Saturday, May 10, 2008

Chapter Four: Moving Up


The Apollo, Flagship of the Sea Organization

Casablanca wasn’t anything like the Bogart/Bergman movie. It was crowded, noisy and dirty. White blocks of modern apartments jostled with ancient mosques and crumbling old buildings. Both cars and mule-drawn carts made their way through the narrow streets, past the colorful market stalls selling bright fabrics, fruit and ornate carpets.

I was traveling with Lance Davis, another Pubs staff member, and Marcus Lanciai, who used to work at Pubs but was now staff at the Stockholm Org. When we took off from Copenhagen airport, we had no idea what our final destination would be – it was confidential. We had flown into Madrid, where we were greeted by an American, Geary Titus, who ran the Spanish offices of the "Operation and Transport Company," the cover name for the Sea Org Liaison Office in Madrid. It was all very cloak and dagger. Geary put us on a Moroccan prop plane that would take us across the Straits of Gibraltar for a stopover in Tangier, then on to Casablanca. And before we stepped on the plane, he gave us the instructions to reach our final destination – Safi, Morocco.

So here we were, the colorful din and confusion of Casablanca all around us. We asked around for the bus to Safi – which had no airport – and were finally directed to a small, crowded bus. The seats were bare metal, and our fellow passengers included several chickens. Our luggage was thrown onto a rack on top, where a number of passengers had also clambered.

The hundred-odd mile trek to Safi took hours, as we wound through hills and arid farmland. It seemed that we stopped at every little village, where some people would leap off the top of the bus and others would leap on, with various kinds of livestock in tow. If the bus had ever had shocks, they were long gone, and the metal seats pounded us mercilessly. There was a storm rolling in, and we could hear the roll of thunder and see the flash of lightning on the horizon.

Finally, late in the afternoon, as the clouds were darkening, we rolled into Safi, a fishing town on the coast of Morocco. The town seemed to have no plan – a jumble of houses and buildings like sand-colored blocks spilled from a child’s toy box. Palm trees lined the main street, and we passed the ancient walls of an old fort. The bus stopped near the port, and, carrying our suitcases, we wound our way through the dockside fish market. Then, through a gap between two warehouses, I saw it, tied up to the dock, white and gleaming.

The Apollo.

It was February, 1971. Lance, Marcus and I had traveled to the ship to be part of the Flag Executive Briefing Course – a special training course for Scientology executives from all over the world. Tina was already aboard – she had come in January. Lance and I would complete the three-man executive team slated to take over the Publications Organization. Marcus was to head up the Stockholm Org.

Why was I there? After all, I was an artist, a designer, not an executive. I guess you could say it was "dedication" or "taking responsibility," but for me, it was more of a stubborn, bull-headed determination to repair the damage caused to Pubs Org by Doreen Casey.

After our move to Copenhagen in early 1969, Doreen had stayed for another six months, with conditions getting worse and worse. Pubs had moved into an old warehouse building down by the docks, on Toldbodgade, or "Toll-house Street." We occupied the entirety of the third floor, which was divided lengthwise by a wall. On the left side, we put all of the administrative offices, design, production and editorial offices. On the right hand side were the book stocks, the shipping area, tape copying and e-meter repair. The executive offices were at the front, facing the street.

A search for cheap housing for the staff in Copenhagen had come up with nothing, given the short notice, so we ended up renting an old farmhouse on the north coast of Sjaelland, in the sleepy fishing village of Gilleleje. The commute was over fifty miles, so a large old van was procured to transport the staff to and from the farmhouse. Getting the van started on cold winter mornings was always an adventure – the guys would push the van down the road until it started, slipping and sliding on the icy highway.

Tina and I got married soon after we arrived. We found the local Justice of the Peace and arranged a civil ceremony in a nearby farmhouse. Then we followed it with a Scientology wedding ceremony at the new Denmark Org. Ron Biggs was the minister, and Kim was my best man. Following the ceremony, we went back to the farmhouse and splurged on a big feast and party. Our "honeymoon" consisted of going in to the local town to see a movie.

