Choosing Parenthood

An Edgar Cayce reading recipient questions the wisdom of bringing a child into a dark and fractured world

Eleanor Ostwald

Thirty-four-year-old Eleanor Zentgraf Ostwald was in crisis. She had always imagined having children, but by May 1942, with her biological clock ticking, with war engulfing all of Europe and Asia, her husband's status under review by the draft board, and with mounting social, financial, and medical uncertainty, she questioned the wisdom of parenthood. Having a family seemed like a foolishly audacious act of insanity in an increasingly hostile and unstable world. What was the "right" thing to do? For insight and counsel, she turned to family friend and confidant Edgar Cayce. What came through in trance reading 457-10 is one of the American Prophet's short but most profound cosmic recitations on the blessings and responsibilities of parenthood.

Eleanor grew up in a large and wealthy family in Staten Island, New York. Front row seated [Left to Right] Ernest Zentgraf [senior], Margaret [middle daughter], Helene R. Zentgraf [mother], to her left standing is Lilian [youngest daughter]. Back row standing [Left to Right] Eleanor [oldest daughter], Philip [oldest son], Ernest [middle son] and Robert [youngest son].

At this point in her life, Eleanor didn't need a psychic to tell her that the wealth and social status she had known in her youth wouldn't be available to her offspring. The granddaughter of the late German-American business tycoon Charles Zentgraf, she had grown up in a Staten Island mansion with 35 rooms, which included a ballroom, library, and music conservatory. She shopped at Tiffany's, whose iconic "Tiffany blue" bags and boxes were produced by her father, Ernest Zentgraf, the CEO of the most exclusive specialty paper and letterhead manufacturer in the US.  She vacationed in the German Alps while visiting her great-aunt's chateau in Bavaria and summered at her family's 800-acre lakeside Catskill Mountains estate. She celebrated her parents' wedding anniversary in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria and worked alongside her philanthropist mother, Helene, to find housing, help educate, and teach English to German refugees displaced by World War I. She never imagined that the privileged lifestyle she had always known could so easily be swept away.

The home where Eleanor grew up, at 400 St. Paul's Avenue, Staten Island, is today a historical landmark.

What was once property owned by the Zentgraf family on Oquaga Lake, in New York's Catskill Mountains, later became the setting for the TV show "Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."

Eleanor had fallen in love with a German refugee who was not unlike many of the young men her mother helped settle on Staten Island. Adolph Ostwald, from Dusseldorf, had aced his German "Abitur," the qualifying test for university admission, and received an advanced degree in mechanical engineering, but was unable to find work in a country devastated by war. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Ernest Ostwald, a tailor by trade and veteran of Germany's ill-fated campaign in Russia, Adolph boarded a steamship bound for New York, desirous of making f new life for himself. Thanks to his higher education he was able to land a prestigious engineering job for the Kreuger Company, in Pennsylvania, manufacturing home air-filtration systems. His employment, however, ended abruptly with Kreuger's suicide in the wake of an embezzlement scandal. Two years later, in 1928, Adolph was living in New York and partnering with his brother in a company producing uniforms for chauffeurs and liverymen. He met Eleanor that September at a German-American friendship party held at the Zentgraf's Catskills estate. The night was magical for both he and Eleanor and, several weeks later,  an invitation was extended for Adolph to visit her family at their Staten Island residence.

Adolph Ostwald, an engineer by training, partnered with his brother in a clothing manufacturing company in Manhatten’s garment district.

The couple was clearly in love. Eleanor's father not only consented to his daughter's wedding, but he helped his future son-in-law expand his clothing business. Edgar Cayce, who routinely gave Eleanor's parents and siblings medical and business readings, put his stamp of approval on the new venture. Cayce also recommended that Eleanor should work alongside her husband and that they should develop a line of clothing for marching bands. Cayce went so far as to provide a name for their company, "Uniforms by Ostwald."

Edgar Cayce not only helped to select the company's name but its product line.

That the Zentgrafs consulted Edgar Cayce was to be expected from an esoterically-minded family that collectively received over 100 readings and whose patriarch, Ernest Zentgraf, was chairman of the board of trustees of Edgar Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment's (ARE).

Helene and Ernest Zentgraf (far left), Edgar and Gertrude Cayce (center), secretary Gladys Davis (far right), and other Cayce family members and friends of the Association for Research and Enlightenment in 1931.

