1964 - '65 : New York World's Fair
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NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR― 1964
Early in January, 1963, while I was visiting Jane Barry ( Haynes ) in her New York home, she spoke to me of a thought that had come suddenly to her: to have Meher Baba's pictures and literature in some way visibly represented at the World's Fair that was to open in New York.
Her son Charles related: "In the middle of the night I heard Mother calling and I went to find out what had happened. She told me of something that had just come into her mind. Earlier she had been reading the Awakener account of how two of Baba's followers in India had secured a booth at the New Delhi Fair. Why not have Meher Baba represented at the New York World's Fair! Various religions would be represented—so must be the 'leader' of them all.
"My first reaction," Charles said, "was how could we get a small space in such a huge Fair of glass and steel? We both went off to sleep knowing that if Baba wanted the space it would come about."
Thus began the dream which many months later became a reality. That day, listening to the idea, I felt aglow with that impulsiveness that one feels the moment there is work to do for Baba. I broached the matter by writing to Sarosh Irani in Ahmednagar, India. After three weeks the reply came through Baba's disciple-secretary, Adi K. Irani, that the project of representing His Cause in the Western section of the World's Fair appealed to all at Meherazad and was approved by Baba.
This was sufficient—Baba's permission to start working on the project. Jane began the work of investigating by contacting the vice-president and other officials of the Fair, always with the emphasis on Meher Baba and His Message of Love and Truth.
Progress was reported to Adi Sr. who replied to Jane on February 19, 1963, as follows: "Baba wants you to know He is very pleased with your efforts to secure some little space for Him in the New York World's Fair. If you do not succeed in getting one, Baba does not want you to feel disappointed, for you already have a corner in His heart. Baba sends His Love to you and to His dear Trio".
The response to this cable was indeed heartwarming. Love gifts came from all parts of the country from those who love Baba, all accompanied by loving wishes. Almost one year before the Fair was to open the location of the space was settled. After several Pavilions were considered, the final choice fell on the Pavilion of American Interiors. Why? For one reason Mr. Elton, the owner and builder of the Pavilion I, wanted us there. He wrote: "I am very interested in the kind of exhibit you propose.” Jane had always felt that the right spot would be indicated by Baba. Eventually, Mr. Elton gave an additional fifty square feet of space to the one hundred square feet purchased; he also contributed the unique design for Baba's "corner" which was executed by the eminent American designer Paul McCobb.
"Baba wants you NOT to form any committee for the project . . . He wants you to do your best with the help of Ned and Dorothea Foote and Don Stevens, leaving the result entirely in His hands, knowing full well that He will get things done as He wants." Joulia Nicolaou in Florida received a cable in which Baba asked her to come up from Florida to help in any way. All were told to take the work as important in Baba's Cause.
To Jane, with her unbounded zeal for Baba's work, the project now became around-the-clock work; for one finds in work for Baba that the creative spirit never sleeps—suggesting, advising, improving along the way.
Before signing up for any space in one of the Pavilions, there had to be some banking and accounting arrangement. Ivy Duce, president of Sufism Reoriented, Inc., with the concurrence of the board of directors, adopted the project. Baba was informed and a cable dated March 13 was received with this message:
TELL IVY I AM HAPPY OVER SUFISM REORIENTED COOPERATION—BABA.
On March 7 Jane received a further cable from Baba saying:
YOUR LETTER OF 25TH FEBRUARY TO ADI WITH ALL ENCLOSURES MADE ME HAPPY STOP I WOULD WANT THOSE LOVERS IN AMERICA WHO CAN AFFORD TO CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS THE COST OF THIS PROJECT TO DO SO AND THUS SPREAD MY DIVINE MESSAGE OF LOVE AND TRUTH THROUGH THE WORLDS FAIR STOP YOU SHOULD CIRCULATE THIS CABLE TO THE AMERICAN LOVERS CONCERNED― MEHER BABA.
What might have been a disadvantage, the small entrance fee to the Pavilion, and perhaps interest circumscribed by exhibits of interiors, was more than offset by the peace and the seclusion that the Pavilion afforded. Many who visited the "corner" agreed that this might have been unattainable elsewhere in the Fair.
The main purpose of Baba's "corner" was to spread Baba's Message of Love and Truth; this was carried out by giving "Meher Baba's Universal Message" gratis to visitors and having them see the enlarged photographs showing His life and work as well as the books by and about Meher Baba.
