“You never miss the water ‘till the well runs dry.” We’ve heard that expression all of our lives, haven’t we? This simply means that one of the tricks that life plays on us is that it allows us to take too many things – and people – for granted, and then, after they are gone, it forces us to seriously begin reflecting on how much they really meant to us, and how much we really miss them.
Such is the case with Beverly Ford, the founder and “caretaker” of the Spiral Circle Bookstore for over 41 years. This is a “behind the scenes” look at the Beverly that everyone knew, as well as the other side of the person that few people knew. And these words are being written by the one-who-knows, for I, her husband and faithful companion for over 51 years, am the one person who has shared more time and experiences with her than anyone else on the face of this planet. This is being said, not as one who is bragging about some kind of accomplishment, but rather as one who is humbled and honored by the fact. This is also a statement of qualification as one who is in possession of a multitude of facts and observations.
So, it is under this setting that I will now embark on a journey that will hopefully bring a fuller knowledge and worthy insights about Beverly’s life to the forefront for all to absorb and understand since I was her devoted husband, her best friend, her business partner, her confidant, and as I have discovered since she has crossed over – and unbeknownst to her – I was also her student.
(Affectionately addressed by Beverly as “Sweet William”)
May 3rd, 2020
Beverly Anne Lemmerhirt was born in Slades Corners, Wisconsin, a small town just West of Milwaukee, on January 25th 1929, just as the Great Depression hit the country. Her parents, Roy and Marjorie Lemmerhirt, were immigrants who came over directly from Germany and her father, whom she adored (he affectionately called her “Tootsie”), insisted that the family speak only English since that was the language of their adopted country. Hence, although she was of pure German heritage, she never learned how to speak German.
She grew up on a farm and was exposed to all of the things that farm life typically meant for families during the Depression. She was the second born of five children, with an older sister and a younger brother and sister. Although she disliked living on a farm as a teenager, in later years she would look back and was proud of the life and work ethic that farm living instilled in her children.
The family was Lutheran, and her father and mother were very active in church work. As a result, Beverly was exposed to the strict church teachings that were the Lutheran way of life. During those formative years while experiencing farm life and the patriotism that was typical of WWII, she developed a strong sense of God and Country.
She married very early, right out of high school at age 18, to a young local man (named Orrin Herbert Deuel) whom she had been dating for quite a while. After settling down and starting her life with him, quickly had her firstborn, John, in 1948. Although WWII had wound down a few years earlier, her husband Orrin, not finding any meaningful work locally, decided to join the military and became a pilot in the Army Air Corp (the forerunner to the US Air Force that was yet to come). The next four years brought two more sons into the world, Daniel and James. Meanwhile, the Korean War was winding down (1950-53) and her pilot husband was ordered to be stationed in Japan. Since dependents were allowed, Beverly and her three young sons found themselves enduring a boat trip overseas to be with her husband in Yokohama, Japan in 1953.
After Japan, Captain Deuel was transferred to Ft Sheridan Base near Highwood, IL in 1955. From there, they went to Ft Gordon Base in Augusta, GA in 1957, and remained there until 1958 when they were transferred to Panama in Central America. While in Panama, Capt Deuel was assigned to a special mission in Bolivia, and while there, his plane encountered a mechanical failure while in flight and he was killed in a resulting crash in November of 1960.
At that point, Beverly, age 31, became a military widow with three young sons (8, 10 & 12). Her next move was to quickly return to her home state of Wisconsin, which she did and settled in Lake Geneva, just a few miles from her birthplace in Slades Corners. After enduring those first winter months there in Wisconsin, and under great pressure from her sons (who had just come from the tropical climate of Panama), they mutually decided that the cold climate was something that they simply could not live with, so they made the next move.
Arnold and Ethyl Deuel, Beverly’s in-laws, had a winter home in Montverde, FL which is a small community near Lake Apopka about 25 miles west of Orlando. That became the natural destination for them since the boys’ grandparents would be nearby for part of the year. So the move was made in 1961, and with the helpful advice of Arnold, Beverly used her military insurance money to purchase a small home in the Audubon Park subdivision of Orlando. The location was ideal, since Audubon Park was very near the military base which was then located where the Baldwin Park subdivision is now. There, she would have base privileges as a military widow, which helped them financially during the difficult years that followed.
