed that an authoritarian one…
Joyce: … was the only way to go, and that I should read the article and he thought that if I explored these other places, that I would come to that same conclusion, and when I had come to that same conclusion, please come back. He was just as polite as he could be; just as friendly…, which was his way [to your face], then he’d go back and talk about you like a dog! But Janet told me that he never really had very much to say about my leaving. Well, initially, he told everybody that I was on a mission, and that I had not left. I was on a church assignment.
Tim: He did that with Grace [Stoen] too when she left.
Joyce: Well, I started to say that whole deal on the fourth of July in Redwood Valley of 1976, when we all went up there for a celebration of the U.S.’s 200th anniversary], and Grace had just left, and I’m fresh from my parent’s visit. I’m fresh from talking with Kay and Janet. I’m rested. And we had to sit under his fucking tree for hours while he ranted and raved about Grace. I just couldn’t believe what he said.
Tim: This was a picnic. Where was it?
Joyce: This was up at the little old church in Redwood Valley. We hadn’t gone up there very much [after the headquarters moved to San Francisco]. This was supposed to be a special occasion.
Tim: This was the Peoples Temple Church?
Joyce: Uh-huh, in Redwood Valley.
Tim: Where were you sitting, in his yard?
Joyce: Yeah, his house was behind the church and to the left there were trees. All the P.C. [members] were there in folding chairs.
Tim: You’re sitting under trees alongside the house. Is this on the vineyard side? Who was there? You and…
Joyce: The whole Planning Commission minus Grace and Walter [Smith].
Tim: What did he say? Were there about 30 people?
Joyce: 120 – 130.
Tim: They’re all sitting out there on the grass?
Joyce: We had folding chairs. It was supposed to be a short meeting, so there’s this meeting going on in the church building without any of us, because we’re out there having this big serious meeting. He was psychotic!! I could see he was psychotic. And I’m terrified on the one hand at what I’m seeing in bold, living color. On the other hand, I was so hostile, I didn’t know if I could keep my mouth shut. I mean, I knew Grace. Grace was a loyal, sensitive, beautiful lady. She always demonstrated that she cared for people, and God, her interactions with the older Black seniors and white seniors – with anybody, were just great. She is a lovely woman. And he’s talking about her like she was is less than human.
Tim: In what way? What was he saying about her? Did he say she was selfish?
Joyce: Yes, any negative attribute. About his affair with her, and one night he finally got her in his control when he threatened to kill her. This was before I was on the Planning Commission. She had married Tim; she had gone up there [to Redwood Valley]; she’d had this baby by no one knows who. Maybe it was even before the kid [John Victor Stoen, born 25 Jan 1972 in Santa Rosa, CA]. She wanted to leave. Apparently, there were sessions and sessions and sessions about her staying, and at some point, he threatened to kill her. He said, ‘See, I am the most wonderful knower of human behavior, because that’s what it took for Grace. She needed to feel that power and authority, and that snapped her right into the proper perspective.’ When you think about it, somebody is threatening to blow you away!! It certainly is a good form of behavior conditioning – attitude changing. She was age 21 at the time, or something. She was such a kid, to have been dragged into something like this.
Tim: At the time the child was born, she was a kid — when she left the church really.
Joyce: I just think the world of Grace. I think she is a lovely human being.
Tim: She’s been through a tremendous lot.
Joyce: Jesus. Have you talked to her lately, because I haven’t talked to her in a long time?
Tim: No, not since around the time of the anniversary [Nov 1979].
Joyce: Well, that’s a lot [more recent] than since I talked to her.
Tim: It was very brief. It was to bring her parents some photos and say hello.
Joyce: Because, I’ve seen her on TV, and she is also so beautiful, and she also talks so well. I am sure that is why she is sought out, because she is a very good spokesperson.
Tim: I think she felt kind of burned by some of the people who did interviews around the time of the anniversary.
Joyce: I’m sure.
Tim: A lot of people did. That is one of the reasons why I told the [San Francisco] Examiner that I didn’t want to participate in the anniversary pieces. It’s just sort of a knee-jerk thing and particularly bad times for everybody. I knew that.
Joyce: Well, it was really strange, because I was up in San Francisco and I was going to be up there on that anniversary date, and I high-tailed it back down here [L.A.]. I just wanted to be away from it. I didn’t know if somebody would do something crazy, or maybe there would be some more suicides. There was just no knowing what could have happened. So I sailed through that one very well, and then I told you on Christmas, I got my anniversary.
Tim: But anyhow, he was talking about her, and just going on and on and on.
Joyce: Yeah, and I can remember a couple of things about that she’d been on a bus trip. And he had seen her look in a special way. And she had been standing up in the Temple in San Francisco looking out over the bus parking lot, and there was a certain look in her eye, and she’d been smoking, and he knew that was a clear danger signal.
Tim: That was a certain look in her eye?
Joyce: Laughs. And then this thing with Walter, see, apparently, after Walter’s wife, Caroline, left with the Purifoys, he thought Walter would leave, and so as I understand it, although I got a little different impression from Jack Arnold, because he said that Walter and Jack [Arnold] and Grace had become like the Three Musketeers. See, here’s another case of people getting together, when she was working at the office in Redwood Valley, and Jack Arnold and Walter were working in the Bus Garage.
Tim: So he assumed that Walter would leave?
