By Margaret Magnus
The following photos were taken by Darwin Shaw at Meher Mount during Avatar Meher Baba’s 1956 visit and were recently made available by Meher Nazar Publications. The joyous expression on many faces portrays their delight in being in Meher Baba’s presence.
AVATAR MEHER BABA and Agnes Baron at Meher Mount on August 2, 1956. Agnes, a co-founder and lifetime caretaker of Meher Mount, is clearly delighted — long after the shock and sorrow of Meher Baba’s auto accident en route to Meher Mount four years earlier — that Meher Baba has finally arrived at Meher Mount. Close disciple Eruch Jessawala is holding the umbrella, and Tex Hightower, one of the dancers who studied with Margaret Craske (a close Western disciple), is in the striped shirt. (Photo: Darwin Shaw, ©Meher Nazar Publications)
“Thursday, August 2 , was a day we had all been looking forward to, a day when Baba would be free of interviews, when we could all be more closely with him in the beautiful setting of Meher Mount,” wrote Darwin Shaw in his book, As Only God Can Love. 
“Everyone was in a happy mood for the day’s outing,” Darwin continued. 
AVATAR MEHER BABA with His followers at Meher Mount on August 2, 1956. The building in the background was a farmhouse and garage on the property, which burned in 1985. In the picture are: (Left to right): Adi K. Irani (light grey jacket); Eruch Jessawala (dark suit); Bili Eaton (light scarf); Meher Baba (blue coat); Agnes Baron (orange skirt); Tex Hightower (striped shirt); Frank Hendrick (light grey suit); Marie Adair (black suit and pants); and Peter Saul (green shirt). Agnes Baron drove Meher Baba to Meher Mount in the ‘Woody’ station wagon pictured in the background while many of His followers traveled by bus. (Photo: Darwin Shaw, ©Meher Nazar Publications)
Two buses were chartered to bring the group to Meher Mount. Meher Baba and His men mandali (close disciples) — Eruch Jessawala, Adi K. Irani, and Meherjee Karkarkia — rode with Agnes Baron in her ‘Woody’ station wagon.
When they arrived on the mountain, Meher Baba told Agnes, “I love Meher Mount very much and feel happy here.” 
AVATAR MEHER BABA just before He steps on a flagstone walkway at Meher Mount, now known as Baba’s Walkway. It is one of the remnants of the 1985 fire that destroyed all the buildings and vehicles on the property, leaving few artifacts from His 1956 visit. (Photo: Darwin Shaw, ©Meher Nazar Publications)
When the bus arrived, Meher Baba called all into the ‘Babaroom’ of the guesthouse and said, "Next to Myrtle Beach, I love this place best."
Meher Baba asked several people in the group how they liked Meher Mount. One said, "It has a spiritual atmosphere." Another said, "It compares to Meherabad Hill [in India where Meher Baba’s Tomb Shrine is located]."
A third commented on the lovely fragrance. Filis Frederick, who wrote the account of Meher Baba’s trip to Southern California in her publication The Awakener, said, "It reminds me of the hills of Assisi [in Italy where St. Francis lived]." Jeanne Shaw agreed, "It has instant appeal." 
AT THE BROW of the hill at Meher Mount at what is now called Avatar’s Point which overlooks the Heritage Valley and the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: Darwin Shaw, ©Meher Nazar Publications)
Meher Baba nodded and added, “This land is very old, I have been here before.” He never explained what He meant by that statement. 
AVATAR MEHER BABA with the group following Him at Meher Mount in 1956. They appear to be coming from the guesthouse (situated behind this building and not pictured) where He had met with followers in what was called the ‘Babaroom.’ The house in view was were Agnes Baron lived and was completely destroyed in the 1985 New Life Fire. The current Visitor Center/Caretaker Quarters sits on this spot. (Photo: Darwin Shaw, ©Meher Nazar Publications)
As each person filed out of the ‘Babaroom’ Baba, in a playful mood, pushed out Ben Hayman and Margaret Craske.“ A short while later, He appeared on the vine-covered porch wearing Elizabeth Patterson's coat and her red scarf wound around his head like a turban.
Jeanne Shaw wrote in her diary, Meher Baba “…looked at me and gestured, ‘How do you like it?” I exclaimed, ‘Baba, you look handsome!’ Elizabeth was happy that Baba wore her coat. Baba said, ‘Don’t part with this coat.’” 
