Excerpts from Mr. Bill Sheppard’s Diary — Life with Father in Danbury Prison
Mr. Bill Sheppard of New Jersey entered Danbury prison in April 1984. Since Mr. Kamiyama’s release from prison, he feels personally responsible to assume Mr. Kamiyama’s position of taking care of Father.
Tuesday, December 18, 1984
Tuesday is commissary day at Danbury. As has been their custom, Father and Larry go to the commissary and purchase various items. Sometimes Father purchases things and sometimes Larry purchases things.
This Tuesday Larry went to the commissary in the afternoon prior to dinner. He put the items in a paper bag and left the bag in their cube (room) intending to put things away after eating dinner. Then Father and Larry went to dinner together.
Upon returning from dinner Larry realized that someone had stolen the bag of commissary, from the cube. Larry did not tell Father of this theft right away, and he did not know if Father had realized what had happened.
Larry came to me explaining what had happened. He said that he didn’t want to tell Father of the theft and possibly hurt Father’s feelings. We decided to tell Father together, since Father has said, “The truth is the most powerful and best way.”
Larry and I returned to the cube and sat with Father, who was reading the Bible at the time. When Father was told that apparently someone had stolen the bag of commissary, he said immediately, “It was a good present for someone,” and added, “Someone needed it, took it, and they can have it.”
I left the cube and spoke to a number of people about the theft. Upon hearing what had happened almost everyone was most upset, especially since we all know that when Father buys items from the commissary he gives almost all of it away to the other inmates.
Many people who heard this news were at first angry at whoever would do such a thing, especially to Father. Within a short time, people began to come to Father with commissary items of their own, offering them to Father to replace what someone else had stolen.
For example: George gave apple juice, Peter gave juice and fruit, Joe gave juice and fruit, and Carter gave fruit.
Father seemed very pleased by their offerings. At first he said, “I don’t need these.” But he accepted the gifts after the other inmates insisted.
Later Father, Larry, and I returned to the commissary where Father purchased many things, and as usual he gave away almost all of what he had purchased to the other inmates.
Father also purchased two ski-type hats from the commissary. One was a bright-colored hat and the other was a dull gray hat. Larry said to Father, “Which hat do you want?” Father replied, “You take the bright-colored one — you’re young — and I’ll take the gray one.”
At the end of the day I could not help but remember what Father had told me about the power of the truth and the good action that follows difficult situations in life. He just had spoken to me about these things a few days prior to the commissary incident, which was a lesson to me.
Saturday, December 22, 1984
Today I had a visit from my wife Carol and four-year-old daughter Lauren. I write of this because it pertains to Father and my family. During the visit my wife told me that each night since I have been in prison, she tells Lauren a bedtime story and afterwards they say a prayer from a children’s book of prayers. My wife told Lauren that to say a prayer is to talk with God and that Lauren could say whatever she wanted in a prayer.
One day last week Lauren said her first original prayer. Lauren said, “Dear God, thank you for the people, Amen.” My wife later asked her what she had meant by this. Lauren said simply that she loved people and that God had made the people and she was thanking Him for all of them.
After the visit when Carol had told me this story, I told Father of Lauren’s prayer. Father smiled and then laughed, saying, “It is a good prayer.”
Sunday, December 23, 1984
Tonight after dinner around seven o’clock, Father was in his cube talking with Larry and me about tuna and other fishing. He explained how the currents in the sea move in different directions at different depths and at different tides. Father explained how the problem of catching more fish was solved by utilizing special lines and hooks and taking into account the currents and cross-currents. He also discussed the use of the Loran to plot the exact location of good fishing areas under the sea, so that the fishermen can return to the same location time and time again.
Father spoke of the tuna as the greatest fighting fish and also of the fish that stay on the bottom of the sea covered almost entirely with sand, with just their eyes and mouth sticking out of the sand.
Father said fish are all different and therefore require different means to catch them. To solve this difficult problem of catching more fish, one must investigate and work hard to solve the problem, to get the desired result.
