The Words of the Evola Family

Memories of Sun Myung Moon in Danbury Prison -- Interview of Larry and Teresa Evola

Tania Redmond
December 1985

Larry and Teresa Evola with their two daughters.

Larry Evola was transferred to Danbury from another prison and arrived there on July 20, 1984, the very day that Father was admitted. Later, Father told Larry and his wife Teresa, who also became close to Father and Mother, that Larry's transfer to Danbury was no accident but heavenly destiny. By the time Mr. Kamiyama's sentence was over, Father had gotten to know and trust Larry, and Larry had developed a genuine affection and loyalty for Father. So Larry became his guard and companion.

While Larry was in Danbury, Teresa ran the pizza shop that the Evolas owned in Queens, New York. Larry was released on August 20, 1985 and is now back in Queens with his wife and children. Several church members have gotten to know the Evolas well. This interview was conducted by Tanya Redmond in December 1985.

Larry: I had heard a lot about Father before coming to Danbury and I was never prejudiced about him. Years ago the Moonies used to come into our pizza shop and fundraise with flowers. Somebody would always ask, "Are you a Moonie?" When they'd say yes, some people said, "That's good" and some said, "That's bad" But I was never against any religion or any person.

Teresa: We had always heard the negative stories, the propaganda. But we're the type who doesn't really judge anybody. We never look at a person from somebody else's point of view; we wait and see what our own impression is. So we never thought, "Who is this guy? Is he really doing what the newspapers say? What kind of people are following him?" When Larry first met Father, he didn't think, "Here's this famous man -- what can I get out of him?" No. Larry just extended his friendship and his help the way he would for any of the other inmates that were there.

Larry: I would do it again if I had to. I would do anything for him.

Teresa: As a matter of fact, we've received altogether too much.

Larry: Yes, we've received a lot. The experience, the spirit, the people around him that we met, the way Mother used to treat us -- it was all something that I never could have even imagined before I went to Danbury.

Larry Extends Himself to Father

The night Father came, a lot of inmates were watching TV and waiting around to see Rev. Moon. We couldn't go out because of the ten o'clock curfew, and through the windows all we could see were lights and police and cars. He came in very late, about 12:30 a.m., with Mr. Kamiyama.

Every new inmate is supposed to get sheets, a blanket, a pillow, and a pillowcase. But at that time of night there was nobody around. The guards found some sheets in a locker but no pillows. I had an extra blanket on my bed from last winter, so I thought, "I'll give him my rolled-up blanket if he needs something for his head"

I knew where he was, but it was hard to locate him in the dark, so I called out, "Hey, Rev.!" Somebody said the Rev. was already in bed. He woke up and I said, "I have a blanket for you. Use this." So he took it and thanked me.

The next day I walked up to Mr. Kamiyama and said, "If you two need anything until you get your money posted, I have crackers, juice, grapefruits, oranges. You can have whatever you want. Maybe the Rev. would like something. What kind of juice does he drink? Does he like apples?" At first Mr. Kamiyama said, "No, no, no...," but then he said, "Well, okay, maybe I'll take some pineapple juice"

The three of us became closer and closer, because I helped Father with whatever he needed. When I would walk by, Mr. Kamiyama would say, "Please come and sit with us" And I would say, "Hello, Rev. How are you?" They began to see that I was friendly and didn't have any prejudice.

Every night Father and I used to walk all around the grounds a couple of times. And every morning after breakfast Father would do his exercises -- big movements with his legs and shoulders. I would usually have my coffee on the table outside, while he did his exercises.

Then Father would get a book and sit under a special pine tree that he liked until it was time to go to work. He would sit there for three or four hours straight, never taking his eyes off his book. Everybody was amazed. How could he do that? The sun used to hit him in the neck. While the sun was high, he would be in the shade for a while; but after a few more hours, the sun would hit him again. He was so deep into reading that he didn't care if the sun burned him. And oh, did his neck ever get red!

Teresa: Sometimes he wouldn't even remember that it was dinner time because he was concentrating so deeply on what he was reading. Larry would go to him and say, "It's time to eat!"

