Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Monday, December 5, 2016

Look Out, Martha, Here Comes the Smut!


It those days we often went to the King of Prussia Mall. I probably wouldn’t recognize it today, it has expanded and grown so; and I dread what traffic is like there now. It was already a nightmare by the 1970s.  We often entered from the upper level parking lot. At the time there was an E. J. Korvette, a Woolworth, a Thrift Drugs and a J. C. Penney  on the upper level.
Some of you younger readers may not recognize some of those names, but they were all pretty big chains in the past.  E. J. Korvette’s were discount department stores (think Walmart and CostCo). It had 58 stores at one point, scattered about the malls of the country. It was founded in 1948 and the name took the initials of the founder’s first names, E(ugene) and J(oe) plus a misspelling of a sailing warship called a Corvette. A myth later grew that the name meant “Eleven Jewish Korean War Veterans”. Considering the company began three years before the Korean War  this makes no sense. The company went belly-up and disappeared in 1980.


Across the mall hallway from Korvettes was a large F. W. Woolworth. This chain was one of the first of what were called Five ‘n’ Dime store and dated back to 1878, when it was founded by Frank Winfield Woolworth in Utica, New York. By 1979, it was the largest department store chain in the world. However, this great growth eventually made it unsustainable and it ceased to exist as an entity in 1997, at the age of just short of 120 years.

Thrift Drugs was founded in 1935, probably in Pittsburgh, by Philip Hoffman and Reuben Helfant until they sold the chain to J. C. Penney in 1968. At this point the U.S, Federal Trade Commission brought antitrust charges against J. C. Penney, which had also obtained ownership of the drug chains, Eckerd and Rite Aid. Penney began divesting these stores and merged all the pharmacies into Eckerd. Eckerd eventually disappeared and became CVS, except for a number of its stores taken over by Rite Aid.


We were still living at the Lansdowne Towers when we met Wayne and Bunny at the King of Prussia Mall. We came in through Penney’s on the second level and went down the stairs to the lower level. There was a store along this corridor called Olga’s. This was
another large chain. It had been started by a Pole fleeing Nazi Germany in 1941. Olga Erteszek (left) took a sweatshop job making bras and girdles. Using a rented sewing machine costing $5.00 and with another $5.00 in material, she began making and selling her own lacy garter belts, which the women of those years needed to hold up their silk stockings. She sold her first stock to an elite department store, they proved popular and eventually she was making
nightgowns and lingerie. By 1984, she was ranked as a Fortune 500 Company.  Olga died of cancer in 1989.
Anyway, enough about mall history. It is just this is a difficult period of my life to tell about, but it is also pivotal to what I would become in the future. I’m not sure if there would have been a future if I had continued on the course I choose to pursue.




Lois spotted Olga’s and wanted to buy some new sexy underwear. We ambled in the place and she went off browsing. An older woman smiled and greeted us as we entered. She was the store manager. Lois came back after several minutes holding
some near nothings of cloth in her hands. She handed me her purse as she slipped through a curtain to the dressing rooms. I found something to lean against and stood waiting. Standing a few feet from me was another man also on pocketbook duty. We looked at each other and nodded, then suddenly this blond woman burst through the curtain wearing only a black fishnet body suit. (That’s not her in the photo, just some model.)
I felt I shouldn’t look, but I couldn’t help myself. The outfit gave me a lot to look at, too. She kind of did a little waltz about. The other man smiled at her and she disappear back into the dressing room.
“My wife,” he said.
At that point, Lois stuck her head out from the curtain and motioned to me to come back, but instead of going, I told her to just come out. She really didn’t hesitate. She came out on to the shop floor wearing a fairly transparent Teddy. He and I both looked her over and just as she departed to change once more, the other man’s wife was with us again in some kind of just barely there two-piece ensemble. This impromptu naughty fashion show continued for a while.
During this the other man and I began talking. He introduced himself as Wayne. His wife’s name was Bunny. They lived in an apartment in Drexel Hill, not very far from us in Aldan. We exchanged phone numbers and promised we would get together sometime. Finally, the women decided on their selections, we made our purchases and headed to the exit. The Store Manager was there smiling broadly as we passed and when we looked to the front there was a great crowd gathered about both the store entryway and its wide display window. They had been enjoying the on-going exotic show.

