Elwood Babbitt’s life story can be told in a few distinct sections – while it’s not exhaustive, this is a great peek into his life.
Elwood Babbitt: The Early Years, Mostly In His Own Words By Roger LeCours
Babbitt spent the last few years of his life in Vermont. For a time, he and his wife, Daria, lived in Vershire and then they moved to a small bungalow on a beautiful hillside in Cabot. This is a town close to the so-called Northeast Kingdom, a very special region. I already knew about Babbitt through the writings of Charles Hapgood. I was delighted for the opportunity to know him personally. We spent many days together during which he recounted the story of his life and mediumship. I am a journalist and I found the story of his life to be very compelling. Much of what he told me has not been previously published.
This excerpt is about his birth and early life. Read more (.pdf)
The War Years
Babbitt was 19 when he left home for induction into the U.S. Marines and he never forgot his father’s parting words. Roy Babbitt drove his son to the train station where he boarded for the ride to the induction center in Boston. It was April 1, 1941. Roy Babbitt was covering his deeply-felt emotions when he shook his son’s hand and said, “Flies bring diseases. Keep yours buttoned.” Elwood remembered that admonition throughout his military service. As the train pulled away from the station, he looked out the window to see his father’s final wave. The full impact of leaving the comfort and security of home struck hard immediately upon arrival at the induction center.
He never forgot the greeting the entourage of recruits received from the tall and powerfully-built major who bellowed, “Men, it’s April 1 but this is no April Fool joke! You’re in the Marines!” Babbitt said he tried to maintain his sense of humor as the big Marine officer continued his welcoming remarks in that harsh voice. He administered their oath of enlistment and It wasn’t long before the recruits were on a train, headed for Paris Island, South Carolina. Upon arrival there, Babbitt knew he was in for a punishing cycle of boot camp training:
It’s a little island and we got to it by a causeway. It must have been a little piece of dirt God had left over and he decided to make it into a hell camp. That’s what Marine basic training was in those days. We had eight solid weeks under a real hard commanding officer who was a full colonel. If I remember right, his name was Shepardson. He was as hard as nails. And man! Was he tough! Some of the guys thought they would never come out alive. We felt like the training was going twenty-four hours per day. They never let up on us. The marches were gruelling and each time we thought we were coming in for a break, they would get us doing close-order drill. We spent torturous hours getting to know our weapons. We had to be able to take them apart and put them back together blindfolded. And then they had us down on our bellies, or crawling backwards on our backs while they shot live ammunition just about a foot over our heads. But in the end, I was glad for all that training and physical conditioning. It saved our butts a lot of times during the war.
Babbitt said the basic training experience was so intense that he had little time for spiritual thinking. He called it “heavy materialistic discipline” that he had never done before. However, he was glad he did it in preparation for the military action that lay ahead of him. Upon completion of the eight weeks of boot camp, he was sent to Quantico, Virginia for motor transport training. He was happy with this assignment because he always had a knack for driving motor vehicles. “My mother always said I was born with a coffee cup in one hand and a steering wheel in the other,” he quipped. Babbitt learned how to handle all types of military vehicles and then he got a chance to operate steam shovels, bulldozers and amphibious jeeps. Following motor transport training, Babbitt’s unit was sent to San Diego in preparation for shipping out. He recalled:
It was October 1941 when we left aboard an old ship that really was just an old tub. I didn’t think it was doing to make it but we eventually got into Pearl Harbor. We began to build a bivouac area of our own. We were hauling raw material and moving all kinds of stuff. We slept in small tents that each held four men. There was a big mess tent where we took our meals. They were having trouble with the dishwashing machine and I was assigned to take charge of it because I possessed good mechanical instincts. So I was spending time running back and forth from the mess area.
Babbitt had begun after basic training to seek a balance between his inner spiritual forces and the material necessities of his military life. He still had little time for quiet meditation during the day. However, when he lay down at night, he could quiet his material brain to allow his spiritual brain to take over. Then he would be able to converse with spirit. By the time he reached Pearl Harbor he had achieved a full restoration of his spiritual powers. During those moments of regular calm while on regular duty or when he was tinkering with the washing machine, he began to receive premonitions that made him uneasy. Then spirit gave him some direct warnings that there would be an enemy attack on Pearl Harbor:
It was about a week before the attack. It was probably on the first or second of December. I went to Captain Carroll and told him point-blank that we were going to be under some kind of siege. I thought he might be able to tell some of his superior officers and they would get the word up to the admirals in charge of the Navy at that time. The captain fluffed it off. Of course, I was only telling him about the intense feelings that I had. I couldn’t come right out and tell him that spirit told me this. When I woke up at 5 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, there was a thick fog rolling in off the harbor. It was chilly for that time of the season. I went over to the mess hall to check the dishwasher. Then I went back to my tent. I just had a hunch I’d better go check on it or do something there. I walked into the tent and I saw my Springfield .03 rifle. It was tagged to the canvas bunk I slept on. Instinctively, I grabbed it. Then I heard all these booming sounds. I thought maybe they were practicing because they did all of this aerial bombardment on targets. But then I remembered it was Sunday morning. They wouldn’t be doing bombing runs on a Sunday. Then a plane flew overhead. It was a Japanese Zero! It passed within 200 feet of our tent. It was strafing us! The whole top of the tent as perforated by machine gun bullets. So I grabbed at some other guys. We were all shouting at one another. We had no ammunition in our weapons so we ran across the street to a warehouse where the ammunition was stored. The warehouse was all locked up so we had to smash the bolts and dig out some 30-caliber ammunition from the crates that were encased in tins. We had to tear all that open to get the ammunition. Then we ran out, planning to shoot at the planes. They were flying in so low that it felt we could almost reach out and touch them. I ended up out on the dock with another guy. I don’t know why we ended up out there but that’s where we were when the Arizona blew up with 1,200 men on board.