The central picture was chosen by the unanimous choice of the mandali with Baba in India. It was made from a color slide taken by Joseph Harb at the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.* The negative of Baba's figure was as small as one's thumbnail; it seemed an impossible task to enlarge this to the needed three-by-four-foot portrait. But Jane had a cable from India that said: TRY. She showed the cable to the young Scotsman who was to make the enlargement: he tried and was himself astonished at the result. It was very beautiful!
At first it was uncertain whether books could be sold at the "corner." Finally Mr. Elton agreed. Then came the question, how to house the quantity of books needed. Once again Baba provided the inspiration through the love of His followers. Henry and Kecha Kashouty of Hampton, Virginia, wrote: "It was during the summer at His Center in Myrtle Beach that the idea came to us . . . a storehouse for 'Meher Baba's Universal Message ' and for books by and about Meher Baba. A small one-room house overlooking the creek behind our home was made ready by putting radiant heat in the floor, three new windows, a door, and then supplying it with electricity and installing a brick patio outside. Much of the work was done by two of Baba's Hampton devotees: Duster Brown, expert in plumbing, heating, etc., and Robert Burke . . . neither of whom have as yet had the opportunity to meet Baba. Books arrived on consignment from different parts of the world, as well as the United States." It was a true labor of love.
To keep accurate records of books at the Fair good assistance was needed. Marion Florsheim was named treasurer for the project and Enid Corfe accepted full-time responsibility for records of book sales and orders. There remained the folder of "Meher Baba's Universal Message" which Baba wished to be given free to all visitors to the "corner." This was worked on at Myrtle Beach; selections were chosen and sent to India. Changes were made, the biographical sketch rewritten, and most important a special Message was given for the folder by Baba:
WHEN MIND SOARS IN PURSUIT OF THE THINGS CONCEIVED IN SPACE, IT PURSUES EMPTINESS: BUT WHEN MAN DIVES DEEP WITHIN HIMSELF HE EXPERIENCES THE FULLNESS OF EXISTENCE.
The picture chosen by Baba for the folder was the one which was sent from India. One quarter of a million folders were printed in Charleston, South Carolina. Ultimately Baba's message was cabled:
And so, piece by piece the edifice, inside and out, came into existence.
Then out of the blue came a beautiful cable to Jane and Elizabeth in New York, in care of the Winterfeldts, to be circulated to all:
BLESSED IS THE LOVE OF MY LOVERS IN AMERICA THAT HAS ADORNED THE NEW YORK WORLDS FAIR WITH MEHER BABAS UNIVERSAL MESSAGE STOP I SEND MY BLESSING OF LOVE TO ALL MY LOVERS AND WORKERS WHO MADE IT POSSIBLE AND WHO WILL STAFF THE SPACE FOR DURATION OF THE FAIR—MEHER BABA.
The opening of the Pavilion was delayed from April 22 to May 8, 1964. Baba's loving cable made the trying weeks a joy instead of a trial, for all was chaos at the building!
On April 20, Elizabeth Patterson wrote to me at Myrtle Beach: " . . . the work on our space has to be pushed; electricity straightened out; bookcases still to be painted; ceiling probably to be put in tomorrow; draperies ready but can't be hung until workmen out of the way! The floor has to be laid the last thing, otherwise the whiteness of it might be spoiled . . . it is simulated white marble that is very beautiful. Then we must go to Paul McCobb's to see furniture that he may lend."
Again on May 2, Elizabeth wrote: "I am writing this on the third floor sitting on an acoustical tile box opposite Meher Baba's
Universal Message space . . . Several other pavilions, about six or eight, are not finished; the weather has been unusually wet and cold for weeks . . . " And on May 7: "One day before opening;
one feels like Norina's expression, ‘A cow looking in front of a mountain!' How will we ever be ready! There is the stress and strain and pressure of finishing a large
Pavilion . . . yet at
3 p.m. most workers leave the building; it is as quiet now as a museum at night. I can only hope it is a coffee break! Much has been done in our little space, but still a lot of detail that can only be done at the last minute; others that could have been done if the workmen had come in the right sequence instead of the ‘cart before the horse’ The workmen have to be pulled off the job . . . and over to another. Somehow it will open . . . tomorrow is another day!"
On May 8, at 4 a.m. the last pictures were placed . . . the special lighting for Baba's portrait was installed and focused, the cabinet table secured with its treasures; the bookcases sealed—and at 9 a.m. Baba's "corner" at the World's Fair, called MEHER BABA'S UNIVERSAL MESSAGE, was opened.
