Tag Archives: mormons

Halls of History—Police looking for passer of bad checks

Halls of History

When President Carter signed the extension of the Freedom of Information Act in 1978, I went to Brigham City, Utah, looking for information of my youth in 1962-1965. I found a lot, so much so that the Courthouse officer who completed my request called me “one of Utah’s greatest juvenile delinquents.” He gave me 39 legal pages, single-space typing, documenting my juvenile life in northern Utah.

When I was in Brigham City in July 25, I went looking for my old stomping grounds, defined as places I lived and places where I practiced my juvenile delinquency. One of the places I practiced was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Mormon Church in Brigham City, Utah

Mormon Church in Brigham City, Utah

I used to steal lots of food out of the kitchen, money out of the offering plates, and anything else that could feed me since I didn’t get much food at home. Checks come to mind. I stole some checks at the church out of a coat hanging in the coat closet and proceeded to write bad checks throughout the city…. at the age of nine.

I found documentation of one of my weekend check-writing escapades on the front page, albeit below the fold, of the Box Elder Journal newspaper for January 23, 1964.

Box Elder Journal newspaper, Brigham City, Utah, January 22, 1964

I firmly believe that the only reason I’m not in prison for life or dead at the hands of a Utah law enforcement officer is because the State of Utah took me away from my alcoholic mom and stepdad in August 1965, and my wise old grandmother adopted me in December 1965. She laid down the law, giving me both love AND discipline. She told me the rules, told me what would happen if I broke a rule, and kept to her word. It only took me twice to learn that she was serious.

She had me for 7½ years, and by the time I graduated from high school, she had made a fairly decent person out of me.

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Did you know?

People need people

Did you know?

After arriving in San Diego on April 27, 1993, I spent the next ten months studying the world’s great, and not so great, religions. I considered myself retired and simply wanted to explore the world. I had enough money to do it.

My mom’s side of the family were Mormons while dad’s side were Catholics. A pretty eclectic marriage, pun intended.

I was looking for a religion that might welcome an openly gay guy. I didn’t find one.

The closest at the time were the Universalists, both Christian Universalist and Unitarian Universalist. Both of them were a little too strange for me, which is kind of funny since all religions believing in some of the stuff they do pretty much makes them strange.

The other possibility was the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), a “religion” founded in 1968 by a gay guy to provide religious support to the gay community. However, I had two problems with MCC:

The first was with the mass, and the word mass should tell you all you need to know. It was just Catholicism under a different name.

The second was that mass was simply a place to cruise other guys (and gals for the gals) on Sunday morning. The mere fact that one was at church on Sunday morning probably meant that one had not gotten lucky Saturday night.

After ten months I had decided that my religion was nature, both fauna and flora, and I found that when I needed someone to talk to, and someone to listen to me, I could go to the beach and talk to the animals, the birds and the bees. Of course, when the ground squirrel or the seagulls stole my lunch, I had a few choice words for them. But they always came back to listen, as long as they thought I might have more food….

Finally, on February 14, 1994, I decided to go back to work. Didn’t know what I was going to do but with my typing ability and my command of the English language, I knew I could easily find a job. It wasn’t that I needed money. It was that I had determined that people are social animals and really don’t like to be alone. On that Valentine’s Day, I went to the beach and found it pretty much looking like this:

Beach chairs

It was obvious that there were people around but they were not within sight. Probably out scuba diving. I was both alone and lonely that day. I needed interaction with people on a regular basis, and work could provide that, even if it was forced interaction.

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Young flamingos for Obama

Thank you to my Family!

I livew in my own little world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Seahorse at Birch AquariumPlease, sit down. Let me tell you a story. It’s a story about discrimination, hatred, and prejudice. It’s a story about me.

I grew up as the product of a large Mormon family (mom) and a large Catholic family (dad). Both religions taught me about discrimination, hatred, and prejudice at a very early age. They are the main reason why I am not affiliated with any religion 57 years later.

