Clueless at the LightWhat would others say about my influence on them?
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Barie Fez-BarringtenÃ¢s Testimony
Ã¢BarikoÃ¢ (as his grandmother would call him) grew up in one of New York City's boroughs called the Bronx. Both his father and mother were New Yorkers where his father's parents came from the Mediterranean's Greek Island of Rhodes while his mother's parents were from Austria. His father did very well in his own business, yet they lived in a notoriously bad section of Morrisania called the "East Bronx" which later would be made famous by a movie called Ã¢Fort ApacheÃ¢. It was not that his family could not afford to live somewhere else but they could never come to a mutual agreement to relocate.
There were no drugs or drinking in his home; but, there also was no harmony or peace; Jesus was missing. Because Barie had an urban childhood love of pop music, movies and radio, he still can recite most soap box radio commercials, radio themes, and stories. His muti-cultural neighborhoods, friends and family made him perfect for GodÃ¢s work in foreign lands.
As a very little boy, he recalls that before sunrise he would leave his ground floor apartment to walk around the quiet New York city streets; exploring , searching, and, perhaps, looking for some thing he knew was missing in his life. Later in his school years, his English teacher, John McGiver noticed his quest for wisdom, and, gave him an opportunity to learn Shakespearean English preparing Barie to easily read and understand the bibleÃ¢s King James version. Normally, this would have been hard to read for a little boy from the Bronx yet Barie could not stop reading for in his heart he knew that he would find what he sought.
Even so, Barie did not know the Holy Spirit, but, apparently, the Holy Spirit knew that Barie was "hyper active" and nightly suffered from nightmares so that when he was about six years of age, one night God sent Barie an angel who appeared in his bed room. Barie was frightened, yet he listened to the angelÃ¢s soft voice; and, when the angel left, he ran to his parentÃ¢s bedroom to explain what happened. They both welcomed him, but did not understand the significance of this event. His parents never really understood their oldest son's hunger for spiritual knowledge and education.
They definitely had no idea about his creativity, energy, and imagination. But God, his heavenly father, understood the needs of His child. And, so, he sent an angel with a word of His knowledge to the boy. After the angel had left, Barie's mind revealed a vision, which he could only understand as his soul's grown-up person. A person who has been watching him ever since and assuring him that all was well.
Because Barie loved swimming at the "YMCA" he easily passed the American Red Cross senior lifeguard exam and later was a favorite assistant lifeguard at the Ã¢YÃ¢ and Shore haven beach club at the BronxÃ¢s [email protected] Point. While he lived in one neighborhood he lived a Tom Sawyer lifestyle exploring graveyards, sawdust mills, riding on the backs of street cars, digging fox holes and building his own apartment out of orange crates and blankets within the sun porch of his parents front room.
The presence of the Holy Spirit in Barie's life helped him as a little boy to survive the brutality dispensed by the children living in his neighborhoods. Daily he'd suffer individual and gang-related beatings, fights, and torment on his way to and from school. He refused not to belong to such street gangs. The violence, ugliness, and sin they advocated was repugnant to Barie. In another neighborhood they lived, on Halloween gangs would throw dogs and cats off the roofs of the tenements and one Halloween two warring armies of gangs marched with knives, clubs and pitch forks from both ends of his block to met in front of his tenement building for a massacre of epic proportion. Nightly there were the sounds of sirens and gunshots. As soon as he arrived home, he'd slip into his own creative world of radio broadcasting, art and music. One his favorite programs was the Ã¢Greatest Stories Ever ToldÃ¢ which dramatized various bible stories.
He was nine years old when he completed a remarkable watercolor painting inspired by DebussyÃ¢s Ã¢Daphne and Chloe". It was a scene of a little boy standing on rocky seashore in a stormy night holding high a lantern to signal a sailing ship at sea. Many thoughts ran through his mind as he created the painting. Did he think to save the ship from coming too close to the dangerous stony cliffs, or, did he signal the ship to "rescue" him. Perhaps, it was a bit of both. He did not know of Jesus Christ, yet already then, in his heart he knew that he needed to be "saved"; and, in turn, he yearned to save others. He could well understand person's who were persecuted, abused, and disabled. His mother often noted how he'd favor the lone and rejected. A profile of his friends consisted of handicapped, mentally @!ed, obese, poor, disenfranchised and lonely children. Because he believed in the goodness in all people, he befriended some of the bullies and gang-leaders leading them away form their dysfunctional way of viewing themselves and the world. Some told him that he was the most decent person they ever knew in their lives. Barie knew he was on a mission.