They never knew what hit them. The ship’s magazine went up. They had taken a 500-pound bomb down the main smokestack. That’s when I had that spiritual experience of seeing the ship break in slow motion. I saw the stern and bow buckle. From out of that tremendous explosion came this blue-like substance. Then there was a white brilliance which I knew immediately was the spirit of every man that was on that ship. It exploded into a beautiful cloud. Then it seemed to vaporize on a ray of light that appeared to embrace and draw the spirits of all those men into it. It was the most profound experience I ever had.
Babbitt became so emotional during his narration of the Pearl Harbor attack that he had to stop speaking for a few minutes. He wiped tears from his eyes. Babbitt said he believed that the U.S. government had been too complacent about the threat posed by Japan. He said President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his military leaders closed their eyes to the danger until it was too late. “Pearl Harbor was a sell-out. They allowed it to happen,” he said. Babbitt also thought that if the Japanese had been able launch a follow-up attack on land, they would have taken Pearl Harbor easily. “We didn’t have the defenses. This country had been disarmed for so long. There were no supplies they could send us.” According to Babbitt, it is true that America was a sleeping giant in the years preceding the war. “However, once that giant was aroused, Japan was doomed to destruction. I could feel the determination of the American people in the courage and spirit of my Marine buddies,” he said.
Alma Babbitt knew her son was in the Hawaii area when the Japanese attack took place. There was a blackout on radio reports and American soldiers and sailors could not send letters out. Babbitt recounted:
They allowed us to send out little cards which made one of three statements, I am well, I am injured or I am in the hospital. I sent the message “I am well.” My mother was working at the Minute Tapioca facility and she was terribly worried. The postmaster, John Roach, called her when my message came in. He told her there was a card for her. She and my dad were greatly relieved. There’s an interesting side story to this. The medium, Ted Russell, had invited my dad to Buffalo, N.Y., for a visit. Ted was told from spirit where I was at that moment. They told him I was all right. Ted told my dad that I would come home safely for a furlough when they replaced us at Pearl Harbor. So that alleviated some of my father’s concerns. And it all happened as Ted said it would! I got a two-week furlough back home during the month of July 1942. My brother, Robert, met me at the railroad station in Springfield, Massachusetts. I was all dressed up in my blues. My brother said, “You look pretty good.” I replied that I was anxious to get home. I wanted to take that uniform off and eat some of mom’s apple pie. While I was home, I wore my Marine greens. This was a wool uniform with an overcoat. It was 90 degrees and I was shivering. Nobody could understand it and I found it hard to explain. I had come from a really hot place and getting back to this continent, I just couldn’t get used to the climatic change. It might have been the trauma we all suffered at Pearl Harbor. This can only be understood in spiritual terms. The Japanese attack changed the vibrations and it cooled us. We all felt the chill. The other guys had the same experience when they came home and we talked about it. They weren’t all spiritually-minded but all of them said they had felt cold back in the states. Babbitt’s orders following the furlough were to report to the Marine Corps base at San Diego, California. He went first to San Francisco where he joined a convoy of trucks traveling along the ocean highway to San Diego. The Marines took up residence in military barracks and engaged in ocean shore landing exercises. Babbitt knew his unit was preparing for the ultimate test of courage and endurance. He said:
We would go out in boats and then we would come back in with all the simulations of an actual invasion from the ocean. Our leaders were setting up the first offensive for Guadalcanal. We stayed at San Diego about one month and then we shipped out in a huge ocean convoy. We spent forty-two days on the water. Some of the guys were afraid that they would never see land again. There were dozens of ships and the whole armada was heading for Guadalcanal. The guys complained because there was a blackout and we weren’t allowed to smoke on deck at night. We finally pulled into Iron Bottom Sound at 4:30 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 7, 1942. I remember because we had what they called our last meal. We all got fried eggs and ham. Then we mounted up and started down the sides of the ships on the nets. Meanwhile, the ships opened up with all their big guns. We went in on Blue Beach 2 and set up a beachhead. We started to work gradually inland. I don’t know how long we stayed on the island but then they yanked us out because they couldn’t land the trucks. While they were loading us back on the ships, they got a warning that the whole Japanese fleet was coming. It was nighttime when we finally got underway. Then the Japanese fleet appeared. They were out to annihilate us. I have to hand it to our guys on those ships. I stood out on the starboard side and watched the sea battle. There was so much shrapnel going up into the air that it looked like a big junkyard. It was amazing! I saw our boys shoot down a lot of Japanese planes in three and one-half minutes. It was an incredible thing to see all that hell and death. That was really something and I watched the whole damned thing! If the Japanese had succeeded in this battle, it could have been a decisive event in the war.
