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A Vacation With the Fillmores

Hi Friends -

Here is great read about a youth-filled eighty-six year-old boy sizzling with enthusiasm while visiting his childhood home — and the woman who loved him dearly.

While all the attention is given to Charles, the inspiring person in this story is Cora Fillmore. Her contribution to Unity and her loving relationship with Charles is much underrated.

I have more to share about Cora, which will come out soon. And then she will appear where she rightfully belongs on this website — in the gallery of people who have greatly contributed to Unity.

In the quietness of your own mind, sit back and enjoy A Vacation With the Fillmores.

Mark Hicks

A Vacation With the Fillmores

A Vacation With the Fillmores Map
Published in 1973 January Unity Magazine

One fine day in the early part of July 1940, Charles and Cora Fillmore, my wife, Ethel, and I were having lunch together at the Unity Inn cafeteria in Kansas City. We happened to be talking about vacations when Charles asked Ethel and me if we would like to accompany them on a vacation trip they were planning. We would share expenses; I would do the driving, and Charles would pay for the gasoline. Of course, we were delighted to go, and we spent a long time planning where we would like to travel. We finally decided that our main objective would be to visit Charles' birthplace in St. Cloud, Minnesota. We planned a circuitous and interesting road to travel there and back to Kansas City.

Our itinerary was as follows: First we would go to Pueblo, Colorado, to visit some of Cora's relatives; then to Leadville and Cripple Creek, where Charles spent some years in the mining business; north to Salt Lake City and the Mormon settlement; on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Grand Teton mountains, and Yellowstone National Park. From Yellowstone we would travel east through the Black Hills and the Badlands of South Dakota. We would visit to Mt. Rushmore, and then turn northeast to St. Cloud.

So it was that in the early morning hours of July 29, 1940, we were loading the car with our luggage, including a sizable ice chest full of vegetables and other food products. Charles and Cora both had fixed ideas about what was good to eat and drink. Cora was a nutritionist and knew how to plan and prepare properly balanced meals. Both the Fillmores were vegetarians, but Charles included fish in his diet, as he felt that to be a needed food value for himself.

We had great fun along the way, deciding what we were going to eat and drink, sometimes at Cora's expense — she had very strict ideas about what was best to be taken into the body, especially where Charles was concerned. For example, Charles liked Coca Cola very much, but Cora did not feel that it was a proper drink for him.

Frequently when we would stop for refreshments, Charles would take Ethel's arm and they would march off to find a soda fountain where they could purchase Coca Cola and ice cream. Cora would make suggestions to buy or to do something else, trying to distract Charles and Ethel from their goal of Coke and ice cream. Rarely was she successful. Finally we would give in, follow them, and order ice cream. Cora would laugh and say, "We must satisfy the little boy in him."

Cora had a special brew that she made, called "alfalfa tea." She was delighted whenever we would all settle for her drink. Before drinking it, Charles would say, "We must humor Cora." Once when we were driving past a field of alfalfa, Charles said, "L. E., why don't you stop the car and let Cora out to graze a while?" He knew she was eager to gather a few alfalfa leaves.

The first part of our journey took us through the wheat-growing section of Kansas to Pueblo, Colorado, where Cora's relatives lived. We had a nice visit with them; Charles was particularly fascinated to learn from them of a singular way of obtaining desired items for the home. They were very interested in the radio quiz shows that were popular in those days, and they had won an amazing number of prizes.

A Vacation With the Fillmores Map

From Pueblo we traveled to Manitou, Colorado, and the Garden of the Gods. There we visited a small Indian settlement, where Charles met the chief of the group. They found much to talk about, and finally agreed to have a picture taken, both with lifted tomahawks, as if in battle.

We continued our journey to Cripple Creek and Leadville. Charles told us many fascinating stories about the time he had spent there in the mining business. He told us how he had driven a horse-drawn wagon through the mountains, sometimes having to unload the wagon and take it apart in order to get it around a sharp curve or a deep hole along the route. He told of sleeping under the wagon in all kinds of weather, of the hardships he encountered and the challenging adventures. He remembered some trails and roads he had traveled, and marveled at the change and the improvement.