Three of Eleanor's siblings had been successfully treated at the Cayce hospital in Virginia Beach, as had one of the family's employees who had had a near-death experience after falling through the ice on their Catskills estate. Most remarkable were readings for one of Eleanor's younger sisters, Margaret, whose genetic bone deformity was allayed by Cayce health treatments that included her learning to play the harp (healing by vibration!).

Cayce's recommended therapy for Eleanor's sister Margaret was learning to play the harp.

Of Eleanor's mother, Helene, whose love of life, dedication to the family, and generosity was an inspiration to all who knew her, Edgar would pay a most magnanimous compliment: "If I had to choose one woman out of the world to pattern my life after, it would be you."

Edgar Cayce and his secretary Gladys Davis with Eleanor’s mother and siblings. (Left to Right) Robert, Lillian, Edgar, Margaret, Glady, and Helene

Cayce was only one of several psychics upon whom the family bestowed its largess. In addition to the seer from Virginia Beach, Ernest and Helene championed the work of German Mystic, Rudolph Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy and what has become an international network of Waldorf Schools, still active today. In addition to studying Steiner's written works, the family would help to endow what is today the longest-running Steiner-inspired Waldorf school in the US or Canada.

Mystic Rudolf Steiner standing in front of a scale model for the Gotheanum, what would become the headquarters for the Anthroposophical Society

The Zentgraf family also helped support another German mystic, Johannes Greber, a former Catholic priest who received supernatural guidance and whose books, along with Rudolph Steiner's, were much on display in the family's Staten Island library. Among the prized texts was Greber's translation of the New Testament, which was said to have been drawn from an ancient but lost Greek codex that Greber located in the Akashic Records, the same psychic repository which Cayce consulted. What is interesting and unusual to note about Greber and Steiner's work is that Cayce—in trance—gave both mystics his stamp of approval. They were, according to Cayce's source, the real thing.

Former Catholic priest Johannes Greber became a psychic explorer of the Akashic Records.

Many other gifted psychics and spiritualists appearing in the Cayce readings were welcome guests in the Zentgraf and Ostwald homes. Among them was Dr. Emmet Fox, who was arguably the most popular and influential spiritual leader in New York City during the years between the two wars. His weekly "New Thought" healing services held at New York's Hippodrome and later at Carnegie Hall, drew crowds of over 5,000 people. Yet another house guest was renowned Irish-born medium Eileen Garrett, Europe's greatest psychic, who famously delivered a reading for Edgar Cayce in the Zentgraf family's sitting room on the same day that Cayce gave a reading for Garrett. What these pair of readings revealed about our multidimensional universe not only provided unique insight into how and why trance-induced information was made available, but the respective sources of that information.

Irish-born psychic Eileen Garrett (left] was as popular in Europe as Cayce was in the US.

Both Eleanor and her husband Adolph sat in on the Garrett trance sessions as they did a revolving door of lesser-known mediums and spiritualists. Besides Cayce, who inspired Eleanor to study naturopathy in the expectation that she and Adolph would be raising a family, a psychic who played a key role in Eleanor's subsequent parenthood dilemma was Horace Hambling, a famous British expatriate who channeled a 300-year-old Sioux Indian named Moon Trail. Hambling was purportedly so in tune with Moon Trail's spirit that he was described as taking on the facial appearance of a Native American when in trance and often-times lapsed into the Sioux language.

British psychic Horace Hambling channeling Sioux Indian chief Moon Trail

Most relevant to Cayce's subsequent 457-10 parenthood reading, Moon Trail reported seeing two spirits—a young boy and a girl—who hovered around Eleanor during seances and were presumed to be waiting in the wings for her and Adolph to start a family. What's particularly notable is that Cayce, too, saw a spirit child accompanying Eleanor. Edgar had a vision of a golden-haired boy protectively holding her hand and guiding her down the stairs of her family's Staten Island home.

The Zentgraf family kept a large collection of esoteric literature in their Staten Island home library.

Eleanor put off her decision to make a family for twelve years. The delay was a direct result of "Black Friday," when shares on the New York Stock Exchange collapsed in October 1929, precipitating what would become the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in world history. Adolph and Eleanor were on their honeymoon in Havana when clients began canceling their orders, and in the early months of the following year, worked night and day to keep Uniforms By Ostwald from shuttering its doors. Eleanor herself answered phones, took over billing and inventory, and personally inspected each garment before shipping. On many occasions, she would be sewing on buttons or making last-minute stitches on uniforms as a freight-handler was loading them onto a train for shipment to their destination. Adolph worked tirelessly on the shop floor repairing equipment and spinning out ideas on ways to streamline the manufacturing process.

The Uniforms by Ostwald shop floor in New York’s garment district

Eleanor's father, Ernest, was certain that the economic downturn was a correction and that soon conditions would return to normal. Cayce, however, predicted something considerably more impactful. But despite Cayce's dire warning, he counseled Eleanor and Adolph to stay the course and that when the "evil days" passed, they would be stronger because of it. They were to keep working, institute austerity measures, and innovate with the changing times.

Though the Ostwald's financial position became more precarious and the couple moved into ever smaller homes and then a tenement apartment, Cayce's advice proved sound. Producing band uniforms was an ideal business when one-room schoolhouses were being retired in favor of ever larger schools with resources to buy band instruments and uniforms. Musical education would soon become an integral part of the curriculum, and marching bands would be performing at sporting and civic events.

Thanks to Cayce's step-by-step business as well as marital advice, the couple became partners in the truest sense of the word, and their company succeeded in an incremental but spectacular fashion. In this, a century before Velcro, Adolph devised contractable and expandable one-size-fits-all uniforms which became cost-effective savings for high school and college bands. He also developed weather-resistant molded plastic inserts that replaced shellacked cardboard visors and shoulder pads which disintegrated when they got wet. The Ostwald uniforms, buyers discovered, could be worn in the rain. Another breakthrough was a distribution deal that Eleanor made with J.C. Penney. Uniforms By Ostwald had no salesmen nor the overhead associated with them, yet another major cost-savings that kept the company afloat.

Ostwald band uniforms were distributed through J. C. Penney’s department stores

Adolph and Eleanor's dedication and creativity helped their company survive the Great Depression. And indeed, just as Cayce also suggested, band uniforms eclipsed all other sales. Still, there were times so challenging that employees went without salary, and creditors foreclosed on their warehouse with its upstairs apartment living-quarters. Adolph would later remark how Eleanor, who had grown up in a household with servants, met each new challenge with grace and humility, even when it meant moving to a below-ground cockroach-infested tenement apartment and sharing 35-cent meals in the back room of a lower East-Side speak-easy. In one of Adolph’s most humorous stories, he told of climbing the fire escape of their shuttered warehouse and breaking into the upstairs bedroom living quarters to retrieve a fur coat that Eleanor’s mother had lent them.

Ernest Zentgraf, the major shareholder and CEO of the Louis De Jonge Company, had considerably more difficulty adapting to the spiraling economy. He too received Cayce trance advice recommending that he update his company's manufacturing procedures and find other cost-effective ways to consolidate his operations. Still, there is no evidence that he acted on the information. In numerous readings, Cayce detailed exactly what chemicals and solvents were to be used to produce his company's various paper products, how his equipment ought to be overhauled, and what personnel changes needed to be made. Most notably, Cayce provided guidance during what became a proxy war for control of the company and Ernest's removal as CEO.

The Louis De Jonge Company headquarters at 73 Duane Street in Manhattan before its move to Staten Island

In the absence of corporate records, it is impossible today to know if Cayce provided helpful advice. That Ernest and other family members continued to receive personal and business readings after he was removed as CEO, and that Ernest blamed himself and not Cayce for what happened, suggests that he assumed fault. However, other readings, also conducted in 1933, make clear that Cayce's insights into Ernest's foreign business interests left much to be desired. Reading 3976-13 suggested that rumors of a new world war were "propaganda" and that "psychically led" Adolph Hitler would be good for Germany should their new chancellor avoid imperialism. Had Cayce accurately predicted the cataclysm about to unfold Ernest may not have made the decisions he did.

Either Cayce was not tuned in, or Ernest's attitudes in asking the questions made a difference. Regardless, it’s interesting to note that, although Hitler's behavior cannot be interpreted as anything less than reprehensible, the readings referencing Germany's chancellor are not without insight worthy of closer examination. In the most notable, 3976-13, conducted at the Zentgraf's Staten Island home in November 1933, nearly five years before the Nazis marched into Austria, Cayce compares Hitler to the Biblical King Jehu, who had a divine mandate when he started out but then was condemned by God for his excessive zeal and bloodthirstiness in carrying out his mission. Maybe Ernest should have considered the text more carefully.

