Tag Archive: Barbara Gerencser

1983: Drafty Windows, Bubbly Water, Dead Kittens, and the Christmas from Hell

somerset-baptist-church-somerset-ohio-1983

Storefront meeting place for Somerset Baptist Church, 1983

In July 1983, I started a new Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church in the southeast Ohio community of Somerset. I rented a storefront, spent a couple weeks cleaning up and remodeling the space, and then on the second Sunday in July, Somerset Baptist Church held its first service. There were sixteen people in attendance, including Polly and our two youngest children. At the time, we lived half an hour north of Somerset in the lakeside community of Buckeye Lake. I worked for the village as a grant writer, litter control program manager, workfare program manager, and property code enforcement officer. In September of 1983, we moved from Buckeye Lake to New Lexington, ten miles south of Somerset. We didn’t live but a few months in New Lexington, thanks to our rented home having a horrible odor from the previous renter’s animals peeing all through the house. Our landlord replaced the carpet and shellacked the underlying wood floors, but the awful smell remained. In early December, we packed up our meager belongings and moved to a ramshackled farmhouse near Glenford.

Our new home had been moved from Glenford proper to the top of a hill just outside of town. It was an uninsulated, drafty house that had free natural gas for heating. Perry County had a lot of oil/gas wells, including the one that sat behind our house. It was good that the gas was free. Ohio winters can be cold, and the winter of 1983-84 was one such winter. We set the furnace at eighty degrees, running it constantly, just to keep the house warm enough to live in. One of the side effects of having a natural gas well nearby was that our water well was infiltrated by the gas. Drinking water had to sit before use so the gas could dissipate. The gas levels were such that we could light the gas straight out of the kitchen faucet. Fun times. Worse yet, the gas made the water quite hard, so we had to use water softening agents when we took baths.

The one nice thing about this house was that it had a fairly new basement. It became the inside playground for our two young children and our foster child. Of course, there were things our boys could get into. One day I went to the basement only to find our son Nathan and our foster son JR rolling up papers and sticking them in the standing pilot on the hot water tank so they could set them on fire! (The boys had seen me do the very same thing when lighting the pilot.) One spring day, the boys were playing in the basement when Polly called them up for lunch and a nap. At the time, we had two kittens. The boys had been playing with the kittens and left them in the basement when they came up to eat. Unbeknownst to us, they left them in cooler and shut the lid. This of course, killed the kittens.

Christmas 1983 was one we would never forget. My grandparents, John and Ann Tieken, along with my mother, her new husband Michael Monshine, and my sister and her family joined us for Christmas. Polly and I were excited about having my family over for Christmas — our first and only such event. The Tiekens joined us for church that morning, and everyone else arrived early afternoon. It was bitterly cold and snowy, and while driving the five miles to our home from church, the radiator on our car froze up, leaving me stranded. I walked to a nearby house, used their phone, and had someone come and get me. Little did I know that my car radiator freezing was the best thing that would happen to me on that day.

The radiator freezing, of course, elicited a lecture from my grandfather about making sure I had enough antifreeze in the radiator. Grandpa’s lectures, warranted or not, were a gift he gave me every time he saw me. Having my mom and the Tiekens in the same room was risky, thanks to past violence, sexual abuse, and Jesus-loves-you judgmental behavior. Grandpa was a mean, judgmental son-of-a-bitch who loved Jesus. Ann was more of a passive-aggressive type of person, but she too could cut you to the quick with her self-righteous judgments. Needless to say, the entire afternoon was filled with tension; so much so that Polly and I were relieved when it was over. I made matters worse by not letting mom or her husband smoke inside our home. I told them they would have to stand outside on our front porch to smoke. The temperature that day? Nine degrees below zero. This “order,” of course, infuriated my mother. She let it be known that she would NOT come to my house again if she couldn’t smoke inside. She kept her word, killing herself a decade later without ever darkening the door of my home again.

1983 was quite the year for the Gerencser family. We would have many more eventful days in the years ahead. In fact, I suspect if I gave a full and honest reckoning of my life, I would find that EVERY year had life-altering moments. Sure, life is filled with the mundane, but there are those days and moments when the circumstances of life alter our present and transform our future. The eleven years Polly and I and our growing family spent in Somerset fundamentally changed us, and laid the groundwork for what one day would result  in us leaving the ministry and walking away from Christianity.

