Friday 21 November 2008

Class Photo

Ah, the good old days. The year is 1966, and this fine bunch of young Imperial students have gathered to pose for their class photograph. Click to enlarge.

Can you spot a future Pastor General in the bunch? (I bet Mr. Stephens would never have predicted that!) And how about a church vice president? Look even harder and you might find UCG pastor Robin Webber.


Anonymous said...

Mike Feazell is there too. He was a cute kid, look at him now though!

Anonymous said...

Yep. I remember pretty much all of them. Some of them were good friends, and one of them became a family member. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

The last time I actually saw any of them was in 1992 right before I moved out of California. Believe it or not, one of the guys in that picture (we'll call him Bill) was also a life long motorcycle enthusiast. I was selling off some of my Brit bikes at the time, and he came over to the house to see them. And, no, it was not Joe, or Robin, or Mike.

Heh. Can't imagine where you got this!


Anonymous said...

Hey, is that fellow to the very far right Mike Feazell? I think it is!

Anonymous said...

I see quite a few with the desirable fair Ayran breeding that should be able qualify for Perbert's racist college. Also scanning the applicants would be the less particular Garner Ted - Pasadena's Playboy Pied Piper.

Anonymous said...

The little guy on the far right, second row, looks to be trying out for the "Lil' Garner Ted Contest."

Paul Ray

Anonymous said...

I don't recognize even one of them. How about helping out those of us who just don't know.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the commenter about that "fine Aryan breeding stock" --- of course, this would have been referred to in the church as "fine Israelitish breeding stock", but this photo still looks like a stand-in for a rural chapter of Hitler Youth..........

Corky said...

What a bunch of nerds and geeks all in one picture. At least in a normal school environment, there would be a few obvious rebels and more of an appearance of happiness on the faces.

These people all look like cardboard copies of people without a hint of an emotion in the whole bunch.

Gavin said...


Joe Tkach is in the front row (4th from left), Mike Feazell in the third row (far right), and Robin Webber same row (far left).

Anonymous said...

Not many wise . . .
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. (I Corinthians 1:26-29)

Burgers said...

"What a bunch of nerds and geeks all in one picture. At least in a normal school environment, there would be a few obvious rebels and more of an appearance of happiness on the faces.

These people all look like cardboard copies of people without a hint of an emotion in the whole bunch."

Wow. I guess you're allowed to be bitter, but you should work on covering it up better. I would say this is a pretty standard 60s class photo.

Anonymous said...

below the knee rule,
how many knees can one locate !

love those short skirts.

Anonymous said...

I know who the rebels in the group were. I could tell you who rope smoked, who drank, who rode motorcycles, who joined the Marine Corps, and who got pregnant out of wedlock. But I won't. There were dress and hair codes inflicted on these kids! They got swatted if they even began to think of displaying "bad attitudes", so the rebels kept it under cover. Can you imagine knowing that you were not a nerd or geek, yet being forced to look like one?

This was a couple of years prior to Imperial becoming integrated, so you can't really blame those in the picture for being White. Our AC class photos from that same year showed a sea of whiteness, too.

I just knew, somehow, based on certain people's mindsets, exactly who would be mocking our fellow victims in the picture. Ratcage syndrome anyone?

Here's a hopefully insightful thought. That picture was somebody's personal class picture. You can tell that it was not scanned in from a yearbook, because you can see that it was damaged as it was pulled away from some adhesive. Whoever sent the picture to Gavin probably either appears in the picture, or is related to someone who appears in the picture. That person is probably one of our friends who contributes regularly here!


Gavin said...

I agree with BB that it's pretty rough to lay a lot of grief on a bunch of kids who had little or no choice in their upbringing or education.

To clarify the picture's origins, it was forwarded by someone who found it on a social networking site.

I think it provides some valuable perspective to see figures like Joe Tkach growing up in this kind of context, long before he attained infamy and middle-age spread. We all have a back-story, and while I'd be the last to spring to Joe or Mike's defense, it does help see things with a wider angle once in a while, don't you think...

