Saturday, June 28, 2014

Memories of Leo Bradford Leonard by Jean Morley Leonard

It would not be difficult to fill a book with interesting and unusual facts about Leo Bradford Leonard but since that is not possible I will tell just a few tales of the wonderful times our family shared when he resided in Vienna, Austria and we lived in Wiesbaden, West Germany.

It is no exaggeration to say that in those days, 1959 to 1975, if Leo Bradford Leonard was not planning a trip to see us, we were planning a trip to see him for my husband Max G. Leonard backed by our two adventurous boys loved to speed off down the autobahn and what better excuse than having another Leonard living in Europe.

What a paradox it was, enjoying hour after hour of serious study and often living like a hermit yet having such a love of people. Leo was a man who listened to others, he was genuinely interested in others and loved to mingle with the masses. He was as happy passing time with the poorest peasant as he was meeting with the wise and famous. And meet them he did. During his years at the Jung Institute he was a part of a group who met regularly with Dr. Jung to discuss the latest findings on the brain. Others included Pauli (the Nobel Prize winner).

Picture 1: Captain Leo B. Leonard 

One of our favorite pastimes was to plan picnics together, this involved a trip to Grosses, a huge store in Vienna, and it was always an unforgettable event. Leo's mother-in-law, Frau Gangle liked to go along but she and I always stood on the side lines while Leo and Max would make up their minds as to what to buy, tease the sales girls who fed them delicious morsels of sausages from Poland and other continental delicacies including Leo's favorite Tilsiter cheese. After the meat and cheese were purchased off we would go to another part of Grosses to buy our bread. Leo was just as enthusiastic doing bread research as he was doing brain research. He claimed he had found the best, it was a sourdough rye baked in a wood burning oven and it smelled and tasted wonderful. Finally after we'd chosen a good Austrian wine we'd set off laughing, heavily laden with purchases ready to begin our feast. What delicious feasts they were. Who could ever forget the moist warm bread and perhaps Grosses famous smoked chicken and pickles picked from the barrel. Leo's picnics never required any cooks, the women were free to be equals in intellectual discussion, good for the body was never considered quite as important as good for the mind.

Leo was always eager to hear from Max what the latest word was from the academic world. If Max brought along books written by professors who visited his schools, Leo would take one to bed with him and the following day he'd be ready to discuss it in detail having read it throughout and marked certain pages with three different colored pens. We never did decipher his color code but he carried a red pen, a green pen, and a blue pen with him at all times. The problem was when he came to Wiesbaden, our family would borrow books from the base library, and he'd get so involved in study that he would color code them, often making comments in the margins. I was always the one who had to return them to the library.

Picture 2: Leo at the Berghof in Berchtesgaden, circa 1945. 

When Leo died in 1975 we had been studying the Ghost in the Machine so I explained to the head librarian that it had become a family treasure, due to Leo's comments in the margins, so he made a gift of it to us. How precious it seems now to turn to page 335 where Arthur Koestler, one of the world's greatest experts on the human mind, is discussing Aldous Huxley's studies of the mind, and where Leo B. Leonard of Price, Utah has written "my boy you don't understand Huxley" and again on page 336 "you don't understand Huxley or you don't want to," etc. etc. etc." He made lots of comments in the margins of B.F. Skinner's books too.

Skinner, of Harvard, was studied in all of the leading universities at the time and his work was regarded as the gospel truth by many, but Leo claimed "man is more than a rat or a pigeon." Skinner said that "feelings are a fiction" and when a poet writes a poem all he does is manipulate words and logic. Leo, did not agree, he said that the right brain which includes intuition, creativity, and feelings is involved.

My husband and I were in complete agreement with Leo and this fact became even clearer in an experience I had just after Leo died. My husband Max was helping me prepare dinner at the time when I was overwhelmed by feeling, it was certainly not a feeling of sadness, I can only say that it was so strong it could not be ignored. I told Max I had to stop work and find a pen because I needed to write something down. The following verses are what I wrote, although when I recall the feeling and how the words came pouring out , I think it could have been as the great Goethe said about some of his work, "it was not I who wrote."

His Rosental, (Jung's Bollingen in winter).
This hermitage of simple wood and stone;
Where he could live, like Lawrence in the desert,
Without distraction, silent and alone.

His home, this wilderness on windy hillside;
A fortress built to house his discontents,
Enveloped by the silent snows from Russia,
And battered by all nature's elements.

Some simple needs, to warrant his existence,
And wealth enough to give him daily bread;
His sustenance, the food for mind and spirit.
The words he wrote, the many books he read. 

The pleasures of the simple tasks, the challenge;
Hands in the earth and work on bended knees,
Rewarded by the precious gifts of nature,
Roses in bloom, or harvests from burdened trees.

Napoleon in voluntary exile,
Finding his strengths wherever weakness laid;
This he believed, his life was confirmation.
 He was a soldier, this is why he stayed.

Written by Jean Leonard, the sister in law of Leo and wife of Max, 20 May 1991 Singing Hills, California.

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