Marguerite Poley nee Gorman
Born : 4th April 1909 - Zurich, Switzerland
Died : 14th November 2005 - California, USA ( 96y.o. )
Married : 1929 ( 20 y.o.) to Ken Poley
Children : Bernice
Marguerite Poley had an accident in an aircraft plant factory during WW2 which scalped her, hence the head
Following The White Horse Avatar
An Interview With Marguerite Poley
By Greg Butler
( This article was printed in The Awakener Magazine - Vol.22, No.1, pages 23-28. Check the online version of this publication.)
I have known Marguerite Poley for eight years, ever since moving to Los Angeles. She has always fascinated me. I've heard so many incredible stories about her love for animals (whom she calls 'our lesser brothers'), her paintings, and her deep love for Meher Baba.
Dana Field said that Meher Baba told him in 1954, "Take care of her (Marguerite) for Me. She's a wonderful soul."
And yet Marguerite loves to take care of others. On the day of this interview, she had to rush off and care for an elderly lady who had recently had an accident. And I remember six years ago, she volunteered to give a home to my cat when l was no longer able to. She exemplifies Meher Baba's statement: "Happiness lies in making others happy." This interview took place on May 10, 1986, in her house in Canoga Park, California.
Q. What was your life like growing up as a little girl in Switzerland?
A. I was born April 4, 1909 in Zurich. When I was two years old, my parents moved to Montreaux, on Lake Geneva, and there I finished my scholastic years. And when I was in my early days, my father would always bring me up to horses. I mention this because I have been very fond of horses all my life. He used to take me to any horse that was parked on the street, in front of a wagon, and we would go over and pet the horse, feed him lumps of sugar which my father always kept in his pockets. When I went to school, I went to a public Protestant school and a pay Catholic school — both. And there I learned about St. Francis of Assisi, and he made such a wonderful impression on me that I really preferred him to Jesus, which gave me guilt feelings, because one was supposed to love Jesus the most.
Q. This was your first attraction to the spiritual life?
A. No. I loved God. I was very interested in God.
Q. When did you move to the United States?
A. In 1925, with my mother. My father died in 1918. We moved to Ohio, near Painesville.
Q. So how did you find out about Meher Baba?
A. It's a long story. Beginning in 1934 and continuing until 1943, I worked as a professional horse rider (Rosenbach rider) in a circus. And I loved it. Not only did I ride, I’d train other riders, feed the horses, and even sleep with the horses. But a riding accident forced me to quit riding, and so I left the circus.
I became a jack of all trades. First I became a store clerk, and finally, like most of us, I ended up working at a war plant called Aircraft Components. I became a speed hammer operator, and of course when there was a slack time in my department, I would ask for work elsewhere. And so I worked behind a shear, where two big men would place these long sheets of stainless steel into a machine which cut them, and they had to be cut precisely. My job was to remove them and stack them as they were cut. It was the last day of November, 1944. It was a very hot and windy day. And when I put on my hair net, I realized that there was a lot of electricity in my hair. Anyway, the electrical static pulled my head into the shear, and I was completely scalped. I was in and out of hospitals for two years.
That, thanks to Baba, gave me the opportunity to really turn inward and start seeking. And although I felt I had been a seeker all my life, I finally decided that the end must
come in sight sooner or later, that someday, somewhere, somehow, I must learn all about God and seek, and seek urgently, which I did.
I then began doing all kinds of seeking with Florinne Cleveland, who was the mother of a friend of mine from the circus. She used to come and visit me at the hospital and she was such a dear person, a wonderful and beautiful woman. She used to be an actress. She would come in with little veils over her hats. And after she departed, the nurses would ask, "Who is she?" But just before that I was contemplating suicide. I didn't care to live any longer the way I was. But Florinne came once a week, and she brought me these little pamphlets from the Unity School of Christianity. One day she asked me if I had read any of these and I said no. I felt terrible, to think that she was thinking about my soul, and helping me overcome what had hap-
pened to me, and I wouldn't even agree to read this. So after she left, I started reading them and I became interested in the Unity School of Christianity. It didn't satisfy me. It was too permissive. I went into Christian Science; I didn't like it. I went into Mental Science; I didn't like it. I don't know all what I went into! Oh yes, Theosophy, Rosicrucianism. In Theosophy, I think I was reading The Voice of the Silence, and I read this passage which said: "When the pupil is ready, the Master will appear." That hit me. From then on, I had such conviction, I had such a feeling that the Master would appear. It gave me a great sense of joy, of peace. After that, I knew no matter what and where I sought, that the Master would appear. I didn't know at the time if it would be an inner Master, or whatever.
