letters from a friend of donald
I don't know if either of you would remember me. I have been in the I AM activity since 1956. My parents and I were first introduced to the activity through my dad's cousin in Sacramento. We later moved to Shasta Springs. I moved there following our second set of conclaves in 1958 and my parents followed in 1959. I lived on the Springs for years and attended high school in Mt Shasta. Because we lived in the heart of things I had come to know all of the people involved. Most especially I knew Mama very well and Don and Chris (Virginia) were very close friends for many years. Chris said that I reminded her of her niece, Michelle, and they treated me like their own daughter. Later, when I was living in San Francisco, I would fly to LA and spend my weekends with them at their home. Because of my association with Don and Chris, Mama took an unusual interest in me and I learned many things that were not told to the students then or now.
After Mama passed on, and the fight was on for control of the activity, Don wrote a book...exposing the activity, including many of the frequent things that Daddy had been involved in and also exposing the hypocrisy of the staff and their doings. The staff has run scared of this book, while not knowing of its contents, for years. I was approached by Warren and Lyle among others in an effort to find out what Don had written...Then when the book, ”Psychic Dictatorship in America.” was again available, I remembered that a friend of mine, Edwin Stock, had told me about it, as he had read it in the sixties. He was most troubled by it and felt that I should read it. I must say that some of what is in it was not in Don's book. However, Don knew of things on a much more intimate basis than Gerald Bryan. Throughout the 50s and 60s he and Mama maintained a kind of toxic love mother/son relationship. Don and I had many talks about his childhood, the writing of the books and their (his and Daddy's) behavior during the Shrine classes and of course, Daddy's death. Daddy did not live the "Law" when not in the public eye, nor did the staff members. Members of the staff who knew my relationship with Don, had deeply feared that I might some day come forward with what I know, and have approached me many times about it. At this point I can only believe that the student are held in line and kept from thinking their own thoughts out of fear of the threats that fill the dictations.
In the past couple of years Arnold P. (a board member) has written a book in an effort to smooth over the many potholes in the Activity road. It is a giant compilation of blather that is both lies and half truths at best. For instance...Arnold took what Gerald Bryan says about "Beloved Daddy" being a paper-hanger and not understanding that this was an old term for "con-man" says that he was an interior decorator. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at that one. At any rate this is the drivel that is being fed to the new student and old alike in an effort to shore things up. I am writing to you, as I believe that this is the time to say the truth of things as I know them to be.
Edie (Trautman) Broce.
About Don's book - it is now in the hands of the Board of Directors at Shaumburg, and was completely sanitized before they got hold of it. It has had quite an odyssey.
There is some history here that might be of interest...even though it is now over 30 years old and almost a moot point. It may also better explain Don's motivation for writing the book in the first place. I might also add that Edwin and I talked about all of this, ongoing for years and this knowledge prompted him to some of the actions that he took in confronting the board.
About two years prior to Mama's death, she had a stroke and called Don back to Chicago. At that time she presented him with a Will that she had had Hedburg draw up, which gave Don total control of the Activity at her passing. It created no boards of any kind. She also gave him about 2 million dollars in personal jewelry that she wanted him to have. She was adamant that he take this Will with him as well as the jewelry, as she said that the "vultures will descend before I'm cold". So Don returned with these things to his home in Tarzana, CA. I had been at their house the weekend preceding his trip and returned there the weekend following his return. He showed me the Will and jewelry, which he put in his home safe. It was clear and to the point.
Then not long before Mama's death, she had another series of strokes. Her mental capacity was greatly diminished when they arrived at the hospital in Chicago. Don told me that the staff was in the hallway outside of her hospital room and as he and Chris walked up to the door, a female staff member was heard to say (not seeing them), "I can hardly wait for this to be over, so that I can go to Hawaii, lie on the beach and drink martinis". This enraged him, to say the least. He and Chris charged into Mama's room and found Hedburg and two other staff with her and she had just signed another will...Don said that "she was so out of it that she didn't know what planet she was on." He was understandably enraged and threatened those in the room. He ordered them out and Hedburg took the second will with him.
After her passing Don returned to California. He called me immediately and said that he was sending Chris up to claim his mother's things at Shasta Springs, before anyone could "clean it out" and asked if I would meet her and help...So I spent three days helping her sort and pack Mama's and their rooms. At that time Chris shared more about the machinations of the staff. This gave me a lot to handle. At that time I was very involved with the activity and it formed my social support system of friends. I withdrew from most of it for many years, applying the "Law" as I understood it to be, and dipping in at the conclaves to say hello to those I loved.
During the 3 months following Mama's death, as you may know, much happened in the selling of Mama's jewelry, the mess with the press and other things that were happening behind the scenes. Don told me that when Mama died her activity assets exceeded 55 million dollars. Much of it just "woosh" disappeared. He had an attorney and was fairly sure of his ground with the first will. Don approached A. and J. C. and asked if they would stand with him on this...J’s reply was "I would like to, but I've got to go with the money." Don was devastated, as the C’s had been close personal friends and he had trusted that J. would stand with him. All other friends did pretty much the same thing, when they saw how the power and dollar signs were blowing.