The family's downward spiral was only just beginning. In a failed effort to shore up one bad investment with another, Ernest lost his personal fortune, and with it, the Staten Island mansion and the Catskill's estate. Equally devastating, as the administrator of his extended family's trust, Ernest lost his siblings' entire savings—the equivalent of 35 million in today's dollars.

Despondent, Ernest decided to take his own life. After making funeral arrangements, he took the family pistol and left for the remote New Jersey pine barrens. Had Edgar Cayce not intervened in some of his most unusual and uplifting trance sessions, this is where Ernest's personal story would reasonably have ended.

Eleanor’s brother Robert launches a search to find their missing father, Ernest

The family counted their blessings that Ernest hadn't taken his own life, but the next tragic chapter in the Zentgraf legacy was already in motion. Rather than accepting financial help from Eleanor and Adolph, Ernest took his wife and three of their children to Nazi Germany, where Helene's family had gifted them a significant inheritance. The only catch was that the family had to give up their US citizenship and that the money they received had to stay in Germany. This wasn't a deal-breaker for the family in February 1938, before the declaration of war, when Ernest and Helene and three of their children made the move, but it became a problem when, later the same year, Hitler's policy preventing German assets from leaving the country became laws preventing Germans themselves from departing the country.

Ernest and Helene Zentgraf in Bavaria, Germany

Eleanor and Adolf had decided not to join the others in Germany. The primary reason, besides overseeing their now thriving company, was because Eleanor's biological clock was ticking. They wanted to raise a family but were undecided whether, given the circumstances, this was a good idea or not.

Desirous as she was to conceive, she feared for the future. In the previous war, German-language newspapers were either run out of business or chose to quietly close their doors, German-language books were burned, and Americans who spoke German were threatened with violence or boycotts.  Her husband's name was Adolph, and their company's name was Uniforms By Ostwald.

"Here we have been fighting all these years to establish ourselves and now when there is a possibility of another dream coming true, this world goes crazy," she wrote Edgar in one of several heartfelt letters.

Eleanor had many other concerns, not the least of which was the fact that half of her family was trapped in Germany where they would likely remain throughout the war years, while family members left behind in the US, including her husband and two brothers, faced being drafted to fight a war that, quite literally, would pit one family member against another. Would her children ever get to meet their grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and if so, what would they know or believe about them?

Adolph Ostwald's draft card

Eleanor, too, wrestled with medical concerns. With the stress of the Great Depression and keeping their company's doors open she had permitted herself to become overweight and worried that more than just her age might prevent her from getting pregnant and carrying a baby to term. Also distressing was her belief that mental illness, what today would be described as a bipolar disorder, ran in the family, and that she might pass a genetic predisposition for mental illness onto her offspring. At least one of her brothers had been hospitalized and a great aunt had committed suicide. So too, Eleanor believed, her father had suffered depression and manic behaviors long before his financial demise and decision to take his own life.

Edgar Cayce seated at the desk in Virginia Beach where he corresponded Eleanor Ostwald and many hundreds of other reading recipients.

Readings conducted for Eleanor and Adolph between 1939 and 1941 (most notably 457-4) reassured her that should she fortify her body with supplements and practice a proper diet and other Cayce-related therapies, neither her age nor weight would be a hindrance to her having a child. Further, although a predisposition for mental illness ran in her family, this was present in the male line and would not be passed to her offspring.

Still, contemplating what might come through in a Cayce reading gave her the chills. "Even though I have absolute faith in the readings… [I am] fearful of the information which might come through," she wrote to Edgar. "Finally, however… I had more time to think of these things, I realized that the information has always been CONSTRUCTIVE. I might as well know the worst and if there was anything to be done about it you would tell me."

Despite her many reservations, she went ahead and asked for a reading, which was conducted in Virginia Beach on May 21, 1942 (see below for the entire text of this reading). Cayce had no trouble entering trance for a reading that volunteered answers to several questions that were on Eleanor's mind but notably, that she hadn’t time to put in a letter.

Edgar Cayce in the “Spook room” in Virginia Beach where he gave trance readings

The substance of what came through in 457-10 can best be summed up in the reading's last paragraph: "For, remember, the soul that is brought into the earth is only lent to thee by the Lord. And the impressions, and that purpose that ye build into that… ye send back to thy Maker in the end."

