Ross in Washington State

Ross in Washington State 

A few updates and ponderings.

As I finished going through the entire stack of papers that were the culmination of work for Howard Ross, I sensed a bit of frustration that I may have missed something.  Some note, hidden on the back of some page I forgot to turn over and examine.  Moreover, there are always the little nuances that a symbol or a phrase can bring back a memory for Howard, but does nothing for me.  It is part of deciphering the past and someone else’s research.  Looking at that, I realized what a great thing it is that I am putting these notes up on a blog.  Someday, there will probably be some form of this blog available and it is much easier to search a blog than going through a stack of papers.  Another good part is that I may die, my house may burn, and all I have may be lost, but this will give an extension to another dimension.  I am sure somebody is printing or copying the things I am putting up that is relevant to them.  So this is a mass sharing that is effective for saving.

Anyhow, having given my deep thoughts for the day, here is the latest news.

One of those papers in Howard Ross’ massive stack was an address for a Beulah Duncan in Zillah, Washington (The sheet it was on was dated 1972).  I knew I had a Beulah Ross who was the daughter of Robert Leonard Ross.  The rascal that disappeared and I have yet to catch up with him.  I knew she had married a Duncan but that was it.  Could she have really made it to Washington State?  I thought I might as well venture to find out.

I looked up Zillah, Washington on Google and found it is between Yakima and Sunnyside.  I searched Duncan in the phone book for Zillah and found a couple in Sunnyside and a couple in Toppenish both of which were nearby.  After about a half dozen phone calls, I found nobody home.  So I left it for a day or two.  I knew that she was probably not still alive, but a good chance a family member who knew of her would be able to lead me in the right direction.

I rang the numbers again last night to find some woman with what I believe was a Irish accent in Toppenish.  First strike.  The second call was a lady I had a devil of a time understanding.  But she assured me she was the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Beulah Duncan.  I thought she told me her name was Debra Lee.  We visited and she gave me the phone number of her daughter Terel Stan Stone.  I know, that is what I thought, a girl with a guys name!  I hung up and called Mrs. Stone and she thought I was crazy when I told her I had visited with her mother Debra Lee.  Come to find out, her mother’s name is Beverly and the lady I was talking to was Carol Ann Stone.  Wow, it is amazing how hearing can alter things.

We visited for a few minutes; she told me what she knew of her grandmother, Beulah.  Their story goes something like this.  Robert was an alcoholic and his wife Minnie had some sort of Drug addiction.  All the children were farmed out to others.  Beulah was taken in by her grandparents, my great great grandparents James Thomas Meredith Ross and Damey Catherine Graham.  She was taken and raised near Rupert, Idaho.  But her strict Mormon grandparents was a bit much for her so she was anxious to get out.  That came when she met a Jack or Mack Duncan.  She was 14 and married him.  They moved to Zillah, Washington and lived out the remainder of their days.  He died in the late 70’s and she died in 2002 at about 96 years of age.  They had four children, two of which are deceased.

Anyhow, I am excited to finally flesh out one of Robert Leonard Ross’ lines.  However, it will not be easy to get the rest of the siblings.  Carol did not know what happened for sure to her siblings and we will have to see what we can scrounge up.  It sounds like even Beulah herself did not know where some of her siblings ended up.

At least for now, we are one step closer to filling in some holes on the Robert Leonard Ross line.  I look forward to any information Carol has which may give clues to more.

See, one little note on a piece of paper has opened a door to an entire family line.  Carol was not aware of us and we were not aware of them.  Now we are.  Let’s see where family can take us.

