In April of 1972, my parents divorced. I was fourteen years old. In the fall of that year, my dad married a nineteen-year-old girl with a baby and my mom married her first cousin — a recent parolee from Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville. In early 1973, Dad auctioned off our household goods, and in the dark of night — hoping to avoid debt collectors — moved us across country from Findlay, Ohio to Tucson, Arizona. Five months later, I moved back to Findlay so I could attend eleventh grade at Findlay High School. In late May 1974, I returned home to Bryan, Ohio to live with my mom. By then, Mom’s second husband had committed suicide and she had a new man. Mom always had a new man. Her new beau was a man by the name of Chuck Jones.
Chuck was a lifelong resident of Bryan, Ohio. I don’t know how he and Mom met, but by the time I moved back to Bryan, he was Mom’s boyfriend. She would spend days on end at Chuck’s father’s rundown shack on the north side of town, leaving her children to fend for themselves. Chuck’s father was one of the town drunks, and as you shall learn in this story, so was his son. In November of 1974, Mom had another nervous breakdown. She spent the next six months or so at the Toledo State Mental Hospital. While there she would receive electroshock therapy (now known as electroconvulsive therapy — ECT).
After finding out his children had been living without parental supervision — as if we had any such supervision since their divorce — Dad came from Arizona, picked us up, and returned us to his home in Sierra Vista. I would live there until fall of 1975. After breaking up with my girlfriend — my first serious, I want to marry you, relationship — I left my car for Dad to sell (which he quickly did and pocketed the money), packed up my meager belongings, and rode a Greyhound bus back to Bryan. By then, Mom had married Chuck, and they had bought a new mobile home, putting it in a trailer park on US 6, between Bryan and Edgerton (where Manufactured Housing Enterprises’ manufacturing facility sits today.)
Chuck had a split personality, as is common among alcoholics. When somewhat sober, he was a decent enough man. He was a union journeyman meat cutter for Kroger in Fort Wayne. He and I weren’t close, but when he wasn’t drunk we got along well enough to make Mom happy. I wasn’t home much. I spent my daytime hours working as the dairy manager for Food Giant in Bryan. Evenings and weekends, I was either attending church or running around with my friends. On a few occasions, Chuck and I would go fishing for catfish in the St. Joe, a nearby river.
Chuck drank from the time he got up until he went to bed. He was a Pabst Blue Ribbon man. He was what you would call a functional drunk. There were times, however, when Chuck went from a tolerable drunk to a mean, nasty, violent boozer. Chuck abused my mom (physically and psychologically), and there were times she feared for her life.
One day, Chuck went on a rampage, verbally and physically abusing my mom. I was home at the time, and having had enough of his bullshit, I told him to stop. I thought at the time, that if I needed to — all 160 pounds of me — I would kick his ass and put an end to the abuse of my mother. I was angry — I mean redheaded, can’t-see-straight angry. While I blamed Mom for allowing such a degenerate like Chuck in her life, I wasn’t going to stand by and do nothing while he abused her.
Chuck briefly stumbled out of the living room down the hallway to their bedroom. When he returned he was brandishing a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver. He continued his screaming fit, pointing the gun at Mom and me. By this time, Mom was crying, worried that Chuck was going to kill us. Not me. I was beyond fear. Chuck cocked the hammer on the revolver, hoping to strike fear in my heart. Instead, I said to him, Go ahead! Stupid, I know, but I was eighteen and filled with righteous indignation. Fortunately, calling Chuck’s bluff was enough to back him up and he soon retreated to the bedroom.
Several days later, at the behest of my mother, Jack Smith, pastor of Eastland Baptist Church in Bryan, and an evangelist stopped by to “help” Chuck with his alcohol problem. What Chuck needed, said these clueless preachers, was Jesus. If he would just ask Jesus to save him, all would be well. I have no idea if Chuck got “saved,” but the only salvation the rest of us found was to get away from Chuck. My younger sister, age fifteen, got pregnant and married her baby’s father. I left to train for the ministry at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. By the time I returned home for the summer (1977), Mom had thrown Chuck out of the house and divorced him.
Chuck lived with his dad for a time and then moved into his late mother’s house in Bryan. On November 19, 2009 Chuck died at the age of seventy. His obituary stated:
Charles E. ‘Chuck” Jones, 70 years, of Bryan, died Thursday, November 19, 2009 at the University of Toledo Medical Center, Toledo, Ohio. Chuck was born February 22, 1939 to Ewell “Pete” and Zelma (Sanders) Jones in Cloverport, Kentucky. He was an Army veteran. Chuck was a meat cutter, working for several area stores, including Kroger Company while living in Indiana and Harger Meats in Bryan, Ohio. Chuck obtained his pilot’s license at the age of 17. He enjoyed building airplanes that he then sold. He was an avid fisherman, but he also enjoyed gardening and playing on the computer. Preceded in death by his parents, half-brother, Donald Heston and sister, Irene Jones, he is survived by his aunt Dorothy Carver of Bryan and numerous cousins. Graveside funeral services will be held at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, November 21, 2009 at Farmer Cemetery with Pastor Gary Keisling officiating. There will be no public visitation.
Absent from this telling of his life was his addiction to alcohol and the great harm it caused to a woman who loved him. I shall never forget Chuck Jones. On the day I read his obituary in the local paper I said to myself, Good riddance, you piece of shit. Think I am being too harsh? Consider this: There are things Chuck did to my mom sexually, that to this day I am too ashamed to mention. Evil stuff. He was a violent, abusive man, and I have no problem saying that the world is better off without him in it. Now that I no longer have to love people because Jesus says I must, I am free to speak my mind on the people who have passed through my life.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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