On Sundays the Merizon household needed to be set in order, their minds geared for Sabbath observance. “Sunday was quite enough psychologically,” Armand recalled with a near shudder. Church attendance twice every Sunday was mandatory. Between services he had to be quiet. He couldn’t play outside. “You could sit home and read something besides the funnies, something preferably of a religious slant. It was pretty strict and I felt the pressure build.”

Monday was a different story. “Then on Monday morning I would feel a tremendous release and just take off. Just standing on the highway in faith with my thumb out for a ride, it was freedom for me.”

While only twelve years old, yearning for the kinship of an understanding adult who “knew how to treat a boy,” he’d hitch-hike, unannounced, to his uncle’s place in South Bend, Indiana. Armand explains, “He had five sons of his own and he was young and spirited for his age. He would even take me out after dark to a fair and – well, you know, something exciting for a kid, yeah. He was good company. Ironically, he was not of our group. He never went to any church” (Dornbush/Zandstra Interview, 7-10-02). In an effort to reassure his worried parents of his whereabouts he’d send them post cards from South Bend or Kalamazoo where another uncle lived. The cards were sincerely thoughtful and at the same time hardly comforting:

Merizon Postcards

I suppose you wonder why I ran away, but please don’t worry.
Leave me alone.
Don’t call the police.
Early tomorrow I plan to leave for Detroit.
Aunt Jenny has a broken arm.
Keep your nerves.