Brief Updates from Meher Archive Collective
from Jean Brunet Ludwig
Along with a wonderful potluck feast, we were treated to a live performance by these five fabulous musicians. We sat under a huge oak tree in Elaine’s back yard and luckily the rain held off until the very end with a few sprinkles as we were leaving.
All proceeds from the sale of Tonight Meher are generously being donated to MAC. Heartfelt thanks to the Nordeens, their accompanying musicians, and Seclusion Hill Sound Studios for volunteering their time and talents to this wonderful project.
If you would like a copy, please order from Sheriar Books. The original batch of 300 copies is almost sold out, but don’t despair, there will be more...
Ken Blackman, Project Manager
Greetings all Baba lovers, likers, and everyone else!
The Red Oak School project began in earnest a year ago. Under the guidance and direction of Peter Nordeen, and with the support of many volunteers and paid workers, we have made substantial progress on the 90 year old school building. The overarching aim is to ensure that the building is refurbished in such a manner as to last for centuries.
Early on, due to the enormity of the project, we decided to organize the work in three distinct phases:
Phase One (in progress)
Including work on the second floor of the classroom wing, this phase will ultimately provide sufficient space to hold the primary archival work and ongoing storage, as well as administrative offices and several rooms for Baba community functions. In time there will be rental spaces to help support the operations of the archive.
In addition, much attention has been given to the structure of the building, especially the roof. We are presently adding an eve system (overhang) to the roof to protect the exterior brick walls and windows. We have begun re-roofing with architectural shingles and will soon begin replacing the membrane on the flat parts of the roof. All this will ensure that we have an excellent roof system that will protect the building for many decades to come.
It’s anticipated that the first (ground) floor renovations will proceed more rapidly than phase one due to the fact that so much of the infrastructure will have already been addressed. This phase will make room for a library, further rental space, and other Baba community and archival space as needed.
This includes renovating the large auditorium with stage, green room and balcony/control room. Ultimately the auditorium will be available for large Baba community gatherings as well as rental space for other events such as weddings and concerts.
It is heartwarming to see The Red Oak School building receiving so much attention. Already this extraordinary location stands in service of the mission outlined by Baba - to spread His message of love to every corner of the world.
Construction in Action at The Red Oak School Building
Update on Architectural Services
Scott Tower Maloney
We are excited to announce the addition of local architect, Patti Glazer, to the MAC team.
Familiar to many in the local Baba community, Patti brings extensive expertise in local codes and planning, both of which are vital to this project. Patti and her firm Glazer Architecture have been involved in designing, constructing and/or refurbishing many notable buildings in the Asheville area, including Marshall High Studios (formally Marshall High School, also built in the 1920's) and, more recently, the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center.
Patti has been a creative force in Asheville for over 40 years and is a 19-time Griffin Award winner for Excellence in Preservation. Her firm’s experience with a wide range of projects, including the creative restoration of historic buildings, means that the unique needs of MAC and the Red Oak School site will be well served.
We would like to acknowledge Ty Provosty’s important architectural contribution to the initial stages of this project, and now welcome Patti and her team in carrying MAC’s vision forward in the near and long term.
Legacy Giving: Conserving Treasures
Hopefully by now, many Baba Lovers have made some kind of written provisions for their Meher Baba and Mandali treasures, including correspondence, books, pictures and artifacts. Our suggestion is to make long term arrangements (in addition to plans for immediate care-taking) by writing down an ultimate destination, beyond the next generation, for your treasures. Such long term planning ensures that precious things will not go missing along the way if simply left to friends or family.
Included in that list, if available, should be the story and/or provenance plus dates, along with any additional information that helps put the document or item in context. Without knowing what is special and worthy of preservation, important documents and blessed items could be lost forever.
The process of archiving, conservation and long-term caretaking and storage will necessarily involve some expenses. If you are able to include a monetary legacy in your will, specifically earmarked for taking care of your treasures, you will be supporting both MAC and generations to come.
MAC’s vision includes sharing and exhibiting archival treasures; an onsite reading and viewing room; sponsoring events for sharing treasures related to Meher Baba’s advent; and eventually opportunities for individuals to spend extended time at The Red Oak School on Baba related projects.
Legacy Giving can be as simple as including MAC’s name, address and tax ID in a legal last will, along with your specific instructions (whether you choose to leave Baba treasures and/or a monetary amount, stocks or property). If you decide to support MAC, we, the board, will treat your legacy with the utmost respect. We are dedicated to our mission -
To collect, preserve, and share Meher Baba’s Divine legacy of materials, artifacts, and words with integrity, love, and transparency for the benefit of humanity.
For more information on Legacy Giving please contact our treasurer, Scott Tower Maloney at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Story from the Archives
Some months ago, Renee Bussanich brought in a box of old papers that once belonged to her friend, Neala Haze, who passed on about twelve years ago. After some initial investigation of the papers, MAC volunteer Teri Adams began sorting and rehousing the documents according to our method. Late into this project, she found a packet of old India-made Baba calendars and leaflets. They were torn but on the reverse side she discovered a little bit of treasure. Teri recognized Bhau Kalchuri’s handwriting and signature on each page.
One afternoon at MAC she said rather excitedly, “Look what I found!”. On closer examination we realized these were poems and ghazals written by Bhau and that a few were immediately recognizable as songs sung by Jim Meyer back in the 1970’s. These may in fact be the originals of those poems as there are a few words crossed out and changes made.
I asked Jim Meyer what he knew about these pages and this is what he said:
“I have put almost all of these very early English poems of Bhau's to music over the years. I, too, once had a handwritten manuscript of at least 10 poems by Bhauji - but, alas, someone ‘borrowed’ them and they were never returned. They were on lined blue paper in blue pen - a step up from these backs of calendars. I received my copies around 1972-73. But these are definitely cool and in Bhauji's handwriting."
“Page four is ‘Ocean Calm’ - I put this to music in 1973 and it is on the ‘In His Love’ group recording from 1973-74. It was the first song that I used Bhau's words. Bhau originally gave me about 10 poems to re-write because, he said, his English was poor. I never changed a word - why would I?". -Jim.
And so I asked Jeanne Felknor what she remembered about adapting one of the poems to music and if any recordings existed today. Here’s her reply:
“Wow Eruch. Trip down memory lane. Yes. When I was in India in 1979, Bhau said I had to choose one of his ghazals and make a song out of it. Peter and I did it together and we sang it on Mehera’s porch. Ted made a homemade CD of all of the songs he sings at the tomb and it’s on there. I’ll ask him if he’ll share it or you could email him and ask him. I don’t have a recording of it. Jai Baba”
To view the whole collection of ghazals click here. Overall, this was an interesting episode and shows that in the archive world, you never know what you might find. Also, how lucky was I to have both people who put these poems to music be local and one of them intimately involved in Meher Archive. Coincidence?
Getting answers and context does not always go so easily. I have come across many photos and letters over the years that leave me with questions. Questions that can’t be easily answered because the authors and recipients are no longer around to ask. In time this problem will grow exponentially, which is why there is some true urgency to preserve, scan, and share the Legacy of Meher Baba sooner rather than later. Many stories are simply waiting; we hope to keep uncovering them, big and small, and to continue sharing them with you.
To support MAC through a recurring monthly donation or to make a contribution to our capital fund, please visit our website here. Thank you!
Looking ahead to Bulletin #5,
We will be bringing you another story from The Archives, a financial report along with an update on our capital campaign, and Notes from an Interview with Peter Nordeen.
Bulletin from Meher Archive Collective, Asheville, NC
#1 - December 2018
MAC at Red Oak. In August 2018, MAC found a home!
Constructed in 1928, the former Red Oak School is a solid, brick-built, essentially fireproof structure - perfect for housing Baba’s invaluable treasures and documents.
Work has begun… MAC’s priority is to build an archival vault. While this is ongoing, evaluation and remediation of HVAC, plumbing and electrical has begun, and essential repairs to the roof are underway.
Plans for the future:
Since August, over 1200 volunteer hours have been logged.
The generous donation of time and talent from many dedicated individuals has allowed for demolition, discovery and initial repairs to the main building, as well as a complete transformation, both inside and out, of the caretakers cottage, now known as Meher Cottage. The value of this work to date is estimated at $75,000.
We need your help…Do you live locally and have time on your hands? Or are you planning a visit to the Asheville area, maybe to spend time with friends from the Baba community?
Whether your passion is construction, cleaning windows, learning archiving skills or yet to be discovered, there are numerous ways in which you can support MAC through donating your time, talent and treasure.
Please email Ken@meherarchive.org if you have construction skills to offer or if you’d like to enquire about volunteering.
Dedicated volunteers continue essential archiving work at MAC’s temporary Golf Street office.
On Wednesday afternoons, Elaine Cox supervises the preservation of documents; on Friday afternoons, Eruch and Scott oversee the scanning of letters and other paper documents.
If you would like to learn more about the art and craft of archiving, and are interested in becoming a volunteer, please call Elaine on (908) 887-0037.
Please consider a year-end gift to MAC.
Contributions to our Capital Campaign, as well as individual donations and recurring monthly contributions, can be set up here.
All contributions are tax deductible.
We continue to need funds for the upgrade, restoration and ongoing maintenance of the Red Oak School building as well as for supplies and equipment for archiving work.
If you would like to discuss how you may be able to support MAC and its vision, please email Scott@meherarchive.org
Meher Archive Collective
Dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing Meher Baba’s Divine Legacy of materials, artifacts and words with integrity, love and transparency for the benefit of humanity.
Dear WNC Baba family and Baba friends all over -
Jai Baba! I’m touching base today about the RED OAK SCHOOL proposal for Meher Archive Collective. Here’s some history and reasons Peter and I feel so supportive of these efforts.
A sad tale: Baba’s Hair and nails – stolen! A few years ago we were robbed in a home invasion while we were away. The thief got away with priceless treasures – Baba’s hair and nails! Since then, other dear Baba lovers gave us more of Baba’s hair and we keep this in a very good hiding spot, but how good? Today I confirmed that we can store a few of our precious mandali items, and Baba’s hair, in the MAC vault for safe keeping. In the next few months, Peter and I will finalize our will and plans for Baba’s precious items given to us by the mandali, and by other Baba people who left these items to us thru their final wishes.
WNC - great area, wonderful building! Over the last twenty years the Baba group in AVL has become one of the largest community groups outside of India. Many of us have the energy and experience to contribute to this important work of archiving. Important materials have been coming to individuals and to MAC in natural ways and we feel the responsibility to handle these things properly. This area seems to be relatively free from the potential of natural disasters or climate issues that could be destructive to these artifacts. This amazingly solid, large brick school building presents a great opportunity to provide a long term facility to pursue the archival effort. With creative use of zones in the space, (MAC, rental of office spaces of compatible organizations, and event space) it could potentially support itself financially without being a burden or drain on its supporters. But whether the Red Oak School proposal goes through or not, Peter and I are making our commitment to the much needed archive work that the Meher Archive Collective has already begun.
We took a step: Today we finally made a pro-active financial step towards the Meher Archive Collective’s RED OAK SCHOOL proposal. We made our pledge online and I’m also going to send a smaller check to go in the coffers now. July 10th is the upcoming deadline for knowing if the school purchase will happen or not. Before taking these actions, I spoke with several board members who happily explained things to me. I found out how few people like Peter and I, had actually hit the ‘pledge’ button. They confirmed that the larger pledge amount will go into a dedicated archive building account only.
Rescue - preserve - share - support: The MAC goals are really wonderful. Besides rescuing, preserving, and sharing precious Baba artifacts and writings, I love that the MAC objectives include supporting people with their personal collections and also other Baba archiving endeavors. I can’t wait to see what unfolds as Baba leads the way. We all do our best, but the results are always His. And that’s a huge relief!