As Father spoke, I felt he was talking about more than just fishing and solving fishing problems. I felt this because just a short while before, Father had spoken about the value of knowledge in solving problems, especially in relationship to reading the Divine Principle, understanding it, questioning it, digesting it, and applying it to life. He spoke of how we must seek the truth spiritually and solve life’s problems through study, reading and prayer. I myself have seen different people attracted to the truth like fish attracted to the bait, and the bait is different for different fish.
Letter to Kami (Takuru Kamiyama)
1:30 AM December 24, 1984
After I spoke with you last night I wrote down a few more thoughts that I had concerning Father and what he says and does while at Danbury.
I know that it may be hard to read my poor penmanship, vocabulary, and style of writing, and I ask that you bear with me in my humble attempt to satisfy your request.
Whatever constructive criticism you can offer will be happily received by me. As you can tell, I am hardly a good writer and am out of practice since I’ve been here at Danbury.
I find it most difficult to adequately express the vast array of feelings I have experienced with Father since you left. As I mentioned to you, I understand the importance of helping and protecting Father while here at Danbury. I know in my heart that I can protect him with my life if necessary, and I sincerely hope you can convey this to everyone.
I need to know if Father needs anything that he might not tell me or that I might not understand properly. Please let me know if there is anything else that I might do.
Each night I have been getting up for a few hours between approximately 2:30-4:30 AM. Each Sunday morning I go with Father to the chapel.
Father has graciously talked to me on a number of occasions, which I have found enlightening.
It is a mystery that I should be here at Danbury prison camp with Father and writing to you. I know that many, many people would like to be here with Father instead of me.
It is my sincere hope that I can live up to what is expected of me. I am hardly the caliber of person you were for him while you were here. I ask for your continued support in this endeavor, and I know it will be there.
December 25, 1984
Father awakened at approximately 6:00 AM.
He was sitting in the dining hall eating breakfast with me and two other inmates (Louie and Frankie). The three of us inmates engaged in small talk while Father ate and listened.
Louie said to me that he just cannot understand how some people are so stupid, so dense that they just cannot comprehend anything. He said that he has always had trouble even being in the company of people like that. Louie was referring to someone that Father and I know.
I said, “Louie, why talk with me about it when you can ask the Man (Father) directly? He’s sitting right there.”
Louie said, “Alright, I will.
Reverend Moon, you’ve been listening. I’m talking about someone whose brain just cannot understand what people are saying.” Picking up a salt shaker from the table Louie said, “It’s just like this salt shaker. It’s a container holding salt. Say this salt shaker was a man’s brain. It only has a capacity for so much salt, maybe two ounces or so. You just can’t fill it with salt beyond the capacity of the container, no matter how hard you try. Therefore, a man whose brain capacity is like a small salt container just cannot grasp large universal concepts you may tell him.”
Feeling confident he had made his point, Louie firmly put the salt shaker down on the table in front of Father as if to punctuate the sentence.
Without hesitation, Father picked up the shaker and said, “I will take off the top of the shaker, pour out the two ounces of salt and fill the container with something heavier, something more valuable.” Father gently put the salt shaker down on the table in front of Louie, and smiled.
After a pause, Louie said, “You’re right, Reverend.” We all laughed together. Louie said, “You’ve got me there, Reverend.”
Frank, who had been sitting quietly, said to Louie, “Louie, you don’t understand. He has a different perspective on things.”
Louie said, “What he (Father) said was right.”
The feeling at the breakfast table that Christmas morning was a good one. Father had penetrated the mind of Louie, utilizing Louie’s own analogy. He had done it in such a way that Louie had understood Father perfectly.
Later Father waited for Mother et al to visit.
December 25, 1984. Christmas Evening
At around 6:00 PM, Father was sitting in his cube reading the Bible. I was standing in the phone line outside the cube waiting to call Mother for him. Just then, down the hall came Tony, who had just returned from a 24-hour Christmas furlough. He had a big smile on his face when he came over to me. We hugged each other. We each said, “Merry Christmas.”