AT MEHER MOUNT on August 2, 1956. (Left to right): Eruch Jessawala, Bili Eaton, Adi K. Irani, Avatar Meher Baba, Enid Corfe, Agnes Baron, Fred Winterfeldt, Meherjee Karkaria, and Frank Hendrick. (Photo: Darwin Shaw, ©Meher Nazar Publications)
Meher Baba repeatedly stressed the special opportunity for all to be with Him and have a ‘free’ day.
"Do not expect any discourse from me today. Yesterday, I told you all that you would play and feel relaxed [here]. One thing I want you all to know. You do not realize how very fortunate you are when I embrace you all.
“In India, when I go out to give my darshan [blessing], in southern India, Andhra State, traveling about from east to west, there are thousands who come for my darshan, and they all love me very much; a number of them are ready to lay down their lives for me at my signal. Yet they have no chance for my embrace or my close company because the rush is so great. When they approach me, the person behind is pushing them on, and the one behind him is pushing too; so, just for a second, they can have my contact and then it is finished. They do not have any chance of sitting near me or embracing me, although they love me very much.
“In Los Angeles, there was no time for you all to sit near me as you are doing today, for so many people came there and I was so busy. Therefore, I wanted particularly to have a [free] day here.” 
AVATAR MEHER BABA and Agnes Baron (right) at Meher Mount on August 2, 1956. Also pictured (left to right) Eruch Jessawals, Adi K. Irani, Enid Corfe (gray hair), Fred Winterfeldt (white shirt), Bili Eaton (light scarf), Jeanne Shaw (white hat), Frank Hendrick (grey suit), Tex Hightower (striped shirt),Marie Adair (in black), and Peter Saul (green shirt). (Photo: Darwin Shaw, ©Meher Nazar Publications)
"You are so lucky to be with me so closely, because in India those who are ready to give their lives for me have to file past me to see me, and the crowds are so immense they have time only for a glance or a touch from me before someone pushes them from behind," Meher Baba said. 
HURRYING TO KEEP UP with Avatar Meher Baba (blue coat) as He tours Meher Mount with co-founder and lifetime caretaker Agnes Baron (light orange skirt) on August 2, 1956. Lud Dimpfl is the man in the suit in front. (Photo: Darwin Shaw, ©Meher Nazar Publications)
Agnes Baron took Meher Baba on a tour of the Meher Mount property. Everyone followed — panting to keep pace. One man was given the chance to hold Baba's umbrella, but Meher Baba would change directions so swiftly, it was hard for him to keep up.
AT THE SWIMMING POOL which is now a water reservoir at Meher Mount. (Left to right): Eruch Jessawala, Avatar Meher Baba, Bili Eaton (light scarf), Meher Mount co-founder and lifetime caretaker Agnes Baron (orange skirt), Adi K. Irani and Meherjee Karkaria. (Photo: Darwin Shaw, ©Meher Nazar Publications)
Meher Baba remarked on the opportunity to be with Him so closely in a relaxed atmosphere, "…here today, we feel relaxed, happy.
“I come down to your level so that we can laugh and be free together; but do not forget at the same time that I am the Highest of the High.” 
AVATAR MEHER BABA entering the ‘Woody’ driven by Agnes Baron as He prepares to leave Meher Mount for the ride back to Hollywood on August 2, 1956. Pictured with Him is Kitty Davy, a close Western disciple, and one of the pillars of the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, SC. (Photo: Darwin Shaw, ©Meher Nazar Publications)
About Meher Mount, Meher Baba enigmatically said, “I will come here again.” 
On the way back to Los Angeles, Meher Baba asked Agnes to drive Him back the longer coastal route and He mentioned on the way that He thoroughly enjoyed the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean.
 Darwin C. Shaw, As Only God Can Love: A Lifetime of Companionship with Meher Baba (North Myrtle Beach, SC: Sheriar Foundation, 2003), pg. 391. (c)Darwin C. Shaw.
 Shaw, ibid., pg. 392.
 Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher: The Biography of the Avatar of the Age Meher Baba, Online Edition, pg. 4065, accessed July 26, 2019. (c)Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust.
 Kalchuri, ibid., pg. 4065, accessed online July 26, 2019.
 Shaw, op.cit., pg. 394.
 Kalchuri, op.cit., pg. 4068, accessed online July 26, 2019.
 Kalchuri, ibid., pg. 4065, accessed online July 26, 2019.
 Kalchuri, ibid., pg. 4066, accessed online July 26, 2019.