I was born in Kingsville, Texas, in 1955, and lived there until 1960, best I can tell. We lived in Palestine, Texas, from 1960 to 1961. After my dad killed himself with a handgun, my mom moved us to northern Utah (Logan, Brigham City, Wellsville, Hyrum) to be closer to her Mormon side of the family.

Union Pacific 844 steam engine in Southern California, November 2011I was a juvenile delinquent, and eventually either my mom and stepdad decided to get rid of me, or the State of Utah took me away from them. Either way, in September 1965 I wound up as a ward of the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, Utah.

At “The Dee,” I met Barbara Hunt, an 18-year-old woman from Bakersfield, California. She also was a ward of the hospital. Barbara befriended me and helped me write a letter to my wise old grandmother (MWOG), my dad’s mom. We couldn’t send it because I had no idea where MWOG lived. However, that night an address came to me in a dream: “Mary Agnes Kirk, Kingsville, Texas.” That was it. We sent the letter. It arrived. By Christmas 1965 I was living in Kingsville, Texas, having been adopted by MWOG.

Barn owlWithout that adoption, I’m convinced that this juvenile delinquent would either be dead at the hands of a Utah law enforcement officer or spending life in prison. MWOG gave me what all children need, regardless of who they get it from (mom & dad, mom & mom, dad & dad, mom & friends, dad & friends): love AND discipline.

MWOG laid down the rules, and she told me what the punishment was if I broke the rules. After I broke a rule and was punished, MWOG would let me cry for five or ten minutes, then take me to the bathroom where she washed the tears from my face with a warm wash cloth, dried my face, gave me a kiss, and then told me that the same thing would happen if I broke the rules again. It only took twice to understand that she meant what she said — I wasn’t exactly stupid.

Women and dogs at the beachDuring my formative years in Utah I was exposed to the N word; blacks were not welcome in our
all-white Mormon neighborhood and school. When I got back to Texas in 1965, the Catholic side of the family continued with the N word but also introduced me to other disparaging words for Mexicans, Spanish descendents, Chinese, women who worked (i.e., were more than just a person to cook meals and provide sex to the man of the house), etc.

When I went off to college at Texas A&M University, one of my ramp mates in Puryear Hall was a black guy from Nigeria (I’m pretty sure he has nothing to do with all the email scams coming out of Nigeria). I acquired a newfound respect for people of different colors, nationalities, and ethnicities.

Blacks Beach in San Diego, CaliforniaI arrived in San Diego in April 1993 and camped out on the beaches for eleven months studying the world’s great and not-so-great religions to see if there was a place for a coming-out-of-the-closet gay person. I determined that there wasn’t. At best, there were a few tolerant religions, such as Church of Christ and, to a much lesser extent, Episcopalians and Presbyterians. The latter two have taken a few steps backward since 1993. I remain unreligioned.

In March 1994, I put myself back into the work force. Eleven months doing nothing but laying out on the beach isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I hired on with a temp agency, and the first job they sent me to was a
foul-mouthed old man. I stayed for the morning but did not go back after lunch. For my next job I was supposed to report to a person named Alana Infantino. Being a naive country boy, I had no idea what kind of a name Alana Infantino was, but since the job paid exceedingly well, I went.

Unknown flowerAlana was a woman. Ack! A working woman! Ack!

Alana and I hit it off, and eventually I took a full-time permanent position with her company. I was to be the legal word processor/project database manager/network engineer in Detroit, Michigan (Farmington Hills, actually). Alana took me out to eat and gave me a verbal introduction to the Detroit office. I found out that in the Detroit office there were working women, working blacks, and even working black women! Ack!

I made friends with everyone. Learned a lot about the world, too.

That was 1994. Here in 2012 I have a new family. None of them are related to me by blood. That family has been summarily dismissed. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. My new family comprises Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Turks, Poles…..well, take a look at my WordPress flags from yesterday:


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My new family also comprises women, men, gays, lesbians, straightees, married, divorced, single, old, young…. It’s a wonderful family and to my current way of thinking, much better than my old family. So here’s a “Thank you!” to my new family for keeping me involved in the world, and learning.

Young flamingos for Obama

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos