direction, after a nursing stint in India.
Actually, to show how fragile Baba linkups can be: in 1962 I went, of course, to the East/West Gathering. I asked a Baba lover from the East Coast, Jim Bryan, who worked in Palm Springs, if he were going too. No, he was going to open a Baba bookstore instead, which he did, for about 3 weeks only — at the corner of Manchester and Sepulveda. It was in an old theatre building, with neon lights. George McCuen saw the lights, wondered what they were, and stumbled onto this little bookstore and Baba! Jim said he was the only one interested in Baba and gave me his name on my return. I wrote George, but never heard from him for months until one midnight he knocked on my door. He wouldn't give his name — just wanted to hear of Baba! Gene was his roommate. Both were into extreme diets. In fact, Gene was a "breatharian" and would fast "on air only" for 30 days. But he always seemed to love the refreshments at my Sunday meetings!
When I saw the program for the Escondito gathering, I found Jean Adriel’s name on it; she was to play "cosmic music" on the autoharp. She walked out during the Baba film. Adele and I spoke to her (she had a book table for Soaring Sunward, her autobiography). She asked us to send her love to Meher Baba. I promptly wrote Him and He sent her a loving cable saying He would be with her "til the very end." At this time she had been separating herself from the Baba world and no one knew her whereabouts, so it was good fortune to find her. She didn't want to contact any of us: the exception was Evelyn Blackshaw, as they both loved to meditate and gossip on occult matters.
Another person I met at this tiny New Age gathering was Merle Gould, who published the Cosmic Star and had a bookstore in Hollywood of the same name. He had made several movies; one was "The Body is a Shell," another, "The Prophesies of Nostradamus," narrated by Basil Rathbone. Merle was one of the first Californians to "network" New Age spiritual groups and arrange group conferences. It was at the Cosmic Star Bookstore I gave my first public talk on Baba . . . a slide show, "The Evolution of Consciousness" based on God Speaks. When I got home later that night, there was a cable from Baba on my door. "So happy you are giving talk on God Speaks. Love blessings, Meher Baba." Yet I had not written or cabled Him at all! This loving gesture of support from the Avatar encouraged me to continue to make contacts and give public talks, as I described above, through visiting other groups and centers in L.A.
On Sunday afternoons I would have a small Baba meeting at my home (always providing a generous buffet; unused to California distances, I thought everyone would need food after the long drive out to the beach!)
It was in the very early 60's that I met my first "hippie," Jim O'Brien, an ex-mental patient. He would come and talk and borrow books (and never return them!). When Dr. Hoshang Bharucha came to visit in '61, Mrs. Fuchs had arranged for our "handful" of people to meet at her home but, at the last minute, her husband refused to welcome us so she proposed meeting in Schwab’s Drugstore. I couldn't see it; then Jim spoke up: "Come to my pad." So we held our very first L.A. meeting in the first "hippie pad" I'd seen — mattress on the floor, no furniture, stacks of books. Dr. Bharucha seemed disconcerted at first, but relaxed as he began to talk — teasing us by saying he knew who and where the Five Perfect masters of the Age were, etc, etc. I think he had expected me to have a big group in this city and was very disappointed.
But no one did, really, until 1965 or so. Ivy Duce used to phone me and complain how difficult it was to keep the Sufi Center open. Baba told her to be patient and one day the souls would come . . . and they did! In 1964 it all began to happen: the Berkeley sit-in, love-ins, riots, Tim O'Leary and Dr. Alpert pushing LSD, the Beatles, the Vietnam war, Jerry Rubin . . . and all the rest