The message conveyed here and throughout the reading is that the soul which Eleanor and her husband would bring into the world belonged to God, the supreme Creator, and hence it was not their place to determine the circumstances into which that soul would be born. That was God's job. Their responsibility was to care for that soul as they would treat a precious gift.

As the opening paragraph clearly states, Eleanor's task was to make preparations in "body, mind and spirit" for a soul's entrance into the material plane. She would, in essence, be offering herself as a channel. She and Adolph's attitude, or mindset, would create a vibrational field that would attract or draw the attention of a soul, but it was the soul's choice to be born to them.

The next remarkable concept was that she and her husband could influence the kind of person who would be born to them. While she was instructed to "leave… the spiritual aspects [of what is to happen] to God," Cayce also suggested that they "prepare the mental and the physical body, according to the nature, the character of that soul being sought."

Mindful of what she and Adolph and their extended family had been through, Cayce recommended that she study the story of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, from the Old Testament. As described in the First Book of Samuel, Hannah had long desired to have a child but could not conceive and had also suffered many indignities as a result. In a crisis, she prayed for help from God and promised that a son born to her would be dedicated to the Lord. She indeed would give birth, not only to one son but three more sons and two daughters. In so doing, she became a prophetess with the ability to discern God's will.

The message here is that she should not fret over what might be, but put her faith in a higher power. Her task was for her and her husband to summon their courage and make themselves worthy of becoming a channel for the good that a soul could bring to the world.

"Is it right to bring a child into being in a world such as we have today, even though it may never know a normal life but only one of war and killing and anger and hate?" she asked.

Cayce responded by indicating that the mere asking of the question—the doubts she had created in her mind—required self-reflection. She must not doubt God's plan, regardless of the war and all that may come as a result. "If [your worries and concerns are] used as an excuse, if it is used as something to shield self and companion, then it is lost. If it is used as the opportunity, now, for fulfilling the purpose, it is gain. For, what is the first command by the Creator to man? 'Be thou fruitful and multiply.'"

Cayce's reference to God's commandment to be fruitful was not an order to produce as many children as possible but to view parenthood as a unique opportunity to multiply the love and goodness that parents are capable of bringing into the world. Expressing unconditional love is the opportunity that is being presented to them.

Once again in the reading, Cayce suggests that Eleanor look to the story of Hannah, who brought into the world a great leader during a time of challenge and oppression. So, in answer to her question, Cayce is saying that there is never a bad time to nurture new leaders who can foster good in the world.

Next, Cayce says that Eleanor is to ask herself why she wants children. The answer must not be for self-gratification, but to better connect to the Divine, the Creative Forces, and become, as Cayce tells her, "That such shall be a channel of blessings to others."

Cayce goes on to answer questions that are of interest to anyone considering pregnancy and parenthood. The soul does not enter the child at conception, but may enter with his or her first breath, some hours before, or even afterward. This depends on circumstances that are out of the mother's control. The host mother, however, can have a positive influence on the soul by surrounding herself with beauty.

Eleanor also asked about what the child that may be born to her should be named. Horace Hambling, the psychic who told her that two souls were hovering about her, indicated that one of these souls was named Peter. She wondered whether this is the name she should give her child and whether this would make a difference. Cayce says that the child's name is more important to the people giving the name than to the offspring. "Names, to be sure, have their meaning, but as given by the poet, a rose by any other name would be just as beautiful or just as sweet."

Near the end of the reading, Eleanor asked about the vision Cayce had which parallels what Hambling reported. "Is the little boy Mr. Cayce saw, as a vision, with me, still waiting to come as my child?"

"This will depend upon the attitude of the individual," Cayce replied. What she and Adolph hold in their heads and in their hearts, Cayce makes clear, will impact the attraction of the soul that will be born to them. The soul born to them has free will. They are to prepare the way for that soul as best they can.

Cayce had echoed this same advice in the very first reading he had given her, 457-1: "Prepare self. Make way. Be sure that the body-physical, the body-mental, desires that as may make manifest that ideal as is sought to be shown forth through the acts of the individual life, and the body-physical may be very sure there will be attracted to self THAT [what is] desired."