Here is Joulia Nicolaou’s letter written during the first week to her daughters: "The Fair is fabulous, so much to see . . . crowds of people standing in line at the various exhibits. We are in a beautiful circular building housing mostly furniture and decorative objects. Our room is octagonal in shape, with eight white fabric panels surrounding Baba's color portrait, which is framed in gold felt. The floor is white marbleized tile, the ceiling is white and has inset lighting; spotlights glow from behind the draperies and there is a special light on Baba's picture. In the center of the room on a round pedestal, stands an octagonal shaped case which holds an alphabet board which Baba used for many years, and a white plaster cast of Baba's hand. Books and pictures of Baba are kept in glassed-in shelves on either side of the entrance to the room. Across from us on the circular wall are lovely paintings from the Midtown Gallery; so you see the setting is perfect. We don't get the crowds, but we know that Baba draws His own and He is doing the work."
Meanwhile a loving message had come from Mani and the close ones at Meherazad (India) about the design for the interior of Baba's "corner": "We are in love with it! We have no suggestions for any alterations."
It was not easy to obtain the number of permanent passes needed for our volunteer workers at the "corner." What was our category in the midst of all this glass and steel? Wendy, Jane's daughter, told how these passes required days and weeks of calls at offices far distant from the Pavilion—and much persuasion. She said: "Finally when the man in charge consented to the permanent passes for the volunteers, he sighed a great sigh of relief to see Mother go . . . so much trouble had it been! Then lo and
behold a few days later another eleven passes came in the mail. Mother realized that these were the result of earlier efforts given up as hopeless. She phoned, offering to return them. In a tired voice the man said, 'Please, lady, keep them . . . by all means, keep them!"'
Coming up from Myrtle Beach to New York on May 18, my pass was soon certified after an interview and photograph, then Jane took me over to Baba's "corner" or booth (as I will now refer to it) for the first time.
Among the first passers-by was a Lutheran pastor's wife who came and sat in the booth, read the folder carefully, and said she liked many parts of it. She bought God to Man and Man to God and came back several times, bringing with her others of her denomination. She felt something of Baba's Love.
The next visitor was a man most interested in the photographs of Baba, especially the one of Baba washing the leper. "What was leprosy? What had Baba to say . . . was there a cure?" I recalled Baba's words, "A beautiful soul in an ugly body." Also Baba had said: "When you wash and tend the leper, feel that it is God Himself you are serving." I told him that Baba's work was not so much the physical miracle, as the awakening of one's consciousness to the Truth that all are One. He took the Message, read the few lines under the picture, looked again at Baba washing the leper and went off.
Many stopped by the booth this day; we reckoned that one out of every three who passed took the Message offered. At least 150 to 200 Messages were given out daily at the beginning, but in the following months this number was more than doubled. Out of the many who accepted the Message, some paused longer, sat, asked questions and looked at the books by and about Meher Baba.
A lady stopping to look at the books in the right case, recognized the book God Speaks, and came up to the desk to say so, stating that her friend in Huntington, Long Island was studying it with her church group. I was surprised, but she continued that this was so; that her group was studying the different religions. I gave her the Message, also New Humanity and Sparks to take back to her friend as well as the book list.
The book list was Ivy Duce’s idea. In it were mentioned all books by and about Meher Baba with a short commentary on each and the price. Elizabeth devoted many hours to the final preparation and to having it printed. It has served a good purpose. Thousands of these have been given away and orders for books have been received.
Besides Meher Baba's Universal Message, to be given free, were the New Humanity; The True Teacher by Francis Brabazon; cards bearing Sahavas sayings; The Seven Realities; printed folders bearing the quotation, “To penetrate into the essence" from Baba's discourse on Divine love; and a few booklets on Love. All of these had been presented with love and some through the gift of Warren Healy's own printing.
It was usually something of Meher Baba's own writings that He Himself has dictated that inquirers asked for; hence God to Man and Man to God has been most in demand, also the original Discourses were sought after. Although the new book, The God-Man, by Charles B. Purdom, arrived only in August, many copies were sold and orders taken. Altogether close to four hundred books have been sold through the project at the Fair. The books have been an asset to the work, for thoughtful people would come in and look through them. They might glance at a chapter on the elimination of the ego in God to Man and Man to God; at the Journey of the Soul, shown in the diagrams in God Speaks; at the titles of the discourses in Baba's latest book, The Everything and The Nothing; and for those wanting to know about life after death, Listen Humanity. Then sometimes they would buy.