Tony went on to tell Father and me about meeting many people at a gathering in New York; that everyone loved Father, missed him, and prayed for him. Father kept smiling throughout Tony’s description. Tony said he had been at Kami’s home and what a beautiful family he had…a wonderful wife and lovable children.
Father was listening and smiling. Tony was describing different things from different days, which confused us as to when something had happened and where. Father didn’t mind. Tony’s heart was filled with love and it showed. Father never stopped smiling throughout Tony’s description.
As Tony continued talking with Father, I went to the telephone to call East Garden. I waited for some time as the lines were busy. When I finally got through, I was connected to Mother who said, “Hello, Bill Sheppard.” I found myself choked up with emotion and said, “Merry Christmas, Mother, and thank you for being so kind to my wife, Carol and my daughter, Lauren.”
Mother said, “It was just a small thing, Bill.” I said, “It was a wonderful thing to us.” I began to cry thinking of what a wonderful Christmas it had turned out to be.
I could not talk for a moment, just as Father came to the phone. Father took the telephone and spoke with Mother. I felt bad that I did not say more clearly how I felt to Mother and conveyed the thank-yous my wife had asked me to.
After the phone call, Father, Tony, and I talked of the experience Tony had. I felt I had been there and I’m sure Father did too. It was a wonderful Christmas present.
Thursday, December 27, 1984 Danbury Camp
At 5:10 AM I woke up Father and called East Garden, and Father spoke with Mother. Father, Louie and I were in the bathroom washing and shaving.
Louie: Good morning, Reverend.
Father: Your last day, Louie.
This was Louie’s last day at Danbury. He had months ago requested to be transferred closer to his wife in Florida. The transfer had finally been approved and he was due to leave this morning. Ordinarily a camp inmate, when being transferred, will go on what is called a “furlough transfer,” meaning that the inmate is put on a bus, train, or plane and is trusted to self-surrender to the camp he is being transferred to. Other inmates who are not in camps, but in higher security prisons are handcuffed together and taken on a prison bus, being chained together for the entire ride and guarded by shotgun.
For some reason Louie could not understand, he was ordered to take this “bus ride” instead of the customary furlough transfer. Louie had been trying to have this changed through his attorney and his wife, but because of the Christmas holiday he had no luck. It would be especially bad for Louie since his final destination was Maxwell Camp in Alabama. The bus ride would undoubtedly take one or two months because the bus would drop off inmates from prison to prison along the way.
Father was aware of all of this since we had discussed it together. Father also knew that Louie’s friend of 30 years, Murray, (my roommate) had not yet been approved for his transfer and they might not see one another for some time, since they both had 8-year sentences.
When Father, Louie and I returned from shaving and washing, we noticed that it had begun to snow. Father and I went to breakfast together. Louie was waking up other inmates who had asked if they could have breakfast with Louie on his last day at Danbury.
Father and I were eating breakfast at a table in the back of the dining hall. Louie and a number of inmates were eating together. Louie got up and walked to Father’s table and said, “Can I sit with you, Reverend, on my last day?” Father said, “Sure, Louie, sit down… sit down.”
Louie began to talk about leaving us and said to me, “You know, I’m really sorry that I didn’t spend more time talking with the Reverend. I really enjoy it… He’s sharp!”
Louie was telling Father about an idea he had spoken about to Father before. In summary, Louie was saying that Father should have something made (a gold watch) to leave as a remembrance of him for his children when he dies. They would consider it precious.
Father interrupted Louie and said, “Louie… Louie, listen to me… listen to me. After today, we will be separated, is that not so?”
Father: Well then, Louie, listen to me. This is serious. I want to tell you something. This time you have on earth is like a training ground for the spiritual world. (Louie was smiling.)
Father: This is true. Louie, you have a good brain, a good mind. Use it for a good purpose. You say to yourself, “I came to this place, Danbury, and met this man, Reverend Moon…He is a strange one.”
Louie: I never said that.
