1971, mid-February: Letter from Peter to G&H

I’m uncertain of the exact date of this letter. Helen’s birthday was late January, and the Valentine’s Day reference leads me to assume this letter was written sometime in mid-February.

Three pages, handwritten on 3-hole-punched lined paper.

Dear Mother,

Happy Birthday! and enclosed is a physical-plane (belated) manifestation of our best wishes for many happy returns, and toward organic health, both individual and of the environment (what’s left of it)…


Dear Mother and Father,

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’ve held off writing until I knew what I’d be doing this quarter, and I started today——this morning I took these papers with me expecting I might have any notes to make——no notes required——they became this letter…

I went to Napa State (Mental) Hospital today, starting as a volunteer in the Napa Project of Stiles Hall. (the campus YMCA)… (I’ve arranged to get credit for this in my Crim.191F course, as a substitute for teaching computer science at San Quentin, which I was barred from, because I neglected to tell them on my application to work there, about my “life of crime”——that I had been arrested when nineteen years old for (a bottle of beer) “possession”! Yes! the Associated Warden who made the decision wouldn’t give me an appointment to talk with him about it, just “You lied, and we don’t want your kind of people working here… I’ve made up my mind, and nothing will change it…”——I wrote him a letter saying I had really thought that had been expunged from the record when I was twenty-one, and thought that writing down this misdemeanor record would only be confusing… Finally got a letter saying I was still excluded this quarter but if I re-applied for next quarter and made xxx an honest confession of my crime that I would be re-considered… so maybe next quarter…

In the meantime, I’m taking part in the Napa Project* and studying physics (electrostatics, magnetic fields as relativistic effects, and other fantastica)——and dropped two math courses, the functions of a complex variable course because of not having quite enough prerequisites (I could follow the proofs but not make them up myself… yet), and the other because it didn’t say in the catalog that one computer program per week was the homework…

* hopefully, I can help to bring in the Light where for too long, people have tried unsuccessfully to sweep out the darkness…

We were promoted to assistant supervisors in the Shaklee family of distributors——and we’re sending John a money-back-guarantee-(you take the vitamins & the protein powder for a month, xxx and if you don’t feel all-round better you get money back)-plus-bonus-plan-(if you like the supplements, you can continue to buy them from John and get one free for every six you buy——plus extras for referrals to new families…)-form——hope you will take advantage of this you-can’t-lose opportunity to simultaneously benefit yourselves & your health & welfare, and benefit John’s pocketbook & self-esteem as increasingly self-supporting member of society, etc. Must go study now——more later——love——

peter, marcy, jed, joaquin

Written in margin of last page. P.S.——we’ve been getting fine compliments on your “preparation H”, Dad——the concensus: a joyous wine, if, like all Concords, a bit foxy…

Written in margin of first page. P.P.S. Please pass on the three enclosed books to John when you’re through with them…

Some notes:

“physical-plane (belated) manifestation of our best wishes”
I assume this means “birthday present.”
Napa Project
I don’t know what this was. TSOR suggests that there was a program called the Napa Project that evaluated the effectiveness of drug-abuse education, but also suggests that that project didn’t start until 1978, several years after this letter was written.
“one computer program per week”
I’m not sure what Peter’s concern was with writing one program per week; possibly just that it was hard to get enough computer time to do that?
Odd that neither Marcy nor Peter had mentioned Shaklee before now. I don’t know how long they had been involved with it, and I don’t remember how much longer they kept selling it. I think they also tried Amway for a while, later. This was back in the days before Multi-Level Marketing was a widely known thing. I gather that Shaklee has a better reputation than most MLMs, but I suspect that my parents thought it would be a good way to make money (as well as liking its products), and I suspect that they did not in fact make much if any money from it.
“preparation H”
…I have no idea what this was about. I guess just a wine that they had an unfortunate nickname for? I didn’t know what foxy meant in this context until I looked it up.

2 Responses to “1971, mid-February: Letter from Peter to G&H”

  1. 1971, April 17: Letter from Marcy to G&H – Peter, Marcy, Jed, and Jay

    […] previous letter; I guess this means that San Quentin did allow Peter to teach there after […]


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