Charles B. Purdom - author of the book The God-Man and who edited God to Man and Man to God, was here during September as the guest of several Baba-groups. He visited the booth at the Fair, spoke on the radio network about The God-Man, he gave talks in New York; Hampton, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Here is his comment on the Fair project: "The space at the Fair does credit to Baba. I can say nothing better than that. The taste is perfect, the arrangement, pictures, furnishings exactly right. One cannot see it without feeling that here is something out of the ordinary. Yet there is nothing pretentious and no over-emphasis. The space invites attention and those who serve at it have a great opportunity. They can speak of Baba without proselytizing; for the fact of his being speaks for itself. What a great opportunity it is."
A thoughtful man stopped by one day; when he heard that Baba was of Persian parentage, he asked if Baba's teachings were along the lines of Zoroaster. I did my best in replying. He said to me: “Then Baba centrifies [sic] all religions." He looked at the books and bought several, leaving his name and address, as many did. On leaving he said: "You have spoken
well!" I tried hard later to recall what I had said to him and could not remember a thing! It just came I suppose. This happened more than once!
Of course not all all reactions were positive, at least not outwardly. From Louis Agostini's diary comes the following: A man with dark shades that entirely hid his eyes stopped at the panel which included pictures taken during Baba's youth and early manhood. His intent examination soon erupted into a loud remark, "Who is this man?" "Why don't you come over and help yourself to a copy of His message?" I answered. As I handed him the pamphlet I mentioned that Baba was a great spiritual leader in India; apparently the word "great" upset him. "What do you mean great?” he countered. I suggested that he acquaint himself with some of the books about Baba and decide for himself. "Look," he said, "I don't want to read any books. . . I want you to tell me why you say he is great." "If I gave you my own reasons why I consider him great it might not make sense to you, for it is derived from my own experience," I replied. "Jesus was great . . . and so was Einstein . . ." he shouted. "Now I want you to tell me why this man is great!"
Realizing that a crowd was growing, and that our meeting was turning into a personal encounter, I decided to give the whole thing to Baba mentally. The answer came clear enough, perhaps in time to avert an outright show of belligerence: I said to him: "Because of the stress that He has placed in all of His teachings on the Love that arises from an understanding of the Oneness of all Existence." It must have soothed him internally, but he fought against it outwardly. "Don't tell me about that . . . all the others have said it . . . Furthermore," he continued, "he is too young to know anything about Love!" Saying this he disappeared around the corner. But he still had the folder in his hand.
A professor at one of our best-known universities, with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, recently wrote to the Center at Myrtle Beach: "After some very profound experiences with higher levels of consciousness and glimpses of the Infinite, I saw some films of Meher Baba, and also the folder. This prompted me to read some of his writings. I was profoundly moved and realized this to be the best model of the Universe and man's higher goals I had come across.
"I am extremely interested in purchasing his writings and those about him by his disciples and biographers. I understand that you have a brochure which lists these publications and where they can be obtained . . . I would be extremely interested to meet other Baba followers."
Baba’s booth was staffed seven days a week. There were eleven full-time workers who came each week all season, all dependable, punctual and happy in their service. There were fifty workers all told for the season, each having their own experiences. I regret that space does not permit me to mention here the names of these Baba-lovers who gave so unstintingly of their time. All felt Baba's Presence very strongly during their hours of service. Mrs. Bahjejian, whom all call "Auntie," though over eighty years of age, came each week the long way from Staten Island to serve. She said: "I just wish that I could stay here all the time with Baba."
Baba said from the beginning: "I will do my work in my own way at the Fair." A dear couple among Baba's workers, Fred and Ella Winterfeldt, were wondering just how they would answer most questions. Having recently read that delightful story of Kaka in the Awakener, they jokingly thought it might be good for them to sit with closed eyes and think of Baba when approached by people asking questions which they felt they would never be able to answer. Relating this, they received this reply from Mani: "Baba smiled when you quoted about Kaka. Baba says His Love is with you, so don't be at all nervous about questions you might be asked. Your love for Him will speak for itself and answer all questions. So, dears, with His Name on your lips and His Love in your hearts all will be fine.
"And, of course, if ever the words falter or fail, you could quote from The Everything and The Nothing (wherein) Baba says there is only one question and one answer―all the questions and answers in between are false!"
Many young people visited the "corner" during the season, some new to Baba's name and some in His family. Dr. Harry Kenmore's daughter, Janet, came several times with young Larry Karrasch; Joulia Nicolaou’s daughters, Kay and Dede, returned from Europe and helped at the booth, also brought friends whom they had told of Baba; John Haynes came from his summer job and took Baba's Message, Sparks and the New Humanity back with him to Washington, D.C.; Mimi Drake came from California, and many others.