Chapter notes

I wanted to add a few little notes to the closing chapter.  Since it is too late to enter the thoughts in the chapter, I can surely append them, can’t I?  Well, with permission or not, I am.
The last response on the blog was one a bit sober for me.  After all, I tend to take hard critical words that they hint at a grain of truth, if not more.  So, I attempt the thorough examination of whether or not that bit of truth was of size or consequence.
But first, I must recognize how prized some of your e-mails and comments have been to me.  Thank you for your support.  I love good people like you!
I must report that as I went back out into the field that day, to finish up my week, I felt that a whole burden had lifted.  Perhaps that is my whole qualm with the sales industry.  The pressure exerted on its sales people.
It must be reported that I very much enjoyed working with Marc Summers.  While he is cocky, certainly boastful, I found that he had an air about himself that I enjoyed.  Saying that, in his position he is dealing with increasing pressure from above.
That is what used to make Combined beautiful.  The people loved working there because it was fun and the job was great.  Combined Insurance Company of America has turned into an ugly monster.  Having gone the way of all Babylon, they now have retreated to force and pressure.  My Grandmother loved Mr. Clement Stone and the company because they had a product to sell, and according to your wishes and desires, you went and did what you wanted.  You were rewarded accordingly.  Now they have become another vicious machine, where it is no longer the individual that counts, but the program and results.
Mr. Neil Pehrson the Regional was of hope to me.  A relic of another age.  I sure like him, as I do Marc.  Both remind me of what the company used to be like.  But in company’s changes, they are exerting force down the line.  The change has increased even in the months since I have been present.  That is where I bucked.  I don’t allow for that force in my life, especially when it is voluntary.  The same reason I have some issues with the changes government is making, but that is another subject.
I even feel a bit of sadness tonight.  My heart aches for the loss.  Marc has taken this pretty hard.  He was very upset, but now I can sense a longing.  I admit, I became quite attached to the company as well.
At least once a week, I was reminded of a moment in my childhood in doing the travels with my Grandmother.  I miss her more than my heart could ever tell.  Even now I want to weep from the separation that seems to be present.  I think Combined has brought much of the past to life again for me.  I literally have relived the summers when I was growing up.  I think often of President Packer’s talk “In the light of thy childhood” and the pure chords it still resonates with me.  The classic line of Field of Dreams, heaven is where dreams come true….  Anyhow, I think I shall stop there, I don’t feel these are sentiments I should be sharing here.
Next, I had the opportunity of sharing the gospel with Mr. Marc.  He had questions.  He was curious.  I could not get him to keep his commitments, so I wonder his intentions, but I hope they were pure.  I sure enjoyed that experience.  It gave me a great measure of hope and that too provided a certain reliving of the mission.  The questions, the answers, the promptings of the Spirit.  Oh how much I loved those days.  It broke my heart for me to go into checkout today and he gave me back all the various things I had given him.  He gave me back the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Restoration Video, and other various things.  That was hard for me.  Then again, I suppose a missionary is not totally surprised when this happens the rest of their life.
This job provided a reattachment to previous times in my life.  I don’t wish you to think I am surreal and living in the past.  I very much look forward to the future.  My past is past, but the foundation of my life must not be forgotten.  How can I hope a superstructure if I neglect the foundation.  Surely, these things must not be.
Somehow, despite the release of pressure, I feel a sad detachment.  It is like I am not only leaving my job, but my past.  I know this is not true.  There were attachments beyond just it being a ‘job’ for me.
I vow that if I ever come to lead an organization of any type, that pressure will not be the means.  People must find their own motivation.  They must be on board with the community, or business.  That motivation must come from within, from whatever source.  When it comes from without, it is so terrible and undermining.  Love unfeigned, hope, and pure knowledge are the keys to successful leadership.  Any organization would do well to take a page from the gospel of Christ.
Well, having now discarded the wagon I had for the moving of me and my family to Zion, I now have to find another means of moving through the next phase of travel.  After all, that wagon was too much of a struggle to drive.  We are now on foot, which is a terrible way to travel.  One can make out alright, but it sure makes it hard to help others.  The saddening part is those with autos don’t offer help.  Where will the means come?  Church?  I think family is too far to aid.  We will see what God will do to reveal his arm.  Until then, we wade on.
Shall we not go on in so great a cause?  Go forward and not backward.  Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!  Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.

Mt. Vernon

Probably time for another little update. We have just returned from another weekend up in the bustling city of Washington. We went up last night, stayed with Dennis and Gwen Thompson, and had ourselves a great time. We attended the Washington Temple this morning. Amanda, Dennis, and Gwen all did a session while I did initiatory. It was a great, much needed, release from the week. I actually quite enjoyed myself.We had lunch with the whole Thompson Clan to celebrate Grandparent’s Day, and then they went off to a soccer game for Faith and Destiny. Amanda and I met up with Greg McNeill and headed to Mount Vernon. This was Amanda’s first visit, my third. We drove over separately and spent the time walking through the grounds. Amanda was already exhausted from the day, and seemed to be dragging the whole time. She says she enjoyed Mt. Vernon. I really liked sitting with Martha Washington and listening to her talk about Thomas Jefferson. She did not have much to say that she liked about him.

