This letter is nearly a month after the previous one. I suspect that at some point during that gap, Marcy must have told her parents she was pregnant, given the casual tone of her mention of it here.
I did some research on the background for this letter. For example, the “Six Day School” that she mentions is something that I remember my parents mentioning, but I didn't know much about it. It turns out, according to Wikipedia, that “It was a school that prepared students for survival in the midst of Armageddon through map and compass reading, survival in the wilderness and occult studies,” founded by James Neil Hollingworth (1933-1996), a.k.a. Ambrose Hollingworth Redmoon, “a beatnik, hippie, writer, and former manager of the psychedelic folk rock bands Quicksilver Messenger Service and Ace of Cups,” otherwise best known for having written the line “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear.”
For more on Hollingworth and the Six Day School, see:
- Chicago Tribune article.
- The Aquarian Age Astrologers.
- Weird Ways of Witchcraft (“the Six-Day School in Sonoma, California, composed mostly of Berkeley drop-outs who study mysticism, diet, pacifism, and witchcraft”).
Anyway, all that is just backstory for one throwaway phrase in this letter: the Six Day School people apparently pointed Marcy and Peter to people who wanted to start a school in Mendocino, and that’s how Marcy became part of the Caspar Community School. About which more anon.
In this letter, unlike the other letters, I'm including Marcy’s page numbers, because they’re amusing. (Also because they exist; most of the other letters are at most two pages long, and only rarely have page numbers.)
Saturday night H'lo.....just indulging in my favorite activity of getting all kinds of papers and junk into some semblance of order preparatory to sitting down and writing a whole bunch of letters; finding all kinds of interesting things. Like some clippings I've been wanting to send you, which I'd put in one of those very safe places that I never find again; like a ton of incense, which is duly using itself up; like some old letters I'd really been going to answer x; like a whole bunch of things we can use for the school that I knew I was going to be able to use some day (ah, the vindication of an inveterate pack rat!).....Peter has went to the city for a day so I have the time and space for such things---it's really tiny in here, and impossible to put anything into order when anyone else is in the room. We're saved by having and elevated bed (on platform about 3 1/2 feet high, built by previous tenant who had a very neurotic dog that would otherwise have smothered him nightly) with lots of storage space beneath. So. Not to imply above that writing this letter was part of said activity, but just that that's what I'd been doing and where my head is as I begin.....which I'd done yesterday just as one of my little kids and his little brother and another friend (the xxxxx latter more x like our age) showed up to have dinner, and went stark staring out of my mind trying to type with a kid in the WHY stage around....just the thought of it drives me to error. Finally ripped the page out and gave up........the "one of my little kids" phrase is an indicator of the changes I've been sliding in and out of in the past two weeks as the school got started....Now it's under way, and I'm a teacher again, and perhaps somewhat the better at it after nearly a year's vacation. Much more relaxed and easier and looser; but then, so is the school.............Actually, the only connection the Six Day School has xx withthis one is that they are the people who first turned me on to the idea that the people up here were trying to start a school, so we came up here with that in mind. This is a community school (it's called the Caspar Community School, tho it's in Mendocino. Caspar is a very small rural community 6 miles north of here, where most of the kids live, and especially where live the people under whose impetus it got started.) in that we're trying to involve partents and other people in the community who are interested in working with kids. It's hard, as we've been concentrating on academic stuff, which parents aren't too super good ad at working with, but we're making plans to branch out into trips and big projects and suchlike events. Problems now include: l)No Home. We're using a building that's quite large, but meant for living in. It used to be a carpenters shop, then a pottery barn, then a home, and now a school. I'ts big, and cold, and the people who lived there aren't fully moved so their stuff is there. All kinds of projects to rent a school (unused) from the local school board and similar things have fallen through. Right now our main hope is to raise enough money (grants applied for; goodwil from the few rich community members hoped for) to buy or be given a few acres of land with good drainage and fertile soil, and build our own school house and teachers residence, perhaps eventually xxxx raise and grow enough of our own food to be self-sufficient. Probably such buildings would be geodesic domes (a very groovy new kind of building, made easily and incredibly cheaply (like a few hundred dollars for a super big one, auditorium size) of wood and heavy plastic, earthquake, rain and snow proof (no guarantee about floods; you can worry for us if you like.....), heatable, coolable, expandable, easy to light and clean and maintain.....there's a whole town of them in Colorado, called Drop City. One of the men who started it is currently living at Longreach, the ranch in Cloverdale where we got married. building a duck dome and a goat dome and a chicken dome and possilbly one for rabbits and several for people....) 