After the War
After being shipped back to the states, Babbitt spent a few weeks in San Diego. Then he was sent to Cape May, New Jersey where he was given a furlough. He was pleased and felt very relaxed. However, there were times when his heart was heavy as he remembered those who had not lived through the war. He recalled the exhilaration he felt at returning home to his family:
I came home to Orange. I crossed the country on the Santa Fe Clipper. That was the fastest way. We had sleeping quarters and there was a beautiful observatory from which we could see all the sights as we went along. We came over the Rocky Mountains and it was the most impressive scenery I ever saw. It was a little scary too. You’d look out on one side and it was a one-thousand foot drop. Whew! On the other side, you stared right into a blank wall. So I got home and I was happy for the chance to rest up. My brother happened to come by. By then he was in the Marine Corps and was stationed in Pensacola, Florida. He was also married. His wife, Peg, was with him along with their dog. It was a cocker spaniel named Topper. We had a wonderful reunion, spending time with mom and dad and visiting folks we knew around the town. It was great! It turned out that I was returning to Cape May at the same time as Robert and Peg planned to go back. So my brother offered to drive me back to Cape May. When we were about half way to Cape May, Robert said, “”Do you want to drive little brother?” Robert got into the back seat with Peg and Topper. It was dusk and it was just beginning to get dark. I got behind the wheel and pretty soon they were all fast asleep in the back seat. I had both hands on the steering wheel and I was very alert. As a driver, I had trained myself not to become so relaxed that I would, unintentionally, go into a trance. But as I drove along and dusk turned into night, everything seemed so peaceful. The tumult of the war was behind me. I let myself slip into a state of deep thought, only half noticing sights along the highway. After a while, I wasn’t noticing anything at all. Rather abruptly, I woke up at the Cape May military gate at 2:30 a.m. I rubbed my eyes and turned in the seat to shake Robert to his senses. Then the realization came to me! I had no memory of the last 100 miles I had driven. I was fast asleep over that last leg of the trip. Somebody or something drove that car. It wasn’t Robert or Peg so I knew it was spirit that saved our butts. I didn’t tell them anything about that. I just thanked them and said my goodbyes. I waved to them as Robert turned the car around and drove away. Then I turned and faced the gate. I was about to begin the final phase of my military hitch, serving with the Cape May Transport Company under the command of Major Snow. As I walked to the barracks, I was still a little shook up about the realization that spirit had taken over the steering wheel for me when I fell asleep.
At Cape May, Babbitt drove trucks and settled into the life of a peacetime soldier. He received his sergeant’s stripes. Then one evening he went to a USO dance where he met Jean Schramm. “She was a very attractive brunette and I was instantly drawn to her. We danced together and found ourselves getting serious immediately,” he said. Before very many days passed, they were discussing marriage. In hindsight, Babbitt later realized it was just an infatuation and that they had moved too quickly. He had gone into the military as an inexperienced 19-year-old and he was never involved with a woman during this military service. He was glad he followed his father’s advice about keeping his fly zipped. Babbitt said he knew some men who went to brothels and were involved with women throughout the time of their military service. “They were sorry later,” he said. Schramm and Babbitt were married by a minister in a very informal ceremony at her parents’ home. Roy and Alma Babbitt made the trip from Orange to Cape May to be present at the wedding ceremony and they participated in the low-key reception that followed.
Elwood Babbitt completed his military hitch and received his honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps at Quantico, Virginia, on Sept. 12, 1945. He had served four years and five months. His discharge papers note that he qualified as a rifle marksman on May 16, 1941 and that he was certified as an automotive equipment operator. It also states that he served in the Pacific Theatre of Operations from July 1, 1942 to Sept. 29, 1944. From Nov. 4, 1941 to May 1, 1942, Babbitt was at Pearl Harbor. Under the category of battles, engagements, skirmishes and expeditions, it is recorded that Babbitt participated in the defense of Pearl Harbor from Japanese sea and air attacks on Dec. 7, 1941; that he participated in the capture and defense of Guadalcanal, Aug. 7, 1942 to Dec. 9, 1942; the capture of Saipan Island, June 15 to June 22, 1944 and the capture of Tinian Island, July 25, 1944 to Aug. 9, 1944. Babbitt was recommended for the Good Conduct Medal and was issued the Honorable Service lapel button. The character of his service was rated “excellent.” At the time of his discharge, Babbitt’s monthly pay rate was $81.90.That was low pay for having risked his life but it was nearly as much money as he would ever earn. He was very proud to have served his country. However, he was careless in safeguarding the mementoes of his service. “I got some medals but I don’t know where they are. I guess I threw them away a long time ago. I wish I hadn’t but they meant nothing to me then,” he said.
