HARRY BALMER



In regards to THIRTY MINUTES TO ENLIGHTENMENT the following was received by the Wanderling through his MySpace email from a person who answers under the screen name No:


SUBJECT: Just looking around

BODY: and I found the "Thirty Minutes To Enlightenment".

Well, it belongs to my grandfather, Harry Balmer.

My dad has the original copy straight from the typewriter. In fact its sitting on my desk right now.

Just thought you might find this interesting.

SIGNED: NO



HARRY BALMER
December 6, 1996 - TELLURIDE DAILY PLANET

Former Telluride resident Balmer dies


EDITORS NOTE: Harry Balmer, a Telluride resident in the 1970s, reportedly passed away recently in Roslyn, Washington. Reports say he died of a heart attack while barely escaping from his pizza parlor storefront, which was burning to the ground. That storefront was seen weekly on CBS’s ‘Northern Exposure,’ which was filmed in Roslyn.


Balmer lived in Telluride with wife Nan, and several children, some of which became excellent skiers. His welding shop was located at the present site of Baked in Telluride. Fall Creek resident Ed Werner, a close personal friend of Balmer’s, has written of his fond recollections:


I believe I first met Harry down at the old Flour Garden — a local breakfast spot during Telluride’s “Early Days.” Every morning he would be holding court, talking philosophy and Buddhism.

Harry was an imposing figure — featuring a long beard which he fingered to a point when talking. He reminded me of a beneficent Viking, a biker, but as gentle as a lamb. He was an “in your face” kind of guy, effervescent with the enthusiasm of one experiencing the joy of enlightenment. He liked to prod his listeners’ attention by poking one finger into your chest.

I recall that finger being a stub. The fact is, he had your attention simply by standing there.

Harry was primarily an artist educated at Temple; he was a welder by trade. I hired him to fabricate a weathervane for the tower of the Wilcox house, later demolished to make way for the Salem house on upper Oak Street. This salvaged object now graces my roof and points the way, as did Harry.

When I moved to Telluride in 1977, most of the residents were single, or in loosely confederated couples. Parenthood and family were certainly on the far horizon. Harry was a “dad,” and one really got a sense of a loving, accepting family when visiting their compact home on the left side of Baked in Telluride. It took “great love” to be a family in that little space.

I could visit the Balmers and feel I had visited “mom” and “dad.”

The walls of their home were covered with his works of art. Bits of paper on a field of color suggested to me a trail strewn with autumn leaves. (Life and art merged seamlessly.)

Being a father came naturally, being the center of attention through his discourses seemed more of an effort.

Unpretentious, he shouldered responsibility with no apparent effort.

Waking today, we mentioned to each other, “This is a rat race.”

A Zen proverb goes, “I labor every day, and struggle to keep it going. How do I avoid all of this?” The answer: “You get up, you eat your food, you do your job. This is correct action.”

Coming empty-handed, leaving empty-handed, Harry gave a lot the early flavor of Telluride, yet gained little. Like a bay leaf in soup, he gave a distinctive uniqueness to that early town, yet he pulled out of town with little more than he brought.

I kept loosely in touch with Harry and Nan over the years. Just yesterday in our kitchen we brought up again his tenets of “Values, Morals and Ethics,” and awareness of the problems of the world.

So, I have known and loved Harry nearly 20 years. What have I gained these many years? The morning sun rises, children eating breakfast. “School bus in 15 minutes.” “Eat your breakfast.”

Harry, you were a good man.

Ed Werner


SEE:
THIRTY MINUTES TO ENLIGHTENMENT



Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.


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