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.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Chuck

pabst blue ribbon

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.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Bob Sexually Assaulted Three Generations of Women, Yet He Went to Heaven When He Died

barbara tieken 1940s

My Mom, Barbara Tieken, 1940s

Men have been sexually preying on women for as long as anyone can remember. Millions of women have been sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped. Worse yet, many of these crimes are never reported, let alone prosecuted. Some women feel shame after being assaulted and don’t want anyone to know what happened. Others fear retribution, job loss, or family ostracization. Still others fear they will not be believed. One such woman was my mother.

Mom was sexually molested as a child by her father. (Please read Barbara.) I know this because she told me. As an adult, Mom tried one day to confront her father over his “sins.” His response? Without ever acknowledging what he had done, he told Mom that his past sins had been forgiven by God, and if God had forgiven him, so should she. Mom’s lack of forgiveness became an issue when Grandpa’s wife, using Bill Gothard’s Basic Life Principles, decided to “confront” Mom’s bitterness. She let it be known that Mom’s bitterness was due to her unwillingness to forgive. Needless to say, the discussion turned into an angry shouting match. (Please read Dear Ann.)

In the late 1960s, we lived west of Farmer, Ohio in a rented farm house owned by my Dad’s sister. I attended fifth and sixth grade at Farmer Elementary School. One day, I was home sick from school. Unbeknownst to me, my uncle, whom I will call Bob out of respect for his wife and children, unexpectedly came to our home. Bob only stayed for a short while, but what he did during that time left a lasting impression on a mother and her twelve-year-old son.

I learned as an adult that Bob was known for sexually harassing and assaulting women, including teen girls. Many of the women in my family have stories to tell about Bob inappropriately touching them or coming on to them. Everyone knew about Bob. Oh that’s just how Bob was, one close family member told me. As far as I know, no one has ever publicly accused Bob of sexually assaulting them; except for my mom, that is.

Whether Bob stopped at our house on a whim or knew that Mom would be home alone and wanted to use that opportunity to take sexual advantage of her, I’ll never know, but one thing is for certain: Bob raped my mother. I know, because she told me he did. After Bob left, Mom had me run down to the neighbor’s house to use their phone to call someone. For the life of me, I can’t remember whom she had me call. I do know that no one believed her. She was Crazy Barb, the woman with mental problems.

Is it any wonder Mom had mental health problems? Born into a family where both parents were violent alcoholics, she suffered significant trauma, including being sexually molested by her father. At age seventeen, she had an unplanned pregnancy, and by age eighteen she was married and had a redheaded baby boy — yours truly. Mom married a young Hungarian man, but it is unlikely that he was my father. Based on an extensive bit of circumstantial evidence — I don’t look Hungarian, I look nothing like my siblings, my brother not I is named after my father, and several other bits of information I choose not to reveal at this time — I believe that my father is actually a cousin of my mother. I have no reason to think that their liaison was anything other than a consensual relationship.

A few years ago, Bob died. His funeral was held at First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio — the family church. Bob’s parents were instrumental in starting First Baptist and they were lifelong members, as were several of their children. Bob didn’t attend First Baptist. As far as I know, he didn’t attend any church and hadn’t been to First Baptist in decades. The church is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church, pastored by a man who was a boy in the church when I was a teenager. This boy, now a college-educated man of God, conducted Bob’s funeral.

Having attended numerous IFB funerals, I knew what to expect: preaching and an invitation to accept Jesus as my Savior. I endured this nonsense for the sake of my family. During the service, the pastor spoke glowingly of Bob’s life. I began to feel anger rise up in me, knowing that the pastor was painting faux gold on a piece of shit. Even worse, the pastor shared a story about Bob coming to the church altar as a teenager and asking Jesus to save him. And glory to God in the highest, God saved Bob and he is, thanks to Jesus, in Heaven today, said the pastor, or something to that effect. I’m sure hearing that Bob was in Heaven brought great joy and peace to his elderly mother. But what about my mother — who at age fifty-four, turned a Ruger .357 magnum towards her heart and pulled the trigger, killing herself instantly? What about all the girls, who are now grownups, and their mothers, who endured the indignity of Bob groping and sexually harassing them (and who knows what else he might have done, secrets never spoken of)? How is it that everyone who took sexual advantage of my mother died and went to Heaven — all praise be to the one who overlooks the sexually predatory ways of his followers — yet my mother is burning in hell because she committed the one “sin” that can never be forgiven — self-murder?