Before I go further, let me explain something about Bipolar Disorder, a problem Lois had that we were not yet aware of at the time.
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that can be characterized by drastic mood swings — between feeling elated, energetic, and risky to feeling sad and disinterested. These drastic swings are called episodes of mania and depression, and they are the classic signs of bipolar disorder. Not everyone has these drastic swings; some people with bipolar disorder swing back and forth between depressive and somewhat elated states.

But when someone with bipolar disorder is having a manic episode, risky, reckless sexual behaviors and significantly increased sex drive are quite common. Hypersexual behavior is often a warning sign of a manic episode, but keeping bipolar disorder managed with medication and therapy can stop hypersexuality.

Some people with bipolar disorder may show a greater interest in sex and sexually risky behaviors than is otherwise normal for them.

"Hypersexuality, in general is a symptom of hypomania or mania — it goes with that particular mood episode," says Adele C. Viguera, MD, a psychiatrist and associate director of the perinatal and reproductive psychiatry program at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Mania is one of the two main episodes that someone with bipolar disorder may experience; hypomania is just a milder form of mania. "Hypersexuality can be one of the characteristic symptoms for that," says Dr. Viguera. Other symptoms include:
        
         Spending an excessive amount of money
         Not sleeping
         Having trouble concentrating
         Speaking quickly and in a scattered manner

There isn't a clear-cut definition or criteria for being hypersexual, but for a person with bipolar disorder, it means being more focused on sex and risky sexual behaviors than they normally are. What's significant is that there is a change or difference from normal behaviors.

People with bipolar disorder experiencing hypersexuality may:

                  Have multiple sex partners
                  Think about sex constantly
                  Have one-night stands
                  Be more interested in pornography
                  Notice a difference in their sexual behaviors
                  Engage in other reckless behaviors like driving too fast or gambling

Hypersexuality with bipolar disorder isn't a separate condition or problem that needs its own treatment — it's a symptom of bipolar disorder. Once the bipolar disorder is successfully treated and mood swings and symptoms are under control, those hypersexual feelings will dissipate.

"You treat the disease, not the symptom," says Viguera. Once the disease is under control, people with bipolar disorder often react differently to sex and their past behaviors.

"You often see a lot of regret for the past behavior because
they put themselves in very bad situations," says Viguera. "When they're well, they reflect back on that and there can be a lot of regret and remorse. It's just another clue that shows you that that was not their normal state."

So what had been going on with Lois that would become even more prevalent gave her a reason and basically excused her behavior. But what about me? I didn’t have any excuse. I was simply into sex, deep into pornography and turned on by kinky and risky behavior. My collection of pornographic magazines had grown and like a lot of other addictions, I needed stronger stuff to get a jolt.  The Adult Sex industry now blooming in Philadelphia did everything it could to feed the need.
It had started with a Peep Show establishment on Walnut Street across from Rittenhouse Square, old time nickelodeons playing loops of mostly anonymous strippers. After this a couple Adult Bookstores opened here and there, but by the 70s there were dozens of such shops and they had consolidated along Arch Street and 12th and 13th just before the Reading Terminal. I don’t know if it was simply coincidence or by design that this became a kind of red light district of sex products. Those little xxx movie theaters on West Market were now presenting live shows between features, with strippers who quickly went from dress to complete nudity. I was spending a number of afternoons taking in these.
In 1972, “Deep Throat” was released and played in the First Run theaters around the country and Lois and I saw it in Philadelphia, along with many other couples, who would never have set foot into the Holiday Art Theater. Pornography had went mainstream, a spate of sleazy films became hits in the so-called upper-end theaters. “The Devil in Miss Jones”, “Debbie Does Dallas” and “Behind the Green Door”, the last film making Marilyn Chambers  a household name.

Before she starred in this sex movie she had been the face of Ivory Snow with its slogan of “99 and 44/100% Pure.” Every box of the soap had her holding a laughing baby on the front. Proctor & Gamble immediately withdrew all products and adverting featuring her from the marketplace. Chambers died in 2009 of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 56.

It does not appear that Chambers ever repented of her career in the sex industry, unlike Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems who eventually accepted Christianity.

