Shortly after we were all settled into our new house, my Dad went to Clearwater Florida for a short visit.The purpose of his visit was to take services at the Church of Scientology.
Without going into the ins and outs and the details of how it came to be, what ensued was that by the time my Dad had come back from Florida, he had been recruited into the Sea Organization.
The Sea Organization (The Sea Org. or S.O. for short) is comprised of those people who are working for the Church as a part of the clergy so to speak. This is different from a public scientologist who lives a normal life while occasionally taking Scientology Services. It is different than just anyone who works for the Church in a service organization. The Sea Org is responsible for delivering the highest levels of the Church as well as the management of the Church internationally of its various service organizations. There are Sea Organizations in every continent (except of course Antartica) in additional to 3 or 4 in the US-Flag being one of them.
Back at home, my dad had just arrived and told my Mom and Justin (my brother, my mom’s son from another marriage) the news. I (still struggling with the English language at the tender age of 1) of course did not have the slightest idea of what was going on.
But we were are all moving to California where my Grandpa was and we were going to have a new life there. I understood my parents were doing something very important and very brave.
Arrangements were made to sell the house, furniture and all, to my Dad’s youngest sister Lori and her husband Eddie Verneville, where they would live with their 3 children Michael, Jessica and Chrissie (who was around my age). My Grandma also moved into her apartment as previously planned.
They packed everything they had (that they could bring with them) into a moving truck and drove cross country to Los Angeles, California.
Our journey ended in December 11th 1985. We arrived to Los Angeles.
We were showed into a church owned or rented apartment building called the Fountain Building. It was called the Fountain Building because it was (and still is) located on Fountain Ave which ran parallel to Sunset Blvd. The building was Facing Berendo Avenue (later renamed L.Ron Hubbard Way) which bridged the gap between Sunset and Fountain and was lined with 3 large buildings which were owned and used by the church to house management and deliver Scientology services.
We were brought upstairs and led into a tiny apartment. The room was about 15 X 15 feet and had a bathroom which connected to another 15 x 15 foot room.
It was dingy, it had a linoleum floor (which was not unusual for this time) and is smelled of mold. I just remember it always being very dark. My parents were not happy with what they saw, so they went out and bought some nicer furniture from a nearby furniture discount store. Among the furniture they bought was a bunk bed set up for Justin and I. Their bed was in one room and our bunk beds were in the room adjoined by the bathroom. The building had a mouse problem.
My parents had to go through a program when we first arrived which consisted of physical labor for about 9 hours and then 5 hours a day they could study and there were certain courses they had to do where they learned about the rules, regulations and standards. This program was called the Estates Project Force or EPF. This was standard procedure for anyone joining the Sea Org and it is sort of like a trial period, or a preparation for being in the Sea Org. This lasted for about 2 weeks.
Then they got put on official Sea Org Positions which are called Posts.
My Dad worked in INCOMM which stands for "International Network of Computer Organized Management" which is a unit what made a special computer systems for Church management. This unit was located in a building right across the street from our apartment. Sometimes I would go there and visit him. One time I remember walking through the hall to go to his office and I saw him walking towards me. I yelled Daddy! And ran up to him! He picked me up and I looked straight at him and to my horror I realized that it wasn’t him and screamed. The man just laughed and I saw my Dad coming up behind him and ran to him. It turns out that the other man who looked so similar to my Dad, was his younger brother, my uncle Dave.
My Mom was put in charge of what was called, “The Ship Project”. Basically the Sea Org was going to purchase another ship (like it had in its early days) renovate it and operate a service organization aboard it. My mom was responsible for raising the money to do this, finding a buying the ship, getting the plans for the renovations done and getting them carried out, recruiting the staff for the ship and getting them trained and getting everything working. This ship was to be called “The Freewinds”. A couple of months after my Mom was on this project, her youngest sister, my Aunt Sarah, joined the Sea Org as well and was assigned to the ship project with my mom.
My parents worked very long hours. There was a rigorous working schedule for them which usually started at 9am until 11:30pm. During this time there is 30 minutes allowed for each meal. Meals are taken in Sea Org quarters in a large mess hall where there is assigned seating. Meals were prepared by a galley crew which was staffed by Sea Org members.
They did not get weekends off.
