Longchamps Restaurant, Manhattan House,

 

New York, NY

1956 - courtesy of "God Alone Is" -  Image captured by Anthony Zois from a film.
1956 - courtesy of "God Alone Is" - Image captured by Anthony Zois from a film.

65th & 3rd Avenue in Manhattan House

There was a reception held here for Meher Baba on 22nd July 1956.

 

The Menu for the visit.
The Menu for the visit.
Artist : Gregg Rosen
Artist : Gregg Rosen
Meher Baba embracing a young Larry Karrasch. Image captured by Anthony Zois from a film by Sufism Reoriented.
Meher Baba embracing a young Larry Karrasch. Image captured by Anthony Zois from a film by Sufism Reoriented.

FOR WEEKS, Marion Florsheim and her committee had been planning a dinner for Baba in the Palm Room of Longchamps Restaurant in Manhattan House at 65th and 3rd Avenue. For many people, this reception was the highlight of Baba's visit to New York in 1956.

By 5 P.M. on Sunday, July 22nd, one hundred and thirty-five guests, mostly from the New York area, but some out-of-town lovers as well, assembled in the large Palm Room overlooking the garden at Manhattan House. At the head table, Baba's longstanding disciples Margaret Craske, Enid Corfe, Elizabeth Patterson, John Bass and Darwin Shaw were seated with Baba and the four mandali. Baba wore a pink jacket and white sadra. All rose to greet him when he entered at 5:00 P.M.

Filis Frederick recalled those profound moments:

 

 

There was utter silence as all eyes focussed on Baba, radiant as ever and manifestly happy to be with so many of his lovers. As the waiters quietly brought each one a glass of grape juice and placed the bread on the table, one could not help thinking of this new supper with the Beloved as living "holy communion" with him. We all stood and drank a silent toast to him. Baba just touched his lips to his glass. Fortunately, the tables were slanted in his direction so all could see him clearly. No one spoke much to his neighbor; Baba was the main repast.

 

Feeling the pull of all our hearts it was not long before Baba, with his unfailing graciousness (as the Divine Guest who is always the Host), had risen and was walking among the tables, greeting his lovers and devotees here and there with a loving touch, a smile, or a tender look. For many, as he knew, this would be their last chance to see him before he left the city for the remainder of the tour. The whole room was hushed as every eye followed Baba's quickly-moving figure from table to table. Necks craned to see him better; faces tilted hopefully forward as he passed by.

 

When Baba was seated again, Marion Florsheim took the microphone and formally welcomed him and the mandali, and read a few of the telegrams received from other groups scattered all over the world. The Hollywood group cabled: "... We happily and gratefully join in spirit with you, with all those present in the one Oneness. We feel it very fortunate our having Baba visit these shores once more."

Ivy Duce, Elizabeth Patterson, Margaret Craske, Darwin Shaw, Fred Winterfeldt and Don Stevens each said a few words of welcome. Baba responded:

 





 

 

I feel very happy to be with you all today. It is your devotion that made me come to the West during the period of my seclusion. If anything ever touches my universal heart, it is love. I have crossed the limited earthly oceans to bring to you all the limitless and shoreless Ocean of Divine Love. Those who do not dare to love me seek safety on the shores. You who love me are swimming in this Divine Ocean. Love me more and more until you get drowned in me. Dive deep and you will gain the priceless pearl of Infinite Oneness.

 

When Eruch stopped speaking, one could feel the waves of love coming from the focal point in this Divine Ocean (Baba) and washing almost visibly over them. They sat silent with the Silent One, each person absorbed in his or her own thoughts of him.

Ben Hayman, Harry Florsheim and John Bass then presented to Baba a gift, a clock with its hands set on Indian time. Four other clocks for the mandali and one for Mani were set for London, Myrtle Beach, San Francisco and Australian time zones, the places Baba would be visiting on this tour. Baba was happy as he accepted the gifts and gave them to the mandali.

Marion Florsheim then asked for a moment of silence, after which a four-tier, white decorated birthday cake was wheeled in. Two children, a seven-year-old boy named Larry Karrasch and a twelve-year-old girl named Bobbi Ferenz, garlanded Baba and did it again for the various television and movie cameras recording the event. Baba cut the cake as the room burst into "Happy Birthday!" to Baba, since they had never had the opportunity of being with Baba on his birthday.

Again, Baba walked around the room, stopping at different tables to greet those not yet contacted. Returning to his seat, Baba said that those he had missed should now come up to his table for an embrace or handshake. In this way, none of those present missed having the Master's personal blessing. Hired by Adele Wolkin, an official photographer of the United Nations, Leo Rosenthal, captured many of these moments in photographs.

One woman describes her experience at the dinner thus: "When Baba came into the dining room and was seated at the table with his mandali and devotees, one felt suddenly empty of human consciousness and filled with divine effulgence ... The atmosphere of the room was filled with his divine love. I believe that no one who was present can ever be quite the same again."

Throughout the dinner Alva Coil Denison played some of her own compositions on the piano, including Baba's Prayer of Repentance sung by John Oliver. David Ross then read selections from God Speaks, "Baba's Sermon" and "The Religion of Life." Tom Marlow gave a dance performance. In a moment of lightness, the dancer did pantomimes of old Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford movies.

The reception at Longchamps lasted over two hours. Baba had scarcely eaten; the food on his plate was untouched except for a broken roll. But as he was leaving, he commented, "I feel no need to eat as the love received from you all was my feast! Take home the little Baba flags you received on your cake and think of me." Baba then rose and was driven back to the Hotel Delmonico.

 

Courtesy of Lord Meher ; Bhau Kalchuri

pages 4977 to 4985

Image shows some of the occupants of table No.6 - Margarita Ross ( far left ) & Anne Ross next to her. Menu cards on the tables
Image shows some of the occupants of table No.6 - Margarita Ross ( far left ) & Anne Ross next to her. Menu cards on the tables