Q. So you started reading a lot of mystical books?
A. Yes. I started going to the library, to the metaphysical section. There I found a book that I still have, by L. Adams Beck, called The Story of Oriental Philosophy. It told many, many different stories: the life of Buddha, Lao Tse, many others. I said, "Oh my goodness, this is for me." So I was happy to have found the beginning of something that appealed to me.
What I liked about it was that all these different religions made me realize that there is not only one path, one religion, but that there are many religions that all lead to the same goal, and I was very content to have made that approach. This led to Florinne and me going to see an English woman, Dorothea Frood. She predicted things, using a black string and a gold ring, as a pendulum. That didn't satisfy me at all. It was too much like spiritism.
One time we visited Dorothea, who had sold the house. They were moving — she and a mother and a daughter who lived with her. They were going to Colorado because California was going to be swallowed up by the ocean. They had already met Alexander Markey (early disciple of Meher Baba and author of Silent Revelations) and Jean Adriel (author of Avatar), asked Dorothea, "Had you ever heard of this master, Meher Baba, who's involved with Meher Mount?"
"Oh, don't go up there. He's very erratic. He's so erratic, don't even bother to go!"
When we left them, it was beginning to be late evening, and I was driving, and Florinne turned to me and asked, "Marguerite, do you know where we're going?" And I said, "Yes, we're going to Meher Mount."
So we went up to Meher Mount. It was sunset, and the vibrations were wonderful and there was nobody around. So I yelled out, "Yoo whoo, yoo whoo." And finally Jean Adriel came around. A regal person.
Florinne introduced me to her and Jean proceeded to take us around. I saw all these pictures of Meher Baba there, but they didn't impress me one bit. I had no feelings at that time. When we were leaving, Jean said, "I just had a book published, Avatar. Would you like to purchase it?" And Florinne said yes.
And so she bought it and I did not buy it. I was broke. Then I drove her home to Inglewood. Two or three weeks later, she phoned me. She said, "This book Avatar that I purchased from Jean is absolutely most interesting, and I wouldn’t lend it just to anyone. But would you like to read it?" I said yes I would and she mailed it to me.
When the book arrived, I started reading it; and I don't remember just where it was, but all of a sudden it hit me, it hit me so hard. I said, "Oh my God. This is God! God!" When I realized what was happening, it didn't seem as if my body could contain this revelation. It was just so overpowering, so overwhelming. I was in a state which I don't think I could ever experience again. It was almost as if I was levitating, but I wasn't, I wasn't hungry, I wasn't thirsty. And for three days this lasted; I didn't feel tired. My mother, who was helping take care of me at the time, didn't know what to make of it. She was worried about me. I told her I was fine. I was in bliss. Finally I resumed being quite normal and I was extremely happy.
Eventually I started seeing Jean quite frequently. She was living at the Highland Hotel in Hollywood. And in the following year, 1948, when she went back to India, at Baba's request, she took with her a painting I had made for Him, a little winged horse. And in that winged horse, as I was painting it, I mentally put a lot of thoughts and feelings into it, which I knew Baba would be able to read on seeing it, of my gratitude for His grace in allowing me to be made aware of Him. And subsequently I have just been trying to be a follower of Baba.
Q. How did you first meet Baba?
A. In 1956, Ruth White, Hilda Fuchs, Gladys Carr and I were the welcoming committee for Meher Baba's visit to Los Angeles. And "Energy" Florsheim sent us a telegram saying that we should send a welcoming greeting to Baba for when He arrived in America on the east coast. Ruth had already left to be with Baba back east. So it was up to Hilda, Gladys and me. We each wanted someone else to pick the greeting. Finally I opened up Kabir's "Songs" and this is what we found and selected: "This day is dear to me above all other days, for today the Beloved Lord is a guest in my house. My chamber and my courtyard are beautiful with his presence. My longings sing His name and they become lost in his great beauty. I wash his feet and look upon his face and I lay before him, as an orphan, my body, my mind, and all that I have. What a day of gladness is that day in which my beloved, who is my treasure, comes to my house."
