Frederick ( Fred ) E. Winterfeldt
Born: 3rd December, 1898
Died : 26th September, 1977 - Myrtle Beach, SC.
Married : Ella
Nationality : American
Longchamps Restaurant, New York. 1956
Fred managed Carnegie House, a hotel in New York City in the early 1950s.
A Short Memoir
Fred and Ella
by Robert Dreyfuss
Fred and Ella Winterfeldt were so indissolubly intertwined as a couple that Meher Baba referred to them as "Fredella." Together they formed one heart in two bodies, devoted solely to their Beloved Baba and the service of His Lovers. They lived His dictum to "let your life itself be My message of Love and Truth to others," and many were drawn to Baba through them.
Having been personally instructed by Baba after my having had His darshan in 1965 to contact Fredella on my return to the United States, I soon developed a relationship with them in which I consider them as my "spiritual Godparents." Whenever I visited New York, I would stay with them. Again and again, I witnessed their extraordinary generosity and willingness to help those in need. The only time I ever saw Fred mock-angry was when I suggested that he didn't have to pay every time we ate out or were with others. He replied that the money was from Baba and was Baba's, and that anything spent on His lovers was as it should be. I don't think I ever did succeed in paying the bill.
In 1969, being both unwell and without sufficient funds, I decided not to attend the Great Darshan after Baba dropped His body. When I called Fredella to report on the successful takeoff of the first California fight, they asked me why I hadn't gone too. When I explained, they chided told me and told me Baba would be "unhappy" at my not going and called back later the same day to tell me there had been a cancellation and that they had arranged for me to have the ticket and that I could pay it back as and when I could. Two days later I received a paid-for round trip ticket from San Francisco to New York from them. I was overwhelmed.
When they moved to Myrtle Beach to live and work at the Centre, we kept in close touch. When I went to visit the Centre in 1976 after a long absence, the weather was rainy. Not anticipating the wet weather I hadn't brought the appropriate clothing. I borrowed an umbrella from Fred and Ella and set about to reacquaint myself with the Center and its quiet wonders. When I returned to my cabin a couple of hours later I found a new London Fog raincoat in my size laying on my bed. In my absence they had driven to town and purchased the raincoat for me, and of course wouldn't hear of my paying them for it. There are so many instances I could narrate illustrating their generosity and kindness, more than room provides.
If you look at a photo of either Fred or Ella with Baba, whether in a group or alone, you will notice they are always gazing directly at Baba, never at the camera or at others. He was their sole focus in life, expressed so lovingly in their continuing concern for we youngsters whom Fred referred to as "Baba's hobbits."
To me, Fred and Ella were among the very few I've met who, when I looked into their eyes, would see Baba smiling out at me through the thin film of His two devoted lovers. Elizabeth Patterson, not known for her speculations of a spiritual nature, calmly stated when asked that she wouldn’t be surprised if this had been Fred's last life.
After his passing, Ella marked time until she could join her "darling Fred" and her Beloved Baba. She died just this year. Now that they are no longer seemingly separated by their body's dimensions and are no doubt held firm in their Beloved's embrace as one - still, I miss them.
|God is everywhere and does everything.|
|God is within us and knows everything.|
|God is without us and sees everything.|
|God is beyond us and IS everything.|
― Meher Baba
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.
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).
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.
*Arjuna was Krishna's charioteer in the Gita
Master allowed those Westerners who came to stay several days. During one darshan Baba called up Fred in front of everyone and asked him why he hadn’t brought Ella. Fred explained why she had stayed behind. Baba persisted, "But you should have brought her." Fred replied he had done his best and even kept her ticket open. Baba was not satisfied. "Why didn't you bring her?" By this time Fred was embarrassed by being rebuked in front of everyone, in fact became more and more angry until his whole body was trembling. Baba continued to press the issue. Finally Fred burst out, "It's your fault, Baba!" At this point Baba beamed and gave Fred His familiar sign for "perfection." He then dictated a cable to be sent to Ella along these lines: "Fred may be here with Me but I am there with you."