Larry: "Okay, one more chapter!" he would say. I'd say, "We gotta go eat, because otherwise we're gonna miss dinner" "Okay, okay! One more, one more!" When the time ran out, I would run to pick up his newspaper, the Styrofoam pad he sat on, his book, and his glasses, and say, "You go. I'll put these inside, and meet you at the cafeteria right away." I used to worry about him, because if you miss dinner, you don't get anything to eat until the next morning.

Father always kept the cafeteria at Danbury spotlessly clean and in order.

Many Important Visitors

Teresa: There were a lot of people who came to visit him. One was Dr. Joseph Lowery. Larry and I were sitting right there in the visiting room when we heard Dr. Lowery say that he wanted to serve some of Father's time. At first we thought it was just a figure of speech. Later we found out that he had literally gone and asked the warden, but the prison wouldn't allow it.

One of the greatest events we ever witnessed at Danbury was the visit of a famous government official. When he came he took Father's hand in both his hands and said, "On behalf of the United States government, I apologize seeing that was a turning point for me. I said to myself: If a famous public official comes here and apologizes on behalf of the whole United States government, there has to be something very significant happening. At that time I still was not aware of all the facts concerning why Father had been put in prison, but I learned about them later. The government had really gone after an indictment that never should have been brought in the first place. And this man apologized so sincerely! I was flabbergasted. Father just shook his head, and invited him to sit down at one of the long tables in the middle of the visiting room. They had a discussion and exchanged viewpoints. Larry and I witnessed a lot of amazing things, and that was one of the most spectacular.

Larry: There were always about six or seven people sitting around the table with him. One day I told Father, "That table looks like the Last Supper!" And he laughed. Many church leaders from Japan, Korea, and all over the United States used to come and visit him. They would bring a lot of papers and magazines -- a lot of printed information. He would know everything about what was happening with the church.

I noticed that Father never hid anything from anybody. Whatever was happening in the church, good or bad, he would tell me. He is totally honest. If a situation was difficult, Father would say, "Little by little, things will improve." He has courage. If people said, "No, maybe this won't work." he always had hope that things would get better and better. He never gets discouraged. He only gives everyone else courage. He would say to people, "Everything will be okay. You will get stronger. You will become a better person."

Growing Through Hardship

Larry: I used to be a little worried for my wife. Father would see that sometimes, when I got off the phone after talking to her, I was not too happy. I used to tell him, "My wife has a problem with the workers at the pizza shop. Why can't the employees do their work right and make it easy for her? She has the kids to take care of." "She will make it," Father would say. "In a way, this period of time is good for her; she will become stronger."

Teresa: You know how some people say, "Oh, there's nothing to worry about." They don't understand a thing. But Father understands everything. When he told me not to worry, I trusted him. He wasn't just trying to pacify me.

Knowing Father and Mother made it easier for me. They were a great help, encouraging us and just being there. A lot of the members came out to visit them, and all of a sudden these people were meeting us and honestly offering their help. I said to Larry, "Look at this. People that we don't even know are offering to help us, but expecting nothing in return." Larry and I are like that, too. But when you look out into the world, you very rarely see those qualities in people. Most of the time if people offer help, it's because they want something. This was really unbelievable.

The employees were getting a little out of control, especially because I wasn't there on a full time basis. I was seeing Larry two or three times a week. I told Larry, "If you want to keep this business I have to be there steadily. Either I come and visit you, or I stay down there. Something has to suffer, one way or the other." We made the decision that I would continue going to Danbury. And everything finally worked out all right. And I think in many ways the difficulties brought us closer.

Larry: Now the business has increased ' a little more.

Mother's Inner Beauty

Teresa: My impression of Mother is that she is just gorgeous. She's beautiful. When Larry told me how many kids she had, I said, "What?" My jaw just dropped! I said, "She can put any 22-year-old girl to shame with her beauty." And she has this inner beauty that just shines out and envelops everything.

I had the chance to be with her on a few occasions and get to know her. One Sunday Larry and I were in the visiting room. The prison officials had started a policy of terminating some people's visits if there were too many visitors. I had arrived there with the children at 10:00. Mother had been there since 8:30 as usual. Around 11:30, they terminated both our visits. Mother and I were standing close to the door, and we talked for about half an hour. Then Father told Mother, "Take Teresa to East Garden" I had no other plans really, and it was still early in the day. Larry said, "Sure, Teresa, go ahead." I'm not usually very shy, but at that moment, I did feel shy.

