Confessions of a Cayce Doctor
“Here’s to our prosperity.
Our good health and happiness,
And, most important –
To life, to life, L’Chaim!”
from Fiddler on the Roof
by Brock, Harnick, and Stein
§ Adept spiritual explorers recognize sooner or later that every thing is connected through the inner worlds. All truly are one. The magic and wonder of life bring those connections into focus via the gossamer webs which lie hidden from regular view. Though occult, they can be recognized through psychometric “footprints” and “fingerprints” which persist everywhere for us to uncover.
One of my favorite reveries comes in pondering how and when and where I have encountered key people in my lifetime/s. Two people can sit across a room for hours and not notice each other. But, two other humans can be thousands of miles distant and be drawn together by magical, magnetic means. How amazing are the ways of God and the Creative Forces of the universe.
One of the best things which came out of my Road Trips around the Western states was the unveiling of past relationships through my Arizona contacts. The key player there was Bibi Brownstone. Through Bibi I met a number of others whom I surely knew in past times: Bibi’s husband Ralph and her parents, Jim Kinerk, Ginger Allen, and Ginger’s family.
One of the great teachings of reincarnation can be visibly seen fulfilled when we begin to recognize the return en masse of friends and family around us. We are drawn back in groups to continue works as yet incomplete, to learn and grow and love.
We thus find support for the words of William Blake, “We are put on earth for a little space to learn to bear the beams of love.” That calling is deep and long and continuous. And results in recovering old relationships. The positive ones we gladly renew. The painful ones, we can bring toward light and love. §
Many years past when I was a youth, I briefly imagined going to New York City in search of the future and myself. But, I knew next to nothing of the place until Bibi Brownstone moved back there in 1998. I had followed the travails of her life via visits to Arizona, telephone calls and letters, and then emails as the internet became part of our lives.
I made a second trip to Show Low, Arizona, thanks to Bibi being elected to her church board at Unity of the White Mountains. She got me re-invited to lead another workshop in 1996. My Toyota pickup and I reappeared. I stayed in the Brownstone’s fifth-wheel trailer that time and got to know the whole family – and then some.
The church was going through a difficult period when I showed the second time. The turnouts were smaller and the energy was entirely different than the first time around. But during my second visit in Show Low, I got to be part of Bibi’s family and to know her husband Ralph as well as one could in a few days. Ralph was an intense fellow, solidly built and self directed. He was smiling and accommodating, yet hard to read and not totally present. In his early 40s, he was a mechanic of sorts. A jack of many trades. He repaired small engines, cut firewood, did odd jobs, sold used items at flea markets. Anything which would help pay family bills, but keep him out of a regular 9-to-5.
Ralph Brownstone had grown up in a fundamentalist Christian family in Tennessee, but he wanted nothing to do with the church in later years. As soon as he could, he left home and became a vagabond. Dan had walked the Pacific Crest Trail several times. Stopping when he needed to bring in some money or to take time to rest. Brownstone paused long enough one time to make the acquaintance of Bibi which meeting changed his life dramatically. Soon, they were attached and more so, when Ellie was born. That eventually necessitated making for a stationary home in Show Low. It worked for Bibi, but not so well for Ralph.
He was a loner at heart. Town and family and work added together were more than he could handle. Furthermore, Ralph had been seizure prone for years and the frequency of his fits increased dramatically after settling down in a town. On my second visit, I became more aware of Ralph’s medical situation and of the discomfort within the marriage.
Still, there was warmth and love, generosity and sharing that flowed from the Brownstone home. They invited people in for meals, played guitar and sang sweet songs together. I got to experience that and more with them. Ralph tuned up my truck which was ailing and barely made it over the mountains on the trip south. I enjoyed the trio and their old english sheepdog, Bosco.
I became close enough to the Brownstones to get an “ancient sense” of them. That had already begun when Bibi and I first met. But it grew as I spent time with the whole family. I saw balding Ralph as a contemplative solo rabbi of old and started calling him Herschel. I could imagine a yarmulke resting on top of that bare spot on his pate. Bibi was the Baboushka. The dog became Bosnitch. And, the whole family became the Brownsteins to me. I even sent letters to them addressed with that surname.
