Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Flagstaff and cool weather !

DAY 3, SEPT. 20

Woke up early and made eggs for breakfast. Rick knew that the coach wasn’t completely level, but didn’t know how to fix the problem. The jacks automatically adjust the entire RV, and we’re on a bit of a slope, so our front wheels are literally off the ground about a foot. Still, when I dropped the eggs into the electric skillet this morning, they all slid down to the end of the pan. Rick took a picture of me attempting to put the last egg in the pan; it rolled down to the bottom, low end of the pan in an instant. I had to fight gravity with my spatula, and the eggs were a total wreck. I don’t know if cracking eggs into a pan would make a better leveling device than the fancy one Rick has! 
Using eggs to level the coach !

After a leisurely morning and a little fussing around rearranging a few cupboards, we headed into downtown Flagstaff for lunch and to run a few errands. After eating at a Southwestern Mexican restaurant, I headed to the ladies’ room and had an interesting experience. An elderly Navajo woman was in there with her granddaughter. She wore the traditional clothing (long navy blue skirt, untucked eggplant-colored blouse with silver belt, silver and turquoise jewelry, and leather moccasins. Her gray hair was fastened on her head with a silver comb. She looked like a painting. The lines on her face reflected her years in the sun. Her deep-set eyes reflected sadness. The two of them conversed in Navajo, one of the most difficult languages on the planet (which is why the Navajo Indians were used in WWII to transmit vital messages in their native tongue to confuse the enemy. No one could break the code of the Code Talkers!). It’s not every day that I hear Navajo spoken. It’s an ancient language, nearly wiped out by our well-meaning ancestors who rounded up Native American children, forced them off of the reservations, and shipped them to Indian Schools, where they were forbidden to speak their native language. The object was to Americanize the young Native people; to “civilize” the “savages” and bring them into the fold with the rest of the “foreigners.” The great experiment didn’t work.

The curious writer in me I wanted to ask her a thousand questions. But she spoke no English. Instead, I simply smiled, nodded, and said “hello.” Her granddaughter translated. The old woman smiled and dipped her chin to say hello back. It was a small thing, but something really cool!

Our next stop was good ol’ Walmart for some odds and ends we forgot to bring. I immediately noticed two women dressed in strange, long dresses. They were identical, except for the color. The women’s hair-dos were also the same, swept up in an oddly high roll with no bangs. There was a movie about one of the polygamous Mormon groups on t.v. a few weeks ago, and these women were obviously the victims of one of these strange cults. But what were they doing in Walmart, for heaven sakes?

I tried not to stare; others didn’t try to ignore them. A few minutes later, and there was yet another wife with a couple of children in tow. She wore the identical dress in pale green. She couldn’t have been more than 13 or 14. Were these her children? Not only were these women dressed the same, they were all expressionless: no anger, no happiness. Just vacuous eyes and blank expressions. What I really wanted to do was to kidnap the youngest of his wives. To take her to safety somewhere where she wouldn’t be forced to have sex with a man old enough to be her father. Why are these cults still allowed? Isn’t this statutory rape? At least two of these wives were obviously under 18. Isn’t it against the law to have plural marriages, especially with minors? I know that only the first wife is legally married to the man who is the center of the cult. The rest are wives in name only…. Ugh.

And then there HE was…the king/slave owner/husband of all of these women. Most likely, he had left more at home. He was 50ish, homely, skinny, and wore a plaid shirt, jeans, and belt with a wide belt buckle. No homemade clothing for this jerk. He pushed a grocery basket with two small children (maybe 2 or 3 years old). The little girl was dressed in a miniature version of the women’s dresses. And the boy wore a “store-bought” plaid shirt and jeans, like his daddy.

Okay, I admit that I had a reaction when I saw him. He came down the aisle where I was shopping and stopped beside me. I wanted to shout at him, to call him a pig, or pedophile, or any number of other names. Instead, what slipped out was, “Oh, god. It’s him. The lord and master.” I didn’t mean to say it outloud! Rick said, “The husband?” I motioned to what the children were wearing. “Yep! It’s him, all right.” I looked straight into that old letch’s eyes…make that, I glared into his eyes. No, I didn’t say anything else, but he heard our comments and quickly left.

The last I saw them, the “husband/owner/master” led his flock of wives and children out the front door, like a duck leading a line of obedient ducklings. I knew there were groups of these extremists in Utah and a few other states. But Flagstaff? In the mountains, where ranches off the beaten path are deep under snow for the winter? What do they do for money? Most of these cults are farmers. Does this guy own a cattle ranch and use his wives and kids for earning money to spend in the outside world? After all, they were shopping at a retail store. Even Walmart requires money!

Lastly, I wondered what these wives think about all of us. What comes to mind is the song lyrics, “How ya gonna keep them down on the farm, once they have seen Paree” (Paris).” And what about little children who have been exposed to non-cult children and kids’ toys, candy bars, etc. Will they continue the madness that these cults spoon-feed them, or will they reject it and enter society at some point? Hum…food for thought. What do you think?

Campground at Williams AZ

Another view of the Williams campground.

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