In May of 1972, I received a letter from Reverend Ronald Rice of my parent’s church. I was less than happy about it. I had had my confrontations with the Reverend Davies back in 1971. Apparently, my mother had been discussing her displeasure with my lifestyle among members of her church. One of these ladies took it upon herself to intervene, berating my mother for not confronting me for my behavior or perhaps failing as a mother in raising me properly. She seemed to be rather persistent in constantly criticizing my mother as if she could have done anything to really change my course in life. She also enlisted the current Minister at Bethel as well. Now I began a series of letters and confrontations with Reverend Rice. They tended to be ugly.
I wrote the Reverend Rice and basically told him my life was not his business and I would ask him to tell the lady, a Mr. Peterman (pictured left) to “stop hounding my mother”. On May 11, 1972 I received a reply back.

Dear Mr. Meredith:
As I read your letter and your correspondence from the last several years I see that you have done very well at criticizing and condemning…I do want to share with you some reactions I have to your letters. (If possible I would like you to come to my office and talk about the whole matter in person.) [I did meet with him and my feeling is he probably regretted it.]
I find it very unlikely that Mrs. Peterman “hounded” your parents. Mrs. Peterman could not hound anyone. Perhaps it is you who hound or confound your parents. [I agree that I confounded my parents; not that I ever hounded them on anything.]
Your letter was very bitter and very unfriendly. It shows that you have not learned the basic message of our Lord. You have never forgiven the church, Pritchard (another former minister I had words with), yourself, and possibly many others. However, forgiveness and love is the central element of Jesus message!
You write the church has failed, and that its values and priorities are out of order. That is without question. I am sadly discouraged by the kinds of “Christianity” that are displayed, but just to condemn it does no good. There are many critics like you, who sit on the outside and take potshots at the church. But what is the good of that? Does it make you feel better?  I hope not.
What the Church needs is people who are willing to invest themselves – all they have and all they are – to build the kind of community that Jesus directed. There is already enough hatred and bitterness in the world and church. We need a supportive fellowship where love and concern is expressed day by day.
Church membership then presupposes a two way responsibility. The church has a responsibility to its members, and each member has a responsibility to the organization. If either refuses to carry out their responsibilities then the relationship is broken. By your own action in refusing to be part of the church you have broken the relationship. (Even hurt and disappointment by members or minister did not mean rejection by the church.)
We all make mistakes. Perfection is not a characteristic of people. Since the church is made up of people it cannot be perfect. This is where forgiveness comes in. Christ forgave us all things, but he said we must be forgiving of others to realize the full impact of our forgiveness.
The doors of Bethel are not closed to you. We are
willing to accept you as you are, but in return you must be willing to accept us as we are.
Your truly, Ronald E. Rice. (Pictured on left.)

I had basically cut my relationship with Bethel after Lois and I married there in 1961. These letters were written in 1972, eleven years later and I had barely attended anything at Bethel, except on a very few occasions at the request of my mother and grandmother. By this time I was an Atheist. The thing with being an Atheist is I didn’t believe in a god, small or capital letter, nor did I believe in Heaven, Hell or the Devil. I thought there had existed a man named Jesus and that he was kind and wise, but I didn’t see him any different than Buddha or Gandhi. Perhaps a wise man, but just a man.
Another thing with being an Atheist, I didn’t have anything greater than myself to answer to. Whatever morals I had fell on me to decide. Oh sure, I could kid myself and claim I was bound to society and mankind and therefore would be a caring person, but in reality, only to the extent it did not interfere with my own desires.

Dear Mr. Rice, (Notice how I deliberately disrespected him by not addressing my letter to Reverend Rice.)
It is difficult to answer your letter. But I will try with some hope that when you talk of the value of listening, you heard yourself. I believe you will read carefully. Therefore, I believe that no matter how dull the answer may be, you will read to the end. I also trust you will read thoughtfully, and not angrily, despite my unfriendly tone. (By the way, I realize that when someone, such as I, sounds off there is a tendency to dismiss him with the old bromide: “An empty barrel makes the most noise.” I ascribe to a different bromide myself. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” [I guess you can see how condescending I was.]
So, first, I will attempt to answer your letter paragraph by paragraph. I apologize right here and now if I sound particularly unfriendly. I’m trying to be honest, not unfriendly. Anyway, after I answer your letter, I’ll make some proposals. Take them as you will.
Let’s begin unfriendly. I consider a letter written by myself as a personal correspondence between myself and the recipient, not a public record for filing. I think this reasonable. People change their minds sometimes. Who wants to be haunted by past thoughts, which may no longer apply? But since you do read other people’s mail, I have reread my mail from the church since 1966. Perhaps you should also; you already know my reactions to that mail. I am tempted to skip this whole “hurt greatly in your lifetime” nonsense. Yes, I have suffered hurts. So has everyone else. It is part of life to suffer a hurt once in a while. The implications of such a statement as you made, since you know little about the hurts in my life, is that those hurts somehow motivated my antagonism toward the church. You have had hurts sometime in your life, too. Were they the motive for your hiding in the church? Now, do you like being dismissed as just another neurotic?

