The young couple shared one hobby which was sailing, and for several years they kept a sailboat in Brooklyn and spent a great deal of time making it shipshape. Their dream was to take off and sail around the world. Then came the war, and the separation from Fred was very hard on Ella and she became very depressed.
But when Baba entered their lives everything changed. In Baba's work they found a new goal and their abilities complemented each other well. Ella had excellent secretarial and accounting skills and Fred was almost a genius in dealing with people (a gift well-tested through the years, both on jobs and in the Baba-world). Both were gracious hosts and their home was a haven for many. Fred was also my first Treasurer on the Awakener Magazine and helped to make its start possible. Ella helped too. At one time Fredella kept track of about 14 separate Meher Baba project accounts, Including that of the Family Letters, which they received from India and mailed out to all.
In '56 Baba again visited America. It was at the '56 Sahavas at the Center that Fred had a deep wish fulfilled, to drive Baba in his car - the same little black car in which he drove down to Myrtle Beach to meet Baba in 1952. (On the way we had seen Baba's name in Persian script, written in bright pink clouds on a blue sky.) Baba asked Fred to drive Him from the Guest House to His house - an easy ¾ mile. "Do you know the way?" He asked. Fred smiled confidently. Suddenly the road in front came to a dead end, right in the woods! Baba was chuckling. They were lost! Fred was astounded, but with his every-ready wit, he exclaimed, "Look, Baba, someone has planted trees right in the middle of the road!" Baba loved the humor. Calling Fred his Arjuna*, He indicated that Fred's driving Him in his car ensured he would never get lost crossing the Spiritual Planes.
Ella too had some interesting experiences on this trip. In New York at the dinner for Baba at Longchamps which was in the same building as Manhattan House, Ella thought she saw Baba shiver. She ran to her apartment to get Him a sweater. But it was just when she was gone, that Baba rose and circled the room. He stopped by Ella's empty chair. "Where is she?" He gestured to Fred. When she returned, He called her to Him and impressed on her not to leave His Presence without His permission - a lesson a lot of us had to learn. Baba reminded her of this again in Myrtle Beach. Again a spontaneous wish to serve intervened. Someone asked her to help with His food and this kept her away from the Barn and His morning Sahavas. Baba called for her again and impressed her with this lesson: His order comes first. She knelt at His feet and asked His forgiveness. Later, at this Sahavas of '58, Baba did ask her directly to cook some fish for Him, which she did, after some amusing attempts to "debone" the fish.
So meticulous was she in carrying out her responsibilities that she was a real "worry wart" at times. Again, at the Center, Baba called her into the Barn. As she stepped in the door she could see a very displeased look on His face. She smiled nervously but Baba's expression remained the same, so by the time she reached His chair she was in a state of great anxiety. She stood with her arms trembling behind her back, desperately wondering what she could have done to displease Him so. Suddenly Baba 'said' one word to break the tension: "Relax!" (Always pronounced "Relox" by Ella.) She loosened up instantly and He sent her outside again. Ella said she never really worried again to that depth. It reminds me of the 'worry operation' Baba gave me in 1952.**
One more trial came, however, in 1961. Baba was giving darshan at Poona; Westerners could come for one hour. Fred bought tickets for himself and Ella but she refused to go; she was in the midst of making copies of the Family Letter to be sent out to 500 people. She felt Baba wanted her to stay and fulfill her responsibilities. Fred did everything in his power to persuade her, keeping her ticket open to the last. But her answer was still no. Fred went to India and saw Baba, and much to his delight, the
*Arjuna was Krishna's charioteer in the Gita.
**See Vol. 14, No. 2. The Awakener.