The wedding: Left to right: John Sanborn, Marcus Lanciai, Foster Tompkins, Marcus' girlfriend (whose name I forget), Sandra Johnson, Ron Biggs, Tina, me, brother Kimball, and Kim's girlfriend Cathy Buckner.

Tina and I settled into a large room on the ground floor of the farmhouse, with a small crib for Gwennie. It was comfortable, and one advantage of the long commute was that we ended up with more private time. Sometimes on a Saturday or Sunday we would just stay out at the farm. One day Tina and I sat up in the barn loft and daydreamed about the future, a future where we would have a house and a more "normal" life.

The drawback of living way out in the country was that we were not getting paid a lot, and sometimes would run out of food. There was one weekend when we were stuck out at the farmhouse, and there was literally nothing there to eat.

"Wait a minute," I said to Kim, "This used to be a farm, right? There must be something to eat out there!" We started foraging in the gardens. The girls found some berries and collected a bunch of those. Kim and I found some potato plants, and digging them up we found tiny new potatoes, lots of them. We thin-sliced them and fried them in butter, and gorged ourselves on a feast of fried potatoes and berries.

Doreen Casey, meanwhile, ensconced herself in the SAS Royal Hotel, the most expensive hotel in Copenhagen. After we had driven into town in our freezing bus and gotten set up for the day’s work, Doreen would come breezing in with her full-dress uniform, and begin screaming out the production demands for the day. She smoked expensive cigarettes, which of course none of us could afford, and it became a standing gag for someone to follow closely behind her or stand next to her and try to get a whiff. The rest of us would work hard to suppress a laugh.

Doreen knew only one way to get things done, and that was by brute force and threats. Unfortunately this was also the tactic she used to get the Scientology organizations to buy books and pay their bills. Her telexes summoned the full power of her status as a Sea Org Missionaire and threatened dire consequences if the Orgs did not comply with her wishes. Once she had amassed money in this way, she had the gall to send out a telex informing the Orgs that Pubs Org was now in the Condition of Power, and the Organizations therefore had to "flow power to Pubs." One can only imagine how that went over.

But she had no clue how to manage the finances. And Pubs went deeper and deeper into debt. Her only solution was to yell and scream louder. By the time she finally left, Pubs had gone from having a cash reserve of over $50,000 before she arrived to over $50,000 in debt - which was a lot of money in those days.

Did Doreen return to the ship as a conquering hero, or did she return in disgrace? We never found out. But she left, and that was all that mattered. She was replaced with two executives sent from Worldwide – Richard Lacey, who became the ED, and Joan Schnehage, who became the HCO Executive Secretary. They were both South African, and ran the Org with a lackadaisical, laissez-faire attitude that was a direct contrast to Doreen Casey.

Denmark was the focus of Sea Org attention that year. Following Pubs arrival, a Sea Org vessel, the Athena, arrived at Helsingor. This was to be the "Station Ship," establishing a Sea Org presence in Europe. In April, a Danish Advanced Organization was set up in Abellund, a village not far from where we lived in north Sjelland. It seemed like Denmark was to be a major location for Sea Org operations.

About this time, Kim left – "blew" as they called it, even though he was not under any contract. He went back to Los Angeles. I wanted to go back too – I was tired of the stresses and privations of life at Pubs – and I wasn’t under any contract either. I had been assigned to a post I hated – in charge of getting Orgs to place books in their local bookstores. Marcus Lanciai had been doing this function, but he had returned to Sweden. Orgs had no clue how to place books in their local stores, and neither did I. I even went around to local Copenhagen bookshops and tried to get them to take Scientology books. They looked at me as if I was from Mars. Obviously that wasn’t the way to do it. But how was it done? This was something I would eventually solve twelve years later in LA.