From Ann Ginsburg came the account of two teenage girls, about twelve and fourteen, who came to the booth; the older one began reading eagerly about Baba. The younger one, who had lovely eyes, begged, "May I also have the Message?" She tenderly filed it in her carry-all bag.
So many children have approached the desk with their parents or alone, asking, begging, helping themselves to something to take home. This need of something for children should be met before reopening next spring, as neither The Seven Realities nor the Universal Message is suitable. What better gift than the picture of Meher Baba with the Iamb—with a suitable saying inscribed below it?
The following is from young Charles Haynes' diary: Beryl Williams and I were at the space one Saturday afternoon when a young man walked up and said: “You can involve me in a long talk because my wife will be gone a long time." This was the beginning of an hour's talk about Baba. After he was seated he wanted to know what Baba had said about everything from Christ to reincarnation and evolution. Two things impressed him most. One was the fact that Baba's space was there at all; secondly that Baba had followers there all week long. Beryl and I talked with him at length, then his wife came in. She took a seat without a word, while her husband continued his questions. Finally he turned to her and asked: "What do you think of this?" She gazed at Baba's beautiful color portrait and said: "I should like to meet Him." By Baba's Grace, two more people somewhere in the world now have His Message.
A very touching incident rook place one day while I was at the booth with Joulia. A pilot from one of the airlines walked straight up to the books, fingered one or two and looking up, said "What has Baba to say on prayer?" I handed him, at the right page, Life At Its Best. Meanwhile several other visitors stopped by. He read until Joulia and I were free again, then continued his questioning. We talked with him for almost an hour.
He felt the church had obscured the real meaning of prayer. What should one ask for? I said that true prayer was not petition, but accenting God's Will in all things. This brought the talk around to Karma and Reincarnation.
Finally he lifted the curtain of reserve. He spoke of his little boy who had leukemia, and had been treated, apparently successfully, with some of the most modern and dangerous drugs. He was now, he said, facing two problems—the child, born in God's image, could not be ill or responsible and should be surrounded by positive thoughts. Then again, by asking for healing through prayer, how could one know it was for the best for the child's spiritual development?
We told him that Baba always says, "Don't worry'; and that if he repeated Baba's Name with all sincerity Baba would help him. We also stressed that he should seek the best medical advice, since Baba has said that Science too was God's gift to man, and then to accept the outcome as God's Will and be resigned to it. He left, freer in mind, we felt, taking with him Baba's Message and Sparks.
Many workers at the booth have told the same story: the great attraction some visitors felt towards Baba's picture (the large colored picture). They would suddenly stop dead as they passed, and pause before asking who He was; and even after hearing His Name, would remain spellbound. A few might refuse the folder; sufficient to them was the memory of that unique person. His name could be clearly seen under the portrait, on a beautiful bronze plaque bearing the words MEHER BABA.
I would like to mention here the contribution executed by Vivian Agostini for our project—a bronze medallion―on one side Baba's profile and on the reverse side the "Baba Seal". This unique medallion will endure for all time, a memento of the occasion when beloved Baba's Western lovers had the opportunity of bringing His message to seekers after Truth.
Many found comfort at the booth, and the philosophy that they were searching for. This was illustrated in part by the rather shy young man who came in; and though he stammered, was not deterred from asking about Baba's work and teaching. He wanted no dogmas, no beliefs, no religions, not even a God if it was just something outside of himself. He felt that human behavior should be governed by some standard from within. This was my cue!
I asked him to sit down and gave him The Seven Realities to read; I told him that Baba had said that "God" was a name given by man to express the Unknown Supreme Reality, the Truth that resides in us all. He went along with this . . . said he had just ordered the Bhaghavad Gita, and continued: “I am a pacifist and do not believe in war and killing. What does Baba say?" Here I referred him to Baba's discourse on non-violence; and also told him that Baba says that war can be fought for a spiritual reason and bring about spiritual results; also it can be fought for material gain with harmful results. I then observed that the Gita and Baba's teaching both stressed that man has to be free from jealousy, greed and hate, to recognize the Oneness in all. He said that Baba's teaching was just what he was looking for. He went off taking with him the Discourses and the Universal Message.
A quiet Negro walked in, sat down and remained for almost an hour; he was desperately lonely. He said he had taken some children for rides in the amusement area to compensate for not having his own with him. He was recently separated from his wife, and was at a loss how to go about the whole matter. He had gone to the library and picked up a book on metaphysics and had started to read it. (Joulia showed him the charts in God Speaks and when he asked for "beginning reading " something of Baba’s, she gave him God to Man and Man to God . He paid for it with an American Express check and I sent the book to him by post as he was flying back to Georgia. To read on the flight he said he would take the Message and the booklet by Mr. Chari. We told him not to worry, but to think of Baba and to repeat His Name. We hope he took with him some of Baba's Love.