 Kalchuri, Meher Prabhu — Lord Meher: The biography of Avatar Meher Baba, (Asheville, North Carolina: MANifestaton, Inc., 1998) Volume Thirteen and Volume Fourteen, Footnotes Volume Fourteen for page 5061.
LIST (PARTIAL) OF VISITORS - AUGUST 2, 1956
Avatar Meher Baba, Eruch Jessawala, Adi K. Irani, Meherjee Karkaria; Darwin & Jeanne Shaw; Helen (Bunty) Bernstein; Charles Loren (Tex) Hightower; Charmian Duce Knowles; Ivy Duce; Fred & Ella Winterfeldt; Filis Frederick; Adele Wolkin; Elizabeth Patterson; Kitty Davy; Enid Corfe; Dana Field; Ruth White; Charles Reade; Dr. Ben Hayman; Lud Dimpfl & Mrs. Lud Dimpfl; Marion (Energy) Florsheim; Don Stevens; Marie Adair; Peter Saul; Margaret Craske, Anne Ginsberg; Christine Wise; Hilda Fuchs, Marguerite Poley, Gladys Carr; Sparkie Lukes; John Bass; Beryl Williams; Frank Hendrick.
Just days before the December 4, 2017 Thomas Fire struck Meher Mount, well-known Meher Baba artist Charles Mills approached Meher Mount about doing a painting that would represent Meher Baba’s 1956 visit to Meher Mount.
“I didn’t know if a painting was needed,” Mills said later, “I just made myself available.”
In discussions with Board President Sam Ervin, they talked about a painting that would represent the energy of Meher Baba’s visit as captured in the 55-minute film Meher Baba, The Awakener made in 1994 by Tim Thelan. The footage of Meher Baba at Meher Mount starts at 43:22 minutes.
One day while working at Meher Mount, I heard Sam Ervin call to me, “Margaret, come look at this.”
Feeling it wasn’t something I wanted to see, I said, “No.”
Sam replied, “Yes, you have to come look at this.”
Again, I said, “No.”
He insisted, “Come look at this it.”
After six months of repairs, clean-up, and small fix-it jobs turning into big fix-it jobs following the 2017 Thomas Fire, I just didn’t want to discover one item that needed attention. But, I knew I couldn’t escape. I went to take a look.
Meher Mount continually welcomes many first-time visitors who know nothing of Avatar Meher Baba and not very much about Meher Mount. They often ask: “What is this place?” and “Who is Meher Baba?”
Followers of Meher Baba often are curious about the history of Meher Mount and how it came to be. Some ask for more details about Meher Baba’s 1956 visit.
All of these questions are part of the Meher Mount story — Avatar Meher Baba, His 1956 visit to Meher Mount, Agnes Baron and the founding of Meher Mount, and the purpose and role of Meher Mount.
In planning discussions, the board has identified the need to tell the Meher Mount story for visitors. But, where to start? How to best use the limited wall space? How to naturally guide visitors through the information?
Fire has been a visitor to Baba’s Tree and to Meher Mount more than once. The Thomas Fire shattered the tree’s crown and much of the trunk on December 4, 2017.
On October 14, 1985, fire ravaged and destroyed nearly all Meher Mount. A month after the New Life Fire, Baba’s Tree looked dead. It was black, leafless, and terribly scarred. The main trunk was hollowed out and black inside. Limbs over 30 feet in the air had burned. The great limb above Meher Baba’s seat had burned nearly through by the trunk with its furthermost branches fallen to the earth.
Thirty-five years ago, in September 1982, Meher Mount co-founder and lifetime caretaker Agnes Baron took her first and only trip to India to meet with Meher Baba’s mandali (close disciples) regarding the future of Meher Mount.
She wanted the mandali’s advice on what to do with Meher Mount. At the time of her trip, Meher Mount was in her name, and she was wrestling with what to do with the property in the future. She had told Meher Baba in 1952 that she would keep Meher Mount for Him through “hell, fire and damnation.”
Agnes Baron, co-founder and lifetime caretaker of Meher Mount, spent a year living the life of a Vedanta nun before her time at Meher Mount. Vedanta played an important role in Agnes’ life, particularly in helping to prepare her for recognizing and accepting Avatar Meher Baba.