Years later, Bibi told me just a few bits about her dope peddling days in the 70s-80s. Distributing marijuana had been a common way for her to make some income. She prophetically had given the alias “Brownstein” to her contacts. That was long before Mr. Brownstone appeared on the scene.
I was in contact with Bibi as Ralph’s epilepsy got worse and he had more and more frequent seizures. He was by early 1998 being seen by specialists at the Barrows Institute in Phoenix and was scheduled for brain surgery to try to alleviate that which medication couldn’t. But on the weekend preceding the intended procedure, Ralph wandered away from the desert home where the family was staying for a few days. He walked onto a railroad track and was crushed by an oncoming locomotive.
Ralph’s death understandably overwhelmed Bibi, but she managed with help of friends and family. She picked herself up and prepared in her own way to move on shortly after the funeral. With assistance from Mr. Kinerk who was “camped in the driveway,” Bibi packed, got on the road and moved back to Little Neck, Queens, New York.
Actually, Kinerk did a large share of the packing. He reported it to be an ordeal because, “There was so much stuff to move. It never stopped.” Well, it did stop. In part, because Jim made some executive decisions to cull a bit and throw away even more.
Nonetheless, by the time I visited New York and stayed at Bibi’s new digs a few times over the coming years, her collection of stuff was building and growing and expanding again. She rented a two-story duplex with basement and attic. And every level had the decided markings of a pack rat. Or rather, someone who just couldn’t let go. Everything collected. Old clothes. Toys. Bulk mail. You name it. Sadly, one item in her collection was an urn containing Ralph’s ashes. It took years for her to let go of them.
I kept up with Bibi’s travels and relocation in the coming months. Before long she was telling me about her old – and new – New York buddy, Ginger Allen. Ginger and Bibi had known each other in growing-up days, but their friendship really blossomed on Bibi’s return to NYC. Bibi was hurting from her recent loss. Ginger was going through her own changes.
Reports made it sound like the two were practically inseparable. Staying up late into the night, drinking coffee and telling stories. Remembering old times and imagining possible futures, moontalking and witching the nights away. Both have lines to roll out and yarns to tell. Bibi especially with one anecdote or joke after another to poke the air and stir the funny bones.
It wasn’t long before Bibi connected Ginger and me into an email correspondence. Which turned into a telephone relationship. Ginger was still Mrs. Allen technically, although living in the attic of the family house. Husband and sons populated the lower levels. The family dog, Little Bear, mediated the differences.
Ginger was needing an out, a way to extricate herself from an unworkable situation. Her marriage had long been over. The teenagers were chomping at the bit and not needing restrictions and advice from their mother who was in the midst of personal turmoil and change.
It didn’t take long for a plan to develop so Ginger and I could get together with Bibi in the wings. Synchronistically, I had gotten an invitation to speak at an holistic medical symposium sponsored by Meridian Institute and the Association for Research and Enlightenment at Virginia Beach in mid October. The 1998 program was an annual get-together for professional and laypersons interested in the work and ideas which came out of the Cayce Medical Readings. My topic was “The Lowly Lymphocyte” and its little recognized but important work in human physiology.
At first, I had no idea how I would get across the country. My little Toyota wannabe truck had 200,000+ miles on it by then, had had some hard knocks, and was nearing retirement. But, a young friend said he wanted to see the East Coast. We got things planned and organized and took off. He drove his sporty red Honda. I paid most of the expenses and found us places to stay along the way. It was an inexpensive way for me to get to the other side of the country and for my friend, Ein Cooley, to be introduced to a different part of the world.
Ein had recently graduated from high school in Oregon and moved to Montana to be with his father while coming up with a plan for his future. Ein had been born in India and adopted at as an infant. He was very attached to his adoptive father and was at a loss when away from him. So, he was able to spend enough time with Terry in Lavina for the two of us to become friends and come up with a travel plan.
Ein and I hit the road and covered a lot of country quickly. Ein didn’t waste time and he did all the driving. He was quite competent behind the wheel. But, more than eager in the driver’s seat, if that is the right way to explain it. When we got into congested traffic especially between Virginia and New York, Ein just had to keep tight with the car in front of him. Real tight. I thought we might kiss the rear end of that vehicle on a number of occasions. I was almost biting my nails and I told him so. But, it didn’t seem to make much difference in his driving. It is hard to change young as well as old habits. Still, we made the trip without incident.
Ein and I stayed with my younger brother on our first stop in SD as well as with a former nun friend in Indiana. Somehow, we managed to drop in on Mr. Kinerk in between at Lincoln, Nebraska, where we made a memorable visit to Hooters. Jim was keen on sports and women, mostly watching both. On our passage through town, he took us to his favorite pub and eatery. While he was ogling the young girls dressed in basketball costumes, Ein and I focused on food and plans for the road. Still, it was hard to avoid noticing the thinly-clad females. I should have gotten a photo of Kinerk with eyes wide open following their feet and other parts.
Before long, we made it to Virginia Beach and stayed with David McMillin, one of the principals at Meridian Institute. He was a good host, made us feel at home and even made breakfast for us. The only moment of the Virginia trip that I can tangibly recall was from my presentation at the conference. I was prepared, but not totally. Audiovisuals would have been helpful. I presented the story of the humble lymphocyte and gave the folks a handout for them to review the high points of the topic at home. It is a story of the symbolic and literal sacrifice of the white blood corpuscles for the betterment of their fellow body cells. My presentation was out of the ordinary for many. Although most everything the ARE does is on the unusual side. It also seemed striking that I was driven by EC (Ein Cooley) to make a visit to EC’s (Edgar Cayce’s) ARE.
Mission accomplished, we two mountain men made a quick run up to New York City. Over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to Brooklyn and across Long Island to Queens. Ginger and I rendezvoused at Bibi’s house and were inseparable for most of a week. Ein was quickly absorbed into the household. Neither he nor I was keen on heading back to the West when the time came.
Bibi and Ginger put together a welcome and get-acquainted party with their regular best friends. The two are always warm and welcoming, jovial and unforgettable hostesses. Making people feel comfortable and included comes quite naturally with them. Both are giving and nurturing. When Ginger had asked ahead of time what I would like to do on my first visit to New York City, only two things came to mind. She remembered them. First on the list was the opera, in which I had a growing interest.
I had been to a few back in Montana. Small productions. But, New York had big opera companies. Ginger got tickets to the Metropolitan Opera. Wow! The Met. We went to see Verde’s Aida, elephants and all. Even though we were in the upper, upper balcony – the sneeze seats, the production was glorious, and the music was grand. I volunteered to pay for parking which was $40. About the same price as two economy seat tickets. On later visits to New York, I got more tastes of the Met and Grand Opera thanks to Ginger and friends.
The other request was to spend time near the ocean which was not hard to do. The Bay and Yacht Club on Long Island Sound were just around the corner. Ginger and I walked along the waters a number of times. We also got an outing on the Sound thanks to Bibi’s family. Her father, Kirke Brownstone, owned a 40-foot schooner named Salty which needed to be put to winter rest in Rhode Island. Kirke Brownstone, Jr, had that task already on the schedule for late October. So, the Montana boys arrived just in time to join in the project.
As the sun was about to fall one Friday evening, Kirke Senior and Junior, also known as Skipper, Ginger, Ein and I collected at the harbor. For a couple landlubbers like Ein and me, the venture was a big deal. For the Skipper, it was old hat. We did have life preservers, but the rest of the safety equipment seemed woefully inadequate or non-functioning. Regardless, Skipper knew how to pilot the craft. He got the sails up and the schooner out into open water as the wind whipped and the full moon began to rise in the east.
It was a glorious evening for Ginger and me, enamored as we were with each other and most everything in the passing scene. We both had some concern about the state of safety precautions, but readily took the wheel when Skipper handed it to us with instructions to “head toward the moon.” And so we did with Ginger leading us in one of her goddess chants. “Spiraling into the center ...”
Despite the moon, it got plenty dark. Skipper had gone below for a rest. His father came and went. Ein disappeared. We finally realized that Ein had been posted at the bow to “keep a look out for the nuns.” The “praying nuns” were large rocks which “guarded” the coast and were meant to help keep passing ships at a distance and safe from the shoreline.
I discovered Ein’s task after he had been on watch for some time. I maneuvered forward very carefully and pulled his scared, scrawny self to the stern. He was indeed scared, though he would hardly admit it. A good bump or potent gale could have thrown any or all of us overboard. Lost in the dark and cold water. Radios were supposedly but questionably working.
Interestingly within months, Ein found a job working for Exxon-Mobil in its merchant marine division which ported from the West Coast but circled the globe. I don’t know if he ever made New York Harbor again, but he certainly had memories – including some watery ones – from his days on Long Island.
Skipper came up to take the helm after midnight. Ging and I went below. It was much harder being in the hold than above. I was close to becoming seasick a number of times, but eventually got some rest. Things rocked and rolled more potently the closer one was to the keel. I can easily imagine how unsettling a long ocean voyage could be, especially in the small ships of old. I am a confirmed landlubber and intend to remain so. We made Mystic, Connecticut, by next morning and I was glad to put my feet back on terra firma.
I must give the ocean and Skipper their due. A few summers later, Ginger and I got a second cruise on Salty. That time, it was with Skipper’s wife and small children aboard on Independence Day. Our excursion was just a circle around the Sound. The sea was calm and the sky was soon lit up with rushes and flashes of fireworks making one pleased to be a “patriotic American.” With children in tow, the cruise and night were short and smooth and safe.
Despite Ein turning sickly in our last New York moments, he was keen to head out when the time arrived. Peeked as he was, he drove every mile pressing onward in what seemed “record time.”
Ginger and I continued corresponding and talking on the phone. She flew out to Montana for Thanksgiving and I made the trek back to New York before Christmas. I agreed to stay for six months – always believing that the country was the healthier, saner, better place to be. Then, Ginger would move to the Rocky Mountains.
That Christmas season, I began to meet more family and more friends. I was soon introduced to parents Bob and Ginger. So, for a time there were two Bob and Gingers. The elder Bob was himself an original. At least, he seemed so to a naive flatlander from Montana. I was the sheepherder, to him. And, he was at times Mr. Tee to me. The Tuscan was the owner of a vending business called Total Entertainment which posted machines in bars and cafes and bodegas. He crossed the turf of many “brothers” and knew when to call on them for help as well as when to leave them alone.
Bob Senior was more than generous with his resources which were ample. He knew well how to replenish them as he needed or wanted. One day, he stuck a pair of sneakers in my hands and said, “Try these on. If they fit, you can have them.” They fit. I kept and wore them after asking where they came from. “Ah, they fell off the truck.”
Bob looked and talked quite a bit like actor Robert DeNiro. He was only a few years older and carried a few more gray hairs. He was constantly on the look out to make “some extra bucks.” Conserve, save, attract or finagle them. Ah, whatever works.
He undoubtedly had more money than he would ever think about spending. But, that didn’t matter. He recycled the slugs he collected in some of his vending machines. Bob plugged parking meters with the slugs while he drove a new Lincoln which he replaced ever two years. “I pass them on to the Mayor. See what he can do with them.” Bob didn’t bother paying for cable or satellite TV service. The descrambler worked just fine.
He spread the wealth in another way by employing me in his weekend business. His son-in-law Stephan (from Nassau, Bahamas) and other employee Steve (from Kingston, Jamaica) often needed help to make Total Entertainment function smoothly. It was manual labor, but what the heck. The crew transported, set up and removed machines at high-end parties. These were high-tech interactive skiing, car racing, etc. devices which kept youngsters occupied for extended periods. The usual events were receptions which followed bar mitzvahs, sometimes bat mitzvahs, sometimes weddings. I never visited a synagogue to sit for any of those occasions, but I participated vicariously in more related celebrations than some Jewish families ever have or will.
Huge amounts of cash were spent on food and beverages and flowers, musical and miscellaneous entertainment, and a catering hall or hotel. The biggest party we worked was held at the Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. It is an historic structure and took some extra work to get all the machines up and down, in and out of the old building. The reception was a lavish affair. While the party only lasted a few hours, the client spent over a million dollars. So I was told.
Parties and receptions like those involving from tens of thousands to a million dollars take organization and work and planning. A new occupation which pays top dollar has thus developed. Party Planner is not a title or salary to sniff at. Typically, a young connected woman takes on the task and gets handsomely rewarded. The usual Party Planner I saw was an assertive, 30-something, dark-haired woman who drove a Jaguar and did well at her new occupation.
The Total Entertainment employees either were invisible or wore basketball referee uniforms so as not to be confused with hotel staff or family friends. Still, we often got to nibble on tasty hors d’oeuvres. On some occasions, the three of us were just supposed to disappear for hours at a time. That was fine by me. I was in a big city and sprawling region. Total Entertainment did gigs across the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey, around Manhattan, on Long Island from Queens and Brooklyn to Nassau and Suffolk Counties. There was plenty to explore.
With those free hours, I had opportunities to comb new territory. Albeit mostly man-made. Sometimes, we were not far from residential areas. But generally, the parties were held along main thoroughfares or in commercial districts. Usually, I just pointed away from the event location and started walking regardless of where we had landed. I got to stretch my legs and use those sneakers that Mr. Tee gave me. I walked as far as I could get in the interlude and turn on my heels for the load-up.
I walked many miles on the edge of the garment district and along industrial areas. I also treaded along Lower Manhattan’s Fulton Fish Market. The market was closed, but the fish were still present. At least in an olfactory sense. I skirted the United Nations Plaza on another occasion. Parked on the east side of Manhattan, the UN has a massive presence there. Flags waving in the scores as they represent the world at large in that microcosm. Being a weekend, the UN wasn’t open. But, I can say I have been to the UN.
My favorites spots were the bridges. Among others, I crossed the 59th Street – Queensborough Bridge. Going out and coming back. I should have been singing the Simon and Garfunkel song:
Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
My favorite was the Brooklyn Bridge. The massive and old (completed 1883) suspension bridge is an icon, landmark and a joy to walk. That was even before Tiger Woods started golfing through in his Nike TV commercial.
Besides the Metropolitan Opera, the Ocean and the Bridges, I was most taken by the Long Island Railroad and the MTA Subway. They are practically landmarks and worthy of study and consideration. If you haven’t done the New York Subway and Long Island Railroad, you have missed out. Especially in the modern era when passenger trains are all but history in most parts of America.
The Subway and Railroad seemed to work seamlessly to move thousands and thousands and thousands of New Yorkers between the boroughs and back and forth across Long Island. The fares were modest and service was excellent. The stops were clean and the pace not overwhelming. The central hub for the LIRR and the NYC Subway is located at Pennsylvania Station. The diversity of New York and America became more apparent there than anywhere else in the city. Ethnic dress and costume and language contrasted with the casual and the professional attire of the western city.
I was always amazed at how many people could be channeled through the gates of the railroads and subways. Not unlike the wonders of mass transit and highways in and around large cities. I have often asked myself how so many people can travel in and out of cities with so few mishaps. My answer has invariably been that the Traffic Gods and Lords of Car-ma are ever-present, all-seeing and protective except when we humans need extraordinary learning opportunities.
I was totally taken by railway technology. On the other hand, I do remember staring at an elevated section of railway in Floral Park and watching the intermittent exit of line upon line of workers returning from their jobs in the larger city. I couldn’t help thinking of the ant-like movements of my fellow creatures who circled the gigantic hive on Long Island. I wondered about the wisdom – or lack of it – in depositing so many people to work and live in such a small area when this massive country has practically empty swathes of land in the West.
Ginger and I were together in New York for almost six months. Those months gave her time to get out of the family house, to help her teenagers to adjust in their own new home, and to prepare all for a long distance separation. The changes were all accomplished smoothly. Everybody helped everybody else with the moves and changes. Still a mother, Ginger did push and prod her sons. For one thing into attending a year at the Waldorf High School (per Rudolf Steiner) in Garden City. They liked it and they didn’t. The following year, one went to public school and the other to a parochial school.
The boys were twins – David and Robert. Another Robert. The number of Roberts made for a fresh Ginger joke and an extra name for me. Ginger could point to the men in her life. A veritable Trinity. Robert the Father, Robert the Son, and Robert the Holy Ghost.
Ginger and I took up residence above a delicatessen in Floral Park, just over the borough border from Queens into Nassau County. Ging did her Amma (Asian massage) and I did odd jobs – day labor and some computer work. We also led a workshop for a small group on SPDX: Spiritual Diagnosis, the symbolic tool previously discussed.
Living in and around the boroughs of New York (Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn) opened up a number of new worlds for me. Ginger’s family and Jewish connections along with the big city, money and excess. Ethnic has been “in” in recent years. The Sopranos and My Big Fat Greek Wedding have been part of the trend which has passed to the public via the media. In years past, ethnicity was to many people a drawback to The Big Apple. Not so, it seems, in modern times. A ride on the subway or a walk through the “neighborhoods” will introduce any visitor to New York City to a wide spectrum of the world. The melting pot still exists there many decades after America opened its Eastern Gate.
Ginger’s family has Sicilian and Italian lineage. While her stepfather is a mere Tuscan, her mother's family arrived from Sicily some generations back. They made their home on the south shore of Long Island making their money in a number of ways, but music and entertainment were always part of their lives.
Celebrations seemed to happen every time a person turned around. A wedding, a christening, a graduation, even a wake. The family came out and celebrated in one way or another. Food and wine and dancing in a catering hall. Lasagna and spaghetti and a hundred other kinds of pasta – almost a hundred – passed across the table and were devoured as if the grocery soon might close forever.
Uncle Gary (once the second half of Ford and Reynolds, 50s rivals of Martin and Lewis) appeared with his saxophone and blew a few notes. That was pretty impressive for a man nearing 80. People danced and cavorted and kissed and made friendly. They talked old times and remembered Aunt Marge and Aunt Bea. The former was always sick, but outlived them all. The latter ran off with the Fuller Brush Man and was never heard of again.
Uncle Jackie was a hoot for a number of reasons. He always got under Ginger’s skin, but was good for lots of smiles and laughs. She remembered how he teased her when they were children. Jackie told of taking a recent trip south with his grown daughter for a break from the previous winter. Besides being funny, Jackie had the thickest accent north of the Mason-Dixon Line. While Uncle Jackie enjoyed the sunshine and the travel to the southland, he just couldn’t get over “how dose guys slaughta da language.”
One of the hard-to-forget memories of rubbing elbows with the Tees was going out to dinner at the Club or the Grotto or the diner. Bob and Ginger were persnickety. Everything had to be just right. It seemed very hard to please them. I used to feel bad for the waiter and the cook even before we walked through the door of the restaurant. Bob and Ginger regularly returned their food to the waiter wanting something changed or re-cooked or replaced. Only when they found their favorite waiter at their favorite restaurant were they well enough cared for and made happy.
The Grotto was one of the latter, a newish spot on Little Neck Parkway. It had good enough food for me. Never a gourmet, I could eat it. The food suited most everyone and the waiters pandered to Mr. Tee. He greased their palms liberally. “Let the parking meters suffer.”
There was an unforgettably huge tank of water jutting out into the Grotto floor and taking up valuable customer space. Above the tank supposedly shooting out of the water was a giant plastic shark. The shark was colorful and big. Yes, the shark was colorful and big and plastic and just hanging there. It must have impressed someone.
On first consideration, Italians and Jews may seem quite different on the surface. But before my time in the big city had passed, it seemed clear that the two ethnic groups related on more than one level. Ginger’s family were Italian-Sicilian, but Jewish people seemed to be everywhere else. They somehow even seemed to infiltrate the relatives.
The Elder Bob did a great deal of his entertainment business, especially via the bar mitzvah celebrations, with Jews. They had lots of money and were happy to spend on such events. Bibi is “Jewish” at her core. She is really a composite – maybe more Irish than Jew, but both bleeding through from previous lifetimes.
Ginger and I came to realize that we had passed a few lives or times together. We most certainly had led a Jewish life in tandem. That was clearly evidenced by all the Jewish and Jewish-seeming people with whom we communed in New York. Ginger concluded that we had both been Hebrew clergy – the rebbe and the rebbetzin.
By that time, I had picked up my own yarmulke as a leftover at one of the bar mitzvah celebrations. But, Ginger got a better one for me. Later, she presented me with an exquisite prayer shawl in a private ceremony. While the gift was quite appropriate and fitting our Hebrew history, I never wore it after the day she gave it to me. This old rebbe is too frugal for such an ornate piece. I eventually returned it to Ginger thinking she would get more use from it than I.
The two of us also must have lived in far off Asia in the Himalayas. Ginger thinks she was a Bon (Tibetan indigenous religion) and I was surely a Tibetan Buddhist. Ginger dabbled in a variety of world religions, eventually studied at the One Spirit Seminary and became an Interfaith Minister in 2004. We are similar in that regard, both being Universalist in our beliefs and understandings. God dwells above all, in all, and through all creating the family of all creatures.
A number of Ginger’s friends have thought her to be Jewish and told her so. She certainly acted the part. Italian and Jewish women have more than a few things in common. Food and cooking, sacrifice and martyrdom all go hand in hand. G. can pass visually for Jewish without a problem.
It seems I can as well. Despite being a McNary, a few people – even in Montana – have taken me for being Jewish over the years. “Oh, you look like Elliot Gould.” Maybe, maybe not. I have the nose, if nothing else. Remember my younger brother, who has been likened to Dustin Hoffman.
Several of Ginger’s clients were Jewish. Eighty-year-old Helen Kahn looked up to Ginger as her “Garu.” The Rosenbergs had her come to a family wake. Mrs. R. sent her to Montana with a wonderful tape Mamaloshen in Yiddish by Mandy Patinkin.
Bibi and Ging’s best friend during that time was Audrey Shapiro. A tall redheaded Jewish massage therapist. Audrey was very New York and only lightly Jewish, but the layer was permanent. The three and others palled around, did Goddess things, and had monthly circles.
There wasn’t much religiously Jewish about any of the above, but Audrey had maintained several strong threads to her heritage. Other Jewish – for real and inwardly so – people circled around the group, or vice versa. They shared their lives and stories. And made us feel at home in many ways.
Our days in New York were numbered from the beginning. The time went by quickly and before long Ginger and I were planning our exit and travel to the West. It was quite a job to collect her goods from the family home and the apartment, and then cram them into a Uhaul.
Mr. Allen and the boys helped out a lot. We had everything together and parked the Uhaul nearby prior to Memorial Day. Our sendoff was the New York City Memorial Day Parade which is held every year on Little Neck Parkway.
Talk about a parade. It was the biggest and best I’ve ever seen at close view. It went on for miles and miles. It was a Real Parade not just because it was long and the crowd was massive. To my delight, there was a host of marching bands. That made my heart happy. Many of the bands were composed of drummers and pipers. The Old World type. Most of them were formed by firefighting squads and houses around the Big City. They came out in colorful uniforms and many in kilts. A sight and sound to behold. I don’t know how the Memorial Day Parade compares to other New York extravaganzas. But, it was a real beaut. It added to my short list of Parade Highs in my lengthening life.
Ging and I stood at a street corner in front of Dunkin’ Donuts and watched as friends wandered by. While it was a Big City parade, there were many small town moments. Long Island’s boroughs are almost small states themselves and made up of big towns and little towns, just like any part of the world. Little Neck totals at around 18,000. The parade was topped off by a party at a friend’s house and then we geared up for the 2100-mile trip back to Montana.
Bright and early the next morning which was a Saturday with relatively light traffic, we got Ginger’s Subaru secured on a dolly. Then, we packed a few personal items. Finally, we threw the dog Little Bear into the cab and followed her in. We took the Cross Island Parkway up to the Throgs Neck Bridge, did the Cross Bronx Expressway and slipped across the northern tip of Manhattan and onto mainland America via the George Washington Bridge.
I can honestly say, “I love NY.” Still, it is an ambivalent relationship on my part. I have always been relieved to cross the Hudson River from Manhattan and enter New Jersey. It is a real release to let go of all the swirling energies of the Big City, however stimulating and artistic much of it may be. Compared to New York City, New Jersey is like the hinterland, part of the continent, a connection to the world in the West.