The Followers built their own separate, utterly isolated cultural and economic community within Oregon City and its environs. This was known around town but never became an issue because the Followers were totally apolitical and went about their work and religion in relative quiet. The men worked blue collar trades and the women stayed at home, raised the children, and expertly practiced the domestic arts. Almost none went to college. The Followers had their own Follower plumber, contractor, roofer, electrician, hardware store, grocery store, auto repair shop, etc. They even had their own cemetery, in Carus, ten or so miles outside of Oregon City.
And of course they had their own church. Everything came back to their church. You didn’t go against the church. If you transgressed, you got shunned. I have no idea what amounted to a transgression back then or today. There’s a whole book on that subject alone but shunned people typically don’t write books.
Of course there were closeted rebels within the church, but they weren’t organized in cells or part of any movement. My older sister befriended one in high school, in the drama program. He was a Kisser and who wanted to be an actor, an avocation or profession inconceivable in the church. You poured concrete and sewed clothes. You fathered children and bore children.
I never met a single secret Kisser rebel in grade school or junior high, but I secretly longed to. In high school, one of the girls somehow ended up on our newspaper staff, sold ads, and that was it. No writing at all. She was gorgeous, smart, sexy and mysterious and probably was being the person she always wanted to be—at least for 45 minutes a day, five days a week, and eight months out of one year.
The Followers spent their money within themselves. They socialized only with each other. They exclusively married within their community, cousins and all that. A vast majority of their last names were Crone, Dotsun, Edwards, Hickman, Eels, Smith and White. They were all related to one another in some way.
As I look back on it now, I find it incredible that the Followers didn’t create their own private school system right out of the church, particularly when so many other Christian sects did exactly that in the 80s and 90s. But they never did. They sent their children to Oregon City public schools for the barest minimum of legally mandated education and then the children got the hell out.
Since the Followers didn’t believe in doctors, I don’t know how their children attended school without immunizations back then. Perhaps there were religious exemptions in those days (are there now?). This is all very interesting to pursue, but I don’t want to pursue it. It’s not the Story.
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