Father: But what is my purpose? To gain money? No. To gain power? No. To gain knowledge? No. To gain man? Yes. This is the idea. Man is precious. You say man is unchangeable, but man is changeable… repairable. (Picking up a napkin holder from the table) This is unchangeable. Man can be worked on to be righteous. Truly righteous. Man is precious, historical, forever. This is something worth leaving. This is a good foundation. Power is not lasting. Money you can catch anytime. Knowledge you can get anytime.”
It was getting late and Louie had to prepare to leave. Louie asked me if we knew where he was going and said he would write somehow, and tell us how he was doing. (Inmates cannot correspond from one prison to another unless granted permission.) He said to me, “Make sure you say hello to Kami for me, Bill, and let him know how things are.” Father and Louie shook hands goodbye.
While we had been sitting in the dining hall the snow had been accumulating. Louie left to get dressed. Father stayed in the dining hall, for it was a workday. I went to my cube.
Later I walked with Louie, Murray (Louie’s partner), and George to the outside walk. Each of us hugged him and gave him a kiss on the cheek and watched as. Louie walked down the hill to where the prison bus would pick him up.
At 8:25 I told Father of Louie’s leaving. Father and I went out in the snow to walk the sidewalk and watch for Mother and the visitors to arrive. It was lightly snowing, very cold and quiet. I said, “I like the sound of the snow `crunching’ underfoot as we walk.” Father said, “It is a good sound.”
As we approached the end of the walk, an inmate (Rudy) was shoveling the show off the sidewalk. Father stopped and looked at Rudy, saying, “It takes a long time.” Rudy said, “Yes, but I don’t mind. I have all day.” Father laughed, we continued walking.
Father said, “Murray will be lonely without Louie.” I said, “Yes, they’ve been together a long time-30 years.”
Father: When were you married?
Bill (myself): In my twenties. My wife, Carol, and I went out together for years before we were married.
Father: How old is your wife?
Bill: We’re the same age. We’ll be 40 this year.
Father: You were both older than most people, than your friends, when you got married?
Bill: Yes, that’s right.
As we walked to the end of the sidewalk, Father stopped. Instead of turning around to walk back, he looked at the textile factory sign UNICOR, saying to me, “What does this UNICOR mean?”
Bill: I’m not sure what it stands for other than it’s a federal corporation somewhat separate from the prison system. It has separate staff, books, etc.
Father: What is their purpose?
Bill: To provide jobs for the inmates and pay for the upkeep of the prison system. This is the T-shirt factory that isn’t doing so well financially. They say that they have a motivational problem. I know from other inmates who were in the garment business that the whole T-shirt factory management really is not skilled in the garment industry. The cable, factory down below is very successful, however.
Father: So this factory is very important?
Father: It would be most effective if the inmates were given one-third of the profits as wages for an incentive, don’t you think?
Bill: That would certainly solve the motivational and management problem, but the bureaucrats wouldn’t listen. For instance, they say that all attempts at rehabilitation in prisons have failed, whether by educational programs or other means. They say the best they can do is to warehouse inmates.
Father: What is needed is a reeducation organizational program for prisoners.
Just then the visitors for Father pulled into the parking lot.
I was glad to hear that Father was happy. As I told you on the telephone, Tony, Larry, and I were together last night for the beginning of the New Year.
Father has told me many things since you left, one of which is to carry out my promises 100 percent. In regards to my diary, I must continue as I promised, although writing is very difficult for me, and I know it is not as good as you may want it to be.
I have many questions concerning the Principle and the Unification Church. However, as Father has told me, he wants me to read the book three more times before I can ask you any questions. I know that you and many others, would gladly help me, but I ask that you explain the reason why to them.
I understand that Father gave a speech to everyone at midnight, and again at 9:00 AM, and again at noon. If you have the opportunity, please mail me a copy of these speeches, if it isn’t too much trouble.
I am most anxious to hear what Father said on this special day. If there is anything I can do further, please just ask me.
I am looking forward to Father’s return this week. I hope his furlough goes well for him, Mother, and all.