2wo But then the reason that someone hasn't come through with land or a building already is the nature of projects around here. Things tend to start off with a bang and ploop along for a while gaily, then fall off or fall over or collpase or peter out, or kind of melt slowly like a candle in the sun. There have been many such in the past few years; one of the fathers of one of the chickies was enumerating them: a mustard field half full of tiny potatoes; a monthly paper that comes out twice a year; an art gallery that's open about once a week and never sells anything; a Fourth of July pie baking contest that xx had 4 pies (I was in on that and baked one of them); he forgot to mention a glass-blowing shop that got dis-assembeled for repairs and never got back together, 'cos that's his own personal lack of success. So no one wants to xxx sink a lot of bread or land into a project that might be successful for a while and then take a year or so to die.....Somehow, I can't help thinking this one is going to work. Partly because we've all been so surprised that it's worked so far. Bertha (the other fulltime teacher) and I have both been sort of half making plans x to do xxxx other things as soon as this fails, which we expected it to do in the first two weeks, and are so surprised and delighted that we've pretty much decided to make it work from here on out.-----end of problem #1. Problem the second is that we can only take kids from 4 1/2 to not-yet-eight, till we get incorporated and are then subject to the inspections and official rigor and red tape that will keep us out of the building we're using. So at the moment we have ten kids in that age range, and 4 hours, 4 days a week, to work out learning to read , write, and xxxxx cipher (chiper? ciper? cipersh? anyway, do math) with that number of kids, all at different levels, each with a full set of different needs and demands and circumstances. Public school, being so regimented, is really easy: all the kids learn the same stuff at the same time, like it or no, ready or not, do or die. What a stupid mess; but how much easier for the stupid teachers. end of problems two and three. Nuff of that. Oh, except that of course the school has no funds at all, so neither Bertha nor I get paid anything. In tangibles. Tho if we need money we can borrow it from people who are lending it to the school till it raises some money. Which we are doing this coming weekend at a rummage sale, and monthly thereafter at dances for the local teenyboppers. So far, we've done okay; Peter has a steady job for a few months, fairly flexible hours, working for a local architect who's renovating a house (a beautiful, beautiful house! incredibly grand) 26 miles north of here in Westport. Low pay, boring work (painting and carpentry; which may be fine for painters and carpenters, but Peter is a welder), costs a dollar in gas each day for transportation (did I tell you? (guess not) that we have a car: a Chevrolet station wagon, 1958, bright red, in beautiful shape, easy to drive ('cept it's so damn big I can't ever back it up without hitting something or another) and very roomy. with a mattress in back we could live in it if we're ever evicted or when camping or when the house burns down or somethong.) I hope all the lists of problems don't sound negative to you. Just the fact that they're few and small enough to talk about makes it a very positive scene; plus the between-the-lines factor that everything is very beautiful and hopeful and looking like it will work xxxxx soon and somehow. The kids are lovely and the school is tremendous and it really looks like I might be going to have a baby (April or May) and we are comfortable and happy and full of enough things to do and think about and work with to keep us that way. Plans to live elsewhere or perhaps at the Sonoma ranch where the 6-day-school is and suchlike have given way before the vast impetus of the school here. Peter will still be commuting to Sonoma to teach a math class to x adults once a week. You ask about a degree, which I fail to understand. What is needed to teach anything is knowledge and interest and the ability to spark other minds. Degrees are so institutions can check up on you and retain some measure of control over xxx whom they allow to teach in their institutions. Nothing to do with ability or knowledge at all, just with salaries and prestige and self-righteousness and pomposity and that kind of crap. Oh, hell, it's hayfever season again. I could use some more ambodryls (a bottle ) and Peter has been taking plimacen if it's convenient to send either, twould be appreciated. 3ree Look up some stuff about natural childbirth, if you at all care about how I'm going to have my baby. It's really interesting even though you're all through with it. You could try the library or planned parenthood or the La Leche league or the Natural Childbirth Foundation (or some such similar name) in the phone book or the library or anything .....but if you don't care to, you'll hear x very little more about it from me. There's a book called "Thank You, Dr. Lamaze" that's supposed to be quite good, though I haven't read it yet. If you run into anything interesting let me know; I'm hardly a fund of information at all, and don't exepect to be ever more than decently and adequately informed, so probably you'll find out a lot of things I haven't encountered. and PLEASE do not ask me why I do not want anaesthetics and operating rooms and lots of x fusses and nonsense; see if you can figure it out. Have to go start on my homework (we're producing our own readers and workbooks) and put up some sourdough bread or there won't be any bread tomorrow, and write some more letters and read some of my kids' books so I'll know what I'm sticking them with, and finish xx listening to the Bach B-minor mass (which is an extremely fine thing to do of a Saturday night) and find a recipe for pickled beets and go to SEELP, or whaterver it is ...... regards to all...... (Peter went to San Francisco to see some people and go to a Wobblies meeting --which is kind of a Thing up here--this one is the regional meeting for California, expected to have about 7 or 9 people there; there are about 20 local wobblies 'cos the cat who organized them locally is kind of an assiduous nut....anyway, but he says to say hello and all that.) [handwritten: Much love, Marcia]
Postmark: Sep 26, 1967, Mendocino, CA. Handwritten: “Rec’d this 9/30.” Also: “Sent Ambodryl + Plimisin to them on 10/6 — air mail.”
Attached to this letter was an article by Senator J. William Fulbright, “Distortions on the War,” condensed from his book The Arrogance of Power, and published in the San Francisco Chronicle, July 27, 1967. Also a column by Charles McCabe: “Of Wowsers and Hippies,” also from the Chronicle, July 11, 1967.