Larry: By that time, I was close to Father, and to both of them. They were already like family to me. I had never been to the house, but from the way Mother talked, I felt like I had already been there. So when Father asked Mother to take Teresa to East Garden and let the kids play there, I said, "Yes, go ahead, take Teresa."

Teresa: I didn't really feel worthy. Anyway, I followed Peter Kim's car and Mother's car. There was a whole line of cars, and we all drove together to East Garden. When we arrived Mother said, "Let's let the kids stay here, and we can go out." We drove to New Jersey, which was just across the river. Mother turned to me in the car and said, "It's going to be my birthday soon, and we have a family tradition. When it's our birthday, we can buy gifts for whomever we choose. And I want to buy something for you" I said, "Oh, no please" She said, "I want to! You can't refuse."

So Mother took me shopping. She bought me a beautiful blue suit, a beautiful shirt, and a black coat. And she wanted to buy more and more, but I said, "Please, no more!" She is incredible. Her heart is so big. There were a couple of other people with us, and she bought things for them too, and a few things for her children. Then we went to eat lunch. She wanted to take me to a movie, but I saw that she was a bit tired. It had been a long day, so I said, "Maybe another time." But it was all absolutely unbelievable.

Mother has all the best feminine qualities that any woman dreams of; she is everything that any woman would want to be. She's very refined and delicate, and extremely polite. Her heart is as big as she is, and even bigger. When we were waiting for the car to come around in the parking lot, she said to me, "Be a good wife to Larry," I said, "I'll try" She's just so gentle and loving -- so caring toward everyone. I could see that she genuinely cares for every person she knows, for every person she comes in contact with, and for every person that she influences in a physical sense or even a spiritual sense. You can see that quality in both Father and Mother; they are really the way parents should be. They're parental not only towards their own children, but toward everyone else, too.

Father giving a rare interview in the visiting room at Danbury prison.

Parental Love

Larry lost his father about a week and a half after Father came to Danbury. In many ways, Larry felt even closer to Father than he had been to his own dad. He even told that to Father. Father and Mother have a parental love. That's the way they guide you. And they do it so naturally that you don't even realize that they are watching over you and helping you. It just comes out and you automatically feel their guidance and their love.

After a while I started to see who Mother really was. What impressed me the most was seeing how Father and Mother were so loving toward each other. There were a few times when there weren't very many visitors, and they were able to spend some time by themselves. I could see just by the way they looked at each other that they felt so much love for one another. I think Larry and I had a special glimpse into certain aspects of their lives that many people unfortunately don't have -- those special times they shared together, and the special times they shared with us.

Whenever one of the children had a birthday or there was some special occasion, Mother would bring rice cakes for Father.

Larry: With 12 kids, there's one birthday a month at least.

Teresa: Mother knows how much Father likes rice cakes. But she would always make sure to keep something for Larry and me. Her heart is just too much even to put in words.

Larry: And the members! It's all Father and Mother talk about.

Teresa: Do you know, when I asked Father something about the Principle, he said, "Read the Principle, and then read it again, and then read it again.." He puts so much faith in the Principle, and he feels that his revelations are the hope for the world. His true hope is that through reading the Principle, people will realize what has been done so far and what needs to be done, and how to take on the responsibility to overcome the state that the world is in.

Larry: Father wants to help everybody -- the whole world. He used to tell me, "Moonies are good people. They work hard, and they're very close to one another." Sometimes we hear bad things from other people but. I always say, "I know the Moonies; they don't do things like that. They know their religion, and they study hard. The more they study, the more they know about God and the right way to do things. They really have faith."

Teresa: What Larry means is that the more you study and learn, the more you realize what needs to be done. Then your faith can become stronger and you can realize your responsibility. You'll take on the hard work, no matter how hard it gets, and hopefully, you'll be able to report a change. Father's ultimate ideal is just to be able, in his lifetime, to bring the world together and create heaven on earth. That's what we would all love to see. His ultimate hope is to see it now. Father really does have faith in people. He believes that they can do it. I guess that puts it all in our ball park then.