I believe Ron Dart once observed that, if you think church kids like these didn't get a tough time, consider what they did when they finally got hold of the reins of the church.

        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

Gavin said...

I believe Ron Dart once observed that, if you think church kids like these didn't get a tough time, consider what they did when they finally got hold of the reins of the church.

And that's only the baby boomers!

Wait until Generation X and Y is enters the circles of power....X and Y have had to put up with a lot of crap from baby boomers...who thought they were slackers....

Interestingly Herbert raised his church from ministers from the Silent Generation. Perhaps that was a well chosen name for that generation challenged no status quo, not even Herberts!

It was the Silent Generation Ron Dart who cut-off the baby boomers ministry trainees at the knees, Joe Tkach Jr being one of his "cut-backs" in 1974".

The Silent Generation were the war and post World War II kids who's job it was to be safe and unseen during the war. None of the Silent Generation ever became an American president or a great leader. It was this generation of the 50s the boomers rebelled against.

For an interesting outline of American generations see: Generations in History

Anonymous said...

That picture could be one taken yesterday at Bob Jones Unversity Elementary School, from the look, the dress and fact that the kids are stuck in their parents paradigm.

In hindsite, WCG shot itself in the head by producing a first generation of end time kids.

These were kids that grew up in the "time is short" and "behold I come quickly" mentality of the prophecy fueled WCG and their parents. Bob Jones kids grow up with the Jesus is your Savior and you better obey or you will burn forever in hell. On Halloween, Churches here construct hell houses to take kids through to show them the wages of sin and the reality of hell. It's child abuse.

Most of their parents had come out of WW11 in some capacity with all their own experiences. Some early ministers had been fighter pilots, many in the Navy. All with stories and perceptions about "the world."

It was not unpredictable that the church had a military/Bible discipline way about it. It was their training. It's also very easy to confuse obeying orders with obeying the Bible and substituting your military chain of command for your church and "Bible family heirarchy". Onward Christian soldiers and all.

Leaving the Armstrongs out of the mix, the Bible seemed to explain it all from why the past to what's next.

I think I understand the psychological need and why of such changes that these kids, who swung it all over to the Evangelical, Jesus is the message and not much of a messenger, view.

I don't particularly like having gotten run over by it. I made my choices however. But I understand they had the need and the ability to do it. Or at least were allowed to do it with no one throwing them out on their butts.

So this is a tough one for me because I have privately considered why the Imperial School gang caused such damage to the sincere perspectives of others who came to WCG as it was and would never have come to it as it now is.

Over the years of trying to do right and be right, I've fallen on my face a few times. I've had to endeavor to forgive myself along the way because not doing so does not serve me in any way that I can see helps live a life. One of life's big lessons for me was to NOT care so much what everyone or anyone thinks of me.

I'm a caretaker at heart, way too idealistic and seem to take on the emotions and feelings of others all to easily, which accounts for a lot of the generalized anxiety that plagues me. I'd have to say that being an HSP, or hightly sensitive person is probably spot on, as they say. It's more of a burden than a blessing.

If I had not been a WCG minister, I would have been one somewhere and probably had a similar journey and story with only the characters changing.

So Joe or Mike, Dan or Bernie.., if you read AW, I forgive you, a little more today than yesterday, and let it go at that without some long explanation as to why that works better than not doing so.

We were all just kids that showed up for and got plugged in to the "old, old story," of others.

Those little kids today that I see having to stand alone next to "the tree" or the fence, in the Bob Jones Elementary school playground, for their various rebellions, or have to go to Hell House to learn about the God of love, will repeat the same history in their lives I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

This photograph makes me want to cry, looking at those sad, sad kids and knowing the oppression they were under in the wcg cult, reinforced at Imperial.

I knew a few of them personally, in the late 60s and early 70s.

Unfortunately, some are still in the thick of a religious delusion. I guess those are where they want to be. I hope the rest have managed to find happiness.


Anonymous said...

"I believe Ron Dart once observed that, if you think church kids like these didn't get a tough time, consider what they did when they finally got hold of the reins of the church."