Some said when one offered the folder, "No, thank you, I am a Christian." "So am I," one replied, "Baba says that God is One and we are all One in God" That is right," they would answer and walk on.
There were adventures, too. This is the account of one of the regular workers, Rose Garbade: Friday, around 6:30 p.m., when all was quiet on our floor, a young man with a girl carrying a small carpet-bag appeared. The young man was manipulating with both hands a small group of bronze figures. This was one of the sculptures a little distance from the space. He had apparently wrenched this from the gallery wall and was trying to separate the figures from the base to which they were wired.
He was so intent on his job as he walked along that he did not realize that he was being watched by someone at our desk. Our space is recessed slightly, so as not to be visible until one is near.
He suddenly looked up and was startled to see me. I said, "What happened?" In a confused voice he replied, "I was trying to lift it to see how heavy it was " I said, "Leave it with me, put it on the chair and I will take care of it." The girl, meanwhile, had vanished.
He stood in a daze looking up at Baba's picture and then he said: "I feel so embarrassed." "Don't worry," I replied, "things happen! Take this Message, it will help you," and he left.
Mary Andriani, my helper, returned to the space and she saw that the sculpture was marked at $500. She took the little group down to the office on the main floor and when asked where she had found it, said, "Off the wall." Later the owner of the Midtown Gallery came by personally to thank Rose and have a talk with her.
Meher Baba’s Silence has produced a few problems― how to explain it satisfactorily! I finally took along some of the circulars compiled by Adi in 1956 for Myrtle Beach on "His Silence." People looked at the alphabet-board and we mentioned that the books by Meher Baba were dictated by means of the hoard , but it remained a problem. One lady, in answer to my remark that when the time was ripe and suffering was at its peak, Baba would speak, said "What self-control he must have, for there have been so many climaxes! I hope he won't delay too long, but speak before it is too late."
Visitors came from many parts of the world: Guatemala, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Trinidad, Japan, England, France, Spain, Majorca, Formosa, Zanzibar, Alaska, Canada, Greece, India, Pakistan, etc. One can truly say that from Baba's "corner," His Message has gone all over the world!
From among Baba’s Indian devotees there came: Freni Billimoria of Bombay, at present working in a hospital in Edmonton, Canada; Mr. Kishanchand Gajwani, also of Bombay, with his daughter who is now living in the United States; Reva Bhandari of New Delhi, on her way to California for one year on a scholarship from the American Field Service Organization; Vijay Beckaya (Mona Sakhare's brother) now living in Canada. Then there was the young girl, a student of Godavri Mai, head of Upasni Maharaj's ashram. She spoke with Enid Corfe for quite a time.
Also among the Indian visitors was a young man studying in Michigan who came with two fellow-students. This young man had been taken by his father to meet Baba in Poona. He was so surprised and pleased to see the little space devoted to Baba.
A young Chinese student at the Pratt Institute in New York stopped by. He had a long talk with Mary Andriani. He was most interested in Baba's teachings. We gave him twelve of the Message folders to take back to Formosa where he was returning in September to teach in a college there. He also took The Everything and The Nothing.
Two Japanese men came in, one spoke a little English. They were from the Japanese Finance Ministry and appeared interested in Baba.
A very pleasant Negro minister and his wife, from Atlanta, Georgia, stopped one day, looked at the books and said: "I am now reading Ramakrishna's life, and the Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda. Tell me how they differ from your Master, Meher Baba?" The answer was, that Ramakrishna was a Sadguru (Perfect Master), whereas Meher Baba was the Avatar, the One awaited by all religions to manifest again on earth for the salvation of mankind.
He went on to say that he was searching for the Truth; that now he would visit Myrtle Beach and not California as he had planned. He showed great understanding; took many pamphlets, and then said: "Think of It, I came to the Pavilion looking for furniture, and see what I have found!"
There was also the man who remarked at the Monday night meeting in New York: "Had it not been for the Fair, I might not have heard of Meher Baba!" Mani, referring to this in a letter, wrote: "I feel that just one such incident suffices to acknowledge all the efforts, struggle, work and love put into the project, and above all, His Purpose that is the Source of all!"