I thought it was fitting, because I thought, "He's coming to America. This is where we live." And that's what we sent Him. Later, Florsheim told us that He liked our greetings.
Then came D Day. There were no freeways. I left at four in the morning. The plane was to arrive at five. It was pitch dark all the way down Sepulveda Boulevard.
Now you have to understand, I had never met Hilda, and I had never met Gladys. We only knew each other from telephone conversations. But I went up some steps to a little place which said coffee and sandwiches, and so forth. And there we met. We just knew who each other was. Hilda and I met first. She said,"I just knew who you were." And I said I knew who she was too. And then Gladys came and joined us. We had some coffee and then we went downstairs and we waited for the plane to arrive.
When it arrived, many, many people stepped down from the plane. Then we could see Baba walking very slowly, very majestically toward us and He embraced us. And when He embraced me, I felt nothing at all. I felt nothing and I felt everything. I never felt His arms around me or anything. I just felt a complete state of freedom. I had this wonderful feeling. Then we got in my car. — Energy, Hilda, Gladys and I. We went to the Roosevelt Hotel and I got lost on the way. And oh my God, when we got to the Roosevelt, Baba was already up the steps of the hotel and walking towards the entrance. And Energy looked at me and said, "We're the ones who should have been there to greet Him."
Anyway, it was very busy after that. Baba met a lot of people; I think we had over 150 people, perhaps some curiosity seekers and others, who came to meet Him briefly.
I introduced a wonderful Chinese man from Brawley, California, to Baba. He and his wife and one of his sons came. And I'll never forget how beautiful it was and how they knelt before Baba. Tom Folk was his name. They knelt before Baba with their eyes downcast and Baba blessed them. Tom had met Irene Conybeare who wrote Civilization and Chaos, and that is how they came to Baba.
Anyway, to make a long story short, Baba was there and He gave many talks, and He met many people. I gave Him some cashews and He tossed those around, and one at me!
When I knelt before Baba, He made some kind of a sign. I don't know what the sign was. I was just in awe in front of Him. And Eruch didn't say anything. But it doesn't matter. The main thing was to have that moment with Him.
Then we eventually went to Meher Mount. I never saw anybody walk up the hill, up the slope, as easily as Baba did. It was as if He was floating. It was unbelievable. I couldn't keep up with Him. I remember running along side of Him.
After Agnes Baron showed Him her tractor, and all the things she was doing up there, we went into a room and Baba gave us another talk. Ella Winterfeldt asked Baba if she could go to India. And Baba said yes. Then it became very cold. And Baba was cold. Anyway, we went down to Los Angeles, and the following day Baba was to leave.
I picked up Gladys and Hilda in Hollywood and we went to the airport. Gladys had bought a bunch of very beautiful roses, very small roses. And they were packed so tightly. I said, "Nobody, but nobody could pack another rose in there." And later she presented them to Baba.
We were sad to see Baba depart for San Francisco and it was rather tearful, because to see Him and all the others, to see so many loving souls leave — whom we had met so briefly — well it was sad. We felt it.
At one time Baba was holding my hand as we waited for the plane to depart, and He held Gladys Carr's hand with His left hand. And we just sat there waiting.
After the plane left, Gladys, Hilda and I went back to the car, my old '38 Chevy, and we opened the door and there were three roses, one for each of us, and I started crying all over again. And so did Gladys. We just couldn't get over it. And I said I was going to put them in something and that I would mail them to them. And before I went home I went to the five and dime store and told the sales clerk I needed three small plastic boxes, not very large. She showed me several things but nothing suitable. And I said, "Don't you have something under the counter." She looked and brought out a child’s shoe box. She opened that and in it were three heart shaped plastic boxes and I was overjoyed, and again I felt like crying. And I said out loud, "Baba, thank you. You've given me three little boxes, and I'm going to put the roses in them, and I'm going to send them to Gladys and Hilda" And it was done.
The conversation continues after the letters and art works.
Courtesy of meherbabalibrary.com
The Circus Years
ARTWORKS BY MARGUERITE POLEY
Q. I heard from Dana Field that you were reluctant to see Meher Baba in Myrtle Beach in 1958. Why?
A. I was not very willing to go to Myrtle Beach because it was quite a distance and quite a trip and I didn't have any money. But Dana kept after me and I argued: "Dana, look, I have met Baba, I know who He is. Why should I go to Myrtle Beach?"
