1971, August 18: Letter from Marcy to G&H

This is a ten-page letter, handwritten on lined three-hole-punch paper.

I was rather startled to see Marcy refer to Peter “babysitting” in this—as far as I know, they were not the sort of couple who considered men taking care of their own kids to be babysitting.

Content warning for an ethnic slur that was not as widely considered problematic in those days; I’ve elided most of the word, but figured worth noting upfront anyway.

Also for a reference (I think?) to her body getting fatter; and descriptions of hoarding-like behavior and other possible mental health issues; and criticism of a messy house.

Dear Grandma & Grandpa

To begin with, we want to thank you again & again for everything, all your kindnesses, big & small.

—And perhaps the most useful thing of all (for the trip, anyway) was leaving all that extraneous junk behind. It was so easy all the rest of the way—everything was accessible. We were still working on making things—& routines—smaller & tighter, keeping the day’s crumbs out of the bed, etc. Not having to hunt for Laurel’s groundcloth for 10 minutes each night at the brink of exhaustion, & like that.

Also, I’m working on the great expansion that came to me while traveling. Lost weight, but gained inches…

The trip was quite lovely. Wyoming was an xxx extremely nice state. One town, Buffalo, had a free campground, with running water, fireplaces, a fishing creek, poison ivy, free swimming pool, and museum (full of war relics and a few bearskins, and some nice rocks) (The rocks at Ginko Petrified Forest in Washington were well worth the stop, too) Wyoming also had Buffalo Bill Dam (1910 & 1922), a truly magnificent sight. (Grand Coulee was an engineering marvel but an esthetic zero)

All along, even outside the Passion Play in S. Dakota (we thought about going to see it, but it looked to be so pure & sterile, Jesus following the Script & the whole thing not a living document so much as a lifeless enactment.

Later discussions with townspeople corroborated xxx this impression we’d recieved from the program and advtsments. Tho it still must be a sight to behold.) all along there were playgrounds, parks, picnic tables, brooks & streams, even Idyllic ones in Indiana, friendly people x (VW repairs outside of Hammond Indiana by Yr Friendly VW Agency—cos no one x else cld tell what was wrong with it x cost us $20 for about twice that amt of repairs, counting welding of hole in muffler that x we’d suffered with since Yellowstone–) until Ohio! Scenery got sparse & bare & cold, & people too. Laurel got rousted (= hassled, I guess) by a Trooper for sleeping out “like a G—.” Word elided by Jed.

Two days later:

My newspaper horoscope said today is the day I should write letters…

The pictures were just lovely. We really appreciate all Paul went through to get them done, & your sending them so fast, too. He’s getting better & better. When he gets settled & has access to a lab, we’d like to put in an order for a few more prints, or at least the negatives to send to a drugstore.

Your tupperware has been magnificent, Grandma. It really is worth its weight in coaldust. (which plastic is made of, gosh, ain’t she clever!) We lost a fork in the tall honey container, tho—it was days before we had the fortitude to pull it out & lick it off.

My mother is in really good shape, all things considered. She’s very glad to have us, of course, & that helps—but generally she can at least walk to the local stores by herself, & manages the house somewhat—tho her kitchen would drive you bats—it drives me bats, and I’m (xxx censored) not even very organized. And she still refuses to part with anything, even newspapers, and still tells stories verbatim 3 or 4 times a day, but still she is becoming much more confident & capable & easier to be with. And she doesn’t take depressants any more (a pill that was supposed to keep her blood pressure down, which had the major side effect of severe psychic depression, & the dr. prescribed it for years!) which has made her feel a lot better about herself. And she watches the news on TV, and is getting interested in the world around xxx her, so I have great hopes for her.

Now, about this check: We told you that we thought the insurance we’d got in Calif would not take effect ’cos we didn’t have our tail light fixed… Well, when we got here, we found that it was in effect, so the check we wrote them for $54 got cashed. We’ll take care of cancelling one or the other policy, but x meantime we had that much less in the bank. But so far no statements have been forwarded to us, so we have no idea whatever of whether anything has bounced, or whether your check cleared & the rent check bounced ^^another $5 fee^^, or we may be okay—who knows? Will you let us know if the one we wrote to you has bounced? We want to get it straight right away, if possible.

So far we’ve done x virtually nothing. The end of the trip was pretty hard, and a heat wave started the day before we got here, so we’ve been sitting around talking a lot, and shopping, and searching for carrots to juice ($8.75 for 25#, imported from (los angeles) California) (eeek! We pay 425 at most, generally 250) (but I think we can find some local ones.) and showing off the kids to the relatives, and talking with my cousin, who’s 20 or 21 and left this morning to cross the country hitchhiking. He’s really lovely—his path may cross David’s x if they get to our Apt in Albany.

Jed is currently trying on a baseball glove “club” belonging to one of the “big” kids up the street “It doesn’t quite reach” he says. He wore his baseball suit about half the way across the country. Hasn’t had it on here yet as it’s been too hot, but today is cooler so he’ll get to put it x on, possibly to go out to dinner tonight. His aunt & uncle got him a new trike (a big one with a 20" wheel) xxx which we can disassemble and take back with us, and Joaquin has a borrowed one from neighbors who keep it for their grandchildren. He can’t reach the pedals yet, but x you should see him move that trike by wiggling & shaking and turning the spokes with his toes! He’s had a talking spurt—he seems to talk for my mother more than for us—he actually said something recogniziable as “grandmom” which made her terribly happy. And “bu” for bus and truck (his new love is trucks, they go past in view of the house & he bounces with joy) and “car”—also a whooshing noise for car. And of course Jed is just a grandparent’s delight, as you both well know. She sits & watches Sesame Street with him every day, it’s all xxx very nice & bucolic –

page nine, time to stop—peter’s been babysitting for a long long time.

Oh yes, thanks for the folding lesson, Grandma. it x was invaluable.

Hope you are having a good vacation (have had by now?) (it seems so long since we were there.) Have you heard from P & L? Did Linda get that job? (in the TV studio?) Give our regards to John (how was his camping trip?) and David (dreamed about him last night) and Paul & Linda and yourselves.

(Grandma, we had a fantasy about importing you to clean this house. Figured with someone to wash the wall & ceilings, the kitchen would take about a week (after about 48 xxx hours of initial dismay) xxx mostly spent finding the space to put things. Of course the really hard thing would be the job of holding my mother off. Enough of such fantasy. We’re doing our best to make it better without horrifying her.)

Well, hope you have been able to read most of this. Take care, love,


p.s. my mother says she’d like to see a picture of you

Sorry to be so long in mailing this—each of us thought the other had mailed it

We got the package, for which many thanks. Still working on learning to fold so neatly. Discovered you’re right about ironed things staying clean longer—WHY?



The cousin who Marcy mentions was presumably her cousin Alan. I don’t know who she meant when she referred to my aunt and uncle; possibly she meant her Aunt Betty and Uncle Iz, seen there in a glamorous photo from the 1930s. (Photos linked from this post are on FB, but visible to non-FB users.)

I don’t know what she meant by “baseball glove ‘club.’”

I apparently really loved that baseball suit for a while. Here’s a photo of me wearing it; I now suspect that that photo and the others from the same day were taken (probably by my uncle Paul) at George and Helen’s place at the start of this trip to Philadelphia.

One Response to “1971, August 18: Letter from Marcy to G&H”

  1. 1971, November 10: Letter from Marcy to G&H – Peter, Marcy, Jed, and Jay

    […] I assume this was the stuff that we had left with George and Helen at the beginning of the trip to Pennsylvania; see Marcy’s August letter from Philadelphia. […]


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