In His love, Debbie
See pictures, reports, and a fly over video on the Red Oak School page: Archive Building
Make a donation or a pledge at the bottom of this page:Archive Building
MAC Newsletter #1 Spring, 2018. Edited by Susan McKendree. Content supervisor: Renee Bussanich. Layout by Eruch Adams
UPDATE FROM THE ARCHIVES
by Eruch Adams
Since October of 2017, Meher Archive Collective has launched its training for the proper care for physical “paper” archives, also called “rehousing.” We have been collaborating with Marshall Hay’s heirs to rehouse and scan a large collection of Fred and Ella Winterfeldt’s letters, documents, photo prints and slides. So far we have completed cleaning the documents and rehousing them in acid-free folders, between sheets of acid-free paper or archival-grade non-reactive polyester film called melenix or mylar. The plastic sheets were used for the more precious original letters from Mehera Irani, Mani Irani, Adi K. Irani and Elizabeth Patterson, as well as letters and notes dictated by Meher Baba (usually via one of the mandali). This has been a huge undertaking involving more than ten volunteers who have worked once or twice a week.
Currently we are focusing on sorting the documents and arranging them in chronological order in preparation for scanning and filing in archival boxes.
Additionally, four carousels of slides have been scanned, encompassing slideshows of The Three Incredible Weeks, Baba’s trips to America in 1956 and 1958, the East-West Gathering, and a mixed show of the 1969 Darshan and other trips to India. These are in various stages of age deterioration or have suffered other damage, so they will be made available over a period of time.
Another seventy or so photo prints have been scanned, mainly of Baba, but the photo collection also includes some charming personal photos of Fred, Ella and some of their New York friends.
The next stage of scanning the documents will be a lengthy process, but at that point the collection will be digitally preserved and neither fire nor flood can make it vanish.
After the materials have been called they will be digitally catalogued, documenting dates, who sent or created the material, to whom it might have been given or for whom it was created, and subject matter. At that point the collection can be shared online.
The FredElla Collection is a perfect test case for many of the unarchived Baba collections still at large or in some partial state of completion. Cataloguing and preserving this collection is a multi-stage task, as well as time consuming, but in the final analysis—given that it documents the life and work of Avatar Meher Baba, no amount of time or effort can exceed the value of its preservation for the sake of posterity.
WHAT’S COMING UP AT MAC
MAC at the Southeast Gathering April 12 - 15th: Look for both a presentation (Saturday at 10 am) and a demonstration Friday around 11 am) on the schedule, with some interesting reveals from the archival work we are doing. The MAC board will be showing the work progress and will also be available for your questions. Elaine Cox and Jean Ludwig will be showing you how to take care of valuable materials you have at home in their break out session. If you are going, you won’t want to miss these!
Archiving your treasures at home: Mac is working with Elaine to produce a video of how to take care of your precious letters and photos in your homes to preserve and protect for posterity. This video, which will be available on our website and shared at the SEG, will tell you about materials and simple effective ways you can make sure your treasures will not deteriorate. We will discuss also how to ensure that Meher Baba’s history and stories are preserved.
Mandali letters and notes: There are so many incredibly inspiring and loving letters sent from the Mandali in India and we would love to post as many as possible for everyone’s benefit. We will be adding this feature to our website and letting you know how to submit all or parts of your letters in the near future. What a blessing these messages were and will continue to be for all the Baba community.
Updates in the office: A fireproof safe is on the way. We are expanding existing office space by converting a steel and masonry garage into a fire resistant archival vault. Though we are still limited on working space for volunteers, this expansion gives MAC the ability to take on take on 8-10 times more archival material than we currently house. We are continuing to grow and develop this community project that we all feel is so important: to Rescue, Preserve, and Share!
Ty Provosty, architect: Ty is consulting with the Board on land and building feasibility. We are continuing to look for suitable spaces and building options and are excited to be working with him on these projects. He brings to MAC an impressive background and extensive expertise and we are grateful for his guidance.
"Eleven Men with One Heart”
The All-Rounder of All-Rounders Blesses the Indian Cricketers
By Susan McKendree
On April 2, 1959, a rather unusual group of darshanites entered the gates of Guruprasad in Poona, India, to receive Meher Baba’s blessings, at the request of the secretary of the Poona Cricket Association, M. G. Bhave. The Indian cricket team was preparing to travel to England for a series of test matches, the first they had played there since 1952, and the “All-Rounder”1 of all-rounders gave them a proper sendoff.2
Four newspaper articles from the FredElla [Fred and Ella Winterfeldt] Collection, currently undergoing cataloguing and rehousing, document the occasion. Two were published in The Poona Daily News, one by Poona’s Times of India News Service, and the story was picked up by The Sunday Standard in Delhi.
