Monday, November 20, 2017

Leaving home . . .

And, so . . .

In 1967, my sister, Janet, left to follow francis schuckardt as one of his "nuns".  It was only the beginning.

My sister, Aggie & I continued to attend St. Matthew's school in Kalispell for one  more year, 1967 - 1968.  However, my sister, Janet, kept working on Mom from schuckardt's cult in Coeur d'Alene.  The Catholic Mass had changed.  The Mass was now said in the English vernacular vs. the old Latin.  There were guitars and singing in English.  Lay children would carry the gifts to the altar.  Mom was outraged.  My sister and I were forbidden from attending these Masses.  We would have to stay in the library while the service went on.  I did not like being different.  My mother, on the other hand, was making a name for herself.  One Sunday, in his sermon, the priest mentioned that there were people in our parish who put themselves above the Fathers & Doctors of the Church, condemning the changes of Vatican II.  That was my mom and a few others.  They were very proud, because they knew that THEY were right, and the rest of the church was WRONG.  We were being made to stand out, to be different.... it was only the beginning. 

My sister & I attended a public school in the outskirts of Kalispell for the year of 1968 - 1969, because my mom felt that the local parish had lost the Faith.  I was in the 5th grade.  Already, things were beginning to get weird.  Mom wouldn't let us wear pants.  We had to wear dresses or skirts.  And, those dresses or skirts had better reach below our knees!  Well, it was 1968 - granny dresses were one thing, but dresses that reached just below the knee, totally not cool!  And, that is what mom forced me to wear.  I was mortified.  I was such a social creature, desiring to fit in  -  and this made me feel so awkward.  One day, after lunch and recess, I saw my mom's car pull up outside our classroom.  I knew she must be bringing me something.  But - I had rolled my skirt up so that it would be above my knees, and if she saw that, who knows what would happen?  As I walked back to the classroom door to meet her, I quickly pulled it down as much as I could.  I took whatever it was she brought me, and returned to my desk.  I was SO scared to go home that afternoon.  And, with good reason!  She didn't speak to me all through the afternoon, dinner, and evening. When I went to kiss her goodnight, she whispered eerily in my ear, "What if that were the Blessed Mother who had come to your classroom this afternoon?"  I was trembling!  (What she never knew was that I had found my sister, Aggie, who was in 8th grade and warned her that mom was 'on the premises'.  I don't think mom ever believed that Aggie, too, had rolled up her skirts.  Only Francie.  The bad seed.)

And so, after 5th grade, in 1969, it was goodbye to Montana and hello to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  My Dad thought he was doing what was best for his 2 youngest daughters.  Getting them out of a culture of drugs that was working its way even into our little town, was his way of protecting us.  Mom would take us to Idaho and live there with us.  Once a month we would go back to visit Dad.  I can't even imagine what he thought as he saw the changes in us month by month.  If only he had known.  If only .... so many things.

Mom found a very, very small cabin at Hauser Lake, Idaho, where we would live for that first year.  schuckardt had begun a school, of sorts, a year earlier.  There were no actual teachers, only his nuns and brothers, most of whom had barely graduated from High School themselves.  The school could only accommodate those in grade school, so my sister, Aggie, who was just entering her Freshman year, had to repeat 8th grade.  Pathetic! 

Shortly after schuckardt started gathering followers in 1967 & 1968, he purchased a large piece of land west of Rathdrum, Idaho.  He named it "The City of Mary".  A church was constructed on that property, and eventually a school was built as well.  This is where we commuted to each day for our classes, numerous prayers, and Mass.  Co-education was strictly forbidden, so the boys held their classes in the basement of the church.  The girls were all sent to the basement of a nearby home, where desks were pushed closely together to fit us all in.  Grades were combined as well.  It was really difficult to discern one grade from another. 

Our lives that year were very simplistic.  We had no TV.  We entertained ourselves as best we could in our teeny, tiny cabin by the lake.  In the winter, when the lake froze over, we would skate at night and sometimes before school in the morning.  We made many friends whose parents had also moved to Idaho, unhappy with the changes in the Catholic Church.  My oldest and dearest friend is a girl I met that year.  Her large family had moved to Idaho from West Virginia.  Our teachers told us that we weren't good influences on each other.  Our friendship survived.  For one whole year, we were forbidden to speak to each other.  Why?  Because when we had come in from our recess, where we were sledding down a hill, I asked her in sign language if my cheeks were red.  I had broken the rule, no talking allowed.  We both paid.  We were sent upstairs to wait for our teacher to come up with the large wooden paddle.  10 whacks for both of us, and SILENCE from each other for a year.  Our friendship survived. 

At the end of that school year, Mom, Aggie, & I returned to Kalispell for the summer months.  It was weird.  I no longer saw any of my friends from Catholic school, or from the 1 year we spent at the nearby public school.  I was pretty okay with that, though.  schuckardt had made quite an impression on my Mom with his extremely strict rules for girls' attire.  No more pants, not even for riding our horses back home.  Mom made us HUGE skirts with 5 yards' worth of material to wear when we went riding.  I hated it.  I hated being so different.  I was mortified and fearful that I might run into someone I knew.  Thank God, that for that summer at least, I didn't see anyone.

Year #1 was in the books.  1969 - 1970.  I was 12 years old.  I had been corralled.  The spirit I was born with was being squelched.  I was learning that for life to be easier, compliance was key.  I complied.  But, I did not like it.  I just wanted to survive.


  1. Thank goodness my father saw through them after only a year. But we were shunned by all the friends we made there. We would see someone we knew, and they were told not to look at us. We left our family and our happy lives in California. We knew no one in Idaho. To make matters worse, we had to attend Post Falls junior high with our long skirts. We were laughed at and called names..(like Rudolph) lol. Kids were terrible to us. I hated school so much that I dropped out after 8th grade. Couldn’t bear the thought of dressing like a weirdo in high school.

  2. Anna, I wondered what happened. One year, you were there, the next you were gone. And, yes, we were told to have nothing to do with you. Anyone who left schuckardt's group were labeled "the enemy".

  3. So relating to almost everything you share Dear Francie! I went from problem child to almost perfect angel in the end. The more they thought you were fitting perfectly into their mold....the more one could get away with ;-)