Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dawn Pillsbury's Declaration

Dawn Pillsbury’s Declaration

I, Dawn Pillsbury do hereby declare and affirm that the following is my true declaration of the events pertaining to the divorce of Allen Craig Franklin and Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, to the best of my recollection as of March 16, 1998.
My first clear memory of Craig is sitting in the station wagon in the parking lot of the Vons shopping center near the house in Reseda. He and my mother were explaining to us that their relationship and thus his relationship to us was going to be different from now on. This must have been before 1985.
I remember when Craig bought Mom and the station wagon from Ron for $3,000. We were all going to go out to dinner together. When we joined Ron and Craig they were shaking hands and laughing, telling us that Mom was now Craig’s. Ron said the deal was mostly for the car, but he was throwing Mom in as part of the deal.
I never liked Craig. He always seemed slow-witted to me, and when I was in my early adolescence, I took a perverse pleasure in insulting him. Once I insulted him so badly, this was when we were driving home, that he tried to get out of the car to walk home. This was when we were living on the house on Burnet. My insulting him led to the first incident when he struck me. This took place in the hall next to the front door of the house on Burnet. I had insulted him then he seized me by the shoulders and thrust me against the wall. I kneed him in the groin, then he threw me on the ground, his face only inches from mine, and hissed at me never to knee him in the groin again.
It was not long after this that I witnessed him batter my mother into unconsciousness. Craig had called the children, Ayn, Ed, Justin, Morgan, Scott and myself into the back room to discuss the family relationship. He was trying to persuade us as to something about Melinda when she walked in and sat down on the futon next to the door. He told her to leave and she insisted on remaining. He became angry and began to strike her. Scott ran to call the police, Ayn started to hit him on the shoulders with the pole of a barbell that Morgan kept in the room for exercise and I grabbed a bottle off the bar, intending to smash him over the head then stab him. Unfortunately, it was a plastic bottle, and in any case, Ayn was in the way. Craig hardly seemed to notice her, so intent he was on hitting Melinda. When the police arrived, Melinda was in bed in her room. They handcuffed Craig and put him in the patrol car. I was in the room with Melinda when the officers came in to ask if she wanted to press charges. When she said she didn’t, the officers and I argued with her, but she said we couldn’t afford the bail and that he needed to work. The officers let him go.
I was aware of Melinda and Craig’s sexual relationship from the start. I remember Ayn and I daring each other to look through an unfinished part of the bedroom wall into the master bedroom on the house on Chimineas to see them having sex. Later on Burnet, we had two running jokes about their sex life. One was that we should call National Geographic, as the humpbacked whales were mating, and the other was that if I was angry at Craig, my best revenge was to give Mom No-Doz, as we were all aware of his tendency to have sex with her while she was asleep.
Polygamous relationships have always seemed natural to me, as Mom had Ron and Craig as husbands. I was fifteen years old before I found out that people generally only married one person at a time. Mom and Ron had always told us that marriage and divorce papers didn’t mean anything since they came from the state.
My relationship with Craig grew less adversarial over the years. Mom stopped telling me when he beat her and he never beat her in front of me again. I had one more assault incident with Craig. It occurred when we arrived back at LAX from our trip to the Midwest in 1990. We split up: Morgan, Ayn and I went to baggage claim to get our bags and Mom and Craig went with the boys to get the car. Those who were going to the car would take the carry-on bags so those of us going to baggage claim could get all our luggage in one trip. As we were splitting up, Craig tried to hand me Justin’s carry-on. I refused to take it and walked away across the concourse to the door to baggage claim. As I walked, I heard someone say, “Look out.” I turned around to see Craig with his head lowered, charging directly at me. I dropped the bag I was carrying and put one hand out to stop him from hitting me. My outstretched hand had just barely touched him when he fell over backwards and landed sprawled on the floor. I picked up my bag, turned around and walked to baggage claim. He never mentioned it and never tried to hit me again until the incident of January 25, 1998 when he pushed past me to get into the house.
After I started college and, as far as I knew, he had not hit Mom for a long time, our relationship warmed up. He started referring to me as the child most like him and I stopped insulting him so much. Of course, I never saw him much. He would come home from work and go upstairs to lay down and watch television, coming downstairs only to eat or play his guitar at us. I helped him carry that huge television upstairs when they bought it. His expenditures worried me, as I often went grocery shopping with Melinda and saw her worry over what brand of rice was more expensive. I saw her trapped between his conceptions of what their life should be like, based on his income, and the lifestyle we could afford, based on what he actually gave to Mom. He spoke constantly about how much Mom spent and how he had to work himself to the bone to keep up with her. I never knew what to think of this, as I had seen how careful she was with money, but she never disagreed with him. At least not in front of me.
Once I remember being out with her at the Paseo Nuevo shopping center, at a department store getting some clothes for her, in the summer of 1994. She offered to buy me some clothes, but I said I didn’t want to be a greater expense than I had to be. She replied that she had to spend the money before Craig did. I asked her what he spent it on. I remember the look of desperation on her face as she said, “I don’t know.” This was the first indication I had that we were in financial trouble.
When the tax situation came to a head, Mom would tell me about her progress in straightening the mess out. When I was home for a weekend last spring, at dinner, Melinda spoke about the arrangement. She said that she would be in charge of the money so Craig wouldn’t have to worry about it and that she would get to keep any money she could get back from the government. Craig nodded.