With the $32.74 allotted him for travel from Quantico, Virginia to Orange, Massachusetts, along with the pay he had allowed “to ride and build up,” during his overseas service, Babbitt and his wife headed “home” to Orange. They lived with his parents for a short time and then moved to Keene, New Hampshire where he was able to find work as a house painter. After a few months, the newlyweds became convinced their marriage was a mistake. “The feelings we had for each other sort of just faded away. I guess we fulfilled some sort of karma but it didn’t work out. We agreed that we shouldn’t stay together. Jean went back to Cape May and we got a divorce,” Babbitt said. After Jean departed, Babbitt felt no ties to the community of Keene and the thought of painting houses merely for the sake of earning a living wage never occurred to him. At the age of 24, he knew he wanted to devote his life to teaching others about spirit and the continuity of life. He left Keene and headed to Buffalo, New York to join Ted Russell. Except for his father, Roy Babbitt, and the spirits who spoke to him, Elwood Babbitt had received his greatest spiritual motivation from Ted Russell. He always stood in awe of Russell. The thrill of working with Russell in Buffalo was still apparent in Babbitt’s voice as he described that experience more than 55 years later:
Ted Russell had organized a church which he called the Cosmic Science Foundation. He rented a huge auditorium in one of the city’s big hotels. We had crowds of 1500 people who came to hear from relatives and friends who had died. They called them “messages.” Russell would stand on the stage before these big crowds and call out, “Here comes the spirit of a person. I hear the name of _________. And then he would repeat that name. Standing straight and tall, Russell would look out over the audience. If there was no response, he would say, “So nobody likes my name?” Then he would stride dramatically across the big stage to place himself in front of the person whose name he had called out. Then he would point toward someone and his voice would ring out, “The light is right over your head!” The person he pointed to would usually express shock that he was able to identify them by name. Then he would deliver the message that was coming from spirit. It might be from one or both of their parents or some other family member or friend who had died. The spirits sometimes wanted to say something they didn’t have a chance to say before they died. Often it was to say where some important papers or money had been hidden. To add proof of his ability to communicate with spirit, Russell sometimes would say when these people died or where their remains are buried. He might also tell them exactly how they died or if they had a certain disease. The messages usually were very personal and there was no way to deny that Russell was actually communicating with their spirits. There would always be gasps and “oohing” sounds from those big crowds. Having been an actor on the British stage, Russell used his skills to make everything all the more dramatic with that beautiful, clear voice and the flourishes he put into it. Now, I was greatly inspired by all this myself because I knew that Russell could really communicate with spirits. Sometimes, I received the messages myself as they came in to Russell. When he cried out, “The light is right over your head,” I could see that light. I could see the person who was supposed to receive the message from spirit. It was really something to see and hear the emotions of those who received the messages from spirit. They sometimes cried and called back expressions of love to their relatives and friends in spirit. It was truly beautiful. I never forgot those times with Ted Russell. He appeared one night each week in Buffalo and traveled to neighboring states on other nights. We went to Ohio regularly and I remember one time in Brady Lake with Della Kingsbury who had a great gift of clairvoyance. She had started a spiritualist church there. Ted wanted to help her. They had smaller audiences of about three or four hundred people. On that occasion, Ted went up on the stage and began receiving messages from spirit. He passed them on to people in the audience. After a short while, he called out, “There is a lady here named Holland. She is in a lot of grief. No one in the audience responded so Ted pointed Mrs. Holland out. “I want to talk to you, if I may,” he said, “because your son is here and he is telling me to inform you that he is all right. The reason you are so sad is that he fell out of a second story window of the house and fell on a picket fence.” That brought a loud, spontaneous “ooohhh” from the crowd. Then the woman addressed by Ted stood up and verified the story about the child who fell from the window onto the picket fence. It was indeed her son and she was overjoyed that his life was continuing in spirit. A great pressure had been lifted from her shoulders by Ted. While she spoke, Ted just stood there in that theatrical pose. He was flamboyant but he was not egoistical. He repeatedly told his audiences that spiritual forces were bringing them this contact with departed loved ones and that he was merely the messenger. I learned a lot from Ted Russell, not only when he was on stage but also while we were riding on trains or buses, to and from his other Cosmic Foundation churches. We would talk about spirit and he would encourage. He would say, “Skippy, you have the power of creation. I haven’t got that. All I can do is receive messages and pass them on to people.
After several months with Russell, Babbitt returned to Orange and resumed life with his family and the community he had left behind when he joined the Marines five years earlier. However, on this occasion he didn’t remain settled down for very long. One of his cousins, Lillian May Goodwin, who had been a nurse in the U.S. Army told him that the federal government was looking for veterans who had been under heavy fire. A program had been formed to determine if these veterans could acclimate themselves to school work. It was both an experimental project and an opportunity for veterans to resume productive civilian lives and further their education. Babbitt had never cared for academics and he had dropped out of high school but he decided to try again. He was placed at New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire. “I gave it my best effort,” he said. “I tried to get my physical brain to take over and focus on learning. I stayed in college for one semester but I couldn’t settle down to books and studying long enough to earn a degree. However, I did stay long enough to do the work needed to earn my General Equivalency (GED) diploma. I am proud of this.” After his brief stay at New England College, Babbitt headed back to Orange, Massachusetts, and obtained a job driving a bus between Orange and the neighboring town of Athol. He felt well-qualified for this job because he was a local boy who had gained a lot of experience driving military vehicles.