However if they were doing a good job at their posts and getting things done as measured by a statistic which is marked onto a graph every week- they were allowed to take 1 day, every other week off. This was called Liberty or “Libs’ for short. However Libs had to be requested and required approval from several seniors which was sometimes difficult.
They were not paid regular wages because they were considered to be religious volunteers (as are all Sea Org Members). So they were allotted $50 each per week for personal effects such as shampoo, conditioner, cigarettes, etc. The room and board was church provision however dingy they may have been.
I would take a bus everyday to a large day care/kindergarten center for children of Sea Org members. It was located on Bronson Avenue next to what is currently know as the Celebrity Centre. This daycare was called the CEO. This stood for “Cadet Estates Organization”. We were considered to be “Cadets” in that we were Sea Org members in training. Cadet’s usually had were given small projects to upkeep the Estate, so it was called the “Cadet Estates Organization”.
There were probably a good 80-100 other kids there. They kids were broken down into different classes. My class was for children of executives in the Church.
There we would learn the alphabet, phonetics then later reading and writing and basic mathematics. We also had a playground with a tree house out in the back yard where we would have play time.
I was probably there from 8am daily until 3 or 4 daily.
Then every afternoon I would go home on a bus at around 4:30 and my brother would pick me up and I would go back to the apartment with him and a few hours later my parents would come home for an hour. This was called family time. After family time they would go back to work only to come home at around 11:30-12am or sometimes 2 or 3am.
A couple of months went by since we first arrived and we were still living in the Fountain Building until one morning in early 1986 I woke up to go the bathroom. All of a sudden the room started shaking. I thought I was dreaming until the mirror came crashing down and glass shards went flying everywhere. Everything was shaking. I screamed at the top of my lungs. My parents jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom and grabbed me and pulled me under the door frame. They looked scared, I was scared. I asked them what was happening and they told me it was an earthquake. They went to wake up Justin who was still sleeping and didn’t want to be awoken. We all stood under the door frame together waiting for the earthquake to be over. It went on for several minutes and there were a few after shocks.
Later that day my Dad told me that we were going to be moving to another building temporarily. The Fountain building had been condemned. It seemed that the Earthquake had detached the back wall from the rest of the building.
We stayed in Uncle Dave’s apartment for a day or two as he was out of town. Then we stayed in the Travelodge (that was a couple blocks over from the Fountain Building) for about a week or 2.
After that we moved into another building which was called the Edgemont Building (It was on Edgemont Street) a couple blocks away. These apartments were different. They were actually much nicer than the Fountain Building. There were 2 bedrooms in each apartment, a small dining area, a kitchen and a small living room. 2 couples or families would live in this apartment.
We soon met Mike and Cathy Rinder as they were the couple we would be sharing the apartment with. I didn’t know them, but they seemed to be old friends of my parents. Cathy a sweet lady, she was very funny and bubbly and she drew funny cartoons where everyone looked like a pig. I enjoyed drawing too so we sometimes drew together. Mike was always very quiet and rarely there at all. They had 2 children. The girl was named Taryn and she was Justin’s age and the boy was named Benjamin James or BJ for short and he was about 1 year older than me.
BJ went to the CEO as well and Taryn went to the ATA. BJ and I would ride the bus together every morning and we became good friends. This was despite the fact that he was into bugs and robots and I was into Barbie’s and baby animals. BJ rarely said anything, but I was absolutely fascinated by him. He was always teaching me some new fact about bugs and doing magic tricks. From then on after we would do pretty much everything together.
Throughout 1987, my parents were very busy on their projects. They were both considered to be senior church executives. When the Church held international events, my Dad would speak at them. I remember attending many an event and screaming out, “Hi Daddy!” . This would embarrass my mom because there were hundreds of people there. Then my uncle Dave would also speak at the events and I would yell, “Uncle Dave! Its me!!”. Of course I had no idea what these events were, but they went on for several hours and after there would be food.
My mom became very busy on the Freewinds project. She had a whole staff working under her now. She also had a secretary named Ana Willoughby. Ana was hilarious. She was a wild Maori women who just loved R&B music. Her daughter Kiri who was a year younger than me, became very close with BJ and I. She also went to the CEO. .
My Dad also had a new secretary. She was an older lady by the name of Rosemary Brown. Her son Mike was Justin’s age and they were good friends. Mike was always coming over and giving BJ, Kiri and I SpaghettiO’s and we thought he was so cool.
