In 1972 I had the amazing good fortune of discovering Wilbur Hot Springs, internationally recognized, since 1865, for its natural medicinal waters. Since my first trip to California in the summer of 1967, and my life-changing experience at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, I left my position teaching psychology at the University of Michigan and was on the look-out for a hot springs in which to form a therapeutic community. Wilbur was up for sale. With all the money I had to my name, I bought Wilbur in 1972 and began the process of building a Health Sanctuary…a safe place for people to focus on their mental and physical health and well-being.
I invited my parents to fly out from the east coast and visit Wilbur. My father, George Miller, was a dental surgeon and US Army Colonel. My mother, Evelyn Miller, was a teacher who taught underprivileged children in the slums of New York City. When they arrived at Wilbur Hot Springs in October 1972 they were shocked to see a chaotic wreck which my Dad referred to as “a dump”. They thought I had made a huge mistake. But, then, they got into Wilbur’s medicinal waters… [break to read more here]
But, then, they got into Wilbur’s medicine water and their attitudes immediately changed. In two days my mother’s arthritis was so improved that she was playing the piano and singing in the main dining room. From that time on George and Evelyn lived at Wilbur for a month every year.
Those early days at Wilbur were filled with clean up and building projects. Massive amounts of debris were taken away or buried. During those early years at Wilbur I led group psychotherapy seminars at Wilbur under the auspices of Esalen. Most of the seminars were for artists who paid their tuition by working for Wilbur or by trading their art works.
In 1975, my partner and best friend, Kathleen Lawson, soon changed to Kathleen de Wilbur, gave birth to Sarana. We drove to Woodland Memorial Hospital for the birth and a few days later, we brought Sarana home to Wilbur. We lived in the Red House at the time. In Sarana’s room, there were 20 exotic baby chicks from Murray McMurray. Having no electricity at Wilbur we used kerosene lamps to cook by at night, to read, and for the incubator for the chicks! It would be years before we had solar power, phones and UPS delivery up our 5 mile dirt road. But as they say, those were the good ole days!
Tune in next month for Little Wilbur vs. Big Oil: the first environmental battle we waged when Sunedco wanted to drill on Wilbur’s borders to get at our geothermal water…