Craig always made a big deal of being willing to support us children through whatever education we could manage. He promised to pay for our tuition and other expenses no matter how high we wanted to aim scholastically.
Craig’s conduct with Justin bothered me. They used to play chess together (at least until Justin began to beat him regularly), and Craig would play in the nude. I did not think this was appropriate. Craig’s personal hygiene was also a problem. At one point, Ayn noticed brown lines down the middle of the green pillows on the chairs in the breakfast nook. She asked me what they were from. I did not know, so I asked Melinda. She told us that Craig had become so heavy that it was difficult for him to wipe himself after defecating, so he did not bother. He also habitually wore a short robe that did not adequately cover his bottom, thus the brown streaks. Ayn and I quickly removed the cushions and disposed of them. Craig also refused to wash his dishes, or even to put them in the dishwasher. When I confronted him about this, he said that is should be someone’s chore and that he worked, so he shouldn’t have to do it.
About Mom’s writing, when it started to become clear that she might be able to make money from selling her books, he began saying frequently that he had made the first million dollars, so she could make the second so he could retire. When she asked him about how she had worked, cleaning, paying the bills, etc. while he had worked, he answered that he would manage the staff.
Craig’s lack of social skills have been an ongoing problem. He seems to have no empathy. I don’t recall him ever saying “Thank you,” or “Please.” Except to tell Justin to use the terms. I remember one dinner at the house on Burnet when his face, beard and torso were, as usually, covered with the debris of his food. He then told Ayn she was holding her fork incorrectly. She, disgusted, rose and left the table. Craig then remonstrated with Melinda for bringing up such rude children. On the Fourth of July of 1996, Melinda had agreed to put on a party for him. I could tell she didn’t want to, after all the trouble she had gone to put on a Halloween party she couldn’t enjoy because of his bad manners, but she did it anyway. I heard her ask him to do some running around for her in the morning. She sent him to get some fresh corn on the cob. He didn’t come back until a half hour before the party was due to start. Mom had been getting more and more frantic, hurrying to get everything done while worried that he and Morgan had been killed. When he finally got home, she asked him to go get some ice. He said that could wait, that he a present for her. She seemed quite upset and told him she didn’t want a present, she wanted him to go get the ice. He got belligerent and insisted she open the present. When she wouldn’t, being busy with the arrangements, he unwrapped it and shoved it at her. When she wasn’t grateful, he went into the kitchen, got a glass of water and threw it on her. I went outside to put the corn on the grill. He followed me outside, justifying what he had done. He said he had spent a lot of time and money on that present and she was just being awful. We haven’t thrown a party since, even though we enjoy entertaining and had some great ideas for get-togethers with friends. Mom always brought up that we couldn’t count on Craig behaving and we couldn’t always count on him being out of town.
Craig was out of town a lot over the past few years. Mom always seemed calmer and happier when he was gone. She spoke to me several times about the possibility of her divorcing him. I encouraged her to do so, since it was evident to me they did not have a companionate relationship and Craig did not value her as a person, only as his utility. She stopped talking about divorce last year, after she had dealt with the tax situation. In her talks with me, she seemed more positive about the future of their relationship. I did not see much of Craig through December, after I got back from school. During the trip to Hawaii, he stayed at the house most of the time while the rest of us went out snorkeling etc. He did express an interest in going up to see the yurt, the tent where Kathy, Ayn and I were staying. When he couldn’t go up to see it when he wanted, because we needed to be somewhere else, he was very annoyed. He also went with us to Volcano National Park. Mom and I wanted to spend more time there, but as soon as he had seen what he considered enough, he insisted that we go back to the house.
When we got back from Hawaii, I saw Craig a bit more than in December. The family went out to dinner together. Usually when we had dinner at home, we only saw Craig long enough for him to come to the table (after the rest of us were already seated and waiting), clad in his robe, to scarf down his portion before retiring to the kitchen to fix himself a snack and go back upstairs. It used to be that he would spend more time at the dinner table, but that interval has shortened over the years. He’s never really been a part of the family. We often joked that we were Craig’s rental family, and that we wouldn’t let him in the door without the check. He often participated in this joking. But we stopped making these jokes last year, when it seemed he could be more fully incorporated into the family.
January didn’t seem different. I had no idea that he was planning to divorce Melinda. We all went to see “Hard Rain” for Ed’s birthday (January 18) and to eat at Mimosa. As we were getting back into the car in the Green Hills parking lot, Craig again remarked on how, of all the children, I was the most like him. During the week prior to his moving out, he was not at home much, but not that much less than usual. I saw him briefly when he came home on Wednesday, January 22. He was going through the refrigerator. On Thursday, January 23, Mom and I went to the grocery store to buy food to fix and stick in the refrigerator for Craig, as he preferred eating leftovers to fresh food. We fixed a meat loaf and a tuna-noodle casserole, those being his favorite foods. After he told Melinda he was divorcing her, we debated giving them to Craig, and they sat in the fridge for about two weeks before we threw them out. The Hickory Farms cheese balls I gave him for Christmas are still in the refrigerator.
Things have been difficult since late that night on January 23, when Craig told Mom he was divorcing her. We’ve been caught between spending too much money and not letting Craig’s evil behavior affect us too much. Mom’s emotions have been whipsawing her between depression and rage. Justin has been very depressed and angry. But his behavior has improved very much. I’ve been much happier since Craig is no longer in the house. The housework has decreased considerably and we no longer live under the shadow of abuse. I’m glad we’re rid of him.


Dawn Pillsbury

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