I was tired, worn out and frustrated. It seemed my friends were all leaving – Kim was gone, Marcus was in Stockholm, Foster had joined the Sea Org and gone to the Apollo. I wanted to go leave Europe, go back to the US, train as a Scientology auditor and meanwhile pursue a career in Commercial Art. Tina, however, was of a different mind. She was committed to Pubs and wanted to stay. Finally I sought out the advice of my senior at the time, Sandra Johnson. Sandra was also a good friend and I trusted her level-headed judgment. I vented my frustration - the poverty, the conditions, and most of all my frustration at not being able to pursue my creative goals.

"Listen, we’ve all been frustrated," Sandra told me. "Things have been rough. But suppose we all left? What would happen to Pubs? What would happen to the supply of books to international Scientology."

She talked to me in terms of the Scientology dynamics, the eight parts of life that Hubbard had enumerated: self, family, groups, mankind, all living things, the physical universe, spirits, and the Supreme Being. My personal goals were First Dynamic, concerned with self. What about the other dynamics? What about the group? What about the fate of mankind if Scientology didn’t make it?

I felt chagrinned. Maybe I was just being selfish, thinking only of myself, of my own comfort and goals.

"Sure you could pursue your own artistic goals," she pointed out. "But if Scientology fails, you’d be condemning generations of future artists to a life of enslavement where they couldn’t pursue any goals at all."

There were two ways you could deal with any problem, she pointed out, echoing Hubbard’s teachings again. "You can be effect, or you can be cause. Sure you could run away, but why not become cause, and actually do something to change the conditions of Pubs Org?"

She sold me. I told her I would stay and work to get Pubs back on its feet again.

About this time, the post of Production Secretary became available, and I volunteered for the position. It would mean running a large division, but I felt I was up to it now. If I was going to start taking an active role in bringing Pubs Org around, I needed to start somewhere, and a Division head post would give me that chance.

The Production Division included the areas of book production, editorial, tape copying, E-Meter manufacture and repair, and film production. It was a lot to learn about. I had a small staff, one person who ran the tape copying, a guy who took care of the E-Meters, a Shipping Officer and a few others. John Sanborn, the old timer who had been with Hubbard since 1950, was in charge of the Editorial area, and he and I became good friends. He would tell me hilarious stories about the early days with Ron.

Tina, meanwhile, had been appointed to the Qualifications Secretary post, also head of a division. The Qual Division was in charge of the Scientology training and auditing of the staff, and also the quality of the products.

But while the work got harder, and we were busier than ever, the state of the Org continued to decline, under the lackadaisical leadership of the two South Africans, Richard and Joan. Soon we could not even afford to live in the farmhouse any more, or run the van back and forth every day. No one was getting paid. So most of the staff just moved into the org, staking out an empty corner of the stock shelves to stash their meager possessions and sleep at night. We began calling it the "Dexion Hotel" after the brand name of the metal shelving. We bathed using the sinks in the communal bathrooms.

Meals became grim. I recall one lunch where the "onion soup" was literally an onion boiled in a pot of water – for 20 people.

At this point, another Sea Org Mission arrived to replace Richard and Joan – but this one was as different from Doreen’s mission as night and day. It consisted of Tony and Kima Dunleavy, an attractive, dynamic pair who could have been a poster couple for Sea Org recruitment. Tony was a well-known veteran Sea Org officer, an Aussie, with a trim black beard and rugged good looks. Kima was a knockout – a gorgeous brunette. Both of them exuded an air of quiet confidence and good humor. Tina and I became fast friends with them right away.
They instituted some common-sense financial measures, and soon things started to turn around.

We could afford to rent apartments again, and Tina and I went in with a number of other staff to rent a large house south of Copenhagen on the coast, at a place called Greve Strand. A bus line ran directly from the road in front of the house to the center of the city, so transportation was simple.

My mother came to visit us when we lived there. At that time she was working for a company called International Schools, who placed teachers in English and American schools abroad. She was on a two-year assignment to Paris, and she loved living and working there. She spent about a week with us, and when Tina and I had to work, she happily took Gwennie on a tour of Copenhagen, seeing Tivoli Gardens and other sights.

My mother with Gwennie

Later that year, Tina and I managed to get a week off and took Gwennie on a train down to Paris, where we stayed with my mom, sleeping on a mattress in her living room, and touring the city with her during the day. For us, it was a dream vacation.