Joyce: Yes, so he put Grace onto Walter, to give him a little extra attention that he would give to people if they were thought to be in a state of rebellion. But apparently unbeknownst to him, Grace and Walter were already very friendly. They had become friends. So this kind of backfired on Jim, because he was such an ego-maniac that Grace had to be his lady because he had given her this attention.
Tim: So Grace and Walter end up leaving?
Joyce: Together. Yes. And that was the main thrust of it. He was so enraged!
Tim: While you’re on the subject, what were your impressions of Walter? He was working in the bus garage.
Joyce: I didn’t have a lot of contact with him. He was part of the Purifoy clan, who I admired and respected very much. I saw them as very solid, very decent, caring, committed people, and they were religious. They had come there thinking that Jim was Jesus. And they made no bones about that. They were fundamentally religious people and as long as they thought that, they were just absolutely loyal. God, they worked; those people worked.
Tim: They were builders, huh?
Joyce: Yeah, contractors.
Tim: Walter was a good mechanic?
Joyce: Yes, an excellent – excellent mechanic. The thing is in those meetings, I don’t remember specifically what he said, but sometimes he would make comments that showed to me that he had his head on straight. He was just a nice person.
Tim: He talked about that first thing with the wine. I guess it was a pseudo-suicide rehearsal [January 1, 1976].
Joyce: I’ve thought about that so many times.
Tim: He thought it was ludicrous.
Joyce: I thought it was real!
Tim: He was asking himself, — he said he stood up and asked, ‘I wish you would explain more fully why it is we are dying.’ It didn’t make sense to him. He seems to have a lot of common sense.
Joyce: Just a solid, grounded person. From what I hear, when I talk to Tim, who was saying he had hoped so much that he and Grace could get back together, but he thought that Walter had been such an anchor point for Grace during all this, that he’s glad she has him. And when I was talking to Grace in San Francisco in early 1978 when I was out there, she was expressing not being quite sure if she would ultimately stay with him, but I guess at this point they have decided they will – or whatever.
Tim: At this time, Jones was just very, very upset? Could you see it in his demeanor? Jones was raving.
Joyce: Just raving, raving!! He was GONE. He was in the ozone someplace.
Tim: What did he say? Did he threaten her?
Joyce: Oh, yes, this thing about [her son] John [Stoen].
Tim: What did he say about that?
Joyce: Oh, what else he was saying is that — I’m going past that, because maybe it will come. He was saying how weak she was, and how much she really needed him [Jim], because she was calling him all the time, and talking to him – Grace was. She was threatening suicide. It was just a character assassination of a very insidious kind, at which he was supremely good. And how she wanted John, but she would never get him, because she was a bad mother. I don’t know, I think he had some examples of sadistic behavior that she had [allegedly] done toward John. And one thing in that meeting I’ll never forget…
Tim: Joyce, you were going to say that there was one thing about this that you’d never forget. Before you do, what were your impressions of Grace as a mother? Was John, as some people have said, raised pretty much communally after his first couple of years? Was he raised by Maria [Katsaris]?
Joyce: Yes, but that wasn’t by Grace’s choice. It was obvious to me and to some others that the child was being systematically isolated – he was being removed from her. And you know it’s funny, because Grace and Maria on the surface have a similar physical appearance, and yet the quality of their two beings is so different. I never saw Maria Katsaris to be a feeling, giving, nurturing lady. I always thought she was a pretty sick person, and I didn’t think that John was benefiting by her raising him. I’d just see the interaction between Grace and John, and I just thought it was beautiful – just little scenes where you just kind of see (and the person is not being aware that they are being looked at) when they are just being themselves. And, of course, John was such a good-looking child, and feisty. She just had a way with him. He would listen to her. I thought he was ruined by all those people. I didn’t know how he was ever going to come out as a reasonable human being.
Tim: What were the traits that were encouraged?
Joyce: Umm, the swearing. This little kid, sounded like [a sailor] – because Jim had sworn as a child, right. It was like he was sacred ground. You didn’t mess with him. You didn’t discipline him. And he was obviously a super-bright, very rugged kid.
Tim: How was he size-wise for his age?
Joyce: I think maybe a tiny bit on the short side. I don’t know that much about kids that age.
Tim: Did he dominate some of his playmates?
Joyce: Yes, although I didn’t ever see him interacting with that many kids. He was always just kind of running around. I said this before. I thought he was the perfect amalgamation of Tim and Grace, genetically. Who knows?
Tim: Did you think that at the time, or did you wonder?
Joyce: At the time I thought that, yeah. But Tim and Jim look a little bit alike. In terms of facial structure, and with Grace being part Mexican with her coal-black eyes and hair, the child came out like that.
Tim: The child looks more like Grace?
Joyce: Yes, than either of them, but Jones dyed his hair. He had light-brown hair. I was reading Wayne’s book about, ‘Well, I have the jet-black hair and the high cheek bones.’ Well, yeah, it was Clairol.
Tim: I thought his hair was dark, was black, but it was getting grey.
Joyce: Well, it was getting grey. No, I talked to Joe Phillips, who was one of his old people. He said, ‘No, he had light-brown hair,’ which I think in those [earlier] photographs would come out [looking] a little bit darker – maybe the color of yours [light brown]. [The black hair] was an affectation.