Still, at that young age, he ventured out, without his parents but sometimes with his little friends to either Manhattan or Brooklyn, to attend concerts or violin concertos played by such artists as Yehudi Menuin. With his first earnings for working at various jobs, he bought recordings of classical music. And, with most of his money, he opened a saving account at a neighborhood branch of the "Dollar Savings Bank"; the bank and school unanimously voted him as the class' banker responsible for weekly collections and deposits. Because he was the bankÃ¢s very first customer, he received many gifts and was Ã¢best friendsÃ¢ with the bankÃ¢s manager.
Yet, he did all that on his own, for his parents never developed an interest (or perhaps an understanding) for these kinds of things. Later on, for his high school, he was its' band's tuba player. And, at home, he designed stage settings for story scenes and his puppet shows. He did that to give joy to his little brother; and, whoever else would look at his miniature creations. Barie was a communicator who loved to entertain, and relate. He found his muse at an early age.
The family finally moved to a better neighborhood where Barie had other kinds of friends. He also has memories of spending family events and holidays with his innumerable cousins. The many cousins came from his father's nine brothers and two sisters; and, his mother's two sisters and three brothers. His many ants and uncles liked him, but he was truly loved by his grand mother who affectionately called him "Bariko", the bible name for barie; together they sang and danced to Greek music and she cooked the great Greek dishes, which he still loves so much.
When he was fourteen years old, he went to work. Soon he became quite independent. When he decided to go to college and did not accept the offer from his father to join the family business he was on his own to work his way through Pratt Institute as carpenter, drape hanger, matre'd'hotel, renderer, glass etcher, decorator; and, Good Humor ice cream , magazines, and construction services salesman.
Also, during that time, he founded Pratt Institute's radio station and he became a licensed radio broadcaster.
When he graduated Pratt, he won the first prize for his portfolio to be employed by a top New York interior design firm. Later despite, not yet being an architect, he worked as a designer for famous architectural firms such as Edward Durrel Stone and Morris Lapidus, his drawings were used by them in books about their award winning designs and office practices.
He saved his money, and, several years later traveled extensively throughout Europe. It was during this trip that he created hundreds of pen and ink sketches of 72 cities. There he observed the culture and the architecture of most of the important cities. It was a very beneficial experience and two years later, he moved to New Haven Connecticut, to earn his masterÃ¢s degree in architecture at Yale University.
Shortly before he left New York, he met his future wife, Christina who had studied fine arts at Columbia University, and, was already represented by art galleries in Manhattan's East Fifty Seventh Street and another on Madison Avenue.
Christina was born in Leipzig, Germany, which was a city known for its music and culture and played its part during the time of the reformation of Martin Luther; and, more recently, the fall of communism. Christina was confirmed in the same Lutheran church that Johan Sebastian Bach was cantor. Leipzig was also the home of Luther, Handel, Wagner, Mendelssohn, Goethe, Nitche and many more who worked in and around Leipzig.
After the war, Christina began to study theology at Leipzig University. Soon the communist closed that department and Christina had to leave her home and flee to the west. Fortunate for Barie, she decided to continue her studies in New York and when they met, they immediately found they had much in common. She was the first person with whom he could discuss God and spiritual issues concerning him since childhood. They married in New Haven 1966.
At Yale, to the wonder of his fellow students, he had already his own drafting business and, his wife created and welded heavy artistic metal trees, which she sold at a gallery on New York's Madison Avenue. Their studies, work and their happiness of being together kept them from getting too involved in the hippie culture of the sixties including Woodstock because they were not interested in mass events with drugs and alcohol.