This is poor old Ron's way of mentally coping with The Changes- it was a coordinated conspiracy motivated only by a desire to wreck HWA's theology. Young rebellious Joe was so angry (and bitter) at Kindly Old Herbert that his mission in life was to abolish tithing and sabbath keeping.

While I don't think they were shiny-scrubbed people desperately reaching for Jesus, I do think they saw that HWA's theology was un-biblical (like the majority of people who have/had an interest in the Bible) and that is what originally inspired The Changes.

I wish Joe and Co the best, though. If I didn't have a conscience, I'd try to get into the religion business for myself. Maybe there's still time, yet. I could claim that God pulled me out of disbelief by some amazing yet totally subjective supernatural event, and had set me on the road to proclaim the true gospel to the Remnants of God's Church. I would emphasize tithing above all else.

Paul Ray

Anonymous said...

I appreciated Bamboo's observations on generational phenomena, and that is certainly one factor. But it is difficult to attribute what happened with Joe Jr. and WCG entirely to that.

I can think of a couple of students in that picture who were especially known as rebels or troublemakers. One was a very good friend of mine, and somehow I never did really click with the other, although many of our interests were the same. Neither finished out at Imperial, they graduated from public school. But, they certainly did not do anything worse than some of the things Joe Jr. was doing on a regular basis. Occasionally, ministers kids outran the "protection" that they had in the system, and would be expelled in spite of their fathers' positions in the church. Joe Jr. at one time was a very good candidate for such an expulsion.

The only way that I have of explaining his role in the changes is that at some point, he sublimated the rebel
stance, and that both he and his father reinvented him, and made him socially acceptable enough so that he could begin to change things from the inside, rather than throwing tomatoes at it from the outside. They also built a considerable power base, using some of Junior's more gifted friends, classmates, and others who were quick to support them.

As far as the sincerity behind the changes goes, that is anyone's guess. It is possible that these people collectively realized, just as many of us here have come to realize, that Armstrongism was a toxic cult, based on false theories, and bogus interpretations of doctrine. Regardless as to their sincerity or the lack thereof, I think that the problem most of us have with what what we saw as the dust cleared is that it appears that Joe and his insider friends have profiteered financially, and in their social and academic status as a result of their actions.

Original WCG stalwarts seem to believe that the assets should have remained with the original doctrines, and others believe that all should have been liquidated and returned to any of the original surviving tithepayers whose resources built the empire.

If this were simply another evangelical church, history unknown to us, our scruples would likely not even be raised. Unfortunately, it was an impactful portion of all of our lives.


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering, is this the only picture in captivity of Joe the Deuce without a beard?

Just Askin'

Anonymous said...

"I just knew, somehow, based on certain people's mindsets, exactly who would be mocking our fellow victims in the picture."

Lemme guess. Your Sky Buddy Jebus told you.

Enough with the sanctimoniousness Bob. We didn't post what we did about the picture, just because we're atheists. And I wasn't referring to the kids being little Hitlers, when I compared them to the Hitler Youth: The Hitler Youth were brainwashed, too, you know.

That was all I meant.

Anonymous said...

Dennis said, "In hindsite, WCG shot itself in the head by producing a first generation of end time kids.

These were kids that grew up in the "time is short" and "behold I come quickly" mentality of the prophecy fueled WCG and their parents".

MY COMMENT - Amen Dennis. You know how I feel!

By the way, have you check out the comments section of the blog of the one who will not be mentioned here?


Anonymous said...

"... it appears that Joe and his insider friends have profiteered financially..."

Oh, sure. No doubt. There is nothing redeeming about the New and Improved WWCG. But if the original inspiration for change was a desire for power and money, then they made a really stupid move in destroying HWA's theology- the fear and tithing system is a veritable cash cow.

The only disturbing thing to me about the New WWCG is the people who stayed and held on to Armstrongism because they think it's the True Church and all that. That's downright creepy.

Paul Ray

Anonymous said...