Tim: Stephan has dark hair.
Joyce: About your color.
Tim: Stephan Jones? I thought it was black.
Joyce: Not as I remember, no.
Tim: I wonder if he dyed his hair. [laughs]
Joyce: That’s just a little side point.
Tim: That’s not conclusive either way, of course.
Joyce: Well, just that Joe Phillips who had been with him since he was a kid [said so].
Tim: You mean about the hair business?
Joyce: I think that’s one of those questions like with Bob. Who will ever know? When I talked to Tim the other day, he saying, ‘I still believe that I’m his father.’
Tim: How did the child relate to Tim?
Joyce: Very well. The kid liked his father.
Tim: Tim liked the child. It was pretty obvious.
Joyce: Oh, yes, but poor John-John. The kid was mind-fucked from the time he could talk.
Tim: The kid was hearing that Jim Jones was his father, I imagine, huh?
Joyce: Not initially, and that was a deeply kept secret. Only P.C. members knew this, and this was one of the big things that you got to know when you became a P.C. member, and then you had to guard this information. So, I don’t know [whether] that John-John was ever told until later. I would say that maybe once he was in Jonestown, then it was said.
Tim: How close were you to Maria? Did you have any real contact with her, or was it mainly just from afar.
Joyce: Maria Katsaris. I stayed away from her purposely, because I just didn’t like her vibes.
Tim: Which were what?
Joyce: Hostile. My perception of her was that she was just one of these little meek, mild passive-aggressive people who had been liberated from the passive side of their aggressiveness. The pendulum swings. I went through a period when I was quite overtly expressive of hostility – you know, that whole consciousness thing that goes on where [according to Jim’s teaching as well as self-help psychology popular then] it is a sin to be repressed.
Tim: Was she aggressive?
Joyce: Yeah. She was just kind of tight-mouthed, intense – had tight body gestures. She was nasty to people. There just wasn’t any human warmth there that I ever perceived.
Tim: So you saw that in Grace though?
Joyce: Oh, yes!! I felt the warmth and the caring, sure. I see her as a very genuine human being. I haven’t maintained much contact with her, but there is certainly a good feeling, and I think at some point we’ll probably be in contact again.
Tim: There was a lot of warmth when you met each other at the [San Francisco] Examiner that day. Do you remember that? It was brief.
Joyce: Yeah, Yeah.
Tim: I forget how that came about.
Joyce: I had come to get a clipping or bring something – pictures or something.
Tim: It was coincidental, pretty much, wasn’t it?
Joyce: I forgot all about it, yeah. And Tim I feel the same way about. I like the man. I don’t know what he’s done. I don’t know what his connections are. I don’t know, but in my interactions with him…. I stayed away from Tim in the church, because I thought this whole ‘nice guy’ thing that he was exuding, I always felt it as a schism in him – that there was this need to be the nice guy that was masking a lot of stuff that he wasn’t in touch with about himself, and I just stayed away. He told me later, he had been instructed to stay away from me by Jim.
Joyce: He said in retrospect he thinks it was because I was the type of person — we were the type who would naturally get together, and be friends because of having a lot in common. He said he always thought I was attractive, and that Jim was always bad-mouthing me to him, saying I was untrustworthy, and I was this anarchist, and blah-blah-blah.
Tim: Did you have a chance to observe Tim and Jim together?
Joyce: Yes, in meetings. Yeah, a lot.
Tim: What was Tim’s general demeanor? Was he solicitous? Official? Officious?
Joyce: Well, I think it was the kind of a thing where here’s Tim who’s so much better educated than Jones, and he was acting as a minister sometimes in Jones’ absence – more during some of the earlier times; he’d get up and talk. I felt that Tim was consciously sub serving his own very strong personality to Jim, and always made very conscious attempts not to overshadow Jim in any sense – from the theory that there has to be one leader and Jim is the leader, and therefore keeping himself down. There was a lot of respect shown and all this. There was a time towards the end when Jim was trying to force Tim to say he was a homosexual. Tim wouldn’t do it. He just wouldn’t say it! This was in a P.C. meeting – I think after Grace had left. In fact it was just after Grace had left. There was a P.C. meeting in San Francisco, and Jim was furious because there were a lot of documents in boxes of stuff around Tim’s office – just legal papers and stuff- that Grace would have had access to, and theoretically could have taken. I guess some of which could have been incriminating. She didn’t take it, but Jones made a big deal about it, and went on from that to try to get Tim to admit that he was a homosexual. And Tim would go along with him and go along with him, but when it finally came down to say, ‘Yeah, I’m a homosexual,’ he just couldn’t do it. He just could not do it. He’s told me since, ‘I’m not one; I never believed I was one. I just wasn’t going to make that kind of statement.’ because that was so important to him.
Tim: Did Tim state that at the time, or did he just not…?
Joyce: He just wouldn’t ever totally say it. He’d go around, and Jim would be leading this logical thought: Well, if this, then this, then this, then this, so therefore, you must be a homosexual, right? There was just that sense of agreement.
Tim: Did Jones bring up his own relations with Tim? Did Jones try to get him to say that they’ve had some kind of sexual relationship?