As far as Rev. Pritchard is concerned, he is merely a symptom of the disease infecting the church. His negligence is his own business. I do not forgive nor condemn him. I can’t because I don’t know all the circumstances. He has went elsewhere, so I can’t see whether he has changed or not.
My simple request, I remind you, is to keep Mrs. Peterman and anyone else, from “hounding” my parents when they should be “hounding” me. Mrs. Peterman took the easy way, Mr. Rice, the easy way and the gutless way. I do see there is a Peterman on the church’s dunning committees from at least 1968. There is an inclination to “hound” there somewhere. From the tension suffered by my mother, I would say Mrs. Peterman shares the trait.
I suppose in many ways I do confound my parents. That is natural. We disagree on many things. But we get along fine. They work hard to make their living. I work hard for mine. We don’t hound each other. It would do no good. All of us are old enough to make up our own minds.
My letter is unfriendly, yes, but it is not bitter. Nothin’ to be bitter about. But if I was merely bitter, then I could be safely ignored. So ignore me if you will, but I’m not bitter.  As far as forgiving, you leave a long list. I don’t know why I’m included on it. But you are right about one thing, I haven’t forgiven the church. That is because the church has shown it hasn’t changed. I hate to drag a Jesus example into this, but it will show my point best. Jesus kicked the moneychangers out of the temple, true? I am sure he then forgave them, right? But if the next year he had returned and found them operating in the temple once again, wouldn’t he have kicked them out again? Look, the only thing I have heard from the church since I married was “send us some money”, no other concern. No, how are you, where have you been for 11 years, just, “send us some money”. The last request came Feb 12, 1969, a few months before my wife and I moved into a roach hole in West Philly. Then a new request in April this year, after several months at our present address. As our neighbors suggest, it appears this address spells money.
I am glad you agree that the church has failed and priorities are out of order. What are you doing about this/ There are many (most) preachers who stand in the pulpit and talk of the suffering of mankind. But what is the good of that? Does it make them feel better? Or just fill the collection plate?  Are there no workhouses, prisons, state homes? Let the whining and suffering go there then.
Oh enough of this. Let’s face it, the church shows no real interest in the things you claim. It simply expects loyality, followers coming like sheep. It wants people who are easy to accept and get along with. It certainly doesn’t want to be involved with the community. Simply look at the last statement of your letter.  I’m not asking you to accept me as I am or at all. I do not intend to accept you as you are. I expect you to change, to shift emphasis, to worry about the body and soul of men who have trouble tending to their own rather than your [expletive deleted] building find.
Alright, I said I would make some proposals:
1.     The church should send a letter to president Nixon telling him it cannot support the war.
2.     The church should send a letter to Cardinal Krol condemning the closing of Catholic Churches for racial reasons. It is deplorable to close a church because a “mere $326 were collected”, but to do it to hide racial reasons is worse. I know people who go to St. Theresa and I realize they have money problems, but since when is heaven bought on the installment plan? As to St. Catherine of Sienna, it is not poor, but is in a black neighborhood. I think the church, even though we aren’t Catholic, should support Father Donovan in his effort to keep the church open.
3.     I have found that most people who need help find it hard finding the right help. The church could do something by forming a clearinghouse for community problems. This means helping people, any people, who are having problems to find the proper help. It means helping drug addicts, alcoholics, rich people, poor people, good and bad, not just church goers. It means gaining their trust and really forgiving sins, not just mouthing the message.
I have some time to give to such a cause. I don’t know how much direction I can give, but if such a set-up was formed, I could do what I could to help.
So be it.
Sorry I lost my cool about the third page and got sarcastic, I’m only human, you know.
Yours, Larry Meredith