Greg and I had a great chat about a whole host of things. We discussed politics, Mormons, campaigns, Supreme Court rulings, and who knows what else. Poor Amanda was even more exhausted after hanging out with us. It was great to catch up with him though. He is a good man. He announced and gave us his wedding date for May 26th next year. I have put it on my calendar, we are planning to go, it is at Fort Belvoir at the officer’s club. That should be exciting.

The week went well. I worked my tail off some more and became pretty frustrated with things. I am supposed to have two full weeks of training, all day long. That is 10 days. So far, I have had a whopping 3 days I think, and then they tell me that they want me to do more sales or something. I honestly don’t have a clue about what I am doing with some stuff. For example, I collected premium from a lady this week for a policy that has been paid for up for 20 years. She was old and senile enough not to notice, and I had no clue. What the company will do with that is beyond me. The best part, it was life insurance premium I collected, and is technically illegal for me to do so. That is how green I am in many ways.

I did write three policies this week, but I need to learn how to do more. I want to, but I seem to be so very alone. Oh well, I will endure.

They made me go on a conference call this week. That will be the last time I do that. I spent a good 30 minutes listening to the sub-regional manager talk about all these little goals and that they have for us. They are not paying for my lost 30 minutes of cell phone time. Next, Mr Stone himself said that a goal that is not ours, does not have the power to motivate. Well, I will be making my own goals. I don’t care if I go to Nashville. I don’t care if I get some luxury spa set. Honestly, I don’t care if I have a big bonus at the end of the year. I want to feel my job is worthwhile, and that I am succeeding at it. That is hard to do sometimes when you have not a clue what is going on, and then some people start riding you for their goals. Well, I know where they can go. Back to that little throne that they think they are on, and live their little dream. I will do the work in my realm, and do what is necessary, with what capacity I have. I don’t know how they expect me to write 15 policies in a week when the three I had this week were in my estimation pure luck.

On top of all that Marc, tells me he wants me to be a Sales Manager. I cannot even get the training to sell, why in the world would I want to be a Sales Manager and oversee other’s selling. How can I train on something I have not yet figured out. Seeing as I won’t get the training just yet. Having said all that, I cannot expect them to do so, nor will I pass the buck. I will do my part, I will do what I can, and improve at my own pace. How they expect more, on my own, I have yet to figure out. If somebody can help me, I would appreciate the advice on how I can do more than I know how. Trial error is not the best way, but if that is all they leave me with, fine. I will work that method. I do have a great set of resources from Mr. Stone himself, but the LSAT takes precedence right now. Not that I am doing great in that either, but at least I have priority.

Well, time to prepare for the Sabbath. Lessons to review, read, and ideas to be familiar with. I hope this coming week will provide greater opportunities and I will keep my sight higher. I cannot let myself get weighed down by my inadequacies. ( I think I spelled that wrong, but I just don’t want to check….)

 

Insurance

After two weeks in the field, I have some time to reflect.Insurance is more or less natural for me. My grandmother sold insurance for Combined for 30 years before she retired. She used to take me out for weeks at a time during the summer. I enjoyed our time together and enjoyed meeting people. Combined is very much a go out and visit the people type of insurance company. We go to the people’s homes and that has many bonus points for me. I get to see the territory and not sit in an office all day. Next, I get to know the places, history, and layout of what is around me and come to know and appreciate Virginia more. I love to meet and visit with people. This has been an eye opener in many ways to see how people live much more simply, and sometimes more dirty, than we do in the west, generally speaking. The past week or two a good majority of the homes I have gone into have been those of blacks. (I don’t wish to sound negative, I just know of no other way to describe them.) I have come to appreciate and love them since I never have really been around any. I found they are more inclined to laugh, more casual and easy going, and much more friendly than the white folk. (Saying all that, things I laugh at are not even understood here, the culture and background of these people are different too!)