About a year after Mama's death Don decided to write a book, exposing these people and their fraudulent claim to power and money in the activity. The board concocted a number of interesting stories about how Don had approached them "hat in hand" begging for control of the activity. None of this is true.
By this time I was married and couldn't visit them as often. However I did make a number of visits and stayed with them while he was writing the book. As it progressed, he shared the chapters with me and I gave him some suggestions that I felt would tone it down a little bit. He was angry and bitter most of the time.
In this bitterness, he began to dredge up things about the formation of the activity as well and put this into the book. Don told me years before that he had never seen an Ascended Master and that he had argued with Mama about putting into the books that he had. He said that it was all part of a great lie, and that she had no right to claim something for him that he had not experienced.
Don believed that there were great beings of light, but he believed that Mama was self-deluded about her contacts with these beings...and he just didn't know what to believe any more. We spent many hours sorting and sifting out those great universal truths from the dogmatic nonsense that fills the student's minds with a grandiosity and false superiority over their fellow men, nature and the world in general.
Then on the Friday before he passed (3 days), they called me. I had just had my first baby a couple of months before and Don had told me that he wanted to be his godfather. They wanted to see my son and Don said that he would fly up to Mott Field in Dunsmuir the next weekend and bring us down for a visit. Chris was on the extension and excitedly announced that Don had finished the book and that they were taking it to the printers on Monday. I tried to talk him out of this plan and asked if they could wait until I came down. However, she was emphatic that it was going to print on Monday.
Then on that fatal Monday morning, he walked down the hill from their house to a little coffee shop and sat down on a stool for his morning cup and fell over dead. Chris called me about an hour afterward and said that he had had a massive heart attack. She immediately blamed Fredrick and the board because she felt that the stress of the past couple of years had "killed my husband". She would listen to no other line of reasoning. She then called Fredrick and threatened the board that she would still have it published, fully knowing that if it was put out there, it would tear the activity apart.
As it turned out, Chris didn't publish it. She passed on of uterine cancer in 1986 and left the book in her sister and niece’s care. I was approached many times by the board members, as to the whereabouts of that book. I told them that Michelle had it. They located her in England and sent a trusted person to offer her money for the manuscript. This person got the book from Michelle and read it. She then destroyed most of it that discussed the early formations of the activity and some board members that she wished to protect. She took what was left back to Chicago for the board to read. She soon afterward left the activity and has since passed on. Such is the saga of this book and I know that it is absolutely true from my own personal experience.
Well, this has been more than a little wordy, but I wanted you to know the truth of those events. If you wish to post this you have my blessings. I won't go into the details of Mama's or Daddy's history now, but I will in some other e-mail. I also have the complete list of books that Mama used in the writing of Unveiled Mysteries and the Magic Presence as well as her reference for her own knowledge. Gerald Bryan did not have a complete list in his book. By the way, it was her older sister who owned the metaphysical book store and she lived with her. Mama told me that she used to come home from school and sit on the front steps of the store and listen to her sister and other ladies talk about these things. She had read almost everything available by the time she was an adult. I have all of these books, having collected them over the years and it is easy to find many passages that were lifted directly into the activity’s books.
I hope that this helps those who are trying to untangle this most complicated fabric of belief. The I AM Activity is most precious because it is based on the true law of life. To return to the sources of that work is a most wonderful experience...more later.
Chris's complete name was Christina Virginia Ballard. Mama insisted on calling her Virginia, which more than ticked Chris off; however, that was the way it was. Everyone who really knew her called her Chris.
Knowing the players in this mega-drama of the I AM activity, I have much to share. For myself, I had don't quite know how to state my own position on the activity or the reality of some of its teachings. My beliefs are and have always been based on my own personal experiences way before we ever contacted the activity, so for me it has been a huge sorting and sifting process. The great catastrophe is that Mama based what is in the books on "real universal truths” that are in some form, present in every religion. Her idea, according to Don, was to sift out these great truths and present them in a form that would be universally understood by the lay person. The problem was, of course, that she also interpreted it through her own knowledge and belief system. So there were many distortions to the truth as she went along, with her personal dogmatic stuff added in for good measure. She was the one knowledgeable in all of this. Anything that Guy ever knew, he knew from reading Mama's resources and what she shared.
One of the major books that was a resource for almost all of her knowledge of things unseen was a little book published in 1896, called a "A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands". Don had read this when he was young and said that Mama quoted almost verbatim. After I read it for myself I also saw verbatim quotes that she had shared as her own knowledge at the various roundtable discussions. Such things as the idea of a "cosmic screens" the "Great Central Sun", the term the "Hordes of Evil" and brotherhoods, the use of various colors and emblems on the robes and precipitated banquets, including their kinds of “food" all are in this book. Also full descriptions of the laws that govern the various spheres...it goes on and on. This is a most revealing and informative book.