 Our correspondence went on and on for a while, including some face to face meetings. In the end we shook hands and agreed to disagree and I didn’t hear from Reverend Rice anymore, nor did I return to Bethel or any church as a result. As I said, I was firmly an Atheist and not beholding to someone else’s moral code or belief. My only principle was as long as it didn’t hurt anyone, it was strictly my business. My business and only belief was in pleasure and that pleasure consisted of a lot of drinking and sex.
The friends we had seemingly shared in that viewpoint. Certainly the Stones were into the drinking part We told dirty jokes and made innuendo, but there wasn’t any real sex play among us. 
We reserved that for our new acquaintances, Bunny and Wayne.
After the little show at Olga’s I gave Wayne a call. I think we
visited their place the first time. They lived in Drexel Hill, not far from where Lois had grown up. We didn’t find ourselves at a lost for words nor for a lack of things to do. This consisted of a few mixed drinks and then some games. I remember playing the game “Operation” there. You know the game where you have this cardboard figure of a man with some open places throughout his body and inside these is an organ or bone to be removed. You use a pair of tweezers connected to a buzzer and if you touch the side of the person an alarm sounds. The object was to remove as many items without sounding the alarm as possible.
We played a slightly modified version. Each time the player sounded the alarm they might not have removed the offending body part, but they did have to remove an article of clothing. Any game we played to break the ice resulted in the four of us sitting about in our birthday suits.
These games and the drinking would eventually lead to having sex. We always had it with our own spouse, there was no swapping of partners involved, but sometimes we shared the same bed and sometimes we took turns watching each other in the act. There was every indication that Bunny was bisexual and she would sometimes come on to both of us. After our sexual bacchanal we would all go to sleep. In the morning we would gather to eat breakfast in the nude.
Sometimes we would take a jaunt together, often to shopping malls to search out anything that struck us as erotic. One of these was the first time I ever traveled over the Delaware line and visited the Concord Mall. It was here I started to feel a bit uneasy about Wayne. He began pointing out the bodies of young girls and commenting on them in a predatory way.
Bunny had a habit of getting us gifts, generally suggestive clothing. One time she gave Wayne and me male G-strings, very brief ones. Wayne had often bragged about a certain part of his
anatomy and its great length, but I was the one whose fits-all-sizes G-string was too small. She gave all four of us these brown shorts. I don’t know where one could actually wear the things, since they fit in a way that revealed everything about your body that they covered. In the photograph of me I included, I had to go and modify it for decency sake.
We were living at the Lansdowne Towers at this time. Lansdowne had a unique feature. There was a camera in the entryway, an alcove between the outside door that allowed the mailman entry to the mailboxes and the inner door that opened into the apartment vestibule. This inner door was always locked. When someone visited, they pushed a button above your mailbox, which rang a buzzer in your apartment. You could then turn to Channel Two on the TV and see who was waiting to be let in. If you wanted to allow them access you pushed a button that released the inner door lock.
They came to visit us and our buzzer sounded. I turned on the TV and there they stood in the alcove. It was winter and they were dressed in coats. Wayne held up a bottle of booze. Bunny suddenly pulled her coat wide open to reveal she wore nothing underneath except a black G-string. I quickly rang them in. Anyone in the building that was viewing Channel Two at that moment would have had quite a show. Why would anyone else be viewing? Well, because they wanted to. Lois and I would sometimes put on Channel Two and just watch the people who came and went.
We eventually dissolved our friendship. As I noted, I was becoming wary of Wayne’s apparent pedophile tendencies and
Lois was growing more and more suspicious that they wanted to move to swapping partners. We had met Wayne and Bunny in October of 1971, it was now November of 1972 and we were leaving our nice apartment in Aldan and moving to Cherry Hill (Right). This made our breakup easier, we just basically disappeared across the river into South New Jersey.
We often took photographs of our evenings and I am aware that there are some explicit photographs of us somewhere perhaps, if time hasn’t faded them or if Wayne or Bunny hasn’t tossed them away.  I have no idea whatever happen to that couple. I do not know if they are living or dead.

The fact that my wife and I did not engage in any group sex activities after this did not mean we did not continue pursuing a party life or engaging in risky sexual behavior.  Frankly, I had wandered about as far as one could from normal sexual activity, but our continuing and constant involvement in what many would call kinky sex just went on unabated. I saw no problem with this. As an Atheist there was no higher power that might frown upon it and it didn’t really hurt anyone, did it? It was all a sensual secret life.

1 comment:

Ron said...

Wow Lar. You were quite a different person back in the 70's. Many of us were at that time of our life. All part of our evolution to who we are today. Nothing to be ashamed of.
Ron