Tape 5 – Side 1:
Joyce: Well, that was done early on. Somebody made the point – in fact it was someone I think who was into the homosexual lifestyle – that there is a whole thing about the aggressive and the submissive partners. And Jones always made a big deal out of the fact that he was always the aggressor. No one ever f–ked him in the ass. And in retrospect I think, aside from whatever Jones’ preferences may have been, that it was a real thing to induce domination.
Tim: His domination?
Joyce: Domination, exactly. So, yes, Jones made a big deal of having all these people admit that they had had sex with him, and especially the men. It was especially the powerful, attractive men: Lee and Tim, and numerous others.
Tim: Did he ever try that with Bob?
Joyce: No, not to my knowledge.
Tim: So, he would use this as a tool in the meetings, in other words. Okay, now when he was trying to get Tim to admit he was a homosexual, was this by way of explaining why Grace left?
Tim: To get another hook in Tim so Tim wouldn’t leave?
Joyce: Yes, exactly.
Tim: This was in 1976, I guess?
Joyce: Yes, this may have been my last or next-to-last P.C. meeting before I left.
Tim: That was a turning point for Tim, I think.
Joyce: Grace’s leaving.
Tim: Well, that and also Jones’ trying to get him to admit that he was a homosexual.
Joyce: Oh, he’s talked about that?
Joyce: It was very apparent that that was just one step he was not willing to take.
Tim: So, back to your mentioning that P.C. meeting on the lawn [4 July 1976]. What was the one part of it that you said was particularly memorable?
Joyce: Well, this doesn’t relate to Grace’s leaving, but [it concerns] two of the guys from the bus garage: Irving Perkins, and I don’t remember who the other one was. These guys were working their butts off. Apparently one of them had written a note talking about the food. It’s Irving Perkins standing there – a Black man – with his hat in his hands saying to Father, ‘Well, it’s those bean sandwiches. I just can’t work 20 hours a day on bean sandwiches.’ It was just like, ‘Jesus God, here’s this Black man who is not spending time with his wife and his child, working – working – working, giving everything, and he is so humbly asking for something more than a bean sandwich. ‘Just some cheese,’ he said. And Jim is getting on Helen who was the one who was the one – good old Helen – keeper of the money – and her explaining why they were having bean sandwiches. And then Jim solicitously saying, ‘Oh, but they must have more food,’ and gee, and playing the good guy as usual. So Irving is made to think that Jim just didn’t know about it. If Jim had know, he would have fixed the entire matter. Jim was perfect, but the organization was imperfect, so anything that was wrong the due to the imperfections of the people who followed him. So, this is my whole charged state; I’m sitting there. I’m trying to move back. I just don’t even want to get near him.
Tim: You’re physically trying to move back?
Joyce: Yes, and then at one point I got nailed. Oh, there was a thing when Jim had to go take a piss. What was it? It was like monitoring the meeting. His voice was always so cancerous from all the talking that he was forced to do. So he would get people to monitor: Barbara Cordell. I was sucked into this sometimes too.
Tim: Monitor in what way? Listen?
Joyce: Direct the questions and – God, I haven’t even thought about that in years. People would hold up their hands and he would point to that person and give them permission to speak. So here I am; I’m up in center stage, the last place I wanted to be. And Jim’s in the bathroom. Now we’re all on the lawn. The bathroom is on the same side facing. He’s in there taking a piss. I’m monitoring the meeting. Lee I. tried – or said something. And it is not completely clear now what happened, but I cut Lee off and said it was somebody else’s turn – or something like that. And Jim hollers out from the bathroom, where you can hear him taking his piss, right? ‘Who do you think you are? I’m the one in charge here, and I asked him a question.’ All I wanted to do was just not even be there. [laughs] And then later on in that meeting, he appoints Janet [Shular] and me to be the head of the new Educational Commission that is being formed in terms of looking for things about education when we’re all going to Guyana, right. And all the time I’m knowing I’m not going to Guyana. I’m just trying to make it through that day. And that was the 4th, and then the 16th [July 1976] I was gone.
Tim: That meeting was just horrible it sounds like. It helped push you over the edge.
Joyce: Oh, yeah. Oh, definitely.
Tim: In large part because of the favorable feelings you had toward Grace, and the way he abused her verbally, huh?
Joyce: Yes. He was crazy. And I had already independently, from all the evidence, arrived at that fact. Then I saw it in living color right there. He was practically foaming at the mouth. I have never seen anyone as angry as he was that Grace left.
Tim: Did he grit his teeth and that sort of stuff?
Joyce: Oh, and the [sun]glasses up and down looking at people, ‘How could she do this?’ Basically, ‘How could she do this TO ME?’ That was the basic theme. “HOW could she do this to me after ALL I’ve done for her?’ [laughs] And you’re just sitting there thinking, ‘Yeah, sure Jim!!’ What did you do? You broke up her marriage; you’ve taken her kid. You’ve just created hell for her.’
Tim: So, the marriage is broken at the time, huh?
Joyce: I don’t think it ever really took good hold. Because Tim was so busy. He was kept so busy by Jim, and his own job. And here’s Grace coming up from San Francisco, nineteen years old, marries this nice attorney, and she agrees to go up there for, what was it, a year?
Joyce: And Jim is all the time trying to draw her in, draw her in, and draw Tim in. It’s one thing for some of these relationships that had had a basis before, but their relationship just didn’t…
Tim: Didn’t stand a chance, really.
Joyce: It didn’t. It didn’t.
Tim: If he could break up marriages of long duration with regularity, it would be no problem with two people with such different sorts of backgrounds and experiences.
Joyce: I think from talking to Tim, with all the things he expresses, the fact that he didn’t give Grace more attention, the fact that he was so consumed by the church and by Jim, and that he just somehow didn’t persevere more in that, I think that is probably one of the sorest points for him. He sees her as a lovely, wonderful lady who he would very much like to be with.
Tim: And I guess both of them, for various reasons, were unable to grab John when they took their exit.
Joyce: Well, I didn’t grab any of my kids, and it was different in the sense [that I didn’t have legal custody of them], but who was to know that he was just so absolutely… He was so fanatical and I still don’t understand.
Tim: So, you took off and you talked to Bob, and there was a period of time between your defection and Bob’s death. Did you stay with the [fair people]?
Joyce: No, I went back to Ohio to my parents. I was just in shock. I was just in shock. I was just sitting there and all these things were going through my head, and I’m trying to process it. I’ve got some of the information, but I don’t have all of it. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I want to do. I’m dreaming. I’m just sitting in this chair, and finally…
Tim: What are you dreaming about?
Joyce: The Temple.
Tim: Anything in particular? Was it nightmares? Or were you flashing back?
Joyce: Yeah, flashing back. Well, I’ve had dreams even like two weeks ago. My dreams now are trying to talk to Jim to tell him he made a big mistake giving those people the poison. I’ve had about three of those within the last couple of months – trying to talk sense into this head. ‘How could you do that?’ But I don’t know if it was just then, but later I started having a lot of dreams where I would be back in the Temple with the staff and different people. And like I had been gone and it was known that I had been gone, and I would go back, and I talked to Jean Brown and Carolyn Layton and these different people. And they would always be so friendly to me! Like there was such a solid feeling that even carried over after my having left. I don’t know what that was about. It was also a sense that I could have gone back, I suppose.
Tim: So when you’re back in Ohio with your parents in a familiar setting, you don’t know what you want to do. How were you spending your days?
Joyce: A lot of sleeping. A LOT of sleeping, and then I was just sitting there obsessing. I’m out of it [the Temple] physically, but emotionally, mentally, in every other way, I’m still in it. And I’ve read some accounts of people who’ve come out of cults, and it was just a perfect description of what they had described – perfect. So, I knew I had to do something, and I still had one paycheck for $700, so I’m standing in the shower one day, and school flashes into my head. I called up Wright State [University, Dayton, Ohio], which is where I got my B.A. It was the 13th of September, so I had been back there just a little over a month. In the meantime, my sister had had her baby, and I had begun talking to my parents about what had happened. I had to tell somebody. And, of course, when I said the word ‘Communist’ to my parents, they just flipped out. They just couldn’t relate. The dear people, they couldn’t relate. But I had to tell somebody. So I went over to Wright State on the 13th, and they told me I could get right into school that was starting the 16th. So I started in school, and I had 16 units. And I’ve read since that one of the best things that you can do [after brainwashing] is to focus your mind into some kind of activity so that it doesn’t go spacing off into all the past, and you start bringing yourself back together, which I hadn’t read at the time, but I instinctively did it.
Tim: Sure, it makes sense.
Joyce: And I was doing great. I can’t believe that two months from leaving, I was in school full-time functioning, but I was – and then on the 5th [of October, 1976]… I had called Bob on the 2nd which was our [second] anniversary, as I’ve said, which was a Saturday, and that [following] Monday I got the call that he was dead.
Tim: Who called you?
Joyce: Carol Boyd [his sister]. I was sitting up in my room studying German. I mean, it was just total shock.
Tim: What did you think happened when you first heard it?
Joyce: I thought he was killed [murdered]. That was just the first reaction.
Tim: So you came back to California?
Tim: Was that a tough decision?
Joyce: No. No, I had to. I was afraid, but I also felt that for the girls’ sake, and for the Houston’s sake, who I had established a relationship with to some degree, but for my sake mostly. I was not going to be absent from his funeral. I cared about the man. And I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was just terrified. I was just terrified – and so numb. I remember flying out on that airplane, sitting there by the window, and the tears were just leaking out of my eyes. It was just like — God, I was in so much emotional pain.
Tim: I imagine.
Joyce: And so many things: the fact that I had left him, wishing that things had been different, could have been different. When I talked to him, I think I said [to you], that I had told him where I was living, or I said, ‘I can be reached though my parents,’ I didn’t say I was actually living there. ‘If you leave, get in touch with me, we’ll get back together. We’ll try it, and see if it can work.’ He had said he didn’t want to leave. Of course, until we had that conversation, I think he was entertaining the hope that I would come back. Of course, that conversation ended that thought for him, because I was very unequivocal in my position of not coming back.
Tim: We went over in earlier notes where you talked about that conversation. What was the last thing that he said to you?
Joyce: I don’t know if it was the last thing, but this whole thing about the means and the ends. I said, ‘Bob, I just don’t believe the ends justify the means.’” Or whichever way it is.
Tim: What did he say?
Joyce: He said, ‘I do believe that. I do believe that.’ And I felt like it was a basic division in philosophy. I just felt that there was probably going to be a period of time when he was going to … I mean, I knew that once he was in P.C. and had more of a chance to be around Jim, and the fact that I had left, would create a certain – perhaps different – focus in his viewing Jim. Because he knew how loyal I had been, and how sincerely devoted I was, and so to leave and leave the kids — he knew how much I cared about the kids. So, it would have taken something pretty big for my leaving. So, I just figured it would be a matter of time, and time I had. I was in school, and I figured I’d go ahead and get my Master’s. Well, but then one of the last things he was talking about was going to Guyana. He was looking forward to that.
Tim: How did he express it?
Joyce: In ‘party [line]’ terms. That he saw it as a haven, as a place of rest. That he had been working so hard and, of course, once I had left, a lot of the responsibilities for the kids had fallen on him. By having worked the two jobs, he had kept himself somewhat removed from the situation. I wasn’t there as that buffer. So, he was looking forward to it in terms of what had been said about the place.
Tim: No indication at all that he was thinking of leaving?
Joyce: Although, I felt that what I was getting was the party line because he was on tape, which was subsequently confirmed that our conversation had been recorded. It was like too much party line.
Tim: Who confirmed that matter?
Joyce: I think Janet told me that that conversation was discussed in P.C. Because she said she had been given taping equipment and told to tape when I called her, and she just wouldn’t do it. Everything was taped.
Tim: I wonder where that tape is. It might be among all that stuff in Jonestown. Did they save all those tapes?
Joyce: Most of them. What a project that would be to go through that stuff.
Tim: No kidding.
Joyce: But how interesting. It would be a lifetime work ultimately, to sort through all that stuff.
Tim: Just to listen to however many hundreds of tapes.
Joyce: See, at that point, I didn’t have enough money to buy taping equipment, because being steeped in that, when I called Jim, I would have loved to have that conversation on tape, and blah-blah-blah. And even when I was back for the funeral, I didn’t have the equipment and talking to Carolyn Layton in the kitchen and all that stuff. Jesus, I wish I had that on tape. Wouldn’t that be invaluable?
Tim: No kidding!
Joyce: Because now it’s just what I can recollect from it. You can’t really get the same tone, and like so many of those things were in the midst of so much emotional charge. It’s a wonder anything remains.
Tim: Do you remember the funeral very distinctly?
Joyce: Oh, yeah.
Tim: Can you tell me about that? That was at [Small] Mortuary in San Bruno.
Joyce: Well, I got there and Sam and Nadyne picked me up at the airport.
Tim: Were they pretty under control at that point?
Joyce: Yeah, Sam’s been through so much. He can keep himself together. And they were in shock still. God, everybody was in shock. Precious Nadyne was communicating her complete lack of understanding about anything. Everything’s so personal. ‘Why did this happen to me?’ So we went over their house, and then we went over to the funeral home that evening. Walking into that room…. Sam had gotten a very simple casket. And I was just sitting there with this box. This little grey box was just sitting there, and knowing that Bob’s inside there, and knowing that he’s inside there in pieces. I didn’t even want to ask how many pieces. To this day I don’t exactly know how many pieces, although the lawyer finally told me that he had been cut this way [gestures]. Because Sam told Nadyne just his leg had been cut off. And then these funeral people came up and tried to do this little phony-boloney consoling thing. I just told them to, ‘Get lost.’ I said it nicer than that, but ‘Just don’t come to me with your phony-boloney stuff.’
Tim: Yeah, it’s part of the package. Was it a grey metal casket?
Joyce: No, it was grey, and it had sort of like cloth over it. I mean, it was just the drabbest looking little thing you ever saw.
Tim: It was a full-size casket?
Joyce: Yeah, yeah. And then the next day we got up and this limousine came up and we went down to the funeral home, and I’m sitting there with the family on the side, and then all these people from the Temple march in — stony-faced, including Phyllis [his ex-wife], and the girls.
Tim: How many from the Temple?
Joyce: About fifty, I think, at least – a lot of people. They were not people that Bob was close to. They were just people who had been picked to come – that was very obvious. Plus there were some of the Staff types. Garry [Lambrev] and Liz [Forman] were there.
Tim: Were they in the church at the time?
Joyce: I left the 16th of July. Liz left the 8th of August, and Garry left the 16th of August . So we independently left within the same month.
Tim: So at least a couple of other defectors came?
Joyce: Yeah, and they were terrified too, but they had determined that they cared about Bob and that they wanted to be there. Mike Cartmell was also there.
Tim: And he had left at that time too?
Joyce: Mike, no.
Tim: Was Mike Prokes there?
Joyce: I don’t think so.
Tim: He got up and said a few words, or was that Mike Cartmell?
Joyce: That was Mike Cartmell. And whatever Mike had to say was so phony. It was like trying to give the impression that they were caring about Bob, and, ‘Our poor brother, and all the work that he did.’ Then the minister said a couple of things, and then Garry [Lambrev] got up and spoke extemporaneously.
Tim: Getting back to Mike Cartmell. Did he say that Jim Jones had tried to get Bob to quit one of his jobs? He was afraid that he was overworked?
Joyce: Yes. Yes. This was just bullshit. He didn’t ask anybody to quit their jobs. Money!! You know, I’m listening to that, and I’m just thinking, ‘What bullshit!’ Then afterwards there was that whole scene when everybody came back to the Houston’s house.
Tim: Before you go on, do you remember the girls at the funeral?
Joyce: Yes. They were sitting with Phyllis. They were not allowed to sit with the family.
Tim: How was that stopped?
Joyce: Phyllis. Sam went up and asked them to come sit in that little section that they have.
Tim: Was it Sam or Nadyne?
Joyce: I’m pretty sure it was Sam.
Tim: Why didn’t they [Temple people] want them to sit with you?
Joyce: Who knows? Of course, here’s Bob’s family in which I am included, and then here’s the church. So, I think it was the symbol of their still being primarily with the church.
Tim: I see.
Joyce: Oh, I just felt so for those girls.
Tim: Did they mourn him? Did they look like they mourned him?
Joyce: See, that’s the thing. It’s like, no; they weren’t allowed to mourn him. Judy just looked like somebody had just whacked her in the stomach. Patricia was a little more together-looking. But those girls had been told that — I mean — Bob as a father figure to those girls had just been destroyed. It was like, if they were going to be good socialists and good Temple members, they couldn’t mourn this man. And by this time, I think they had been told that he was a traitor and had been going to leave. So, ‘traitors deserve to die!’ And, of course, Jim Jones didn’t raise his hand to hurt Bob [scarcasm], but that’s just the way the world was. [Bob brought this fate onto himself by being a traitor to Jim Jones and the Cause.]
Tim: Now, how did you learn that Jones had called him a traitor – from Phyllis?
Joyce: No! After the service, and we went back to the Houston’s house, a lot of people had brought in food, including people from the Temple. And Phyllis tried to show me a letter that he had supposedly written resigning from the church.
Tim: You didn’t want to see it?
Joyce: No. I told her it was bullshit. That Bob never typed anything. Anything that was ever turned in, he either wrote out by hand or he had me type it. So if that was being said, it was a lie. I was thinking yesterday, ‘I wish I’d read it.’
Tim: It was a lie even if he had signed it. It was obviously one of the blanks. [Blank papers were signed and kept by the church to be used for blackmail if necessary. Anything could be typed above the signature, such as in Bob’s case that he had molested his daughters!]
Joyce: That was what I felt.
Tim: She said he resigned. Resigned when?
Joyce: The day before the accident. Imagine this scene. Here is the Houston’s living room, and these people sitting around just like this.
Tim: Really. With their arms folded?
Joyce: Yes. They had been conscripted to come there.
Tim: Many didn’t even know Bob very well?
Joyce: Or only as he was projected in the public forum – the public service. And they are in this white middle-class home in San Bruno, which is just totally alien. They were mostly younger people though. They were not seniors, because the seniors liked him, because he was so kind. When a lot of the people in the communes were having trouble getting back and forth [to the church] for food, we kind of volunteered to pick them up in the mornings and drive them. Bob was so good at stuff like that. The seniors would not have been the right group to send, so they were younger, and a fairly young Black person who’d grown up in the ghetto and they’re sitting in this home. You know, ‘What’s goin’ on’ and they know they’re caught in the middle of some kind of Temple politics and who knows what they had been told.
Tim: Any names that come to mind?
Joyce: Well, Sam took quite a few pictures. Jean Brown was there. He’s got one picture, or I’ve got one picture of me sitting there looking just absolutely totally ozoned talking to her. Joan Pursley. A couple of Black guys, I don’t know their names.
Tim: Did Mike Cartmell come?
Tim: Mike Prokes, was he there?
Joyce: I don’t believe he was there. Carolyn Layton was there.
Tim: How about Maria [Katsaris]?
Tim: Was Tim Stoen there?
Joyce: No, I think he was out of the country then.
Tim: So, you wouldn’t put your purse down that day?
Joyce: Did I say that?
Tim: You didn’t say that. Sam or Nadyne observed that, and it struck them at the time that you were being extra careful not to put your things down.
Joyce: No I wanted them to have the impression that I was taping. I wished I had a tape recorder. But I thought that would cool things. Because they would assume I had a tape recorder, and if Nadyne noticed that [PT members probably did too]. But I also had my stuff in that bedroom that I always stay in, and I was thinking then, ‘I’d put anything that had my name or address into that purse.’ Because I knew that they’d be snooping around. One of the things I was really glad that happened is that I had just a moment alone with Patty. And I had time to say one sentence, or maybe I said that before. I was trying to think what could I say in one or two sentences, and so I said to her, ‘You know I loved your father,’ and then somebody came right into the room. And I thought, ‘Well, I want to give her something that maybe would be the basis for her to be able to mourn, to have grief – that this man was a good man, and that I had come there because I wanted to make that statement. I just didn’t get a chance to be alone with the girls – other than that one little instant. I think I had gone back to the bathroom. She had come back. It was in the hallway. But there were a lot of looks exchanged between Patricia and Judy and me that day – a lot of eye contact – communicating without the words. I wanted them to know too, that I hadn’t deserted them, that there was a reason why I had left. And the last image I have of Patricia. They couldn’t stay very long. They had to leave fairly early.
Tim: With Judy, though, you didn’t have that?
Joyce: Yeah. Poor Judy! God, she loved her Daddy so much! And I’m not saying Patricia didn’t. But there was just something special between them. They even looked alike. And I hadn’t seen them for that period of time, and they had grown so much, and they were so pretty, and they were just turning into such beautiful young women. The last [scene] was – they were driving away. I’d walked out the front and the girls were in the back seat, and Patricia turns around as the car is driving off and she gives me this [clinched fist] and a big smile.