With Drs. Paul Weiss and Charles Moore as his mentors Barie created a lecture services at Yale called Ã¢Architecture, The Making of MetaphorsÃ¢ which was published in Ã¢Main Currents in Modern ThoughtÃ¢ and later became the subject of many monographs published in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia , U. S. of A., England, Turkey and Finland.
Even when they did not go to church, they knew the presence of God in their lives, which became apparent when Barie graduated. It was February and in new Haven it was bitter cold so they suddenly decided not to return to New York nor to peruse a career in Alaska but to go and spend a year or two in Puerto Rico where it was warm and sunny. Quickly they put their belongings into storage, and within a few days, they flew on the midnight plane to San Juan. They had only the addresses of the president of the Yale club and a manager of Morris Lapidus architectural offices that was just finishing the design of the El Conquistador but like children, they had faith. They believed that when they get there, all would be well; he Lord did not disappoint them.
They arrived in Puerto Rico at four a .m. and waited in an all-night cafe for a civilized hour to call the Yale clubÃ¢s president, John Franciscus at his Condado real estate office. Because he happened to be a realtor, by nightfall, he had found a well designed and constructed condominium overlooking San JuanÃ¢s Miramar Bay. While they were in his office, he reminded them over and over again how crazy they were to come in the middle of the high season to Puerto Rico with out preparation when there is absolutely no room available anywhere. But God found a wonderful place. The apartment already had a bed, dining table and a sofa and most importantly a telephone. For them it seemed like heaven but for most of the people who learned to know them, they claimed it was a miracle.
Obeying the quickening of the Holy Spirit, within a few days Barie found a great opportunity working as Junior Partner in the biggest architecture and engineering firm in Puerto Rico. During all that time, the Lord was blessing both of them. One day while helping some Peace Corps people in La Pearle, a famous slum in San Juan, Barie met pastor Bergen from the Grace English Lutheran church. This prompted him from then on to go regularly to church and soon due to the encouragement of Christina became active in church activities. Pastor Bergen put him in charge of his church refurbishing project. To cut the costs, Barie was blessed to get many donations from the local merchants for that project. All seamed to go well until pastor Bergen, that wonderful man of God, suffered a brain hemorrhage and died while working on the roof of the church building. Barie was greatly discouraged in his new faith. How can that happen? As if this was not enough, shortly after that tragedy, BarieÃ¢s senior partner, a good Catholic, who truly loved the Lord died when he was hit by a bus. This made his other senior partner, Elloy Ruiz, worried about his own health and so Elloy decided to close the business. What a blow, Barie felt the pain of the loss of these two wonderful men and now he thought his career, as he saw it, was wiped out.
Where was the benefits of his new religion, he wondered. It was after PastorÃ¢s untimely death and at the encouragement of Christina and personal invitation of the bishop that the acting pastor of Grace English Lutheran Church in Santurce baptized Barie.
Just before leaving Puerto Rico, Raphael Corrada, the head of the Department of Education contracted with Barie to make an island wide plan of all the public libraries and the sister-in-law of his deceased partner invited him to design a very fashionable womenÃ¢s boutique in the Condado. Barie had already designed many building in Puerto Rico including the El Mundo towers, Ron Rico bottling plant, a vocational high school in Cayey and a police station in Santurce. In the midst of all of this, they made cameo appearance in TV commercials and major movies such as Ã¢StilettoÃ¢. BarieÃ¢s work and the pop art of their apartment were published in some of the local newspapers.
Yet they were greatly discouraged and returned to New York.
In New York, he worked part-time as assistant professor at his old school, Pratt institute. They produced two of the first Earth Day events, the latter of which resulted in U- Thant declaring Earth Day an International holiday. With the help of his wife, friends and some students, he transformed a badly neglected four thousand square foot loft on East 65 Street of the upper eastside of Manhattan into a great residence, architectural office, studio and teaching space. With this facility, Barie and Christina founded a nonprofit organization called (L. M. E.) Ã¢Laboratories for Metaphoric Environments"
where they invited high school children from Harlem and other parts of the city to design, draw, learn construction and see slides of outstanding buildings of important cities. In addition, they encouraged them to go into the design and construction business. Also, they taught them how to repair or remodel their own home, for which they all had a desperate need. To fund these projects and programs they asked several organizations and the Lutheran Church for support. There was little response. Rather, the Lutheran church asked Barie to design a program to simulate what Pastor Bergin and he did in Puerto Rico, which was to organize the congregation to help one another to remodel each otherÃ¢s habitat. Out of this and other inventive proposals came Ã¢Habitat for HumanityÃ¢ and other design/construction programs for the poor and disenfranchised.