Lastly, Eleanor asks if there is anything besides prayer and meditation which she can do in preparation for receiving this new soul. This is the question that triggers the passage previously quoted that ends the reading. It encouraged the prospective parents to engage in: "the study of various phases of experiences of individuals through their relationship to Creative Forces, and their relationship to their fellow man. For, remember, the soul that is brought into the earth is only lent to thee by the Lord. And the impressions, and that purpose that ye build into that, is that ye send back to thy Maker in the end."

Thus, the reading ended.

Asking about whether to become parents, Eleanor learned that parenting is a creative choice by the parents. The reading freed her from the perspective that becoming a parent was an obligation that arose out of divine law, past-life karma, or predestination. It also freed her from the perspective that becoming a parent would ever be a mistake, even during challenging times. Asking about how to invite a new soul into her life, Eleanor was encouraged to focus on her mental and physical preparation and to leave the choice of the new soul to God.

Echoing the sentiment of many young women who have found inspiration in this reading, the message presented is distinctly non-judgmental. There is no reward or punishment associated with the quality of the parents' thoughts or intentions. Asking about how to develop parenting skills, the reading instead focuses on the same life skills that it encourages all individuals to develop through a focus on their relationship with the “Creative Forces” and with fellow human beings. The reading lovingly offered a sense of both liberation and empowerment to Eleanor and Adolph, allowing them to see themselves, and allowing us to see ourselves, as joyful partners with the spiritual forces in creating the future.

"I have found the readings very wonderful," Eleanor Ostwald wrote to Edgar Cayce in September 1942. (The Ernest referenced in this letter is not her father, Ernest Zentgraf, but her husband’s older brother and business partner, Ernest Ostwald.)

Eleanor would continue to receive medical and spiritual advice from Cayce throughout 1942. She became pregnant that December and delivered a healthy baby girl the following year. While Cayce had told her that names have their meaning, but that a rose by any other name would be just as beautiful or just as sweet, he nevertheless named the child in the first reading that Eleanor and Adolph received for the babe, 3172-1.

Eleanor and her first-born, Eleanor Emily Ostwald, born on August 19, 1943

Eleanor Emily Ostwald would grow up to become a happy and healthy young woman who devoted her life to teaching the handicapped sign language and other communication skills.  It is interesting to note, in this regard, that in her first life reading, conducted 3 days after her birth, Cayce declares her to be "gifted especially in voice and in the use of the feet and hands… For this entity, the ability for accompaniments for the voice, as we find, would be the real accomplishment of the entity. These abilities should bring not only joy and hope to those about the entity but hope and pleasure to the many."

Adolph Ostwald holding Peter, the family's second child, born on August 12, 1947

Peter, a golden-haired child, was born to Eleanor and Adolph four years after his sister. He did not receive a reading because, by this time, Edgar had passed. He, too would be a happy and healthy young man and become an example of good in the world. Today, he is a part-owner and investor in a corporation that produces environmentally responsible water treatment products and green technology.

Eleanor would count her many blessings over 64 years of marriage. Besides the birth of her children and the draft board determining the necessity of her husband serving his country in a civilian capacity, was news at the war's end from her parents and siblings in Germany. Food had been scarce, deprivations had been many, but they had survived the ordeal. Eleanor's mother had taught English as a second language, and her father had obtained work at a bank. Eleanor and Adolph, through their company, arranged sponsorship for the family to return to America and bought them a home in rural Pennsylvania where they opened a nursery school.

Uniforms By Ostwald remained a family business until 1980, employing as many as 500 people and producing upwards of 2,000 garments a week. So successful and highly regarded was their company that they were granted the exclusive contract to produce the uniforms for West Point cadets. Their uniforms were also proudly worn by the "All American Band," a program that brought the best two musicians from each state to march together in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and other high-profile venues. A movie that showcased the family's philanthropic work with young people, "The Boy that Blows a Bugle will never Blow a Safe," was put into development but never reached theaters because producer Jessie Lasky, a fellow Cayce reading recipient and a pioneer founder of Paramount Studios, died before shooting commenced.

The Ostwald family in the 1960s enjoy a sing-a-long. (Left to Right) Eleanor Emily, Adolph, Eleanor, and Peter. (Careful observers will note the bound volumes of Edgar Cayce readings (Individual Reference Files) on the upmost bookshelf on the left.)

