19 October 2007

George Eaton's Story

photo by V. Sadowsky/D. Eaton

Well, part of his story anyway. George Eaton, who met Baba as a child, spoke briefly at the day for the nearby community on Meher Center on 6 October 2007. This is my account of his talk, plus a few comments he added in his own words after I showed him what I had written.

In the most charming Southern drawl imaginable, George gave us a little taste of what it was like growing up on the Center as the son of Frank Eaton, the first caretaker here. Living at the Center, George said, “we were the community for years.” It was high adventure for a little boy to spend the night caretaking the Center with his father. The wind was always blowing. What he remembers best is that everything was done so tastefully and quietly. George said he used to “get into devilment” and promised he could tell us stories to keep us cackling for hours. Like what? Oh, the time he sat in ALL of Baba’s chairs in the Barn (which are roped off to prevent just such an outrage).

George thinks of the wonderful friends they made through the years, people who came here from every walk of life. Folks like the Hernandez family, the DeLongs, and a vaudeville actress named Berniece Jensen.

“Berniece, whom everyone called ‘Neecie’ was a charismatic, talented, and outspoken woman," George adds. “Loving and giving heart, too. Many young people who came to Baba in the late 60's and early 70's stayed with her at Happy House, when it was located where it originally was, behind the Ocean View Baptist Church in Myrtle Beach. It was her home then, she bought it from Jane Haynes, or Elizabeth Patterson, I think. After Neecie moved to California to be near her daughter, Happy House was moved onto the Center property. Margaret Craske lived there until she passed away. And it burned down sometime in 1994.”

One day George came home from school to find his mother and Neecie playing pool in their bras and panties, it was that hot. “Don’t worry, be happy”? Never were truer words spoken. The Eatons—three boys, mother Irene, and father Frank—were very poor because Frank didn’t make much as a caretaker. But somehow they never went without. They were fed, the bills were paid, and they were loved.

“It took me many years to get my connection to Baba,” George said—42 or 43 years. He went out on the edge playing around, but then he started awakening. Baba was going to get him for sure.

Meher Center is a microcosm of the universe, George concluded, and nowhere else on earth will you find such love and acceptance. Remember that Baba has called us here, and when you have nothing else, you always have BABA!

About his meeting with Baba, George recounts: “I met Baba during his 1958 visit. I was three months shy of my third birthday. I do remember there were many people there in a group and it was outside, seemed about where the Meeting Place is standing now. Dad was carrying me. Suddenly, he leaned forward and held me out and slightly downward, and there was Baba. He clasped my face and gave me a kiss on my left cheek. He gave Dad a prasad, a lemon drop. Dad and I then walked away from the group, up the hill towards the Caretaker’s Cabin. We paused along the way for Dad to take his pocketknife out and smash up the lemon drop so we could share it. He held it in his palm and struck it with the folded knife until it shattered.”

Now a really funny story: “When I would go to spend the night with Dad at the Caretaker's Cabin — remember, I was five or six when this happened — like everyone does, Dad and I would urinate before we would go to bed. Also know that the Caretaker's Cabin had no toilet in it. But rather than walk over to the facilities near the Coop cabin, Dad showed me a secret and made me promise I would never tell: we could pee in the little sink in the corner!!! He would do it, and then hold me up so I could put my knees on the edge of the sink enclosure and go myself. Then run the faucet while we undressed, to be sure it was all ‘flushed’ away. Talk about Male Bonding!!! Wow, that was a special father-son moment!

“Unfortunately, in my infantile mind, I formed the thought that it was OK to pee in any of the small sinks on the Center, as long as no one found out.

“Need I tell you which other cabin on the Center has a tiny sink in the southern corner? Well, sometime later, when I was on Center with Dad, I think we were raking around the Original Kitchen, I felt the call of nature. I knew where another tiny sink was. A clue, it also is near the Kitchen!

I don't know if it was the sound from me dragging a chair up to the Lagoon Cabin sink, or me fooling around trying to raise the cover over the same that gave me away, but Dad rushed in, flailing his arms and loudly whispering NO, NO, NO, as he pulled me down and away from the sink. [The Lagoon Cabin was Baba’s cabin where He gave private interviews, and it is maintained today as a special place for silent meditation and prayer.] Good Ol' Dad saved the day! I remember feeling that bewilderment children feel when given ‘mixed signals.’ I cannot look at that sink today without a heartfelt smirk appearing on my face.

“Jai Baba! George.”

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All quotes of Meher Baba © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust unless otherwise indicated. Writings by Kendra are © Kendra Crossen Burroughs unless otherwise noted.