Our Imaginative Crew [Marilyn Myerson’s Writing Crew — Editors] decides to take a trip to Cassadaga: the Psychic Capital of Florida. Whoops, make that the Psychic Capital of the World!
We start the new year at the hotel. We decide to do the Fairie Walk, and it is good that Linda knows that we should bring something to leave for the fairies. She has a semi-precious gemstone for each of us. But Bruce likes his so much he decides to keep it. His dark, shiny stone is hematite, used by mediums to recall your past lives. His act does not turn out so well.
Mine is clear quartz, the most powerful healing stone of the mineral kingdom. It is a stone of power and relieves pain. Marilyn gets the rose quartz which fosters empathy and forgiveness. It clears out anger and jealousy and allows healing of heart issues and disease associated with holding on to negative emotions.
Susan scores the lovely amethyst; the amethyst restores the balance of your spirit energy and helps you visualize new ideas. Morrey gets the coral colored carnelian, which is also consulted for past life regressions.
Mary receives the lemon jade, whose energy inspires wisdom, moderation and peace and enhances emotional balance and stability. Patricia, snowflake obsidian. A stone of purity, bringing truth and balance and acceptance of change. Alas, Linda comes down with bronchitis and can’t make the trip with us. We send healing vibes her way.
So much to discover! Some go to the spiritualist, some consult mediums, and some see Lucy or Father Christopher. Only they can reveal what happened in their consults.
I journey to the Stetson Mansion, home of the famous hatmaker, built in 1886. The grandest home ever built in Florida before 1900.
It is a little distance away, but I have the car. So gorgeous! The Christmas tours went on until Jan 15, so it was all decked out for the holidays. Not like back in the days when it was deserted and haunted with its dark, gossamer cobwebs and gator pits. And the upstairs bathtub stained with blood.
But alas, it’s time to return to Tampa although most are planning to return here for the Elton John tribute or maybe Cher.
Things start to go awry as we embark on the 100-mile drive home along the highway from hell, otherwise known as I-4. Bruce is sitting next to Morrey, and they both just disappear.
Morrey didn’t leave his stone either. We don’t know who to call, but Marilyn with her empathy insists we return to the Fairie walk. Mary with her new wisdom and stability agrees.
Patrica, possessing her power of the acceptance of change, wants to prove her newfound skills. Susan is visualizing new ideas and is open to a return. So, we find Cassandra, the docent who bestows fairy wings, and she consults the Powers by using all our stones’ auras. Cassandra has her own set of stones and produces the ones necessary. For a fee.
We learn that we are to continue back to Tampa, because Morrey is reliving a past life as Britain’s Poet Laureate, and Bruce has a donkey and is prospecting for gold in Colorado, and we won’t see them again until the next lifetime.
A good time was had by all, but maybe next time, just a weekend at the beach….
During my trip to Cassadaga in a session with a medium I first remembered my own past lives. Two of them were fascinating.
In one I was born in 1868 in the kingdom of Poland, part of the Russian Empire. I had five siblings. My mother died when I was ten. I studied at the clandestine Flying University in Warsaw and later followed my sister, Bronislawa, to Paris where I earned my higher degrees.
I married a French physicist in 1895. Pierre and I, along with our friend Henri, shared the Nobel prize in physics in 1903. Pierre had initially rejected the 1903 Nobel Prize. He discovered radium and polonium with me, Marie Curie, and accepted the award on the condition that my contribution was also recognized, making me the first-ever female Nobel Laureate.
I lost Pierre in a street accident in 1906. Even though I was very shy, I stepped up and took his Physics teaching position at the Sorbonne. I also coined the term “radioactivity” and developed mobile radiography units to provide X-ray service to field hospitals.
I died in 1934, aged 66, at the Sancellemoz Sanatorium in Passy (Haute-Savoie), France, of aplastic anemia likely from exposure to radiation in the course of my scientific research and my radiological work at field hospitals during World War I. I also carried vials of radium with me in my coat pockets. In addition to my Nobel Prizes, I received numerous other honors and tributes, and in 1995 I became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Paris Panthéon.
A miracle cream was launched in Paris in 1933. Billed as a “scientific beauty product,” it promised to improve the healing of cells and tissues. It was called Tho-Radia — after thorium and radium, the radioactive elements it contained. It was part of a line of cosmetics and was touted to activate circulation, firm the tissue, remove grease, remove wrinkles, etc.
The creams didn’t work as advertised, but that didn’t stop Tho-Radia cosmetics from becoming popular. Its full range of products was purported to unleash the benefits of radioactivity, including lipstick and facial powder, as well as ointments, soap, suppositories, razor blades, energy drinks, and even condoms.
In the mid-1920s, radium watches became a style marker — “the iPhones of the age”. Wearing the watches didn’t carry much risk, but the factory workers who made them glow suffered terrible health effects.
My next past life as Wiley Stephens is related in a bizarre way to the Curie story. My parents were working-class people, and my brothers and I all went to work in our teens, leaving our carefree school days behind. I was so happy to secure a job at the American Radium Factory in New Jersey. I was friends with Bessie and Jo Cavallo who dreamed of Hollywood and Egyptian Pyramids.
Applying radioactive paint to the watch dials was a delicate but painstaking task that was considered women’s work. We “radium girls,” as we workers came to be known, were instructed to keep the brushes pointed using our lips. Over time, we started to suffer from a condition called “radium jaw,” as repeatedly ingesting small amounts of radium caused necrosis of our bones.
I met Paul at the factory. He was a supervisor and tall, dark and handsome. He would flirt with me when I clocked in. We soon married and produced two children, but unfortunately I did not get to see them grow up, as I died of radium poisoning when I turned twenty-five. A sad end to my life that was now so happy.
I am the one in the middle. A movie was made about us called “Radium Girls”. It was said our coffins even glowed green.
If a bright side is needed, “X-rays, another form of radiation, and radium were being used in medicine to treat a variety of diseases,” said Paul Frame, a health physicist at the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, in a phone interview. “Radioactivity, when used properly by someone who knew what they were doing, could cure cancer. We still use radioactive sources today, although not radium, to deal with cancer.”
[Speaking of past lives, you were a well-known poet in one of your previous incarnations, and much of that skill has carried over into your current life. You just need to let it out. And we’d love to have you do that for our annual OLLI Connects tribute to poetry in our April issues. If you’d like to sort of ease into your “nearly forgotten but still present talent”, go with a Haiku, but if you feel ambitious and confident, cut loose and share whatever your Muse motivates you to write. Just send it to us at our official address: email@example.com. — Editors]
Jan Vaupel retired from teaching school in California to begin her adventure in Florida and was delighted to discover OLLI-USF. She has enjoyed many cooking classes, especially Italian and Spanish, but her passions are writing and hiking with Gail Parsons. She enrolled in Gail’s classes, including the Exploring Hillsborough County Wildlands and Bird Watching and is now part of the OLLI Hiking SIG. She has also taken creative writing classes and several watercolor classes with Harvey Berman. She is currently in an OLLI writing group led by Marilyn Myerson and called the Imaginative Crew.