Happenstance events entangled two church families
in a most unhappy situation.
I can’t imagine what’s recalled this story, unless it’s the weather. It was about this time of year, 1974 or ’75, when I was home from college on summer vacation and read about these things in the papers.
I grew up in a fairly large congregation of upper-middle class people. We would get 200 on a Sunday.
Ron Roberts and his wife and children came. There were about seven children. The oldest were a few years younger than me; I never knew them well, but they seemed to be good kids. I nicknamed their mother Zelda, ’cause she was kind of wild-looking.
Sam Smith and his wife Louise belonged to my father’s generation; they had been pillars of the church for decades. They had a daughter Linda, whom I somehow never knew. She married one John Jones. They had a daughter Becky, a few years younger than me, just about the cutest girl I ever met. She eventually married one of my pals from the youth group.
One night in January, two junkies broke into a hardware store. They tripped a silent alarm; police arrived; there was a gun battle. A police officer got killed.
John Jones was charged with felony murder.
Unknown to anyone before all this came out, Zelda had found part-time work as a belly dancer. At Jones’ trial, she testified that on the night of the break-in, she performed at a house party where Jones was present. Following her performance, the two of them retired to a bedroom, where they proceeded to have sex till dawn. She testified to this at length, in graphic detail.
John Jones was acquitted.
I never saw the Roberts family again.
Where I attend church now, we celebrate the Mass every week. We begin with a rite of corporate confession and absolution. The people recite:
The priest pronounces absolution: