By Douglas Martin
Ah, Meher Mount…great old memories of that place and beloved Agnes Baron – albeit grouchy Agnes. She was a dear – a dear sourdough in a loving sort of way.
It was about 1965-1966 and Murshida Ivy Duce [of Sufism Reoriented and a follower of Avatar Meher Baba] had told a story about Agnes' plight in the mountains of Ojai with a non-functioning well on the property. Agnes had to go daily to bring water up the mountain in buckets to the house from some place [a natural spring] down the mountain.
SUFIS TO THE RESCUE
Well, sufis to the rescue. There were six of us: Jim Ceteras, Jot Charlot, Phil Phillips, myself, and a friend of Jim Ceteras who was a roughneck (well driller), and John Lingaman from Ben Lomond (Santa Cruz mountains) who went down to Ojai to “rescue” dear Agnes from her plight.
The only one who knew squat about wells was Jim's friend. We were just his work crew. We were dealing with a submersible pump down about 1,000 feet in the ground. What we had to do was pull the “string” (drill pipe) up out of the ground and fix the pump.
This we did. It took days. The string was in 20- or 25-foot sections which had to be pulled up section by section. We used the Volkswagen bus as the winch pulling all that up. With it full of water (a 1 ½-inch pipe), it must have weighed a couple of tons.
THE PUMP STARTS WORKING
Finally, we got to the pump which hadn't worked since it was first put down. Jim’s friend knew exactly what to do. He rewired the connections, cleaned everything up and “voila!” it worked again. So we set about putting all that thousand feet of pipe back into the ground, again, section by section. Finally, a working well.
We went back to the house to inform Agnes. We took her to the sink in the kitchen, turned on the faucet, and like a magic invocation, out came some dirty old water...for maybe a minute.
Then it all stopped, never to run again. Maybe the wires had pulled apart, maybe a short had occurred. Who knows? But we had done what we could, and everyone had to get back home to our work and families.
So, with no more than a brief reward for our efforts, Meher Baba shut the water off again and we left. Dear old Agnes was back where she started – living through the ongoing hell Meher Baba put her through. She just always toughed it out and did what was before her.