Quickly discovering that the military widow’s pension that she was receiving would not suffice in the raising of three boys, Beverly got a Beautician’s License and began working in some local salons for the next few years. During this same period, of course, she was still grieving tremendously about the loss of her husband, and was under great stress with raising three teenage boys in a house with no father figure. She naturally began to wonder what was next for her in the future.
Enter “Sweet William”
Being a military wife who had a love of God and Country, Beverly was drawn to organizations that stood for conservative values and America First (and yes, this was decades before President Trump ever came along. However, the more she studied philosophical and spiritual viewpoints, the more her own thought processes changed and grew over time). During the 1960’s the cold war and the communist threat was at its peak, so she ended up joining the then growing John Birch Society, a group that was formed specifically to combat the influence of communism in the U.S. (and that group is still functioning today). She took a great risk in joining this group because it was very controversial, and she had the concern that if the government labeled it as a subversive organization, she might even lose her military pension.
Unbeknownst to her, but of course neatly arranged by Fate, a young Civil Engineer and Reserve Air Force Officer, William Ford (that would be me), also just happened to be interested in the same group. For several weeks, we attended the same meetings at a group leader’s home. And, having noticed Beverly on several occasions (how could I miss her?), I asked the host what that cute little blonde’s name was. The host, a jovial person of Italian descent whose name was Ennio Delisa, said quickly, “Gee, I thought you’d never ask!”. He then provided me with her name and phone number; and that was the beginning of a long and wonderful journey.
The two of us quickly recognized a chemistry that existed between us and the mutual respect that each of us had for the other’s thought processes. Hence, our relationship grew very close in a short period of time. I was just coming out of a quiet divorce and was virtually in limbo. I had previously married a high school music teacher in 1961 who, after we had been married for a relatively short time, told me that she had come to the realization that she did not want to ever have any children (one of those, so NOW you tell me moments). Since this was one of my natural desires, we agreed to part ways amicably. So, in 1963, I was out there searching for a new partner.
In 1964, the Goldwater for President campaign began, and the John Birch Society was fully behind his efforts. Hence, it was natural that Beverly and I would jump right in and started campaigning for him. Not surprisingly, at the same time our relationship also developed very quickly. Beverly was a widow who had not had any meaningful companionship for over four years, and I was a recent divorcee who had been thankfully relieved of a situation that was destined to have an unfavorable outcome. Thus, as our magnetism continued to grow, we also spent the next year having discussions and disagreements about whether or not I was prepared to take on three teenage boys as a family, coupled with the considerable (but natural) objections of my parents, the decision was finally made and we were married in the small chapel of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Audubon Park on Oct 2, 1965. I then moved into Beverly’s home and we began to create our new life together.
In addition to the three boys, we both had a strong desire to have children together, and this was important for Beverly since she was already at age 36 and knew that her childbearing years were running out. It was also a crucial time for Beverly, since she knew that she had a blood type of 0-Negative and I was 0-Positive. Hence, there existed the possibility that a child could be born as a “blue baby” and would have to have a prolonged stay in the hospital for treatment. However, regardless of the presumed obstacles, in December of 1966, Beverly’s first and only daughter, Amy Kay, was born with no problems, and thus began a magnificent life-long bond between mother and daughter that carried through all the way until Beverly’s departure.
Just prior to Amy’s birth, I had to shift into high gear and put on an addition to our cramped two bedroom, one bath house. Fortunately, the expansion was completed just prior to December of 1966 (and the three boys were as happy as we were). The next couple of years were spent raising a new family with all the trials and tribulations that goes with that endeavor. And, at the same time, Beverly was a typical stay-at-home-mom who took the time to pack my lunch for work every day and went out of her way to maintain a happy atmosphere for her three boys as they all integrated into a fresh new family.