Unsurprisingly, the articles vary in tone and accuracy. The two shortest articles are entitled “Team Blessed by Meher Baba” and “Meher’s Blessing to the Cricketers,” published by The Times of India News Service of Poona and in the The Poona Daily News respectively. While the piece in The Times refers to Baba as “the Avatar,” the second calls Him as the “owatar.”4 The The Daily News observes, “Meher-Baba [sic] and cricket would seem a far cry, but . . . good old cricketing fans could well remember Baba’s exploits on the field.”5
The Poona Daily News “Sportfolio” section included a piece called “An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport,” accompanied by the byline Mr. “A. David.” Containing few quotes from Baba’s comments to the team, the article focuses on His remarks to the reporters. It refers to Him as “Meher,” as well as “the Baba,” and is accompanied by a group photo of the team with Baba seated in the center front.3
But by far the most engaging of the four articles is “A Silver Lining,” published in Delhi’s weekly Sunday Standard.
THERE is a silver lining to every cloud, and India’s band of cricketers to tour England from this month, damned and demoralised by the pinpricks and brickbats of a host of armchair critics, could not have asked for a better silver lining than the one they saw on the dark horizon on April 2 in Poona.
Meher Baba, the Zoroastrian holy man, reversed [sic] by all castes and creeds in Western India, succeeded in doing something for the team that neither the training camp in Poona nor the pep talks of harassed officials could achieve — close knit team spirit and confidence.
Many of the seventeen bound for England when told that Meher Baba wanted to see them . . . were rather skeptical, and only went to see the holy man to humour him.
But the skeptics felt otherwise when they left his presence.6
The team’s arrival was delayed by medical examinations, so the newspaper reporters gathered to document the meeting took the opportunity to ask some questions of Baba. He told them about of His life-long love of the game, which he had played at St. Vincent’s High School and Deccan College, and how He now attended as many matches as He could. He also revived the story of Yusuf Baig, the Poona all-rounder who famously challenged Baba to bowl to him and “learned to his great mortification that he had been stumped and that Meher [sic] had won the challenge.”7
When the cricketers arrived Baba blessed and embraced each player, after which Eruch read His message aloud to them:
In going to England to represent India in the field of sport you have the unique opportunity of practising and conveying to the people there the great spiritual lessons of concentration and love.
When you take the field, if you play as eleven men with one heart, each enjoying the excellence of performance in another player as he would in himself, whether that player is of your side or of the opposing team, and so eliminating feelings of jealousy, anger and pride, which so often mar sport, you will not only be entertaining the spectators but be demonstrating the real spirit of sportsmanship.
True sportsmanship is concentrated ability enlivened by sincere appreciation of the performances of others. And when this is manifested, everyone, both players ands spectators, receive spiritual upliftment as well as good entertainment.
Some of you are allrounders. I am a spiritual allrounder. I feel equally at home with saints, yogis, philosophers and cricketers, as well as with sinners and scoundrels. I give you my blessing that in all your actions you show the spirit of love.8
After the message was read Baba presented each player with a copy of Life at its Best and embraced each man one more time.
The unfortunate postscript to the story of Meher Baba’s meeting with the cricketers is that the team lost all five test matches against the British players. In fact, the Indian cricketers had an abysmal year altogether, winning just six matches, losing 11, and drawing (unable to finish) 16 of the remaining 33 games. Surely, however, the sting of so many loses was eased by the love that Meher Baba showed them when they came to Guruprasad for His blessings.
“A Silver Lining.” The Sunday Standard, Delhi, India. April 5, 1959. The Sunday Standard is the only weekly newspaper in India. A shorter article entitled “England - Bound Cricket Team Fit and Happy” appears alongside the article about Meher Baba.