Always Thinking In Advance

Larry: That's why he's always busy speaking everywhere. He knows that people need him to be around. He knows that the members work hard, but he works ten times harder than anyone. He's always thinking in advance. He plans for something that will take place months later. And the way it is planned -- that's the way it comes out, maybe even a little better. He figures out how the people will react, how he should prepare everything. And then when all the results come in, everything works out just the way he said they would.

Teresa: Father thinks on such an extremely large scale. We could never even think one hundredth of the way he thinks. He looks far into the future and feels that everything is possible. Often people would come to him and he would give them an assignment. Then they would look at each other as if to say, "We have to do this?" Then Father would say, "You can do it!" I don't understand any Korean, but I knew what he was saying. Sometime later they would come back and sure enough, they did what Father recommended -- and it worked! Then he would give them something even harder to do! He's unreal!

Larry: His mind is so big. But he's a man who doesn't have to have expensive clothes, or expensive cars, or expensive anything. He's very simple. He could live on bread and butter and not complain. He is happy with whatever you give him or whatever he has.

Teresa: The way the media depicted him was so different than what I saw. The media depicted him as some kind of extravagant fanatic. When I met him, I saw that he was so simple, so down-to-earth. He doesn't have any phony airs, and neither does Mother. When you really come down to it, they are both very down-to-earth and extremely humble.

Larry: The papers used to talk about all the money that he makes. But Father said that whatever he makes is already forgotten: it all goes for education, for the church, for the children. He says, "Whatever we do is for the people. And that's why we have to work hard, because it's for the world. I don't need anything. I'm old. How long I can live?" I said, "You're going to live for another hundred years at the rate you're going. You're going to see me go."

He's physically strong. He can put any younger guy to shame, and I'm talking about guys that are just 30 years old. They move slow compared to him. When he starts walking, I have to run after him. Every time I said, "Let's go for a walk," by the time I got my jacket on he was already gone. So eventually I learned to get up and start running, carrying my jacket, and I would put it on, on the way out. That was the only way I was able keep up with him.

Prayer In The Chapel

Larry: I often had the chance to pray with Father. Every Sunday morning at about four o'clock we would go to the chapel and pray. We were only allowed to stay for one hour. Afterwards we would call Mother, and then go for breakfast.

Usually when we prayed it was dark. I couldn't see too well. He would fold his legs up in the chair and pray. He prayed in Korean and I prayed in English. One day I asked him, "What do you pray about?" I heard the words "Washington," "White House:' and things like that. I said, "When you pray, it sounds like the newspaper." Teresa and I are not used to praying that way. Father expresses his hopes for God, but he also specifically mentions whatever concerns the church -- "Bless the churches, the buildings, the people, the President."

Teresa: Father would set up a symbolic chair there for Mother, too. He would sit in one, cross-legged, and lead the prayer, the meditation period, and the final blessing, which would be for everybody in general as well as for specific issues. Finally he would mention all of his children.

Larry: I used to move the desk and whatever else was in the way, and then I'd set two chairs here and two chairs there. He would sit by the window, facing us. Bill Sheppard and I sat across from him. I used to ask questions to find out about how he prays. When he explained, even though he still didn't speak English very well, I could understand most of the words. If I didn't understand then I would say, "Can you say that again?" or "I didn't understand you." Then he would explain in the best way he could, or maybe he would put it in other words. He made a lot of progress with his English in one year, mainly because he didn't have any other choice. And after six months, Father was with me all the time. He had to speak English with me, unless he wanted to speak Italian!

Teresa: He wasn't allowed to preach or convert anyone. He wasn't allowed to show his true faith, or openly be the religious type of person that he is. He had to just be another inmate. He couldn't tell anybody what he really felt they should do with their lives. But he would always stress to all the inmates that their wives and children should come first. When the inmates felt anger, he said that instead of arguing with each other, they should try to look at each other as brothers and not with so much hatred and dislike. Father was very good at making peace among them and helping them see the real priorities.

Larry: So when people wanted to say something, they'd think twice about it. With Father around, the inmates were more calm. Father's a man who's very easy to get along with. If you don't want to get along with him there must be something wrong with you. When the other prisoners were unhappy, he used to explain to them, "Things will be okay. This is just jail; it's temporary. You have to try to do your best." 

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