JONESTOWN SURVIVOR Responses to Family Inquiries

I always have at least three family members or friends of survivors or of those who died in Jonestown who correspond with me and ask questions about Peoples Temple, life in Jonestown, and their loved one. Recently, I responded with one who lost her sister, and her sister’s family.

Each survivor you speak with will have different points of view on most of the things in Jonestown – except we universally hate what Jim ultimately did. I don’t like to get into in-depth discussion on email – it is too frustrating. But, here are my thoughts on these concerns you just raised:
-most people in Jonestown were happy and delighted with the community and mostly thought everything would work out. A group of 3 people were trying to take leadership away from Jim. We were optimistic that it would get better. NO ONE COULD HAVE DREAMED about what happened, if you were not part of the 10-15 people who were in on the planning with Jim.
-we took cold showers – it was the tropics and stayed at 90 degrees and above most of the time. We never needed sweaters either.
-there were no private bathrooms and sometimes no toilet paper – it was very primitive – no question about it. It was the very beginning of a community with very hard workers – IF the community had continued, that would be worked out. We didn’t move into a community, already built. We moved into the middle of a rain forest.
-food was not great. There was an exodus from San Francisco, in particular, of a lot of people in the summer of 1978 – the community was not ready for it. I bought food in Georgetown and stocked the boat for a time. Feeding 1000 people three meals a day – with no store nearby – was a big challenge.
-Husbands and wives lived together, and children were housed in a kibbutz-like community and parents spent time with them after work.
-I do not know of any rapes – I never heard anyone talk about any rape in Jonestown, after many hours with almost all of the survivors. Jim was the only one who thought he could pick a partner with or without the person’s ok.
– everyone would have preferred coming back to the USA if they could see into the future. Maybe I should say that nearly everyone in Jonestown fully expected the kinks to be worked out, and have more personal and quality time, better food, and a better lifestyle.

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