The company visits every client in their home every 6 months. This is both to collect premiums for those who wish to pay it that way, and to answer any questions, help them file claims, and the like. Since we are constantly out among the people, we often sell more to their families or neighbors. That is our number one way. There are businesses who put a policy on each of their employees, so we do sell to individuals and employers. We don’t do the group thing, the policy is written on each individual. I can sell door to door if I wish, and I might take that up one day when I run low on things to do. In the last two weeks I probably have only had the possible time of about 2 hours to do so though. So, we do have to make cold calls once and a while.

Last week I made over $500, and this week over $600, so I have no complaints. That is doing basically all renewals. When I finally get comfortable with the selling, I can probably make more money. That is not my goal though. My goal is to be a professional at my job. In doing all these renewals, I still have questions that come to me that I am not able to answer. Plus some like Marc, can take the most angry customer, calm them down, and get them to keep their insurance. This I am not able to do. He was not happy with me since I lost about $300 in customers. I really did not know what to do with any of them. Two of them were due to Medicaid, which I understand that it is company policy to ask them to drop the policy. What good is it to pay for a policy which Uncle Sam gets the money from? Especially when he is already fitting the whole bill through Medicaid. I had another two who would not even let me in the door. One when I knocked again I thought would kill me when I asked for her signature for the cancellation. I have plenty to learn here. It just seems to me that if a customer is very clear that they don’t want it any more, you try to talk with them, but if there is no reasoning, you do what you need to and leave. I will see what Marc trains me on this week. Hopefully it is not feel wrong to me, for if it does, I will have to let him know so.

On the mission, I always struggled with knocking doors. Perhaps it is the old fashioned way I was raised. You speak and converse only after introductions. The current sales position ignores that. Tracting as a missionary was the same way. I understood I had to do it and it took the better part of two years to get over that. However, there is a certain dread that creeps into me now that I am back to that state. I will admit, I always wanted to knock alone on the mission, two at the door just seemed too much. Now that I have the opportunity, I have a fear. I don’t necessarily feel it is wrong, I just have this fear. I don’t know if it is rejection or the being intrusive. Who knows.I have to admit that I am impressed with the training of Combined in many ways. Primerica never helped me learn the material to get my license. Nor did they ever take me to sales training. One thing is sure though, once you get beyond that, it is scary though. I have spent 3 days with Ted Kelley in training, and I really did not learn that much. I can go and renew. The problems I have is when we have a customer that is concerned. I think it would be much more beneficial to just go and take me knocking doors for a few days. Those who are new are going to ask many more questions which will certainly apply to those who are also customers. Plus, quite honestly, I need training on sales. But Ted knocked one door with me, which is a credit to the company, that we can still make that much money and never do a sale. But on the other hand, renewals are only half my job. I know the area is a little behind right now because they have been short on workers, so there is plenty of renewing to do. What happens when we get caught up? I would prefer to get my training now while I can still make the money, than have to do a crash course because I have nothing else to do!

Sadly though, those above me seem to be more interested in their making money than in my training. I hope I don’t have to do this entirely on my own. It will be a long and painful process. I suppose if Mr. Stone can do it, then so can I. However, I thought he put the training apparatus in place so I would be able to learn it with help rather than trial and error.

All is not well in the Combined environment. If I ever get into leadership or training, one thing is certain, we will do as we did in the mission, and focus on training. Individuals before business.

Well, that is enough for now. Need to finish preparing for my talk tomorrow. Perfecting the Saints/Priesthood. So vague, so encompassing, how shall I speak with any specific purpose I don’t know. We will see what the Spirit directs.

 

Raleigh, North Carolina

Well, it has certainly been a long two weeks in Raleigh, North Carolina. I went down on the 1st and returned yesterday. It has certainly been an experience. I have always been fortunate to end up in the most interesting situations, and there always seems to be something to write home about.I rode down with Larry Grice, who went through license training with me. I have to make a few mentions of Mr. Grice. He has a certain way of doing things. There is this certain twitch, or something, which makes him have to constantly be fidgeting with his surroundings. It seems as though he must be always turning a nob or moving something. Readjusting the volume, changing station, changing the fan speed, turning things on and off, moving his seat, making a strange little laugh, and a whole host of other things. To top it off, he cannot drive smooth if his life depended on it. It is a constant change of speed and use of the brake, and these are not gradual. Faster, slower, jerk here, jerk there, swerve over here, and more constant twitches. By the time we got there, I was car sick and in the front seat. To top it off, my patience was such that I was ready for a rampage.

