Last night at Meher Center we saw a film of the 1958 sahavas with Meher Baba at Myrtle Beach, on Baba’s last trip to America. Marshall Hay narrated the video, which had no audio, and whenever some familiar person was on the screen, such as one of the mandali or one of the old-time Baba-lovers was on the screen — Adi K. Irani, Kitty Davy, Margaret Craske, Beryl Williams, John Bass, Hedi Mertens, Lenny Willoughby, Donald Mahler — he would name that person for the audience. I had written in my essay “Looking at Meher Baba” that I did not like it when narrators distracted the audience’s attention from looking at Baba, as if the people around him were the “celebrities” we should take note of. Sitting next to me were two first-time visitors from Ontario, and I was concerned that the narration was causing them to look away from Baba to try to figure out who were these other people they had never heard of.
After the film, Phyllis Ott, who was sitting on my other side, seemed to read my thoughts when she told me that while watching the film she asked herself, “Why are these people being named?” I started to tell her my reaction to the naming of people in the film when she went on, answering her own question in a way I had never thought of. “It’s because they alone among so many were the few who had the inspiration or the wit or the impulse to make that journey, to travel to Myrtle Beach and take advantage of the opportunity to see Avatar Meher Baba,” she said. “That’s why they deserve to be named.”