Life with Emily
Now gainfully employed and back home where he was well-acquainted with the area community and the people in it, Babbitt felt happy and contented although he sometimes had trouble sleeping at night because of his memories of military combat. His parents were a great solace to him. He spent evenings with Roy and Alma or he went to places where he encountered friends he had known all his life. One of his favorite locations was Liggett’s Drug Store in Athol. Like most pharmacies of that era, Liggett’s had a soda fountain. Babbitt liked the comradery there as people came to enjoy a cup of coffee, milk shake or some type of ice cream delight. Most of all, he just liked to chat with those who gathered at Liggett’s. Like his father, Babbitt could charm others with his caring attitude and sense of humor. He was at Liggett’s one evening when he took notice of a dark-haired young woman who had entered and taken a seat. Babbitt said he was immediately attracted by her smile and pleasant manner. The soda jerk working behind the counter told him she was Emily Larsen and that was all Babbitt needed to know in order to strike up a conversation with her. He immediately liked Emily because she had a congenial personality and she seemed very relaxed in his presence. They soon were carrying on an exchange as though they had always known each other. Babbitt said:
I found out she had been living a sheltered life. Her mother, Mable Larsen, was an epileptic and Emily helped to take care of her. Mabel was a fine person but her husband had abandoned her and Emily. At the time I met Emily she was living with the Episcopalian minister and his wife. She had spent a lot of time at the Episcopal rectory when she was a girl. When her mother went to a special health care facility, the minister and his wife took her in. So because of her mother’s illness and all those family problems, Emily’s social activities had been limited. She had never had a boyfriend. Actually, she was bashful and didn’t consider herself attractive. That wasn’t true. Maybe she was average-looking but I found her very attractive because it was obvious she was a good person and she had a pleasing personality. So I asked her if she would like to go to a movie or just go out with me. She said, “Sure, pick me up at the rectory.” That’s how I got to know Emily.
Babbitt and Emily Larsen soon became very attached to one another. She had a job as an operator with the New England Telephone Company in Athol. She handled some emergency situations like the 911 dispatchers do today. Babbitt was impressed by her resourcefulness and grace under pressure. As he contemplated his first date with Emily, he knew the minister and his wife would not approve of him. He was thinking ahead. It wasn’t long before they knew he was involved in spiritualism. They told Emily it was all the work of the devil and that she shouldn’t be associating with him. Babbitt said he was not intimidated by their opinion of him. He said:
I used to drive up to the church in my Model A convertible with a seat on the rear if it. On the front of the car I had a statuette of a nude woman. I’ll never forget the look on the minister’s face when he first saw that thing on my car. That convinced him that I was the devil. But Emily had a mind of her own and she had feelings for me. In addition, she was quite taken by the idea of being involved with spirit. My confrontations with the minister only led to our getting married that much sooner.
Babbitt and Emily were married in 1953. At first, they lived with his parents but they began right away to look for their own place. They wanted to buy a small property in the rural countryside where he could do a little farming while organizing a spiritual center. They found a farm in Northfield that appealed to them. However, the owner had not yet made a firm decision to put the farm on the market. Meanwhile, there was a second farm property a short distance away that might become available. Somehow, the Kimball Insurance Agency had come into ownership of the place. Roy and Alma Babbitt were going to help their son and daughter-in-law by buying the farm for them. Elwood and Emily would pay them back when they could. Roy Babbitt had a solid relationship with the owners of the insurance agency. Elwood Babbitt remembered:
But there was another farm nearby that location we first looked at and it was owned by an elderly woman. She was a widow and the only one left of her family. My dad and I went to see her. We learned she was planning to enter a nursing home. She said she would think about our offer to buy the place. I was quite enthused. It was a fine-looking Victorian home with hard-wood floors. There was a huge barn next to the house. Just when my aspirations were so high, my dad disappointed me by saying that he didn’t know if I should go ahead with the deal or not. Dad said he just didn’t feel right about it and he had misgivings. I became very upset because Emily and I really wanted it. Then the woman let us know she was willing to sell for $12,000.
Elwood Babbitt was very agitated by his father’s doubts. It was one of the few times that hard feelings ever came between them. Elwood was afraid someone else would come along and buy the place before he could convince his father to go along with him. Their relationship gradually became even more frosty. Suddenly, without telling his son, Roy Babbitt called a man he knew in Connecticut and told him about the availability of the widow’s property. Roy knew the man wanted to move to Massachusetts and set up an automotive shop. As he recalled these events after more than 55 years, Elwood Babbitt couldn’t hide the hurt he still felt over the fact that he and his father had that disagreement:
That guy in Massachusetts was a friend of dad’s. He was a car buff and dad made all the parts for his early magnetic car. The man worked for a company that did all kinds of tests on metal. My dad told him about the widow’s place and that he might find it suitable for his own business. The guy came up and they talked to the woman who said she was still undecided after all. Dad took his friend aside and told him, “I bet if you put $5,000 cash in her hand, she’ll take it.” I couldn’t believe my dad did that. He knew Emily and I wanted that place. But sure enough, when that woman saw the chance to get $5,000 cash, she took it! The guy bought the place and I was really mad at my father. Now, this was tearing me up inside because I loved my father and I never had such feelings about him before. And it hurt my mother too. She did everything she could to get us back together. Meanwhile, Dad’s friend got established in the place I wanted and he put his magnetic car in the barn. My relationship with Dad continued to simmer. It was only a short time after the man had moved into the widow’s place when we had a lightning storm. It struck the barn and set it afire. The flames spread quickly and it looked like the house would also be destroyed. The firemen got there in time to save the house but the barn was demolished and of course, so was the magnetic car. Dad and I were up there at the scene. He was very upset that his friend had suffered such a loss after he himself had suggested he talk to the widow about buying her property. Then Dad turned to me and said, “I think it was a premonition that I had when I felt those strong doubts about you buying this place. Just think. That could have been your barn that was just destroyed by lightning. Once again, I was grateful for my father’s spiritual powers. I’m sure it was spirit that told him not to put up the money to help me buy it.