In that time of active involvement toward social welfare of children in Harlem, and teaching at Pratt Institute, the City of New York rewarded the office several large projects. Then in the middle of designing and planning, the City of New York announced, it can not pay for the work done because at that time the city was contemplating bankruptcy. At that stage of his career, Barie had no resources to wait for future payments or changes in the cityÃ¢s financial situation. And once again, he was on full stop. He had to admit that in his creative excitement he had neglected God and made business and career the most important part of his life.
The circumstances in New York City in the early seventies were the reasons Barie closed up shop and moved to Tennessee. There he was hired as a chief architect to develop the "real estate holdingsÃ¢ of a large insurance company.
Again, he had great hopes for the future in his profession. In trust, he bought a lovely house for him and his wife, but within nine months after his wife arrived with the furniture disaster struck again. Because of the oil embargo and the shortage of fuel, the northern marketÃ¢s potential buyers upon which the company depended immediately cancelled their visits. Because the companyÃ¢s margin was over extended it lost many of its licensees to sell insurance in many states and had to liquidate its real estate assets, close the real estate division and soon the whole company filled for bankrupsy protection under chapter 11.
Again, his professional career was interrupted. Soon he found the little town of Jackson had little work for an architect in his former capacity. He had no answer. It was very difficult. It was the first time that he was without a job for over a month. And the first time that he realized how little he had control over his own destiny. Regularly, Barie and Christina attended the Lutheran church to pray and find peace by surrendering all to God. At this time, Barie also created a collection of pen and ink drawings called Ã¢Sheba-Land and exhibited water color and humorous pen and ink drawings at many Tennessee art fairs and galleries in Memphis and Jackson. Some business men even commissioned Barie to design some residences, offices and factories.
And then, just when they thought they would loose the house, a call came from the Gulf Oil Real Estate Development Company (GOREDCO). The company needed a project manager to build several large buildings for their headquarters in Houston and as God willed, they chose Barie.
Now, he thought he understood God. He let him go through all the job changes in order to be experienced enough to be chosen for this position. This was the best position he could ever expect. As a grade code 17, he was told the next promotion would make him a vice president of one of the top fortune 500 companies, the Gulf Oil Corporation. It appeared there were many prosperous years ahead for him. He worked hard. They joined all the right clubs. Christina pursued her fine art career and was active in several charitable organizations. And once more in all those very worldly activities where they had little time for God except for Christina who had an unforgettable Holy Spirit experience just before she came to Tennessee (a story in its own) and did watch both the "700 Club" and "PTL" programs on television and later wrote a book called the Ã¢Holy Spirit and IÃ¢.
The years went by quickly. And then, once again Barie was out of a job. The Gulf Oil Corporation lost its oilfields in Kuwait had to close its doors. No mater how much he tried to find a job based on his years of outstanding professional experience his effort sending out two thousand resumes to all possible corporations, universities and architectural firms did not get one positive response. For him it was the end. Only his wifeÃ¢s encouragement and her steadfastness made his life bearable. Plus, Gulf Oil provided him with an outplacement service and huge stipend to help them over this long dry period.
The light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be his real estate license and part time teaching position at the University of Houston. For him it was always very satisfying to help young people to expand their minds. Under his guidance, his students explored the future with NASAÃ¢s Astronaut, Joe Allen who visited his class. Barie also taught a course as the architect as real estate developer and helped one student actually develop plans to create HoustonÃ¢s Chinatown. In other classes, they designed and built space stations, and did other creative explorations in a course called Ã¢the futureÃ¢. Because of his accomplishments at Gulf and his success teaching at University of Houston, he was offered a professorship by Texas A