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12

 

Fredella: A Bouquet Of Memories
by Filis Frederick with Jeff Wolverton

 

7:30 A.M.: It was an incredible stormy day. A real blizzard had hit New York City. I had to go down five flights of stairs and stand on an icy, snow - piled street to try to get a taxi - very difficult with an injured hip. But there was dear Ella, ready with an umbrella, to run out and catch a cab for me. She did this every day of the blizzard, coming from her apartment a few blocks away.

 

Such selfless service was so characteristic of Ella and her dear life companion Fred (they had become "Fredella" In the Baba-fashion of double names, like Elikit and Filadele). This selflessness wasn't for one or two close friends. The Winterfeldt home, first at Manhattan House on East 66th Street, New York and later on West 57th Street, was opened generously to the whole Baba family, to those In New York and those passing through, to those of the 50's on to those of the 60's. In the 70's this devoted couple served at Pine Lodge, at the Gateway of Meher Spiritual Center, with the same dedication. The meetings of the original Monday Night group were held at Manhattan House for many years; Baba Himself, with His women Mandali, visited their apartment in July, 1952.

 

I think It was this visit that gave rise to the story that Baba called Ella an angel. Actually, someone that afternoon said, "Baba, Ella is an angel." Baba smiled and gestured, "I am happy that My angel has come down with Me this time." He gave us a little discourse on angels, saying they do exist but have to become human beings in order to have the love for God necessary for Realization. There were archangels too, who might need only one or two births to "make it."

 

In 1952, In Scarsdale, N.Y., Baba had told the Winterfeldts He would like to bring the Eastern women to visit their apartment - to see TV, so new then. Ella asked, "For dinner, Baba?" Baba shook His head. "For lunch?" Again, Baba shook His head. Then He made a large "T" with His hands, for tea. It was a delightful afternoon. Coming later than expected, they missed a TV concert but saw Mickey Mantle hit a home run, which Mani stood up and imitated delightfully. Fred stood guard in the hall, to see that no men intruded or saw the women. Baba gestured to Ella, "Here is peace. I have greatly relaxed. I am coming back in 700 years." Ella used to add, when relating this, "And if He doesn't come back, well, we'll just have to pull Him down, won't we?" This was said with a childlike nod of her head, which conveyed the words, "And that's final."

 

Ella always treasured the couch on which Baba had lain and the chair Mehera sat in. Fredella brought the sofa and chair with them when they moved to Myrtle Beach, putting them in their living room. Many years Inter in 1980 at Pine Lodge. when Ella fell and injured her hip, she asked Jeff Wolverton to carry her to her "Baba sofa" to await the ambulance, the very sofa on which Baba had rested after His own hip Injury In 1952. In the latter years, when her health was failing. Ella would say to Jeff, after having breakfast together, "Take me to my friend," and there would pass the day, thinking of her beloved Meher Baba. It was her headquarters, or "heartquarters," during her last years.

 

I first met the Winterfeldts in the late 40's when Fredella lived on the West side. Fred was superintendent of a building there. One day in 1947-48, Murshida Ivy Duce, head of Sufism Reoriented, came looking for an apartment. Fred noticed a Baba button pinned inside her coat and asked her who that was; she said she would tell him later when she moved in.

 

Hearing of Baba was a turning point in their lives. Both Fred and Ella at this time were very depressed. Life seemed meaningless: they had contemplated suicide, and even bought a gun. But contact with the Master came at this crucial time. They both became Sufis and devoted Baba lovers; Ella did secretarial work for Ivy and served her diligently. Meanwhile they visited our Monday night group, formed after Elizabeth and Norina had left for India (1947). They liked our "free form" gathering very much.

 

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