Not long after the fire incident, the Babbitts were informed that the owner of a neighboring farm property had decided to sell. Elwood Babbitt and his bride liked this place too, especially the huge fireplace. Roy Babbitt put up the $5,000 needed to buy it. There were no lights and no modern plumbing but Elwood and Emily Babbitt were thrilled and they began immediately to spruce the place up so they could move in. Being a machinist, Roy Babbitt was able to repair the old Delco pump that was in the house and he upgraded it. “Dad was so talented and clever. He could do just about everything that needed to be done and we soon were moving in.” Elwood Babbitt said. They were living three miles from Myron Gibbs’ general store. Babbitt was friendly with Gibbs who had another line of business. He had the busing contract for the local school district. Gibbs hired Babbitt as one of his bus drivers. It was a parttime position that fit well with his other parttime job as driver on the public bus route between Orange and Athol. Meanwhile, the Babbitts had gone into farming on a small scale. They had three cows which provided them with their own supply of milk. They also had horses, sheep, chickens, dogs and cats.
By 1957 Babbitt was fully settled in a rural environment with a wife that he loved and she was pregnant. Babbitt worried about their lack of telephone service. He asked the phone company to install a phone but the costs of doing so were prohibitive. There were no lines running to the property. Babbitt said he consulted with spirit and was told to insist to the Department of Public Utilities that he absolutely needed the phone because his wife was pregnant. Babbitt did as he was told. “Well, spirit must have helped because two weeks later, the telephone company came out to lay a tree hitch line over the two-mile distance to our house. They didn’t place any poles in the ground. That’s how we got the phone,” he said. For a long time after when I came across people in town, they would ask me how the hell I got the phone company to do that. I would just smile and say that I figured spirit did it,” Babbitt said. Meanwhile, his spiritual school was functioning. When he wasn’t driving buses he was able to receive people who came for readings and to learn about the mysteries of spirit. The time seemed to pass by quickly and Emily gave birth to her first child. It was a boy and they named him Kevin. He would be followed by Keith in 1958 and Alma in 1966. Babbitt said that during the early years of life on the farm in Northfield, he found it difficult to increase his spiritual activity while at the same time working to support his family. His spiritual readings were limited to people in the immediate area. While he didn’t do much farming, Emily did have a large garden and they were able to augment his bus driving income by selling a lot of vegetables to the Mount Hermon Preparatory School in Northfield. The Babbitts had a busy life during these early years of their marriage but they remained close to his parents who often came out to visit. Roy Babbitt didn’t live to see his first granddaughter, Alma. He reached his 65th birthday in 1965 and he was given a retirement banquet by the L.S. Starrett Company where he was employed for 28 years. Elwood Babbitt said of his father:
Dad never changed. He always had that happy spirit about him. He had looked forward to his retirement party and the life that would come after. He knew they were going to give him a gold watch. He used to say, ‘They gave me the works for 28 years. I might as well go in and get the case.’ Following the death of her husband, Alma Babbitt continued to live in the family home on Mechanics Street.
Charles Hapgood Enters
In the early part of 1966, Babbitt awoke one morning with a vision of a man he had never met. “I didn’t have any sound with the picture I saw. He illuminated in front of my face and I knew that he was going to come into my life. I also knew that I would recognize him from the vision,” Babbitt said. This man turned out to be Charles Hapgood of Keene State College, a noted professor of science and history who was on a courageous exploration of new paths in the study of archeology and geology. Although Albert Einstein wrote a preface for Hapgood’s first book, Earth’s Shifting Crust, Hapgood was scorned by many of his colleagues in the scientific community because he dared to veer from the directions of traditional inquiry. According to Herbert Bailey, Earth’s Shifting Crust, along with Hapgood’s subsequent work, Path of the Pole, “revolutionized man’s concept of the planet and its evolutionary development.” Bailey also cited another book by Hapgood, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, which he termed “Hapgood’s other monumental work.” In this book Hapgood presents evidence that the earth was mapped many thousands of years ago by an unknown race now lost in antiquity. Bailey added:
He (Hapgood) offers convincing proof that other highly developed civilizations preceded the ones we now think of as being ancient, such as the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Maya and the Phoenicians………..I have known Charles Hapgood for many years as an admired friend, having been privileged on many occasions to witness his courage in withstanding assaults from the “traditionalists” in science who wish to keep scientific inquiry limited to nineteenth century concepts.