Beginning in 1988 my mom wasn’t home very often. Seeing as the Freewinds was to be based in Curacao, she would be there overseeing the renovations of the newly acquired ship. She would visit every couple of months.
In June 1988 about a year after we moved into the Edgemont when I was approximately 3 years old, Cathy came home at family time and was talking to BJ who looked very sad. She told him that there would no longer be family time and she and Mike were only going to be able to see him once a week on Sunday morning as they were going to be somewhere very secret doing very important things for the Church. At that age we knew about scientology and I knew it had something to do with helping lots of people.
I was sorry for him. BJ rarely said anything and he didn’t respond to Cathy, he just looked at the floor. I tried to comfort him and put my arm around him and said that I was sad for him. Cathy then told me that the same thing was to be with me and my mom and Dad. I remember telling her that I didn’t believe her. But it turned out she was right after all.
Our parents were in fact going to Hemet, California. This was the International Management headquarters of the Church. It was called “Int” for short. The location of this base was a secret, even we weren’t to know. They had their own separate quarters there where they would live throughout the week and then drive down to visit us on Saturday night and stay with us on Sunday morning until about 10-11am when they had to begin their drive back up.
So our schedule changed a bit. After we took the bus from the CEO home everyday, we would then be taken to another apartment in the Edgemont which was a floor or 2 down from our apartment. My brother or Taryn would come pick us up when they got home and take us to our apartment.
My parents had worked out that I had a nanny. Her name was Pat. She was one of the people my Mom had recruited to go to the ship, but the ship wasn’t ready yet. Pat being my nanny made her by default BJ’s nanny as well. She would show up to our apartment at around 6-7pm and look after us and spend the night there with us.
One day in January 1990 my brother told me that he was going to go to The Ranch. I didn’t know what this was. He told me that it was close to where Mom and Dad were and he was going to come visit once in a while too. I was so sad. Taryn went as well. We didn’t see them for a good long month.
As a result instead of getting picked up from the nursery apartment in the afternoon, the nursery was lined with cots. We would eat dinner in the kitchen (on the floor), take showers, play and go to bed. This is where I first learned about touch assists. We were taught to perform them on each other before bed time each night. You would touch someone on their arm and say, “Feel my Finger?” and they would say, “Yes” and you would say “Good” and then you would touch them on the other arm and repeat. You would do this on all of their fingers and all of their toes and on their arms, legs and face. We did it until we felt ready to go to sleep. We would then sleep on the cots until Pat would come wake us up at about 1am and take us to our apartment and would take us to our beds. She would also spend Sunday mornings with us and when she had days off. She was such an amazingly nice lady and I loved her very much.
Around this time is when I first recall meeting Sterling. Although I probably met him before that, I didn’t know who he was.
One day he walked into our apartment, our cat ran out from hiding in my doll house and ran up to him and literally climbed up him as if he were a tree. He was screaming. BJ and I went to grab her.
We were both wondering who he was and Justin told me that Sterling was my brother. I remember being confused and saying, “No you’re my brother”. Anyways, to make a long story short, they were both my brother. Justin was actually my mom’s son from another marriage and he had a twin brother and that was Sterling.
When my mom and their father (Foster Tompkins) got divorced, she took Justin and he took Sterling. Although Sterling and Justin were twins, they looked nothing alike-in body and face. Their attitudes were very different as well. But they were both young boys with a passion for sports and got along well.
Sterling became a regular fixture at our house and he starting picking me up from the CEO some nights. Sterling also had a younger brother named Nathan from when Foster remarried. Nathan was about my age.
One day in March of 1990 when I had just turned 6 Pat told us that we were going to go to the Ranch. I asked her if she meant where my brother was. She said yes. I was very excited.
It turned out that someone had gotten shot right in front of the Edgemont building. So my parents insisted that we be taken to the Ranch immediately.
The next morning we packed all of our stuff and jumped into the car with Rosemary who was my Dad’s secretary. We were ready to go. Pat stood outside the car. I asked why she was standing there? She said she wasn’t coming. I was shocked! We both were crying. I told her that I would miss her very much and I loved her and I promised to come visit her. We gave each other a big long hug. BJ did too.
It was sad but I knew I was going to where I could see my mom and Dad more. She could not come with us.