1971, March 7: Letter from Marcy to G&H

Two-page handwritten letter on 3-hole-punch lined paper.

The date at the top says “March 7,” and I decided at some point that this was written in 1972. But it refers to a Time article that was published in January of 1971, and it talks about having become Shaklee “Assistant Supervisors,” which Peter mentioned in an early-1971 letter. So I think I must have mis-guessed about the year; I now think this was 1971, not 1972.

March 7

Dear Grandma & Grandpa—

first off—: HAPPY BIRTHDAY,


and many happy returns, etc.—does that really mean “may you get lots of presents”—? I guess it’s more of “may this day return, and happily, every year”—so some of that, too. (what?) (what?? what what?)

Oh and I did resolve to write legibly… I shall try.

Tomoro I am taking Jed to a play group, have been trying to do it for weeks but so much is happening all the time. Being Editor of the Villager is a big heavy job, lots of time, diminishing rewards, except the Villager itself, a lovely & gratifying price paid for all the effort. I guess.

Reading Time’s feature on prisons—it’s well worth looking up. (Jan 18, 1971.)

Hope you like the Shaklee cosmetics, Grandpa. In each case use only the tiniest bit—or maybe a little less. 1/4" maximum is the length of the ribbon of dentifrice. xxx The booklet tells you how to care for dentures, too. The xxx aftershave is really nice because the “aroma” goes away soon and you don’t smell like you’ve been to a perfumery for breakfast. They both come in larger sizes (“available from your local Shaklee dealers)—We have become Assistant Supervisors, which means very little in terms of our behavior, but more responsibility & slightly xxx larger bonus checks. It’s all because we signed up some really hotshot salesmen—one, rather, so far, who found others…

What can I say about Jed’s painting—? It speaks for itself—!

The pictures were taken shortly before Joaquins birthday…

Never did thank you for the Valentine package. (The phone call following was so short & such a surprise…) The underwear was just right. The flannel I have not used yet—thinking about a simple stuffed toy or something… It seems to be mending & sewing jobs that are a neglected necessity—tho they feel like a luxury with that magnificent creature that came at Christmas!

Ah yes, and we got a washing machine. Made by Penneys, 3rd hand, for $50—it’s a really good sturdy noisy and altogether useful critter. Tho it drains into the kitchen sink, which sometimes doesn’t drain. (only when I’m not there!) resulting in interesting visits from neighbors, maintenance men, etc…

I’m going to stop this letter now (a friend says my handwriting is quite pretty—too bad she can’t read it) so it can call itself finished, (not because it is, as it really isn’t) (how was that again?) & get their for your birthday. of which have a

Happy(.) Hurray!

Margin note written by Peter: P.S.—Hope you’ll find any of the enclosed of interest, & that you’ll enjoy a very happy birthday, Pop!

love from P., M., J. & J.


George’s birthday was March 17, 1912, so if this letter was written in 1971, then George was about to turn 59.
The neighborhood newsletter that Marcy was editing, as mentioned in her August, 1970 letter.
Time magazine’s cover story for its January 18, 1971 issue was “The Law: The Shame of the Prisons.” Quote from near the beginning of the article: “Public concern is rooted in the paradox that Americans have never been so fearful of rising crime, yet never so ready to challenge the institutions that try to cope with it. […] a growing number of citizens view prisons as a new symbol of unreason, another sign that too much in America has gone wrong.” The article ends by suggesting that 1971 might be “the year when something may finally get done” about American prisons. From a vantage point fifty years later, that makes me sad.
For more about the shameful history of the American prison system, see Vera Institute’s “Reimagining Prison” report, especially the American History, Race, and Prison section.
“Jed’s painting”
I have some of Jay’s and my art from the time, but haven’t yet figured out when or how to post it. Will get around to that sooner or later.
“that magnificent creature that came at Christmas”
Maybe George and Helen gave Marcy and Peter a sewing machine? Not sure.
“maintenance men”
At the time, I thought of maintenance men as a fixed phrase—it wasn’t parseable, it was just the term that meant the people who came and did repairs in the apartment complex.
“my handwriting is quite pretty—too bad she can’t read it”
I continue to be surprised and a little confused by Marcy’s repeated criticism of the legibility of her handwriting. I find it very legible; usually only about one or two words per letter that I have any trouble reading. But then again, it was presumably one of the two main examples of handwriting that I saw as a kid, so I may have had some advantages in reading it.

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