Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Stepping Stones, Katonah, New York

It was a pilgrimage of sorts.  Though one wouldn’t really call it a pilgrimage.  A meeting might be a better term though i’d come along way for a meeting. Vancouver, Canada to Katonah, New York.
Thanks to the Stepping Stones Foundation web site I was able to arrange a tour for Laura and I. Tours occur at 1 pm weekdays.  Coming from New York I learned that at Central Terminal we should get a Northwest Harlem line to either Katonah or Bedford Hills.  Stepping Stones address is 62 Oak Road, Katonah in the Bedford Hills.  The trains come every hour and the trip takes a little over an hour. $25 a person ticket.  Sam’s and Bedford taxis’ were advised for the trip to Stepping Stones from the station.  We’d actually get a ride with Sam’s.
But first we had a marvellous scrambled eggs bacon and sausage breakfast at KR Restaurant in Katonah, a kind of sweet uptown kind of country town.  Very attractive. Great food and service.  Lots of quaint little well kept shops.  It really would be a destination to come in car or on motorcycle.
Sam’s Taxi took us the $10 taxi ride.  John, our tour guide was outside the welcome centre to greet us.  There were washrooms and seats to wait.  A shop with memorabilia, books, tapes, t shirts ball caps.  All the good stuff.   Lots of history.  Lovely lay out.  Katie from the Stepping Stones Foundation was there as well.  While John was older and tranquil, Katie was young and vivacious.  Beautiful people.
Lots of spirituality.  I couldn’t get over the views.  What a beautiful part of the world and this little bit of heaven.  Anabel and her mother joined us with John for the tour.  We walked up the hill first to Bill’s writing studio.  Lois had called this “Wit’s End”.  John explained the history of the writing desk, originally from Hank’s business.  The first chapters and later books were written right there.  That was mighty awe inspiring.  I loved the view too.  Tranquil and serene. Looking out the windows onto the acreage I imagined what it must have felt like, trying to put myself inside the experience of these great and humble man and woman.  There were all manner of historical items here. I liked the Works Publishing company business certificate.  Father Dowlings' crucifix and cane were there as well. John told us the story of the picture, a man on the bed.  It was just good being there.  Feeling a whole lot of gratitude.
Then we walked down the hill to the main house.  John told us the story of Bill and Lois’ poverty after they had to leave their house on Clinton Street. For several years they literally couch surfed. There was even a sad tale of Lois breaking down on the stairs of Grand Central Station crying in public asking if she’d ever have a house.  It was made more poignant because we’d just been in Grand Central Station.  A lovely realtor helped make it possible for them to buy Stepping Stones then.  John says that Lois said the door was open when they came to see it first and Bill says he broke in.  We laughed at the two stories.
The main house was large and warm and welcoming with beautiful views and an old country feel.  Bill played violin and Lois played piano.  John said they liked people who played piano to feel welcome to fill the house with the spirit that it had always known. Well, both Anabelle and her mother played the piano and it was beautiful.
The Kitchen Table where Ebby first talked to Bill was something to behold.  Now there was a shrine like moment.  Bill had scoffed at Ebby’s sharing his experience and calling it ‘religion’ and saying how he was a ‘man of science’.  It was a beginning though.  So many millions later.
Nell Wing who’d been the secretary and written a book of her experience of the early days, “Grateful to Have Been There," had a room there on the main floor.  Upstairs was Bill and Lois’ room. There wes a great fireplace that kept the place warm.  Lois’ desk was there to, the place where a whole other beginning had taken root.  Before she died at 97 after Bill had died she’d archived so much upstairs.  Walking about seeing the references and pieces of history, photographs and objects was some thing.  I loved Lois ’s  book, As Lois Remembers. It was only in the welast year  or two I read William Borchet’s book, When Love is Not Enough,.”  That was probably when the seed was planted to come to Stepping Stones one day.
I’m so glad we did.
Laura loved the ‘meeting’.
It was a beautiful sunny day.
We’re now headed back to New York City on the train looking forward to another meeting, this one at Central Office, on Friday.
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