I don’t know why, but the volume of the radio always worked itself up so that it would hurt my ears. So I would say something so he would have to turn it down again. But in doing so, I had to have a conversation with a man who I could not understand. Between his accent, and perhaps a bit of a lazy mouth, it put more stress to carry conversation. Raleigh is a three hour drive, and if it had been 2 minutes longer, I am afraid I might have found a dead body on the side of the road. Really though, I was so wound up, mad, angry, irritated by the time we got there, I just had to go for a walk. This went on every single time we drove to work, or back, and all the way back here to Richmond.

One day on the way to work he put on Spanish music. I don’t mind a little latin music once and a while, but with his driving, and it damaging my ear drums, and then in the 100+ heat, it wore me thin. Another day, we listened to this preacher lady who was doing something I am not familiar with. She kept putting an ‘ah’ on the endah of herah wordsah, preachinah about Christah, and it wasah loudah, and sheah wasah doinah some sortah singinah, and Larry decidedah to keep the windowah downah, and it was likeah 114ah with heat indexah, and we areah in shirtah and tiesah… I started riding with other people to lunchah and to and from workah.If that was not the end of it, Larry had a few other character traits not so endearing. I found out from the class that he solicited a women in the class for a little sexual favor. Apparently she needed the cash more than her dignity, and he returned at 2:00 in the morning. I really don’t know anything happened, but her roommate supposedly got the low down from her. She is a college student and had complained before the whole class that she needed some dough, and her roommate said she definitely had plenty the next day. I do know that he asked two other married women for her phone numbers during the week. One of which earned him a sexual harrassment complaint to Combined Insurance.

Nicole Moore, who was with us in license training put Larry in his place when he started making comments about her body and such. Larry was always off visiting family and did not do any studying. Then as the week wore on and he obviously was far behind the class, he only complained that there was too much information or that it was not all necessary to know. I learned loads of patience, and wore it awfully thin a few times. He was a absolute mess. After a shower, the bathroom smelled like something was in its last stages of being decomposed by mushrooms. He slept naked and did not make much effort to cover himself in transition between clothes, the bathroom, and the bedroom. While I would be studying or even in bed, he would turn the television on and blast the sound. He would mumble little things to himself, or if they were to me I could not have understood or heard it very well. As if this was not enough, he was black. So, being raised in a very non-black state, Idaho, I never worried about this. Honestly, I do not think I really care or give any thought to skin color. However, when you are with one 48 hours a day, I found myself in places and even in private being extra careful to not be racist. Again, I honestly don’t think I have a racist bone in my body, but somehow with the climate around us, I found I had this fear of being racist. It created an extra cautious talk, reaction, and actions in his presence, more I think from the social and governmental climate we have today. Quite honestly, I found myself reverse discriminating to him! I was more lenient or less vocal with him than I would have been with someone else. I suppose that does make me racist, but in a reverse way. I let him get away with blowing my ear drums out because I did not want to offend him, or because he was…I don’t know what.

The entire week, in the background, was this constant struggle with my patience and with a complete phenomenon I have never encountered before. To top it off, the air conditioning went out in the building we were having our training in. For a week of record highes, it was horrible timing. With the temperature with the heat index between 105 and 115, it was definitely the same indoors. In a room with windows facing the sun the light and heat poured in. The full wall was windows, and they do not open. The heat was stifling. When we would go outside to cool off every hour, we thought it was cool, even though the bank one day said 114. I have no idea what the actual temperature was inside, or if it was just the closed quarters, and tremendous humidity, but that wore on a person too. Quite literally, we would be listening to Mr. Roger Dudley teach us, and I would have sweat running down my face. You could not touch anything and not have it stick to you. It was long, tedious days, and then when we were done, it was back to the hotel for a shower and nap. Both were required if you were to be any form of comfortable. We were supposed to be in shirt and tie all week, he let us come in shorts and t-shirt and we still sweat like none else. Some wore almost too little. This girl straight across from me did not leave much to the imagination, and with a skirt on, it only caused more aggravation to know I could never look that direction.