During the middle of 1968, even while Beverly was taking contraceptive pills, she discovered that she was pregnant again, proving without a doubt that the pills are not 100% effective. And, at age 39, this proved to be a very difficult pregnancy, so one evening we went out trying to find a way to take her mind off of her physical discomforts. We ended up at what was then known as Eckerd’s Drug store (which was acquired by Rite-Aid Pharmacy and is now long defunct) and began browsing through their book and magazine section. We spotted a book called “A Search for the Truth” by Ruth Montgomery, and since we both were truth seekers, we brought it home. Beverly immediately dug into it and found it so fascinating that she insisted that I read it right away. Then we began to discuss many of the topics, which indeed rang true to both of us, and it was obviously the precise kind of distraction that she was seeking to get her mind off her physical discomfort. In the bibliography section of that book there was a reference to one Edgar Cayce and his remarkable psychic gifts. We then obtained books by and about Cayce and became totally involved in his teachings. This was the cornerstone of the beginnings of the bookstore which was to come into being about seven years later.
Thus in 1969 (just two months before the moon landing) Beverly gave birth to yet another boy, Marcus, who came through with much difficulty. Although not a blue baby, he was born with weak lungs and almost immediately developed pneumonia. After the hospital finally got him stabilized, we were able to take him home where we monitored him very carefully day and night. Thanks to our studies about Cayce, we were led to his readings about castor oil packs, and their beneficial effect on the lungs. We firmly believed that it was the consistent application of those packs that finally stabilized Marcus’s lung condition.
One day, to our surprise, we had noticed an article in the religious section of the local newspaper that a couple who lived nearby in Winter Park was planning to hold a study group to present the teachings of Edgar Cayce (the so called “Sleeping Prophet” of Virginia Beach). This, of course, rang a bell with us right away, so we began attending that group. Very shortly thereafter, the group had grown so large that the sponsors asked us if we would branch off and hold meetings for part of the attendees at our home. We, of course, readily agreed, and for the next several years a Cayce Study Group was held at our home.
One of the main things about the Cayce readings was his gift of being able, through a self-induced trance, to pinpoint various cures for peoples’ illnesses. These cures were traced and verified by many in the medical profession, including the skeptics, who came to recognize Cayce’s wonderful gift. We discovered that there was a store in Virginia Beach (The Heritage Store – now defunct) that specialized in taking the instructions from Cayce’s readings and transforming the recommended ingredients for treatments into products that could be sold to the public. We thought how wonderful it would be if we could bring those products to Orlando, and so the original idea for the Spiral Circle was thus germinated. In 1970 we both took business courses at Florida Tech University (FTU), the forerunner of UCF, in order to prepare us for the retail business world, and it paved the way for a much better understanding of what we were considering entering into.
The Early Beginnings
During the time span from 1970 to 1975, while we were having the Cayce study groups at our home, things were very busy in our lives. We were taking courses at FTU, raising two small children, helping guide the three older boys who were getting used to having young ones in the house, and making plans as to how and where we would be able to launch (and finance) our new store. It all came together on May 15, 1975. After deciding to make the plunge, the original store, which was first called The Sky Mother (a name that was taken from a more descriptive song written by Paramahansa Yogananda) began as a 10x10 booth in a strip mall called the Eastland Bazaar, which was located East of Orlando on the same spot where the Home Depot is today.
Unfortunately, due to some mis-management choices of the newly created mall owners, it only lasted for about six-eight months, so we were forced to relocate early on. We then chose a spot on the second floor area above what was then known as the Brandywine Restaurant on Park Ave in Winter Park. After making yet another move in the Winter Park area, it became apparent that everyone seemingly wanted to set us up with five year open-ended leases, so we quickly concluded that if we were going to continue our little endeavor, we would have to get a place of our own ----- and that is when the Thornton Ave building presented itself to us.
Interestingly enough, that location was discovered by a realtor friend of ours called Georgia von Schiller (whose husband had been a member of our Cayce Study Group) and who also just happened to be a psychic. Hence, she didn’t even ask us whether or not we might be interested in looking at the property, she just announced to us emphatically one day that she had found our new location. It was a building that was previously a residence but was located in an area that had recently been zoned for business. After we first saw the building, we immediately realized that our friend was correct with her insight. So without hesitation and with no regrets, the move was made in 1978. The rest is history.