Now at the age of 62, Hapgood was about to encounter the 44-year-old medium, Elwood Babbitt, to begin his 16-year study of what Bailey termed “a different sphere, the world of the occult, the psychic.” The union between Hapgood and Babbitt would lead to findings that Bailey said would be regarded by some as “exciting” and “engrossing.” Others would find them “incredible,” he added. “Yet Hapgood does not shy away from presenting what he believes to be the truth – and with a true scientist’s characteristic determination to publish the truth, no matter what the consequences,” Bailey stated. From the standpoint of reaching the masses with his spiritual message, Babbitt’s time with Hapgood would be the most productive of his life. Hapgood had no prior knowledge of Babbitt’s existence until a student in one of his anthropology classes told him about a trance medium in Northfield, Massachusetts who was channeling spirits. As an innovative teacher, Hapgood always encouraged his students to follow their instincts in the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and truth. He was always willing to accompany them to wherever their curiosity led them so he agreed to travel to Northfield to see for himself although he was very skeptical that he would accept the concept of a medium channeling spirits while in trance. Babbitt remembered that Hapgood’s arrival at the farm created a comical scene. Babbitt roared with laughter as he recounted:
Emily and I happened to be in the house when we heard all manner of noises outside. We had received a telephone call from somebody who wanted a reading. I don’t recall that I had attached a name to that call but when all that commotion arose, I thought to myself, “Whoever it is has apparently arrived.” The dogs were barking one of their friendly welcomes while the chickens were clucking away. I looked out the kitchen window and this fellow was approaching the door with all of God’s cats, cows, dogs and chickens following him. I opened the door and beheld this smiling, heavy-set fellow with thinning hair and a heavy-jowled face. He was dressed in a suit and tie and he had a very authoritative and professional-sounding voice. “I am Charles Hapgood. I didn’t expect such an entourage to bring me into the yard. Are you Mr. Babbitt?,” he asked. I replied, “Yeah. Come on in.” I had to suppress a giggle because right away I noticed there was a comical little quirk to his movements. There also was a familiarity about him. It was then I became aware that this was the man I had seen in that vision. I motioned him in and said, “Sit down and have a cup of coffee. You’re going to have a reading?” He cocked his head and replied with all that professional charm, “Yes Indeed.” I handed him a cup of coffee and led him into the study. After he sat down, I handed him a small square-shaped sheet of paper which I call “a billet.” I said to him, “Now write down two brief questions you might want to pose to me and sign your name.” He handed the paper back to me and we went ahead and had that first reading together. It’s very interesting for me to look back on it now. That very first meeting was a test and he was testing me. The two questions he posed and the method he followed had merit. I didn’t probe much for information at that point because although I had seen him in that vision, I had no idea that this man sitting before me would do any more than have one reading with me. During that first little talk, Charles did say he was intrigued that some people believed in the continuity of life, that we all had a spirit that survived physical death. It was clear that he doubted that I could actually be channeling the spirits of people who had lived before. “I would have to have scientific proof,” he said. After that first reading and our brief discussion which followed it, we spent only a few moments during which we exchanged pleasantries. Then he left. There was a lapse of time before I heard from him again. I also remember his second visit when I became aware of why some time had passed. He wanted to spend some time discussing me with his students. When he returned that second time, he said, “I think I want to write a book about your work. I haven’t reached the point where I believe it but maybe somewhere along the way, I will.” So right then, he was beginning to write that first book and it led to all the things that Charles and I did together. Hapgood described his association with Babbitt in three books, Voices of Spirit-Through the Psychic Experience of Elwood Babbitt (Nordon Publications, 1975); Talks with Christ and His Teachers (Fine Line Books, 1981), and The God Within – A Testament of Vishnu, 1985. In the third book, Hapgood commented:
It’s no exaggeration to say that Elwood Babbitt is one of the truly extraordinary men of our time. I have now had the privilege of fifteen years of constant association with him. I have sat with him through over 300 sessions in most of which trance was used, but I have also questioned him so far as I could about the details of his everyday life. I early learned that he was not an intellectual. He is interested in no profession, in no career ……..he is interested only in spiritual teaching. He lives with another reality.
Hapgood said that at least 300 spirits manifested through Babbitt in his (Hapgood’s) presence and that “each personality remained distinct and self-consistent no matter how many times we talked.” Hapgood concluded that no human mind could possibly have produced it. He also decided that the theory of split personalities cannot be applied in Babbitt’s case. Hapgood conducted scientific tests and had Babbitt examined extensively by a psychologist. Tests were also performed by a medical doctor. While it is clear that Hapgood’s skepticism about the continuity of life was overcome from his own scientific findings, he emphasized that he made no claim to “final truth.” Hapgood said the spiritual forces speaking through Babbitt were limited “by our limitations of understanding.” He added th
at “where the energy enters areas beyond human knowledge we must call upon our intuition to grasp what the intellect cannot.” Recalling Hapgood’s intense study of him, Babbitt said Hapgood was always very kind and loving. He noted that the professor always had a little twinkle in his eye, that he was always low-key and never talked in a pompous way. Although Hapgood knew many noted scientists and celebrities, he was modest in discussing his relationship with them. Babbitt said he found it ironic that at one point during his teaching career, Hapgood was at New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire where he (Babbitt) had gone for one semester after the war. “You know, Charles taught at several different schools because college administrators didn’t want to put up with his innovative methods for very long. He wanted to teach the way he wanted. They had set curriculums from which they refused to deviate and he clashed with them all the time,” Babbitt said.
During the years of his relationship with Hapgood, there were major alterations in Babbitt’s life. The nightmares and flashbacks of Babbitt’s war experiences began to weigh upon his relationship with Emily. Babbitt said he sometimes became temporarily violent during his nocturnal spells and he was worried he might someday badly injure his wife. “Emily was always wonderful. She was a very gentle and romantic person and she was a great mother but we both agreed that we should separate. She eventually went to live with another man,” Babbitt said. Emily Babbitt died from cancer some years later.