“To the living Christ whose beauty the very heavens cannot contain, but whose presence may be found in every humble, living heart," wrote Jean Adriel in her Dedication for the biography, Avatar: The Life Story of the Perfect Master Meher Baba, 1947
"Besides telling the life story of Baba, the author relates her personal experiences with him, along with those of many other of his close followers. This account of Baba’s life describes many events from ‘behind the scenes’ - it captures the gamut of emotions involved as people struggled variously to comprehend Baba’s unusual ways, to carry out his demanding instructions, to test him, and to love him.” - Back Cover, Avatar
When I met Agnes Baron, a co-founder and lifetime caretaker of Meher Mount, I was living in Santa Barbara at the time and had avoided going to Meher Mount in Ojai because I had heard that Agnes was an “an old bitch” from some other Baba lovers.
In my experience, Agnes was tough and even fought the oil companies that were abusing land rights, but she had a softer side. When certain people visited, under circumstances that I didn’t realize, she would be gentle and treat them with kid gloves. Agnes could tune into what that person needed.
In her quest to continually improve the DART (Drug Abuse Rehabilitation Training) program, Agnes Baron asked my then wife, Martha Ervin (now Aubin) and me to drive her in June 1972 to Arizona where she wanted to research several drug rehabilitation programs that were getting good press. We had previously been working as drug counselors with Agnes in the DART program in Ventura County, CA.
Although investigation into drug abuse programs initially led Agnes Baron to Arizona on a research trip, the related events of that trip proved to be the most memorable for me.
“I bullied them into funding it,” said Agnes Baron of her efforts to get funding from the Ventura County Board of Supervisors to start the Drug Abuse Reorientation Training (DART) program.
“Meher Baba said a whole generation of leadership would be lost if they continued to get caught up in illicit drugs, so I told the board of supervisors they would be responsible if they did not do something to show they were serious about offering young people a non-punitive approach to dealing with drug problems,” she said.
“I embarrassed them for not having done anything about the problem, so they shut me up by funding the DART Program with $20,000 to get it started,” she recalled.
In the summer of 1972, Agnes Baron asked me and my wife at the time, Martha Ervin (now Aubin), to drive her to Phoenix, Arizona, to visit some drug programs. She also expressed interest in visiting the Navajo and Hopi Indian reservations.
Driving on the Hopi Reservation, we came to a small hut where an old Hopi man sat in a simple wooden chair, serenely gazing out at the horizon. Agnes said, “Stop. I want to talk with him.” She got out and walked toward him.
In 1956, Avatar Meher Baba circled the globe in 30 days and flew 30,000 miles crossing five continents. This journey included a three-day stop in Southern California with a visit to Meher Mount on August 2, 1956.
Because 1956 is such a significant year in the history of Meher Mount, there is a “1956” board on Pinterest to identify other memorable events around the world that year.
The following are photos of some of the 1956 events that intersected with Avatar Meher Baba.
My connection to Meher Mount started in 1977 when I first visited and met Agnes Baron. Over the years, that connection has been reinforced by links through my children.
Bunty Kelley Bernstein was one of the dancers trained by ballet professional and instructor Margaret Craske, a close disciple (mandali) of Avatar Meher Baba. In the Winter 2014 issue of Glow International: A Journal Devoted to Meher Baba, Bunty shared her own stories of being with Meher Baba.
The following excerpt is about her time in 1956 when Meher Baba visited Meher Mount during His three-day trip to Southern California. He stayed at at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood and went to Meher Mount on August 2, 1956.
In 1949, Avatar Meher Baba asked His mandali (close disciples) in Meherazad, Ahmednagar and Meherabad, India, as well as His close lovers and followers everywhere in the world to keep silence for the entire month of July. Meher Baba had been silent since July 10, 1925.
One of Meher Baba’s followers in the West, Marguerite Poley wrote about observing that month of silence at Meher Mount. The following is her account reprinted with permission from “Meher Mount Memories: The Month of Silence, July 1949,” by Marguerite Poley, Love Street Lamp Post, January 2006 (1st Quarter 2006), pp. 43-44. ©Avatar Meher Baba Center of Southern California.
The article, "Meher Mount Is a Gateway to the Divine," originally appeared in the Winter 2014 edition of the Meherabode Gazette published by the Avatar Meher Baba Center of Southern California. It provides an good overview of Meher Mount.
Agnes Baron (1907-1994) is remembered because of her dedication to Avatar Meher Baba, for her role as a founder and lifetime caretaker of Meher Mount, for her fiery nature and no-holds barred approach to life, for her selfless service, and for the many lives she touched.
A humorous story wherein Margaret Magnus and Sam Ervin attempt to get a new car for Agnes Baron at Meher Mount sometime in the late 1970s/early 1980s..
Jeanne Shaw shares her experience in 1956 of Meher Baba sitting under the tree that became Baba's Tree.