I was heavily involved in the transition of making the building suitable for converting it into a retail business, and in helping Beverly get set up for her newly relocated venture. As this phase came to a close, I then put full attention on my engineering work at Hughes Supply’s prestressed concrete pole manufacturing plant and proceeded to fully concentrate on the career for which I was trained. However, I remained ever present in the background and ready to help Beverly with the bookkeeping part of her business, and acting as her “Wing Man”, always ready to step in and provide assistance whenever she needed it.
Shortly after we moved into the new shop, Beverly began to notice that she was having some severe hearing loss, and it eventually resulted in her having to wear two rather powerful hearing aids so that she could understand what people were saying, especially her customers. As one could imagine, this was a terrific blow to her pride as a woman who was in touch with the public each day. But in typical fashion and because of her prior beautician’s training, she overcame this by adjusting her hair styles so that they would cover up the hearing aids quite well. She had a unique way of always presenting herself to the public (and even to her own family) as if nothing was wrong, while at the same time she might be personally struggling with pain on the inside physically.
Beverly’s main purpose at the shop was not to sell things (that was just a by-product of being there), but rather to openly share with people things that she had learned from her extensive years of research and study. And much of this was revealed simply by the way she lived her own life on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, she was constantly showing her gratitude for everything that was an influence in her life, no matter how insignificant it may have seemed to others. She would never openly criticize anyone or accuse them of some wrongdoing but would rather talk to them in such a way that they would discover their own shortcomings and hopefully self-correct the situation. When questioned about her unique method of doing things, her answer would be “Well, you just have to learn how to dance with them.” We would later learn that by this she meant that you needed to first get a feel of how the other person was thinking, and then move into their space and slowly bring them around into another thought process. Beverly had a unique way of doing that without being argumentative or making the other person feel inferior in any way.
A very unique situation occurred one day when a new customer came into the shop just to pass some time in between airline flights. He was very outspoken and announced right up front that he was a regional sales manager for a Fortune 500 company, thus laying the groundwork for demanding some respect. Other customers in the shop couldn’t help but overhear his braggadocio attitude and began to roll their eyes with an “oh boy, here’s another one of those” looks. Undaunted, Beverly then began to ask him some questions that baited him to expand even more about the importance of his work and how successful he was with what he had accomplished (best sales manager of the year & so forth). After setting him up, she then asked one single question that left him breathless. She said, “Wow, your accomplishments are very impressive and I’m sure that your company is very proud of you, but meanwhile, tell me what you have done about concentrating on the path that your soul has taken and what your real purpose is here on Planet Earth?” Well, after he recovered from being completely jolted by her question, what followed was a whole new conversation about life and its true purpose for each individual soul. About a half hour later, the gentleman exited the shop with both arms full of books, candles, crystals and a pendulum. He then said to a person at the front door just entering the shop, “Do you see that lady over there? She just happens to be the best salesperson I’ve ever run into, and in my position, I darn sure ought to know!”
Another one of Beverly’s hidden talents was the ability to engage in a meaningful conversation with total strangers, right up front. She would gently ask one or two very pertinent questions, and before you knew it, the other person was revealing their life’s story. There were also countless times when someone would come in with some potentially life changing problems such as divorce, suicide, unexpected pregnancy, etc seeking advice. Although Beverly had strong opinions about these matters, she would never come right out and give advice about what one should or should not do, but would rather help them come to a deeper understanding of their own beliefs by engaging in meaningful conversation about their situation. Beverly believed that each person’s soul knows exactly what to do, but sometimes a person’s mind and personality gets in the way of what course of action should be taken. She strongly believed in Edgar Cayce’s teaching, “Spirit is life, mind is the builder and the physical is the result.”
Many of the things that Beverly brought into the shop were a result of her own experience and research. Night after night, she would fall asleep in her rocking chair while reviewing a new book that would become a potential addition to her inventory of what she would call “New Arrivals”. She also added a product known as Tachyon beads because they had helped her overcome frequent leg cramps that kept her up at nights. She added Bendi massage oil because it was helpful in relieving back pain. Homeopathic remedies were much the same, and of course a full range of Edgar Cayce products. She simply wouldn’t put anything on her shelves that she didn’t personally believe would be a benefit to someone, whether it be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.
Beverly was also an avid student of dream interpretation and studied several books about the subject. She would keep a pencil and paper by her bedside table and would jot down notes about certain dreams when awakened by them. She would then refer to her sources and try to determine what the dream’s personal message was to her.