At the very moment of Fred's exchange with Baba, Fred later discovered, Ella was so stricken by remorse for not going to see Baba that she was contemplating suicide by jumping from her apartment window. Fred felt that Baba, by stirring up intense anger in him, was using the energy to save Ella. Its a well-known fact that Baba would scold someone not present and at that very moment that person would "miraculously" escape some difficulty or danger: by talking about them He was attracting negative sanskaras to Himself. One can imagine how deeply touched Ella was by Baba's loving cable giving her super support in her remorse. It reminds me, too, of the men's darshan with Baba in 1954, when 21 Westerners joined Him at Meherabad for "three incredible weeks" of Sahavas.* Fred attended this Sahavas (see page 32 for his account). One day he asked Baba "What about the women?" and Baba replied "I am always with them."
Baba also "visited" the Winterfeldts in His own illimitable ways. Fred had always been a "sensitive," In fact, in his youth he had had some unusual experiences. He had even delved into the occult but some very negative experiences turned him off. Baba used this ability of Fred's in a positive way - by appearing to him occasionally. Once, when serving jury in New York on a murder case, Baba suddenly appeared and walked down the aisle so close to Fred, he could see the moving garments and feel the wind of His passing. Baba also appeared to Fred when he was in the hospital after a serious accident (a gas heater in the basement blew up). Fred had been asking Baba, "Why?" Baba appeared at the foot of his bed and said, "It had to be.”
Before hearing of Baba, Fred apparently was able to leave his body and "astral travel." Once, on returning, he found someone else occupying it, who, apparently, was a frustrated alcoholic who went on a three-day binge, leaving poor Fred stuck in the waiting room, so to speak! Ella, unaware of the true state of affairs, was shocked and embarrassed at Fred's sudden debauchery, especially when the tenants started to whisper about this previously very sober super!
Fred & Ella with Kitty Davy
The Winterfeldts retired to Myrtle Beach in 1971. Baba had sent a cable to Fred saying he should live at the Center, but there were legal difficulties. They were still in a small apartment, when, on a visit, Ivy Duce saw their position and persuaded Elizabeth to give them a role at the Center. They moved to Pine lodge where they were again welcoming Baba lovers, this time to His beautiful spiritual retreat, in Myrtle Beach. Ella was especially helpful working at Saroja Library. Another service: In 1969, Fred was the one who brought the marble slab for the tomb from Italy to Meherabad.
In 1978, when Fred was in an advanced state of cancer, and had only a little while to live, Ella asked him in desperation. "Fred, what am I going to do when you are gone?" Fred replied so sweetly, "Don't worry, Musch. I will come and get you." About a month before Ella passed on in 1985 (April 23), she was lying on her Baba sofa one late afternoon, when suddenly she saw Fred standing in the doorway. In her excitement she flung off the covers and started to run to him. Unfortunately she tripped over the blankets and fell. As Baba seemed to arrange it, three young people were instantly on the spot and gently lifted her to her "Baba sofa." She then told them, through the pain (a fractured collarbone), how Fred appeared in the doorway. As she was relating this she suddenly saw Baba standing near where Fred had been. Pointing excitedly, she kept saying over and over, "Look! there's Baba! Can't you see Him. Baba's there!" Jeff, Malcolm Clay, and Judy Gregory all looked and, as desperately as they would have liked to see Baba, His appearance was only for Ella. The two who meant the most to her in this life, her precious husband and her most precious Beloved, her all-in-all, had come to bring her home.
About a month later, offer a couple of weeks in the hospital, she was brought home to Pine Lodge (which after Fred's suffering, and her own constant ill health, she nicknamed Pain Lodge). Here she passed on. She slipped away during a few brief moments when those attending her were out of the room. Baba's name was constantly on her lips in her last days.