And Dana said, "You must realize the importance of Meher Baba in the flesh, His physical presence. You must go."
He kept after me; he called me up; he wrote. He wrote me three letters a day, called me three times between each letter. He did this eight days straight. And he lent me some money. And who joined us, but a friend of his, Cristabel Bevin. She was born in Ireland, became an actress, married a wealthy Frenchman, upon which she decided to go to Tibet, to meet all the masters, which she did. She wrote a book called, *The Difficult Journey in the World. She had hundreds of these books with her when we met at the airport.
Dana had us scheduled on a non-scheduled airline. It ran late. We went to Chicago then to somewhere in Michigan, and then down to Cincinnati.
Dana was getting more and more blissful the closer we got. And while we were waiting to board the next plane in Cincinnati, Dana said we didn't need our tickets anymore and he tore them up and threw them in a trash can. So when they asked show our tickets, we told them what happened. So these men from Eastern Airlines went through the trash and pieced our tickets back together, and they let us board the plane. I was feeling so hilarious at this point that I was just sitting on the pavement, and rolled over. Cristabel was laughing so hard she was almost in tears.
We went in this plane to Virginia. And then we took another one to another spot but encountering lightning, wind and rain. The plane was pitching violently back and forth. Dana was frozen and was looking straight ahead. I was holding this medallion that Adriel had given me which had a little bit of Baba's hair in it. I said, "Baba, if we go down, at least let me hold on to this."
We finally landed, and after a hundred-mile drive, we were at the Center. And we didn't even have time to wash up or anything before meeting Baba.
Christabel, when she went to embrace Baba, threw herself at his feet, saying, "Baba, Baba. I had to go all the way to Tibet to find You here."
Those days in Myrtle Beach were wonderful. We went to the barn everyday with Baba. We went to the ocean with Baba. Perhaps you have seen films of this time of all times — but for me it was out of this world. I felt as if I did not belong in this world at all. That time did not feel like living on this earth. It was a state of being. . . being with Baba, with his very strong vibration, the world did not count anymore. That remained with me throughout.
When Baba left Myrtle Beach, it was another sad parting. He went to Lud Dimpfl’s house in San Francisco. Lud was so excited that Baba was going to stay at his house, that he could hardly contain himself. So we went to the airport and watched Baba leave. It's always a little bit of a heavy feeling when Baba leaves. There's joy and heaviness at the same time.
Q. Did your relationship to Baba change after He dropped his body?
A. I was glad when He dropped His body. And I'm going to do a painting of Baba; it’s going to be called, "Coming, Coming, Coming, Came. I’m Tired of the Illusion Game.” I felt that He had done a super divine job. And that His time had come. I was happy for that release. For Baba, to be shoved into a body, or an apparent human body, was for me the most difficult concept, and still is, really. He's so tremendous, so vast, so big, I don't know how He could bottle Himself up like that.
But you know, since He 's dropped his body, I often have moments of bliss. when I'm not in this world at all. It's very peaceful. And even though I've had much physical pain in my life, it has come to that point where it's easier for me to forget it. And actually, when I get into that state, I don't feel pain anymore. It doesn't remain for a long time; it comes back. But for a while, I can have rest and respite from it. Those of us, anybody, who has had a contact with Baba, is an extremely blessed soul. In any incarnation. I don't care when it was. It's the only thing that counts. Believe me.
Q. Do you feel that you are still growing closer to Baba?
A. I don't even evaluate that. I haven't thought about it. That is not a focal point with me. I just try to live. I'm pretty much at peace. I'll tell you one thing, since I first met Baba inwardly, I've always said, "Let Thy will be done." I tell people, "If God wants me to die murdered, I'll die murdered. If God wants me to die peacefully in my sleep, I'll die peacefully in my sleep."
And I must tell you something else. This is something we used to say when I was in the circus: It would be raining; it would be cold; we would be hungry. We wouldn't know if we would get a paycheck at the end of the week. And we would say to one another, "Cheer up. The worst is yet to come." And there is one other thing we said which I like very much: "Don't worry. A hundred years from now it won't make any difference."
Courtesy of The Awakener Magazine
Marguerite Poley 1971- The Oral History Archive Project - Irwin Luck Interview
Series - Courtesy of Los Angeles Meher
Marguerite's Los Angeles Home