There was roughly 18 of us in this room for our sales training. Day in and day out, we memorized and went over the 3 policies, the history of the company, and the company ethics. I am a complete admirer of W. Clement Stone and this whole organization. A company with ethics, principles, and something more than just trying to make money. They literally are trying to change the world for the better. It was easy to lose sight of that though when you are so completely uncomfortable. I remember sitting down on the chair the second day and feeling the moisture still in the seat padding I had left from the day before. The gum on the bottom of my chair was warm enough that it stuck to my shoe when I accidentally hit it while shifting my feet beneath me. Gladly, the air conditioning came on and Friday was probably around 80 in the room.

The week proved to be interesting with the people inside the room. There was the has been insurance agent trying to get a new start in the business. Just lost his wife to divorce, or I think forced away his wife, and was a complete know it all. Always had to offer his two cents, tell the corny jokes, and interrupt everyone’s study to critique them, all while he did not do very well in learning the presentation himself. Then there was the Ms. I cannot do anything. Complain, complain, complain about how hard it was, how hot it was, how stupid she was, how her car broke down, how she could not learn the information. Oddly, the information she could not learn, she did not learn. Then there was the military man, who was always right as well, but who thought he was actually in lead of the class. Even with the teacher present, he had to tell us what to do, make sure we knew of his anger, or frustration, and more. Then there was the woman who constantly had things to say that had nothing to do with anything, and she had to share with the whole class. Many tempers flared, many people started yelling at others, mostly back at the hotel, and this was all a show. Then there was Larry, and all the women thought he was a predator or something, there was the little lady across from me who always had the complete following of male eyes, and the dynamics of the class were never boring.

Our poor teacher, Mr. Roger Dudley of Fayetteville, North Carolina was obviously worn by the end of the week too. Even on the last day, he caught several people cheating on the final, and made us all take it again. That did not make the class happy as we did not get out early like we were supposed to, and who wanted to take an hour test over?? I had already been downstairs for 10 minutes when we were summoned back to retake it. Most of what I missed was purely in having lost interest. Word for word phrases I substituted words that had nothing to do with anything I was writing so quickly to get it over with again. For example, rather than writing, Do you drive a car, I wrote Do you own a car. Which cost me the entire question. I was writing so fast by the end that the checker could not read my writing and I missed probably 3 due to my having completely lost any interest by the end of the test.

To add to the situation in Raleigh, right before I left to head out to North Carolina, my computer crashed. I don’t know exactly what happened, but my computer refused to recognize any internet. My wireless card altogether was not even recognized by the computer. So I had to take it in. In the end they had to reformat the entire hard drive! At least they could do a backup of my files. I did not get to take my computer with me, which I had hoped to do. That way I could still run finances and orchestrate what I do from my e-mail. Well, now I was high and dry, and worried about my computer, all my information on it, finances, and who knows what else. Two weeks later, I went and picked up my computer. It crashed twice within the first 30 minutes of having got it back. So I will have to take it in this morning. I was able to pull the Microsoft Money off of it to use on Amanda’s computer, so now I can do the whole financial thing. I am going to try and pull the family history file off so I can use it while my computer is gone. Fortunately I put the couple hundred pictures on Photomax, so I can lose them if I have to. I do have 3,000 songs on the computer, and I hope not to lose them. I have given away, or thrown away most of the CD’s I got them from.

Anyhow, it has been a testing by fire for two weeks. There was a positive side though. I have two close, new friends, Nicole Moore of Norfolk area, and Andy Yauss from Radford. If it had not have been for them, I might have lost my sanity. They were good study buddies and they let me vent to them when I thought I was about to break.

How is that for two weeks! It was the first time in my life I felt like my poor body was not handling the stress very well. I would wake up and my whole body was tense and one big knot in dread of the day. I usually went to bed exhausted, but could not sleep very well due to the stress on the body. Mentally I honestly don’t think I was close to breaking down, but my physical body sure was growing weary.