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Baranowski's family lived in an apartment house owned by a robust Russian woman named Mary, who performed tea-leaf readings for people. Baranowski would perform various tasks for her, like taking out the trash, and he'd often stop to listen in on her readings.
He says that one Sunday at church, the priest walked off his pulpit and grabbed Mary, forcing her to leave the church because she was a "fortuneteller."
"I thought Mary was such a nice lady," Baranowski says. "I wondered how she could be as mean as he said."
Shortly after high school graduation, Baranowski got married. A couple of years later, his wife tripped on a toy and fell down the stairs. She suffered serious back pain, and doctors advised that she and Baranowski move to a warm, dry climate. So they headed to Mesa.
Baranowski studied education at Arizona State University, and planned on becoming a teacher. In the mid-'60s, he says he got an offer to work in Washington, D.C., for a U.S. senator whom he mysteriously declines to name. On his way to Washington, he stopped in Chicago, planning to catch a train to see his parents 70 miles away. According to Baranowski, his stop at the train station marked the beginning of a highly improbable series of chance encounters with psychics over the next few days.
He says at the train station he met a man who asked him if he wanted to grab a cup of coffee at the local YMCA . Over coffee, the stranger told Baranowski that he had a message for him, but it required that they go up to the man's room. Baranowski was nervous, but the man promised to leave his door open.
"It turned out to be the most interesting hour I'd spent in my life up to that time," Baranowski says. "The man was a trance-medium. He would go into a deep trance, take a couple of deep breaths, and suddenly he was speaking in a completely different voice.
"He gave me a psychic reading. He told me about my children, my wife, and about things that were going to happen. And that I'd be traveling all over the world, and I'd be talking about a subject that I don't yet know much about."
The morning after his YMCA encounter, Baranowski took a plane to Washington. He says that after only two days working on Capitol Hill, he realized that government work wasn't for him. At the airport, on his way back to Arizona, he says he had a weird exchange with a woman he later realized was psychic Jeanne Dixon.
"She came up to me, and said, 'Oh, I feel like I just have to talk to you,'" he says. "She held out her hand and asked me to put my finger in the palm of her right hand. She gave me a reading. She told me I was going to be traveling all over the world. She said I was going back to Arizona, that I'd be teaching, that I'd be on radio and TV, but that she didn't see me working for the government."
He says at the Chicago airport later that day he met Dutch psychic Peter Hurkos, who stubbornly asked to see his watch, and subsequently did a psychic reading on him. He told Baranowski that he was destined to spend his life flying all over the world.
For the next few years, Baranowski drifted from one odd job to another. He says he worked for the post office for a time, and even played piano-accordion in a dance band called the Redcoats. He also took a variety of classes at ASU and other local colleges.
Baranowski says that, in 1967, he himself acquired psychic abilities. That year, he, his wife and four children were in a car accident in which their vehicle rolled down a 25-foot embankment. All of Baranowski's family members survived, and he says the jolt to his head actually gave him the ability to see into the future.
But much as he had resisted the auras as a child, he says he also wished that his psychic abilities would disappear. "I knew what people were thinking all the time," he says. "I prayed that it would go away. There were three instances when I knew people were going to die, and they did. I didn't want that ability. I couldn't handle it.
"So I spent two and a half days praying at Queen of Peace Church in Mesa. When I left the church to go home and sleep, I woke up with a ringing in my ear. And after that, I wasn't psychic anymore."
Have you ever found yourself doing things to perfection that no one instructed you on how to do? A professional football player who knits and crochets at halftime. Can you imagine, a big bruiser?
-- Frank Baranowski,
"Mysteries Around Us"
Baranowski didn't really figure out what to do with his life until 1972, when he met Virginia Morrow in a Denver coffee shop.
Morrow had earned fame in 1954 when the Denver Postpublished a series of articles detailing her past-life regressions under the guidance of an amateur hypnotist named Morey Bernstein. Morrow said regression had helped her discover that in a previous life she was a 19th-century Irish woman named Bridey Murphy, who had died by falling down a flight of stairs. Fascination with the story had led to a book and movie about Murphy, whose tale was later debunked.