"By the way, have you check out the comments section of the blog of the one who will not be mentioned here?"

Lord Voldemort has a blog? Get out!

Paul Ray

Anonymous said...

"Enough with the sanctimoniousness Bob."

Uh-oh, I smell a blog post in the works! : )

Paul Ray

Anonymous said...

Clarifying, once again, and attempting to be neutral, respectful, and reasonable, my point of view is that Junior, Robin, Mike, or any of the people in the picture who made it into the ministry (more were, but nobody caught on!) are fair game, if they were abusive and promoted the toxicity which we are protesting on a regular basis here. And I have a feeling that most understand this.

What I'd like to see, though, is that we don't shoot all of the ducks just to get a few whom we know to be culpable.

Not everybody in that picture was guilty. Some of them might read here. Some of them were my friends. They were good people, and mean a lot to me. I'd hate to have any of them think that I stood idly by while they were attacked. This has happened to some of my other friends from time to time. Fortunately, when I'm able to properly explain things, attackers usually understand, and find better, more accurate targets for their anger.

I'm glad this class picture was posted by Gavin. It made me realize that I miss some of my friends, and wonder how life has treated them. Let's use this in the spirit in which it was posted, which I believe was to fill in another small part of Joe Jr.'s background. Some of us were right there and lived it, and might be able to help the understanding of those who came along later.


Gavin said...


If you want to drop me an email off board I'll forward you a link to the page the photos come from.

jack635 said...

This class picture is a good example of what I have been thinking about over the last few weeks. The fact that Ronald Weinland's COG still has a following and is adding new members.
All across the United States and Canada, and even all over the world, there are high schools which have a graduating class every year. The fine young students of these graduating classes leave their schools and go on to further education or go right into life. Their fresh young minds are open to new ideas and some of them are lead astray due to inexperience.
So I now understand how these churches get some of their new members. The graduating classes of the high schools present the COG-PKG with a fresh new crop of possible recruits every year, who may have not even heard of the "first timeline".

I remember being young and fresh and open minded, keeping my eyes and ears searching for the group I would someday find and belong to.

Anonymous said...

From what I've seen and heard, the Hitler Youth had more fun.

Anonymous said...

Vietnam was escalating and I'm sure the guys were looking forward to going to AC (with the deferment that comes with it) I bet everyone was lectured to stay away from San Francisco during the upcoming Summer of Love too.

Anonymous said...

Robin Webber is in this vintage school photo, and it reminded me of a little story about his father, Jack Webber.

Jack was involved in the WCG, but never became a member. I used to have breakfast with him occasionally in the Student Center, and we had a great time together. Jack was very different from his son - he was a straight-from-the-shoulder kind of guy who openly told you what he really thought about a lot of the nonsense regularly going on in Pasadena.

Anyway, Jack was a former Marine, and some young punk once tried to mug him somewhere down on the streets of Hollywood. For a old man of his age, Jack reacted with incredible reflexes (probably the result of his former Marine trainng in self-defense) that the punk had to literally be taken away in an ambulance, while Jack just suffered a few scratches!!

The kid got exactly what was coming to him - especially someone stupid enough to try to mug Jack Webber!

Anonymous said...

Jack Webber, while not even a WCG member, seemed to provide Robin with just as much clout as if his dad had been a minister. I guess he was respected by the authority figures as a successful businessman. And, that was often important in determining whether an Imperial student got advanced into AC, or was hired into a status type job.

It was hardly an egalitarian setting. The ministers' kids generally got benefit of the doubt in all situations. Some of their classmates might be the offspring of the custodial staff or building and grounds employees. There were also "church widows'" children, there by virtue of third tithe. So, there was a definite pecking order, with some of the kids dressed to the nines, and others dressed in Goodwill handmedowns.

Since it was a very small and closed community, the caste system was even more intense than in the public school systems, where one could remain fairly anonymous.

I had a friend who got disgusted and pulled his AC application. He had a high GPA, but was on the waiting list, having watched ministers' kids with lower GPA's get the first round of acceptance letters.