The breakup with Emily caused an estrangement between Babbitt and their three children. He was never able to heal the break and he was always uncomfortable talking about it. Elwood Babbitt entered another marriage with Margaret (Margie) Hack and they had a daughter, Anya. “I met Margie in Boston where I was doing a lecture. There was this instant attraction. She was a model,” Babbitt said. He was in the birthing room with Margie when Anya was born and he called that the “greatest experience of his life.” Margie and Anya lived with him on the farm in Northfield. Babbitt said the nightmares and flashbacks continued and that they were a major issue again. “I left Margie with mutual agreement. I just walked away,” he said.
There was a divorce and Margie and Anya continued to live on the farm and Babbitt went to stay temporarily with friends. Babbitt felt deep emotions as he left the farm in Northfield because it involved memories of how his parents had helped him to buy it and it was the place where he raised his children. In later years, he deeply missed them and he savored the few times he saw Anya, the youngest of his offspring. More sadness and disruption lay ahead of Babbitt.
On a December day in 1982, Hapgood phoned Babbitt to say he wanted to travel to his place for a meeting. Babbitt said years later he still didn’t know why but he had immediate premonitions that Hapgood should not come that day and he told him he was worried about the weather. “As I remember, I told him that I felt a snowstorm might be brewing but Charles could not be dissuaded. He said he was on his way,” Babbitt said. A short time later, Babbitt received another phone call from Hapgood who said he was confused about the directions to where Babbitt was and he had stopped at a convenience store to make the call. “I was surprised that he had lost his way because Charles had traveled through the area before,” said Babbitt. Hapgood never reached his destination. When he walked out of the convenience store, he was struck by an automobile in the parking lot and he was killed. Hapgood was 78.
After all the turmoil that he had endured in recent years, the loss of his closest friend and associate was a cruel blow to Babbitt and he needed to call upon all of his spiritual powers to sustain the load. In the ensuing decade, Babbitt continued his spiritual activities and his rapport with close friends such as the late Beth Hapgood of Greenfield, Massachusetts, who has written at length about groups such as the Brotherhood of the Spirit for which Babbitt was spiritual counselor. Beth Hapgood was a cousin to Charles Hapgood. Daria Weklind who had known Elwood Babbitt since 1970, joined the Brotherhood in 1982. She was part of the community of young people who had clustered around Babbitt. She met Gary Nielson who was not a Brotherhood member but participated in some of its activities. “I knew Elwood way back then and I lived at his house with him, Emily and the kids for several years. I loved Emily. She and Elwood were so good to me. Everybody thought Emily was a saint. I was a little bit in awe of her. I was 17 or 18 years of age then,” Daria said. In 1975, Gary and Daria were married and they moved to a mobile home in Wendell, Massachusetts. Daria gave birth to a son whom they named Dharma Erik. Daria and Gary were eventually divorced. She continued her spiritual activities in groups involving Babbitt and she frequently sought his advice.
In August of 1990, Alma Babbitt died at the age of 89. Elwood Babbitt was particularly saddened that he was not with her when she died while alone in her home at 43 Mechanics Street in Orange. “To me, my mom was a miracle. I cannot imagine anyone having a more wonderful mother than she was to me. She would never sell that house on Mechanics Street although one real estate broker tried to convince her to do so. She said she was self-sufficient and she had so many memories there. She said someone could sell it after she died, Babbitt said. Eventually, Babbitt took up residence in the family home and he was there one day in 1991 when Daria Weklind came to see him. “I was living in Wendell Depot, a town neighboring Orange, and I was having difficulties. I came to see if he could help me, ” she said. Weklind relied on Babbitt’s advice and she saw him frequently. Their longtime friendship led to marriage in November 1991. They continued their spiritual activities and circulated among their many friends.
Elwood Babbitt had always felt some type of spiritual connection to the geography and culture of the state of Maine. He eventually sold the family home in Orange and they briefly lived in Maine before moving to Vershire, Vermont in 1996 because he was attracted by the activities of a particular spiritual group located near that community. Later, they took up residence in a small home on a beautiful hillside in Cabot, Vermont, where they were visited by a number of longtime friends, including Beth Hapgood, who traveled there. They also made some new friends, some of whom came for readings.
Babbitt’s enthusiasm for socializing with other people never faltered. He loved to make new friendships but he always cherished old ones. It was clear that his health was failing due to the longtime effects of his military service in the Pacific, particularly chronic obstructive pulmonary lung disease resulting from the attack at Pearl Harbor. Babbitt said his lungs were seared by the billows of oil-filled smoke that enveloped him during the bombing attack. He received medical care for this condition over the years and prior to his death he received care at the Veterans Administration Hospital in White River, Junction, Vermont. After a brief stay at a convalescent home in Barre, Vermont, and a return to the Veterans Administration Hospital, he died there on April 25, 2001. The death certificate cited pneumonia as the immediate cause of death due to, or as a consequence of metastatic squamous cell lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. According to his own wishes, he was cremated and Daria sprinkled his ashes at a location of his choosing. She shared his attraction to the state of Maine and she is now living in that state.
For information on Charles Hapgood, please consult his Wikipedia page here.
Commemoration to some of those who were helpful to Elwood and his work. This is a short list of some who have passed on. We thank everyone!
To The Great Spirit and all of the entities that participated in Elwood’s work.
Members of The Brotherhood of the Spirit
All veterans of all Wars.