One evening two men asked at the entrance of the Pavilion for the Sufi booth. "I'm sorry, I don't know," the attendant said. "Meher Baba," the enquirer then said. "Oh, Baba, of course!" The young girl enjoined,“ . . . right upstairs on the third floor." These two men had just returned from a glorious month, visiting among other things the beautiful cathedrals and shrines in Europe. What a difference to step into this small hallowed space, which they found most beautiful in its simplicity and purity of atmosphere. Ours was indeed a contrast to the large imposing structure of Billy Graham, the Mormon Temple, the Vatican Pavilion, etc.
Yet how great was the significance of the little corner devoted to Meher Baba, the Avatar who is the pivot around which everything in Creation revolves! Baba has said: "As the Center, each movement of mine is unlimited in its action and reaction, expression and result." Being the Creator of everything, everything on every plane is equidistant from Him. Thus we felt that the Meher Baba booth, situated in an inconspicuous corner amidst the grandeur of the World's Fair, was the focal point from which radiated God's Universal Message and Love.
The privilege afforded the volunteer-workers and those who made the space possible was indeed great. It makes one remember Baba's earlier message:
"BLESSED IS THE LOVE OF MY LOVERS IN AMERICA THAT HAS ADORNED NEW YORK WORLDS FAIR WITH MEHER BABA'S MESSAGE, I SEND MY BLESSING OF LOVE TO ALL MY LOVERS AND WORKERS WHO MADE IT POSSIBLE…”
Many who stopped by had heard of Baba before. Some who knew of Him through Princess Norina Matchabelli’s lectures over twenty years ago, and only now were coming to the understanding of who He is. Once the seed is planted, only in Baba's time will it sprout!
A couple from Boston, Massachusetts, stopped before Baba’s portrait. The husband, who was interested in various yoga paths, said, "I have heard of Baba before." I told him, "The only path Baba makes His close followers tread is that of bhakti yoga." "Yes," he said, "love and service." And turning to his wife, with a twinkle in his eye he said, "Did you hear that? Remember!"
A family of three paused by the desk. The husband, seeing the name Meher Baba on the folder, turned to his wife and I overheard the name Rossin. "Oh,” I said, "would they be the Rossins now in Japan, friends of Margaret Craske?" "Why, yes," he replied. "They are just back from Japan. It was they who told us of Meher Baba." I said, "They love Baba very much and have been several times to the Center at Myrtle Beach and also to India." "Yes," continued the man, "we are both musicians and share the same office." He took the Message, saying that he wanted to visit the Center at Myrtle Beach.
Dr. Subodh Chandra Roy, M.A., LL.B., Ph.D., a professor at the New School for Social Research and New York University, in New York, who had met Baba in India in January of this year, came to the booth happy to talk again with Rose Garbade. It was she who first gave Dr. Roy one of Baba's books, when she met him after one of his lectures. Dr. Roy said he would try to have Meher Baba's books read to him before starting on his book.
So many incidents showed that one could not be too alert. It is better, I think, not to be reading or writing while serving at the booth (I have done both). It is important to catch the eye of the passer-by at the right moment. Joulia told me that she had not felt sure at first whether or not to hand out the Message. Then came the inner answer: "Hand it out!" We should not be shy or mind a rebuff; after all, we were not the ones to know who is or who is not ready! We must let all hear Baba's Name aloud for the impact it makes; hence better to offer the Message with a smile, than sit back and let people take it only if they felt like doing so. One worker told me that she decided that a book of jokes on her lap was a help, then when she looked up at the passer-by, she was all smiles. Each did as he or she felt was best in the way of approach.
One humorous incident many of the volunteer-workers shared. So many of the exhibits in the Pavilion, in fact throughout the Fair, were unmanned. So it was not unusual for the worker at the "corner" to hear a startled cry from a passer-by: "Oh goodness, I didn't know you were real." Some would mutter quietly to their companions, after passing, "Good heavens, I didn't know she was human!"
Interestingly enough, when people from foreign countries came by there was usually someone on duty who could speak their language. Ruth Ringer, when German, French or Czech was needed; Joulia Nicolaou, for French and Greek; Ralph Hernandez, for Spanish; and so forth. I was just leaving one afternoon when up came two young men, not speaking any English. "Sprechen sie Deutsch?" Beaming, they answered in the affirmative. My German of thirty years back came up from somewhere, sufficient to tell them something of Baba and to understand their replies. It appealed to them that this was no new religion, but the one inherent Truth in them all. I showed them Hilde Halpern's beautiful little book, Liebe and Weisheit (Love and Wisdom), by Meher Baba which they glanced through. They took the Message and left happily. They had barely left when the thought came to me that they must have something to take back to Germany. With a copy of the little German book, I rushed down to find them. No luck on any floor. When I returned there they were; I offered them the book. Smiling, the hand of one went to his pocket. "Bezahle, wie viel?" (What is the price? ) I said, "It is a gift from Meher Baba's ‘corner’ to take back with you."