Mom is buried at Fountain Grove Cemetery in Bryan, Ohio. From time to time, I will stop by the cemetery and ponder what life might have been for my mom had it not been for the men in her life. She certainly had her faults, but I wonder how much of the carnage that became her life can be traced back to her being sexually molested as a child and being raped as a young woman. Mom would divorce my father three years after Bob raped her. She would go on to marry three more times, always thinking that she needed a man in her life to survive. Such were the times, I suppose, but I know this for sure: I miss my mother and curse those who harmed her and caused her so much anguish and suffering.

As for Bob, he is where all people — good and bad — end up when they die: the grave. There is no heaven or hell, except for that which we experience in this life. While Mom had moments where she experienced the joys of heaven, sadly much of her life was hell. I so wish for her that she could have a second run at this thing we call life, but alas there are no re-dos. All I can do now is tell her story and work to make sure that the Bobs of the world don’t have a chance to harm others. And when they do sexually harm others, I want to be a voice calling for their arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment.  Perhaps then, those who sexually assault and rape young girls, teens, and adult women will experience a bit of the hell they so richly deserve — Jesus and his forgiveness be damned.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

1969 Letter to the Editor of the Bryan Times by my Mother, Barbara Gerencser

berkely protest 1969

Student Protest Berkley 1969

What follows is a letter my mother wrote to the editor of the Bryan Times It was published May 7, 1969. I am hoping this letter will provide a glimpse of the type of home I grew up in. I was 11 years old when this letter was written. 12 days later, this letter was also published in the Toledo Blade.

Bryan Times:

In view of recent student uprisings, revolts, demonstrations, anarchy and lawlessness on college and university campuses in these United States — I, an American taxpayer and mother of three children, urge a PUBLIC Congressional Investigation into the colleges and universities that fit the above and an investigation into the SDS, its leaders, motives, and followers.

Either local authorities on campus or the government must stop this outrage or there should be a taxpayers’ revolt. I, for one, do not care to support such so-called institutions for a so-called higher education. Why don’t parents of these students cut off funds? Why doesn’t the government cut off funds to such institutions and cut off student loans to such students?

Now, summer approaches and Americans are wondering and waiting to see whether the riots in our cities will resume. Many of these same students will be taking to the streets this summer. Rioting has become a habit, a thrill. I have heard the remark, many riot all day and run home to watch themselves on the 6 o’clock news.

Many Americans are justifiably living in fear. I have heard remarked that only a dictator and a police state will be able to protect American citizens from anarchy and lawlessness. Is this what we want? I ask you to ask yourself, what can I do? What can or should our duly elected government officials do? What can or should our tax supported institutions do? Let your universities and government officials know how you feel. It is time to stand up and be counted.

I had thought that with a new administration (Richard Nixon) we might begin to enter into a period of law and justice and might once again go back to majority rule upon which this country was founded. How can a handful of 50 students completely subdue a college campus and its authorities?

I used to think a college education was an ideal goal for a youngster. Now I am very skeptical of sending my children to such an educational institution. Have you ever asked yourself why the students on the large and small campuses of Bible colleges and other religious institutions are not rioting, or are you trying not to think, period? (now that was one snarky line, Mom)

Did you  ever stop to think that the students who do not like their teachers, courses, university rules and regulations have the freedom to go elsewhere? Perhaps a trip to Vietnam might give them the proper perspective. While our boys fight and die to preserve freedom, the students usurp the freedom and rights of others to an education in a tax supported institution. Teachers not going along with students are being intimidated as well as their families being threatened. Some even have had bomb threats in the name of freedom.

To all college and university authorities, to all judges and law enforcement officials and to all government officials: in regards to the students, I say Amnesty-NO, Prosecution, Expulsion-YES.

Sincerely yours,

Mrs. Barbara Gerencser
Route 2, Hicksville