Gwennie came with us into the org every day, and became the darling of Pubs. She had a little walker, and soon learned how to zoom around the org in it, visiting each staff member in turn. Everyone loved her and kept an eye out for her as she explored the org, took books off the bookshelves, and posed for the staff photographer. She took her first steps in the middle of a staff muster.

Gwennie explores the org in her walker

In late 1970, L. Ron Hubbard announced that there would be a new program on the Apollo to train Scientology Executives. This was his plan to boom Scientology internationally. Every Org was to select three candidates for this training – not necessarily the current execs, but bright up-and-coming staff who could be trained to be the new generation of Scientology executives. Hubbard would personally train them in some brand new administrative technology he had developed, and they would receive auditing on some new upper-level rundowns. This new program was the buzz of the Scientology world at the time.

Tony and Kima decided that they would send Tina right away. She was to be trained to become the new Executive Director Pubs Org. She left for the ship in January 1971. Then they decided that myself and Lance Davis would be sent to round out the team of three. Kima would take care of Gwennie for the months we were gone. Arrangements were made for our trip – we would be traveling with the Executive Director candidate for Stockholm Org, my old friend Marcus Lanciai. On the day we were set to leave, Marcus arrived in the org and screamed across the org to me "We’re going to Flag!!" I ran over to him and we hugged and then jumped up and down like a couple of manic idiots. We were going to Flag!

And that’s how I ended up on the dock in the Moroccan town of Safi, looking up at the glistening white bulk of the Apollo. As I stared up at the gangplank, a familiar gangly figure emerged, David Ziff, my old boss at Pubs Edinburgh. He was grinning from ear to ear. "Welcome aboard!" he shouted. He directed us onboard and to a lounge area where Tina was waiting.

The first thing I had to do was an "Orientation Checklist" to get me familiar with the ship. The Apollo was a 3200 ton former cattle ship, used for troop transport during World War II. Huge "cattle doors" opened out from the ship at dock level, but were usually kept closed. The large superstructure amidships housed cabins, dining rooms, and offices, and was topped with two huge stacks, each with the letters "LRH" emblazoned on them in curly script.

A "buddy" was assigned to me, and since by this time it was dark and the storm clouds were starting to drizzle rain, we took the tour at a dead run, up stairs and down stairs, across decks, inside and out. As we went, he would shout out things like "there’s the Bridge wing, and there’s the Bridge, and this is the Prom Deck, and those are lifeboats, and there’s the Commodore’s Research Room…"

We ran past a lit porthole. The red curtain was ajar and with a shock I saw the red hair of a man that I had only seen in pictures and films, whose voice I had heard on countless taped lectures…

"…and there’s the Commodore…" shouted my frantic guide.

The students of the Flag Executive Briefing Course (FEBC) were treated like VIPs. We were, after all, the hope of Scientology’s future. Tina and I were assigned to an A Deck cabin. We ate in the main dining room, where the Sea Org officers and executives ate. The Captain of the Apollo, Norman Starkey, had a table to one side with his top officers. The general crew had dining facilities aft, in what was colloquially referred to as the "Doggie Diner." We got to know the other students, and they were literally from all over the world, from every org.

I had hoped to see Foster, but found out he had been sent on a Sea Org Mission to establish a Publications Org in the US. There had been difficulties in getting enough books into the US from Europe, so a local Pubs operation would supply the US books. Foster would be running the US Pubs Org while Tina and I ran the EU Pubs – one of the strange ways that our lives would parallel each others during our long friendship.

The schedule was tight. We would rise early every morning, grab a fast breakfast, and then descend to Lower Hold Two, which had been fitted out as a courseroom. I had heard that Hubbard himself would be giving the lectures, but it turned out that he had already given the planned series of lectures and there would be no more. But we had recordings of the lectures to listen to and study.