From Leadville we traveled north through the mountains to Utah. As we drove through the mountains, occasionally Charles would burst into song: "She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes ... She'll be driving six white horses when she comes ..." He would lapse into silence, then come forth with a bit of wisdom, seemingly as old as the mountains we were passing through. In many ways he was like a little boy in his excitement, curiosity, and wonderment. Whenever we drew near a lookout area he wanted to stop the car, get out, and look across the mountain range. He would lean over the railing and look down to the foot of the mountain we're to the stream of water a thousand or two thousand feet below. Cora was ever cautioning him to watch his step. Once as we were rounding a particularly sharp curve in the mountain, Cora, who was sitting in the back seat, could not see the road ahead. To her there appeared to be nothing but a great drop in front of the car. She said to me in a rather anxious voice, "Mr. Meyer, does the road go on?" (Cora was a very proper person and hesitant to use first names. She would occasionally call me "L.E.," though occasionally it was "Mr. Meyer." However during the whole trip we took with them, I never heard her call her husband by his first name; she always called him "Mr. Fillmore.")

Ethel felt a great sense of responsibility and having Charles with us in the car, as he was president and head of Unity School with its worldwide outreach. Sometimes her concern was expressed in such a way that Charles became aware of her feelings of responsibility. Once he said to her, with a twinkle in his eye: "Now, Ethel, do not be anxious about me. God is looking after me, and I am looking after Cora, and all is well."

We stopped in Salt Lake City to visit the Mormon community. We were impressed by the cleanliness and orderliness of the city, and it was easy to feel it's distinct and unique atmosphere. Charles was especially impressed at The Mormon Tabernacle, built without hammer or nails and having virtually perfect acoustics. We learned many interesting things about the Mormons history and faith, and they in turn were interested in learning of Unity from one of its founders. Charles taught his students to exalt Christ and all — his favorite affirmation was, "The mystery hidden for ages and generations, but now made manifest ... Christ in you, the hope of glory" — and it was evident from talking with these good people that differences in worship are not really important. We have more in common than we have differences, the most important thing being the "one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. "

A Vacation With the Fillmores Map

From Salt Lake City we continued north to Jackson hole, at the foot of the grand Teton mountains. The Grand Tetons are beautiful, awe-inspiring mountains, seeming to soar up forever. We were struck dumb by their glory, until Charles recalled the verse from Psalms: "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."

We visited the sights around Jackson Hole, including a large herd of buffalo on a protected range. We spent the night in a tourist court at the foot of the Grand Tetons. The housing units were arranged around a large rectangular area that had been cleared. In the center of the space was a huge pile of deer and elk antlers, for these animals were common to the area. We stood in front of these antlers to have our pictures taken for the photo album of our trip.

Jackson Hole is near Yellowstone National Park, which we visited next. In the park we saw many animals, mostly moose and bear, some with their young. We watched the chances other persons were taking in order to get close to the bear cubs, and soon decided it was wiser to remain in the car. Charles was as enthusiastic and excited as a child to see the animals, the Cascade and Canyon Falls, and the famous geyser Old Faithful. We continued to take photographs along the way, and later we enjoyed sharing them with friends and co-workers at Unity.

We left the park by the Cody, Wyoming, exit and spent the night there. While we were there, the area experienced a severe dust storm. The wind whirled madly, and Cora, Ethel, and I got dust and sand all over us — in our eyes and ears and mouths, and on our clothing. Charles, however, stationed a chair in the open doorway and thoroughly enjoyed the whole affair. He did not get a speck of dust on him, nor any sand in his eyes, ears, or mouth. After the storm had passed, he looked as if he had just stepped from a bath. Needless to say, we were all amazed!

That evening Charles delighted in retelling some stories about Buffalo Bill and William Cody. Charles was quite fond of Western stories and movies. He probably would have gone to see a Western movie every night, if there had been one nearby. It was almost as if he was reliving a Western adventure of his own. He was very aware of this style of life that belonged to the early settlers.

From Cody we traveled east to the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota. We visited Devils Tower National Park, with its namesake tower of solid rock. Charles remarked that he could see why the rock formation was so named along with the Badlands, for the black boulders, craters, boiling-mud holes, and other disorderly arrangements of nature appeared as if the Devil had had a hand in their creation.

Looking up high in the mountains to Mt. Rushmore, we saw the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt being carved out of the granite. It was certainly an awesome site, and Charles as always looked to the forces of Mind behind it. "The heavens are telling the glory of God," he quoted from the Psalms, "and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; get their voice goes out to all the earth, in their words to the end of the world."

All along the way, we ate our meals outside when we could, by following streams of water, in parks, whatever there seemed to be a good place to stop. Often Cora would ask Charles what he would like to eat, and he was always very definite in his answer. "I want a New England boiled dinner," he would say; or maybe, "I would like a bowl of soup." For a man small in physical stature, he had a large appetite. He handled his food well, except on rare occasions when he would have a slight case of indigestion. I remember one time in Kansas City when the Fillmore's lived in an apartment adjoining our radio department; Charles had overeaten and was experiencing some discomfort. Without his knowledge, Cora called me and asked if I would come over and have a prayer with them. Of course I went right over, and after I had been there a few minutes, Cora said, "Mr. Fillmore, why don't you go in and lie down have Mr. Meyer say a prayer for you." Charles chuckled and said: "I would be glad to have L.E. pray with us, but why should I lie down when I am trying to demonstrate health? I will sit up, and we will pray." This he did, and in a very short while he was feeling quite comfortable. In many instances throughout his life his great faith hastened his healing.

A Vacation With the Fillmores Map

We moved swiftly on our journey after leaving the Black Hills, for we were eager to get to Charles' birthplace in St. Cloud, Minnesota. We finally arrived as near the exact spot where Charles had been born as he was able to determine. The Sauk River ran close by; Charles used to fish and swim there when he was a boy, and that was where he injured his leg while skating one winter. After the injury and following complications, he was told that he would never reach the age of thirty years, but Charles was too full of life to settle for that. At the age of 94, he was asking his co-workers to join with him in affirming: "I fairly sizzle with zeal and enthusiasm and I spring forth with a mighty faith to do the things that ought to be done by me." Though occasionally his body seemed not to keep up with his spirit, he had a boundless zest for life and living; he was interested in both of of the things of this world and the things of the kingdom of heaven. Though Charles was eighty-six when we took our vacation together, his spirit was the most youthful of all. His interest and his energy remained at a high pitch throughout the journey.

After we visited Charles' birthplace, we were ready to return to Kansas City, and we did so without delay. On the way home, Charles told us some of his boyhood experiences, one of which occurred while he was still a baby. The family home was located in an area inhabited by Indians. Once an Indian brave appeared suddenly, took the baby Charles from his mother's arms, and disappeared with him. The Indian kept the child all day and returned him, unharmed, in the evening. Charles thought he must have been used in some way in one of their rituals or ceremonies.

Charles was a wonderful traveling companion. He found something interesting and enjoyable in whatever we did, and he shared his special delights with us. We felt privileged in seeing a side of Charles Fillmore that not many of his admirers and students were able to witness as closely and fully as we did.

Ethel and I are convinced that Cora had much to do in extending the length of Charles' stay on earth in his body. She watched over him faithfully. She watched carefully what he ate and drank. She was his nutritionist, nurse, and secretary, as well as his wife and companion.

Though Ethel and I were associated with Charles Fillmore for twenty-one years, we felt our vacation with him helped us to see Charles as a man in tune with heaven and earth. He had his feet on the ground, but kept his head in heaven. He was a humble, childlike individual in many ways, yet sure and positive in his convictions — a well-rounded, balanced, human-divine being.

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