“An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport.” The Poona Daily News “Sportfolio.” Byline: A. David. Poona, India. Thursday [April 2], 1959.
“Indian cricket team in England in 1959.” Wikipedia,
Kalchuri, Bhau. Lord Meher on-line edition. More than 120 references to cricket occur in Lord Meher.
“Members of Cricket Team Felicitated . . . Meher Baba’s Blessing to Cricketers.” The Poona Daily News. Poona, India. No date. Typed copy. Original article is not catalogued in the collection.
“Team Blessed by Meher Baba.” The Times of India News Service. Poona, India. April 2, 1959.
1. Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher on-line edition, 4510. Also cited in various forms in the articles.
2. “All-rounder” refers to a player who excels at batting, bowling (throwing the ball) and wicket-keeping. Few players are adept at all three.
3. “An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport,” The Poona Daily News.
4. “A Silver Lining,” The Sunday Standard, Delhi.
5. “Members of Cricket Team Felicitated . . . Meher Baba’s Blessing to Cricketers,” The Poona Daily News.
6. “A Silver Lining,” The Sunday Standard, Delhi.
7. “An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport,” The Poona Daily News.
8.“Team Blessed by Meher Baba,” The Times of India News Service, Poona.
Not Just Collecting at the Meher Archive Collective
by Renee Bussanich
The function of an archive is to gather and preserve historic materials such as documents, photographs and artifacts. The vision of Meher Archive Collective is to gather, and, through the use of computer technology, preserve, maintain, restore and make available to the world historic materials that document the life and work of Avatar Meher Baba.
But MAC’s vision extends well beyond the establishment of its own safe and secure collection. Many people in the Meher Baba world community have created their own private collections of materials that have been handed down to them through family connections, given to them to care for, or else acquired by their own initiative. These collections include but are not limited to correspondence between and among other Baba lovers, letters and gifts from the mandali, and, in rarer cases, precious objects such as Baba’s sadras, objects that He touched or items associated with the Perfect Masters. They also contain photographs—both historic and personal, as well as audio and video recordings made during visits to India and at events in the West, when members of Baba’s mandali and other close ones came from India to share their own stories.
While MAC always welcomes the donation of historic materials and encourages all to plan for their collection's safe future, it also recognizes and respects the fact that many people wish to keep their archival materials in their personal possession for the time being. Thus MAC makes its services and expertise available to private collectors by preserving their materials for them and returning them to their owners. In addition, MAC endeavors to educate private collectors in methods of preservation so that they can properly maintain their own materials, by individual consultation as well as in workshops. In the world of Meher Baba archives, it is these services that set Meher Archive Collective apart.
Ultimately every collection should be also preserved and copied in multiple locations around the world to prevent catastrophic loss in the event of fire, flood, or other natural or man-made disasters. Working collectively will get us to that goal faster than in isolation.
Support Meher Archive Collective
If this work resonates with you and you would like to be a part of the MAC, there are volunteer opportunities and we can use your financial support as well. Please visit the website at www.meherarchive.org
Our Mission: To collect, preserve, and share Meher Baba’s Divine legacy of materials, artifacts, and words with integrity, love, and transparency for the benefit of humanity.
Dear Meher Baba Community,
The Meher Archive Collective was created to help meet the ever-growing need to share solutions for Rescuing, Preserving, and Sharing Meher Baba's words and treasures for the benefit of His Lovers.
We are excited to hear from devoted followers who want to share their letters, pictures and the sacred, blessed objects, which they have been entrusted to hold. We sincerely wish to make sure the stories and the conditions of these treasures are preserved and secured over time.
We are currently actively involved in:
We will strive to make all that we can accessible to the Baba world, both online and here in Asheville, North Carolina, as quickly as possible.
Please read the attached information about who we are, what we do, and ways the whole global Baba Community can help support the effort to gather, safely preserve, and share the very important stories, letters, photos, and visual / audio media for the future generations of seekers who wish to know more about, not only Baba’s messages to humans as a Godman, but also His humor, humility, and humanity as one who walked amongst us.
Eruch D Adams
News, blogs, and updates on interesting archival finds and events.