Before we could start on the Flag Executive Briefing Course, we were required to do the Organization Executive Course, a comprehensive study of L. Ron Hubbard’s voluminous "Policy Letters." These were printed in green ink and were known as the "green on white" issues. These covered every aspect of the running of an organization, down to the most minute details. He laid out exactly how to invoice and bank money, how to manage finances and do financial planning, how to write promotion and lay out advertising, how to get new people into Scientology, how to keep Scientologists "moving up the Bridge" (taking more services). There were hundreds of these Policy Letters, all listed out in a "checksheet." There were also practical drills to do, taped lectures to listen to, and "clay demonstrations" to do (Hubbard’s method of demonstrating key concepts in clay to see that the student understood).

The Apollo spent part of the time in port, and part of the time at sea, sailing up and down to Moroccan coast, north to Casablanca, then south to Agadir. It was exhilarating to be up on deck as the ship cut through the Atlantic swells. Sometimes dolphins would chase the ship, jumping out of the crest of one wave and into the next. I soon got my "sea legs" and felt no more seasickness. Being down in Lower Hold Two during a voyage was quite an experience – one moment you would be looking down at the person opposite you, then you’d be looking up at them as the ship rocked. My clay demonstration models kept falling over, so I got in the habit of making my little clay men with huge, flat feet.

Bob Harvey, from LA, was sort of the class cutup. He was twinning with Tina and their laughter caused more than one reprimand from the Supervisor. Once he was making a clay demonstration of the "gradients of ethics" all the way from "commenting on an outness" to "expulsion from the Church." When he got to the final demo he made a model of the Ethics Officer with a huge cannon, and way across the room he made a model of the hapless victim, splattered against the bulkhead.

We rarely saw "the Commodore," L. Ron Hubbard. Once when I was racing to get back to class, I had to run up to our room on A Deck to get something. The entrance to A Deck was right at the foot of the stairs leading up to Hubbard’s Research Room. As I burst in the door, running helter skelter, suddenly there was the Commodore, talking to a group of Aides. I screeched to a halt and stammered, "H-h-hello Sir!"

I was surprised at how big he looked. He seemed to be over six feet tall, and everything about him was larger than life, his big barrel chest, his large round head. His face creased with a big wide smile. "Well, hello there!" he boomed, and laughed. His Aides stared at me – none of them were smiling. But I didn’t care. I rushed on, with a grin plastered on my own face. I had been addressed by the man himself!

Tina and I became friends with our future senior, a lady named Robin Roos, who was part of the Commodore’s Staff. She was the Commodores Staff 2, in charge of all dissemination activities. The Pubs Orgs were under her. Occasionally the students were allowed to have some time off and see the local port, and on one such occasion Robin and her boyfriend, Ron Strauss, took Tina and me to a local seafood restaurant in Agadir where we had a lovely, long dinner.

After the OEC, the Organization Executive Course, we graduated to the FEBC, the Flag Executive Briefing Course. We listened to Hubbard’s FEBC lectures and learned about the management "technology" he had devised, called the "Product Officer-Org Officer System." In a nutshell, the Product Officer just concentrated on getting people to produce. He just demanded production and got it done. He didn’t care about people’s limitations or "reasons why." He didn’t care if they were trained or not. He just single-mindedly demanded production. The "Organizing Officer" was the one who ran ahead of the Product Officer, seeing that people had training, supplies, and anything else needed to "get the product." It was also the Org Officer’s job to handle what Hubbard called HE&R – "Human Emotion and Reaction" – which he cited as the "primary barrier to production." In other words, people might get upset by being constantly hammered for products. The Org Officer would handle them, using Hubbard’s "Tone Scale" of emotions. The third member of the Executive Team was the HAS (later the Establishment Officer) who would put the org there with recruiting and "hatting" (job training). This was touted as the ne plus ultra of management technology, far in advance of anything the "wogs" had.

At the same time as we were studying, we were also being audited by Class XII Auditors, the highest trained auditors in the world – all personally trained by Hubbard. My auditor was Otto Roos, an old-time Scientology executive from Holland. He had a reputation of being somewhat of a rough character, but he and I got along great. Hubbard had just developed some new rundowns, called the "L" rundowns, supposed to make a super-executive. We were the pilot guinea pigs for these new rundowns, and Hubbard was personally supervising our cases – the session folders would go to him every day.

