Ella wrote secretly to Baba ex- pressing her love for Him and her wish to serve only Him. Through Adi, Baba sent a cable acknowledging her letter. Fred came in holding it over his head, saying "What is this, Musch?" (his pet name for her). "You have written to Baba and not told Ivy!"
Both continued as Sufis but gradually Ella withdrew from her work for Ivy. Their first meeting with Meher Baba was in 1952, in the Lagoon Cabin at Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Ella was ahead of Fred going in the door and instantly ran into His arms. Baba had stood up to greet her. In witnessing this embrace, and seeing the look Baba gave him over
Ella's shoulder, Fred knew that Baba was God without a doubt. Then Fred said, But Baba, we've become Sufis." Baba with a look of mock concern, gestured "Sufis?" - I am the greatest Sufi of them all. You are now a part of My intimate family. But always stay in touch with Ivy, she was your link to Me." This they did faithfully over the years, although I know Ivy felt sorry they hadn't stayed her mureeds.
I became close friends of Fredella almost immediately: they seemed like dear family or guru-bais - as Easterners say - disciples of the same Master. Fredella offered their apartment in Manhattan House for our meetings and so it continued for many years. They also bought a small farm in Deposit, New York, in the Pocono’s, as a retreat from the city. We spent many happy days there together. Kim and Manuel Grajera (Kim of Kimco) were also frequent guests. Ella even learned to drive and made the trip to New York bravely by herself.
It was in a trout stream on this farm that Ella lost the ring the women Mandali had sent her. She was heartbroken. But In 1962 several years later, while sitting a feet at Baba’s feet at Guruprasad, Baba suddenly reached out His hand to her. Thinking that He wanted to hold her hand, she reached out and clasped His. To her astonishment she felt something drop in her hand. With her hand closed she brought it to her heart and opened it slowly. Inside was a lovely black ring with Baba's photo - just like the lost ring. She was deeply touched and treasured this ring always, as a young bride would her wedding ring.
Where did Fred and Ella meet? Both were from Germany, of course. Fred was the only son, with six sisters older than he (he was actually Baron Von Winterfeldt, but gave up the title on coming to America). To escape so much femininity, Fred "ran away to sea" in his teens.
He fought World War I on the side of the Germans and World War II on the side of the Americans. I recall him describing the terrible sea battle of Guadacanal.
Ella came to the U.S. In 1927 at the age of 30. She came from a cultured family, in fact Rudolf Steiner, the well-known founder of Anthroposophy, was an uncle by marriage. In her youth she studied piano, wrote many poems in German and was very interested in astronomy and astrology (unusual in those days) and knew all the constellations by sight. Her brother was a prominent banker.
Fred came to the U.S. before Ella, working in Louisiana with a German agricultural equipment manufacturer, training men in its use. Eventually he moved to New York. One day on a busy street, he saw a women swinging her legs around to get out of a car. He "recognized the legs," he used to say, and knew she was the woman he was destined to marry. This was the late 20's or early 30's. Somehow Fred managed to Introduce himself, and later they were married without any special ceremony at City Hall in downtown Manhattan. Around this time Fred began his lifelong career managing apartment complexes, at which he excelled (at Manhattan House he had 40 men under him - in 1951 one of them was Francis Brabazon, who was waiting to meet Baba).