There is a companion book that should be read first, as it precedes it in the story's time. It is called, “The Strange Story of Ahrinziman" by Anita Silvani. This was published in Italy in 1904 and later in England in 1906. Whether Mama ever read it, I don't know. This is a most interesting book. I found out its origins when I was living in San Francisco and met the great grand-daughter of Anita SIlvani. I will share those stories some other time. I will warn you that it is in some ways very dark, but is the true experience of a being who's name at that time (about 3500 years ago) was Ahrinziman. The first half of that book is about his life and the second half is what happened to him after he died and how he had to tread the path of Karma.
Well, I have diverted from my original topic...Must get to work. Thanks for the reply and I will be happy to share anything that I can if it will help my fellow travelers on life’s path to find their way.
Love to all,
Earlier this morning I posted a response to your question about Chris's name, but got side tracked and didn't write any further about Don...Well, on that one I could write for a long time.
Never was there a more misunderstood or misinterpreted man than he. When I read some of the comments that are on this website about Don I was almost ill. Whoever wrote that didn't have the first clue about him or his life.
Try to imagine that you are a young boy being raised by a fiery little woman, as Mama was, and with a dad on the run from the law. And as if that isn't enough, plug in the idea that your name and identity has now been high jacked into books that make mind-boggling claims about who you were, are and will be. Then try to imagine that some of what is being put down feels right, as far as the Law goes, however, it is being sold as a package deal. Never mind that you are watching your mom write the books which claim all of these things, and your dad is floating from one teacher to another and writing to your mom about what he is learning and they are together deciding through their correspondence what to put into the books. That, for starters, was Don's childhood.
I am amazed that he didn't grow up totally twisted. As it was, Don was always torn about "where was the truth of the matter". He believed much of it, but said repeatedly that Mama had said it all so often that she had come to believe it herself.
While the books were being written, they had many of the authors, and Pelley himself, staying with them briefly. That is how they met the man who got them organized and on the road.
Once the activity was launched and out there, so to speak, the rope on Don and his behavior tightened. Whenever he would show any interest in a girl, suddenly Mama would "get a message from Saint Germain" with the attendant threats to either the girl or Don ...this of course to keep him in line.
Don told me that Mama was never affectionate to him as would be normal to a mom. Daddy on the other hand lavished him with affection and things, especially when they became wealthy. Don always said that this was because Daddy was gone for so much of his childhood and felt guilty about it.
All of this was very heady stuff for an adolescent boy. Beside all of that, the students began to faun over and cater to Don in an attempt to climb the greased pole of attention and favors from the parents. Don was an extremely smart man and even as a teenager saw through the game. He just wanted to be a guy and do guy things...without cosmic opinions about everything that he did. At times he did step into the role of "Beloved Don", and said that he tried his best. But he was always angry that claims about him were out there, and he couldn't refute them and speak the truth without discrediting everything.
I know that Don did believe in Saint Germain as a real master, but was very confused about a lot of it because he knew the origins of the books. He did, however, truly believe in their sources, as do I.
When Don was seventeen, Mama became aware that he was eyeing the girls in a more serious way and decided to put a stop to that. She engineered that he marry Marjorie, who was a beautiful 26 year-old who was on her immediate staff. This lady was a beauty and Don liked the idea. So a quick wedding was planned. Daddy was absolutely set against it. He wanted Don to have a normal life and make his own choices.
Among the student body this event was touted like a royal marriage with Saint Germain's personal blessing. Daddy refused to attend the wedding ceremony and Don told me that they had the biggest fight that he could ever remember over it. At any rate, they married and
not too long afterwards, Don returned to their room one day and found her in bed with another staff member. That man and Marjorie was dismissed and Don/Mama filed for Divorce. By the way, Marjorie's name is on some of the music, as that was part of what her job was on the staff.
After that, Don was drafted into the military. Mama fought it but lost, and he went to Europe...none of that drivel on the website about his enlisting is true. When Don was in Europe, he had many experiences of both the horrors of war and miracles as well, some including Saint Germain. When he returned he confronted Mama about the activity and wanted to "make a clean sweep" of things. Mama wouldn't hear of it, and they had a falling out that lasted for years of icy interaction.
As a man, Don was fiercely patriotic and provided Mama with much of the information about various problems in the government, etc that he would find out about. These would then be mysteriously said in a roundtable or dictation by a master. Don and I both belonged to the John Birch Society during the sixties and exchanged much information. I lived very near to Church Armour, who was at that time the vice president/ and later became president of that organization. It was a wonderful source for anyone who wanted unbiased and true information from its source.
I know that one thing that fascinated Don about me was that in the very first conversation that we ever had, I was actually talking to someone else about how I and my family had gotten into the activity and I was telling some experiences about that. Little did I know that Don was in the mind set that he was. This took place at the old Amphitheatre kitchen, when I used to cook for everyone up there. At that point, when the other people left, he closed and locked the door and we had a 3 hour conversation with him helping me to do the dishes and cook the dinner for everyone. From that time on we were very close and talked frankly about everything. I didn't at that point understand that through me he was trying to validate and sort his own truth about things.
This is as clear a picture of Don as I know how to give. I know that he has now found the light, and trust that he has learned that truth that he so long sought, while others have to account for what they have done in every respect.
Love and Blessings,