It was wild stuff – mostly running "overt acts" on the whole track, that is, transgressions we had committed in our past lives – hundreds, thousands, millions and even billions of years ago. So I was running a lot of "space opera" incidents – things that had happened on other planets and so on.

There was something exhilarating about doing this. Once you get the idea that you have lived countless lifetimes before, that you have been all kinds of things from space pirates to emperors to soldiers, you start to see your current life as just a blip on the screen, and think of the game as much bigger than just one life, one planet.

There was a story that was current on the Apollo when I was there. An Apollo crew member was on the bridge, and the Commodore pointed to him and said "You’re the navigator."

"But Sir," the hapless crew member said, "I’ve never navigated before."

Hubbard gave him a look. "The hell you haven’t," he said.

That was the "Sea Org Attitude." There was nothing you hadn’t done, nothing you hadn’t already been, nothing you weren’t capable of. It was a powerful idea, very empowering. Soon I found myself filled with an electrifying confidence. Sure, I could be an executive. Why not? I had probably ruled planets before!

One by one, the FEBC students began joining the Sea Organization. Then one day I was called into the office of the HAS Flag, a lady named Sue Pomeroy. She asked me just one question:

"What are your plans for the next billion years?"

I thought about all of the crazy incidents I was running with Otto, all of those strange Space Opera adventures.

"Well, I guess I don’t really have any plans," I admitted.

Moments later, I was signing my billion year contract. I was a member of the Sea Organization.
Before long, every single student on board had joined the Sea Org. The sense of camaraderie and shared purpose intensified. We were an elite cadre of Sea Org executives destined to go out and Save the Planet.

Finally, Tina, Lance and I had all completed our courses and our L Rundowns and we were prepared to "fire back" to Pubs. As we were Sea Org members, we were to be sent back as a Sea Org Mission.

I had assumed from the beginning that Tina was to be the Executive Director. She was sent off first to the ship with that stated purpose, and she had more executive experience than I had.
We went into "Mission Briefing" and the Briefing Officer, Maria Starkey – who was Captain Starkey’s wife – handed us our Mission Orders. The top line read:

"Jeff Hawkins – Commanding Officer Pubs Denmark"

"I’m going to be the Commanding Officer?" I gulped, experiencing a sudden dizzy feeling of vertigo.

Maria gave me a sharp look. "Do you have a problem with that?"

I recovered quickly. "No, uh, we had always called it Executive Director. But I get it - as we’re Sea Org, it’s Commanding Officer."

She stared at me for just a beat longer, then looked back at her papers and continued the briefing. I could feel my heart pounding.

I was going to be the Sea Org Commanding Officer of Pubs.

8 comments:

Sally said...

Thank you Jeff! Once again beautifully written!
Sally

Hermione said...

Um...WOW! Followed the link from OCMB (I lurk) and your story so far is just mind-boggling. I'm looking forward to chapter 5!

melissalion said...

Really amazing stuff.

Wisened One said...

Wow, KEEP writing! Your story has helped me in many ways as an ex-Staff Member!

Rambling Will Smile said...

You're keeping me up all night. You're also describing original incidents for many chains of wierd behaviour in the SO.
This book is brilliant.

Lee Reynolds said...

The actress in Casablanca was Ingrid Bergman, not Lauren Bacall.

HarryHamster said...

Thanks for yet another enjoyable read.

Would be interesting to hear those John Sanborn stories of Hubbard.
If you remember any of them, please post them. I'm sure many of us would be interested to hear about them.

LightPath said...

Hi Jeff, and thank you. I'm still here, hooked on this true drama, sometimes questioning the fact that highly harmful philosophies, masquerading themselves as self improvement are allowed to continue to operate in an "enlightened", 21st century world.

Your story has helped a friend who is recovering from 11 years of scientology (and 70+ grand in spent money.)

/Light