Tim: As the car goes out of the driveway?
Joyce: I was out on the front walk there.
Tim: And the car with Phyllis and the girls drives off?
Joyce: I felt very much that day that I had really made contact, particularly with Patricia.
Tim: This is Patty that did that?
Joyce: Patty. Patricia. She had changed her name to Patricia by then. Well, Patricia wasn’t a very demonstrative gal. She was a little bit more like Phyllis.
Tim: What did that mean to you? When she smiled and she gave you the clinched fist?
Joyce: Of course, in socialism, that’s: ‘power to the people.’
Tim: Was she expressing something to you? It wasn’t hostile?
Joyce: No, a big smile.
Tim: It’s what we believe in, or ‘I’m with you,’ or ‘We’re together.’
Joyce: ‘We’re still together. We’re still together.’ It was like, ‘I don’t understand what’s going on exactly, but you mean something to me. That’s not gone. What you’ve done for me, and what we’ve had is still there.’ That was the first time I’d seen them since July. I was so concerned about them. Now Bob’s dead. And as far as I’m concerned Phyllis didn’t have very sound judgment, and that was the point at which I wrote to Sam and told him my perception of what was going on in the church. I think he let you read that letter.
Tim: Yeah, a long time ago.
Joyce: That was right after the funeral. You know, I talked to them [Sam and Nadyne] about having Phyllis declared incompetent, and getting [custody of] those girls. They just couldn’t do it. That was the case of being nice in the wrong circumstances, because they didn’t want to do that to her. I kept saying to them, ‘I cannot legally do a thing. You are the ones.’ Because then when Nadyne and Carol were going down to Guyana, I wrote the girls each a letter that Carol took with her, that I wanted her to give to them, which was just basically saying, ‘I believe what you believe.’
Tim: Did it get there? I imagine she would have a chance to give them the letter.
Joyce: She didn’t.
Joyce: Because Phyllis was there hovering over them, and which was the decision Carol made, because Sam had recorded something that she wanted them to listen to, and Phyllis wouldn’t let them. Didn’t want them to read anything that had been sent, so…. And, of course, I was just saying, ‘I am still with you, and if you want to come back to the United States for a visit, I would certainly love to see you.’
Tim: Phyllis wouldn’t even let them listen to a taped message from their grandfather?
Joyce: That is my understanding of what she said. It was sort of like the girls — if I got it right, and maybe I didn’t, because that was a [terrible] time.
Tim: I know Sam was sending something down.
Joyce: Yeah, but I don’t believe that they heard it.
Tim: I think it was during that period.
Joyce: I didn’t know that you had talked to her.
Tim: It was at the same time I was doing that story about Bob and Sam – actually about Sam. I talked to you, and it was clear that she hadn’t really been with him down there. They [the girls] were on their own.
Joyce: They were 14 and 15 at the time. They were still kids.
Tim: I guess at that time, Sam’s health was really on the decline. He was looking at the operation [for throat cancer], and Nadyne couldn’t really carry it.
Joyce: Sam literally didn’t have the physical energy, because it takes a real thrust to do something like that. Did you see the girls in Jonestown?
Tim: I talked to them very briefly.
Joyce: Because Judy, as she came across in one of those telecasts, my mother’s reaction and a couple of other people who knew her, was she was drugged. There was no question about that. My mother totally, intensely and forever fell in love with Judy the one day she saw her. It was just a funny thing. When they thought maybe about Bob coming there, when I had the talk with him and stuff, she [my Mom] was ready. ‘Send them both out. Have them all come. We’ll do something. God, I’d love to have Judy with me.’ She talks about her now. It was instant. And Judy just went right for her, and it was ‘Grandma this, and Grandma that,’ and it was a really nice thing.’
Tim: Well, I didn’t get the impression that they were drugged.
Tim: I didn’t know them prior to that, but they seemed as though they had little spiels to relate when you asked them a question:
Tim: What you want to be; what the opportunities are; the advantages over the United States.’
Joyce: To me, Patricia didn’t look good, I mean, just from that telecast. She looked pale. She looked thin.
Tim: Patricia has freckles, right? Both of them – I don’t know what they were like before, but both of them seemed to be well-fed. They didn’t look like they were deprived of food or anything like that, although it could have been a very starchy diet that put extra pounds on them. They looked pretty healthy.
Tape 5, Side 2:
Tim: To the tropics?
Joyce: Yeah. He [Jim Jones] couldn’t control us that much in S.F. And he wanted to. It obviously broke his heart that he couldn’t. [Note: The remainder of the tape was recorded over.]
Lyrics for: For What It’s Worth
By the Buffalo Springfield
There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there. Telling me I got to beware. Young people speaking their minds. Getting so much resistance from behind. I think it’s time. Stop, hey, what’s that sound. Everybody look what’s going down.
What a field-day for the heat. A thousand people in the street. Singing songs and carrying signs. Mostly say, “Hooray for our side!” It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down.
Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life, it will creep. It starts when you’re always afraid. You step out of line; the man come and take you away. We better stop, hey, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down. Stop, hey, what’s that sound. Everybody look what’s going down. Stop, now, what’s that sound. Everybody look what’s going down. Stop, children, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down.