When I wrote to Jane asking for an experience during her service at the booth, she sent me the following: Charles and I were working together at Baba's "corner." I left to have my lunch, taking with me my book of Gibran's The Prophet. But, in a hurry, I left the book in the lounge room. I rushed back to retrieve it. A lovely lady met me halfway, saying with a nice smile, "I thought this was yours." I thanked her and went on.
I returned over an hour later. Coming our of the rear of our building was this same lady, together with her husband. I recognized her as she approached, waved and started to pass on. Her husband stopped me and said: "Are you going to the third floor?" Surprised, I answered, "Yes." He held out the message. "We have just been there," he said. "Is that your son?" I replied, "Yes." "He gave me this," he continued. Again he extended the Message, and pointing to the Seven Realities, read in a clear beautiful voice: "THE ONLY REAL SURRENDER IS THAT IN WHICH THE POISE IS UNDISTURBED BY ANY ADVERSE CIRCUMSTANCE, AND THE INDIVIDUAL AMIDST EVERY KIND OF HARDSHIP, IS RESIGNED WITH PERFECT CALM TO THE WILL OF GOD."
He was a tall distinguished looking man with very clear blue eyes; and as he spoke his face was transfixed, his eyes filled with tears. He had not conversed with anyone at the booth—it was clear that he had received his own experience from beloved Baba. He held the Message as though he had received a golden treasure, which indeed he had. His wife stood by, smiling, silent, understanding. In fact we three stood in silence for a moment or two. Then they started slowly away. This is one of my precious memories of these five and a half months.
It is now September, 1964. In about a month's time, Jane Barry and Elizabeth Patterson with the help of John Bass and Brunner Mehl will be doing just the opposite of what they were doing six months previously; they will be getting ready to dismantle the treasures and close Baba's "corner" at the Fair. It will be opened again next year when the New York World's Fair recommences in April, 1965.
This account, by one who was there for ten weeks, gives but a glimpse of Baba's "corner" and of some of the people whom it touched. To sum up, I can do no better than quote from Mani’s letter (written on the opening of the New York World's Fair, April 22, 1964):
"As one small candle may light a thousand . . . may their love light the hearts of those who visit this little corner at the World's Fair; the corner that holds the eternal message of Love and Truth from the Ancient One."
Pavilion of American Interiors
Courtesy of : http://www.nywf64.com/pavami03.shtml
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair was the third major world's fair to be held in New York City. Hailing itself as a
"universal and international" exposition, the fair's theme was "Peace Through Understanding", dedicated to "Man's Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe"; American companies dominated the exposition as exhibitors.
The theme was symbolized by a 12-story high, stainless-steel model of the earth called the Unisphere. The fair
ran for two six-month seasons, April 22 – October 18, 1964 and April 21 – October 17, 1965. Admission price for adults (13 and older) was $2 in 1964 (about $15 in 2013 dollars) but $2.50 in 1965,
and $1 for children (2–12) both years (about $7 in 2013 dollars).
The fair is best remembered as a showcase of mid-20th-century American culture and technology. The nascent Space Age, with its vista of promise, was well represented. More than 51 million people attended the fair, though less than the hoped-for 70 million. It remains a touchstone for New York–area Baby Boomers, who visited the optimistic fair as children before the turbulent years of the Vietnam War, cultural changes, and increasing struggles for civil rights.
In many ways the fair symbolized a grand consumer show covering many products produced in America at the time for transportation, living, and consumer electronic needs in a way that would never be repeated at future world's fairs in North America. Most American companies from pen manufacturers to auto companies had a major presence. While this fair did not receive official sanctioning from the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), it did give many attendees their first interaction with computer equipment. Many corporations demonstrated the use of mainframe computers, computer terminals with keyboards and CRT displays, Teletype machines, punch cards, and telephone modems in an era when computer equipment was kept in back offices away from the public, decades before the Internet and home computers were at everyone's disposal.
|Name||1964/1965 New York World's Fair|
|Motto||Peace through understanding|
|Area||650 acres (260 ha)|
|Organized by||Robert Moses|
|Business||General Electric, Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, IBM, Bell Telephone, US Steel, Pepsi Cola, Dupont, RCA, Westinghouse|
|Venue||Flushing Meadows, New York|
|Previous||Century 21 Exposition in Seattle|
|Next||Expo 67 in Montreal|