The Witnesses

While wandering around Balboa Park on April 20, 2023, I passed by several spots where people evangelized their religious faiths. Among them, Hare Krishna was one and Jehovah Witness was another. For the latter, I stopped to chat with a tall gent, wearing a broad smile, thick-frame eyeglasses, and straw-like hat.

He regularly comes down from Vista to San Diego to spread the good word about Jehovah. I didn’t think to mention that my apartment is located about three blocks from a Kingdom Hall. He graciously agreed to be photographed—and the woman, whom I believe was his wife, too. The Featured Image comes from Leica Q2 Monochrom. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/1250 sec, 28mm; 3:16 p.m. PDT.

Now a story. When I was about 14, my mom rented an apartment from a family of Jehovah Witnesses. The parents owned a motel, where were two flats; they lived in the downstairs unit and our place was above. They had kids whose ages I don’t recall but at least one may have been contemporary to my three younger sisters.

Witnesses don’t celebrate Christian holidays because of pagan origins. That proved to a problem at Christmas when the youngsters upstairs received gifts and decked the halls, so to speak. We weren’t long-resident renters, after that—we worshippers of decorated spruce trees and Easter eggs. The landlords were right to try and protect their children from being influenced—corrupted if you prefer—by pagan Protestants (Northern Baptists not being strict enough).

My memories of the place: Being a motel, there were snack and soda vending machines which wickedly tempted me to buy devilish treats. If there was any idolatry going on, Christmas and Easter wasn’t it but my worshipping the vending machines, to which I made offerings of coins and received sweets as reward.

But I mean no slight to the family or their faith. We were the wrong fit for them and their values.