I was most fortunate to be able to visit her before this happened, and so was her dear friend Adele Wolkin, who had been called from the West Coast to help nurse her. We were both so grateful to have a chance to "say goodbye" to a very loving dear fiend and guru-bai, Ella. I was also very happy to get to know Jeff Wolverton, who so faithfully and for so many years, looked after her at the Center, where he is night watchman. Many others also had helped Ella during the years of separation after Fred's passing that were so hard for her - from 1978 to 1985 is a long time to wait for reunion with a loved one. But the memory of Fredella's love and devotion to each other, and to their dear Master, still perfumes the air at the gateway of His Center.
Charles Haynes spoke at Ella's funeral. He writes:
"Of course, I spoke of the many years of dedicated service Fredella gave to Baba, first in New York and then here at the Center. Caretakers and Gatekeepers, they gave years of selfless service. Day after day they greeted each visitor, constantly giving out so much love. Ella also was for many years the faithful librarian, always there for the guests with a warm smile and a word of encouragement. Although she suffered much in her final years, she saw everything as His will and she remembered Him constantly. Somehow one could feel in and through her illness that Baba was continuing to work through Ella.
"It is wonderful now to think of Fredella together once again with Baba. As a child I saw them as one - or perhaps as two sides of one coin. When we lived in New York Fredella helped and nurtured us in so many sweet ways. Each time we left town, for example, they would pile Mom, three kids, dog and cat into their wonderful old car (the one Baba used!) and take us to the train station. Dashing down the tracks to find our seats, dog puffing and cat crying, dear Fredella pulling us along - bags and all . . . this is the image permanently stamped in my mind of these two special people. Then, as we boarded, Ella always pulled out from nowhere the biggest package of German cakes and sweets you can imagine. So all the way to Myrtle Beach we thought of them as we savored their goodies. Our family became, like so many others, part of the Fredella family as we grew closer to our Real Father. How many people young in His love were kept "warm in the nest" by dear Fredella? How many quiet and selfless acts did they perform in their tireless efforts to help others draw closer to the Beloved? Only Baba knows, because they served so much behind the scenes. Their legacy is the lives of so many lovers of Baba who reflect the support and guidance given them by Fredella."
Ella Winterfeldt Passes Away
Cable received from Myrtle Beach on 24 April 1985:
DEAREST ELLA WENT TO BELOVED BABA PEACEFULLY AT 10:30 A.M. APRIL 23 AT PINE LODGE STOP BABA'S PRAYERS AND GUJARATI ARTI SUNG CHAPEL OF GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY 3 P.M. LOVE ALL
Cable sent to Myrtle Beach on 24 April 1985:
DEAREST ELLA OF BABA'S FAITHFUL FREDELLA HAS AT LAST BEEN GRANTED HER HEART'S DESIRE. FREDELLA'S LOVE FOR AVATAR MEHER BABA WAS SO DEEP THAT EVERYTHING THEY DID RADIATED THIS LOVE. ELLA'S LOVE FOR FRED, AND FOR ALL FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO KNOW HER, SEEMED AN EXPRESSION OF BABA'S LOVE BECAUSE HER VERY LIFE WAS BABA'S. INSEPARABLE FREDELLA NOW UNITED IN BELOVED BABA WE SALUTE THEIR LOVE FOR HIM.
Excerpts from Mani’s letter to Kitty (29/4/85):
"Soon after our return (from Poona) we got your cable with news of dear Ella - most of all we felt her joyous relief at being free from this body-bondage, and Mehera was really pleased that she died peacefully at home and not in the hospital . . . I’m sure you will miss her . . . but predominant will be joy at her happy & longed-for return to her Beloved. My regular mail-contact for many years with dear Fredella, makes me truly appreciate their silent self-effacing & efficient service for Baba - these rare gems will shine for all time as true lovers of the Beloved, Meher Baba."
|We seek — we find not, - - - yet He gives us Love.|
|We hope - - - it is not fulfilled, - - - yet He showers us with abundance.|
|We want - - - He takes our wants, and gives us what we need.|
|We need - - - His Love, His Grace and His Compassion.|
— Fred Winterfeldt
Awakener ; Vol.21, No.2