She also was a great lover of animals and nature, especially cats, from the smallest kitten to the largest tiger (she actively supported wild animal shelters). Both at home and at the shop, there was always a resident cat. However, she would insist that the cat must choose us and not the other way around. Some of the older customers will remember Spiral’s cat names from over the years; beginning with Leadfoot in 1978, and followed by Keta, Nesa, Elizabeth, Rue, Tigger and Smokey. She would also like to jokingly remind people that the ancient Egyptians actually worshipped cats, and that our modern day cats have never forgotten that!
One firm rule about the shop that Beverly adopted early on was that she refused to allow any open conversation about politics. She knew that for the most part, people had very strong political opinions and steadfast beliefs so that no amount of discussion was going to change their minds. Hence, most conversations along those lines would invariably end up with outright arguments, sometimes descending into shouting matches which would ultimately spoil the entire spiritual atmosphere of the shop and its reason for being there. So, if you wished to discuss reincarnation, meditation, Eastern philosophy, astrology, near death experiences, yoga or health products, bring it on ------ otherwise, you needed to take it outside!
The Final Days
Early in June 2016, as a result of a year long struggle with a lung disease known as Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC for short, and for which there was no known antidote or cure), Beverly developed a swelling of her feet and legs, called edema (the cause of which none of us knew), and which gradually progressed upward into her thighs and torso. One medical explanation for this in her case was that it could be due to a congestive heart failure, which meant that the heart was no longer able to pump sufficient blood through her system and the result was the accumulation of fluids in the bloodstream, which settled there without being recirculated. The relief was to apply diuretics which would cause the excess fluid to be discharged as waste.
Shortly after she noticed this swelling, on June 12th, along came the Pulse Night Club massacre, which visibly shook Beverly up quite a bit. She immediately ordered 200 small booklets called Grieving from a supplier in Tampa to be delivered overnight. After they arrived, she asked me to drive her over to the LGBT Center on Mills Ave where she proceeded to hand over the entire box to one of the people gathered there and asked him to simply give them out to anyone who would like one.
Then on July 15th, the pain in her legs was getting so severe that she finally consented to my insistence that we go over to the Centra-Care walk-in clinic. There, the doctor said that she needed to visit a testing lab to determine the real cause of the swelling before they would recommend a treatment (since there could be several causes of this condition), and only then would they be able to properly treat it. Meanwhile, they could tightly wrap up her legs to try to contain the swelling somewhat. While a young nurse was doing this wrapping process, Beverly, in her typical fashion, engages her in a conversation wherein it was revealed that the nurse was having several personal difficulties. After assessing the situation, Beverly tells her that she has a new book that could help her understand the problems. The name of the book was called Buddhist Boot Camp, by Timber Hawkeye and as soon as we got home, she asked me to go by the shop, pick up a copy of the book and then deliver it to the nurse at the clinic (at no charge, of course).
The reason for mentioning the two preceding anecdotes is to illustrate the thought process of the real Beverly. Here she was, obviously on the soul level knowing that she was within some 60 days of crossing over to the Other Side and was still thinking first and foremost about other people and what she could do to help them.
The pain in her legs and torso became increasingly so severe that on Monday, August 1st, she called her daughter (who lived in Salt Lake City) and tearfully said, “Amy, I need you to come home now.” Amy knew exactly what that meant and when she arrived, we immediately put Beverly in the hospital (the same one in which Amy and Marcus were born) and by early Friday morning, August 5th, she had made her transition, surrounded by her loving family.
Beverly’s departure was not so much the ending of a phase but rather the celebration of a life extraordinarily well lived. On the Sunday following her passing, a group was gathered at the Spiral Circle wherein everyone expressed their innermost feelings about Beverly and how many lives were touched by her --- as a wife, mother, friend, successful shop owner, confidant and as both a teacher and student of life.
According to her wishes, her ashes were placed into the environment she loved, accompanied by a small private ceremony. Now, this parting thought: The gift that Beverly leaves behind is a spiritual well whose water will never run dry.
So that’s the Beverly that I knew ---- and now you know the rest of the story.
Aka, Beverly’s “Sweet William”