One can't credit the Cayce readings for the family's business or marital success. Rather, it was the spirit that Eleanor and Adolph brought to everything they did. This was the conclusion by a popular Miami radio-show talk host who paid tribute to the couple several years before Eleanor and Adolf, in 1993, passed through what Cayce called “God’s other door.” Eleanor was 85, Adolph was 92. Though the radio host had known and interviewed some of the most powerful and influential people of her generation, she chose Eleanor and Adolph, names the public didn't recognize, to honor in this way:

“Long before I knew the Ostwald story, I recognized that Adolph and Eleanor were somehow "special.” A casual conversation with either or both of them always left me wanting to know more about their lives and their family… and once or twice, when they were guests on my radio program, I got some tiny hint that I had only scratched the surface… Certainly, there is wisdom … a vibrancy…. a marvelous and heart-warming adherence to the practical and down-to-earth… and always a twinkle… Now that I know more [about them], I understand what I sensed. It is greatness undefined in words.

The All-American Marching Band, with Uniforms by Ostwald, marching at the Rose Parade, in Pasadena, Ca. at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1967.

Note from the authors: This article was written with the help of Peter and Susie Ostwald, the University of Maryland Library's Special Collections in the Performing Arts, the Staten Island Historical Society, the Broome County Historical Society, and the Edgar Cayce Foundation archives.



Edgar Cayce; Gertrude Cayce, Conductor; Gladys Davis, Steno.


Time of Reading 3:35 to 4:05 P. M. Eastern War Time. New York City.

1. GC: You will have before you the entity, [457], ..., NYC, who seeks a Mental and Spiritual Reading, keeping in mind preparation of the entity's mind and spiritual forces for the creation and best development of a child; answering the questions she has submitted, as I ask them:

2. EC: Yes, we have the body, the entity's mind and body, the desires and purposes and aims.

3. In giving information, or in answering questions respecting mental and spiritual attitudes, all of these should be approached from THIS basis of reasoning, - especially as preparations are made in body, mind and spirit for a soul's entrance into the material plane.

4. While as an individual entity, [457], presents the fact of a body, a mind, a soul - it has been given as a promise, as an opportunity to man through coition, to furnish, to create a channel through which the Creator, God, may give to individuals the opportunity of seeing, experiencing His handiwork.

5. Thus the greater preparation that may be made, in earnest, in truth, in offering self as a channel, is first physical, then the mental attitude; knowing that God, the Creator, will supply that character, that nature may have its course in being and in bringing into material manifestation a soul. For, in being absent from a physical body a soul is in the presence of its Maker.

6. Then, know the attitude of mind of self, of the companion, in creating the opportunity; for it depends upon the state of attitude as to the nature, the character that may be brought into material experience.

7. Leave THEN the spiritual aspects to God. Prepare the mental and the physical body, according to the nature, the character of that soul being sought.

8. The fact that there has been in the experience of this entity and its companion the mind of doubt, because of material needs and because of mental aspects as may have been or might be a heritage physically, has delayed or prevented such activities. Remember, there is an example of such in the Scripture that the entity would do well to study, to analyze; not merely as a historical fact but the attitude not only of Hannah but of those about the entity who doubted the purpose.

9. Then, in that same attitude as that entity may this entity in that way bring those activities as may best endow self, as well as the offspring, to be a messenger, a channel to the glory of God and to the honor of self.

10. Ready for questions.

11. (Q) Is it right to bring a child into being in a world such as we have today, even though it may never know a normal life but only one of war and killing and anger and hate? (A) The doubt as created in the self, from the very asking of such a question, may be answered best in considering the attitude, the conditions which existed in those people's minds and activities at the period given as an example. If that does not answer, then to this entity it cannot be answered.

12. (Q) Should any thought be given to the possibility of draft of the [planned baby's] father [Mr. [412]]? (A) Whether this has the correct attitude, in whether this is to be a duty, an obligation or an opportunity of the father - this, too, must be settled in self's own mind.

13. (Q) Has there been much lost in spiritual development in these past years of absorption in material existence, or was this experience a necessary foundation for that yet to come? (A) It can be MADE such, as an experience needed. If it is used as an excuse, if it is used as something to shield self and companion, then it is lost. If it is used as the opportunity, now, for fulfilling the purpose, it is gain. For, what is the first command by the Creator to man? "Be thou fruitful and multiply." Yet this sets a natural law, a mental law, a spiritual law in motion, according to whether such activity is for the gratification of the flesh, of the mental self, or the fulfilling of a COMPLETE relationship to the Creative Forces.

14. (Q) Should I read any books for my spiritual development besides "A Search for God"? (A) Read the Book of all books - especially Deuteronomy 30, and Samuel - considering especially the attitude of Hannah, the conditions, the circumstances which existed not only as to its relationship to its husband and to other companions, but as to the needs for spiritual awakening in that experience - which exist in the world and the earth today. If the entity can and will so place self, and then studying John 14, 15, 16 and 17 - can ye make yourself as one with Him? These, as combined with the study of the preparation physically, may give the understanding; not as duty but an OPPORTUNITY to be a handmaid of the Lord.

15. (Q) Do thoughts of future mother have any direct effect or influence on soul attracted to be her child? (A) This should be, as ever, left in the hands of the Creator. Prepare the self mentally and physically, and leave that to the Lord; not merely passively but actively, knowing that in the same measure ye mete to others ye mete to thy Maker. Then, what manner of soul are ye attracting?

16. (Q) Does soul enter child at conception or birth or in between? (A) It may at the first moment of breath; it may some hours before birth; it may many hours after birth. This depends upon that condition, that environ surrounding the circumstance.

17. (Q) Are there souls waiting on the other side to come to this world as my children? (A) If the opportunity is offered, they will come.

18. (Q) Is it possible to influence this selection by the mental or spiritual thoughts of the prospective mother? (A) These should be, as indicated, left to the will, the purpose of the Father-God. What do ye seek? That such shall be a channel of blessings to others, or to satisfy or gratify thine own desires, or that ye in thy desire may fulfill the whole purpose HE, thy Maker, may have with thee? Art thou willing to pay the price for such?

19. (Q) While carrying the child do thoughts and impressions have any effect on the child? (A) To be sure. Thus, if surrounded with beauty, the more beauty there may be. Hast thou not read how that when Mary spoke to Elizabeth, the child leaped within the womb?

20. (Q) Do emotions such as fright, excitement, etc., have any effect on the child? (A) Depends upon how much of this goes beyond the real purpose of the individual entity caring for, or carrying, the child.

21. (Q) Is not the mother when carrying a child very close to God? (A) If she puts herself so! If not, it is merely a physical condition. It's a law - universal law, mental AND material. It may be either, or any, or all. Remember, the Lord thy God is One.

22. (Q) What is the meaning of names? I have been told that Martha should be my real name. Is there a reason why? (A) This comes rather as to the minds and purposes of those who give names to their offspring. Names, to be sure, have their meaning, but as given by the poet, a rose by any other name would be just as beautiful or just as sweet. So may such be said of these. Yet, as given by Him, names have their meaning, and these depend upon the purposes when such are bestowed upon an individual entity entering the earth's plane.

Have ye not understood how that in various experiences individuals, as their purposes or attitudes or desires were indicated, had their names henceforth called a complete or full name meaning or indicating the purpose to which the individual entity or soul had been called? So, all of these have their part. They are not ALL, as indicated. For, ALL is one. One is all, but each individual is impressed by the various phases of man's consciousness in materiality. These, as we find, have varying degrees of effect upon the consciousness or the awareness of individuals. For, "My Spirit beareth witness with thy spirit" is complete in itself.

23. (Q) Do names have a spiritual influence on people? (A) As has just been given.

24. (Q) Would it make any difference to me whether called [457] or Martha? (A) Depends upon how the individual associates names with same.

25. (Q) When would it be best to choose a name for the child? (A) When ye have determined as to the purpose to which ye hope, and which ye will, which ye are willing to dedicate same.

26. (Q) Does this have anything to do with the time when soul enters new body? (A) Nothing.

27. (Q) Is the little boy Mr. Cayce saw, as a vision, with me, still waiting to come as my child? (A) This may depend upon the attitude of the individual.

28. (Q) Is there anything besides prayer and meditation which I can do for my spiritual development and for this new soul? (A) As has been outlined, the study of various phases of experiences of individuals through their relationship to Creative Forces, and their relationship to their fellow man.

For, remember, the soul that is brought into the earth is only lent to thee by the Lord. And the impressions, and that purpose that ye build into that, is that ye send back to thy Maker in the end.

29. We are through for the present.