1973, January 15: Letter from Peter and Marcy to G&H

And here’s the conclusion to the debt discussion started a couple of letters ago.

First a handwritten page from Peter; then a handwritten page from Marcy, on the back of Peter’s; then a page-long budget writeup (which I’ll post a photo of but not a full transcription); then another page from Peter.

Content warning for Peter’s use of a racist mock-Japanese phrase at the end of the letter. Feh. I’ve removed that phrase, but I didn’t feel right about not mentioning that it was originally there.

Dear Parents——

Thank you very much for your letter of concern and for your check. We finally got paid on Jan. 11, 29 days after our previous two-week half-monthly paycheck. (Severe anemia of the pocketbook!——We certainly appreciated the transfusion.)

As for our longer-range prospects: a) this is the first time a payroll was ever missed, and (hopefully) the last, because we are now tied in to county mental-health funds (soon 100% funding), and are expecting momentarily a check from California Council on Criminal Justice for $19,000; b) I will get a $5000 raise in 10 weeks, to $700/mo., to $750 within two or three months after that, and a raise to $800 whenever the rest of the staff (now at $750) goes to $800; c) as our wages go up, our obligations (total debts) are going down, as we get them paid off (see enclosed 2-year budget).

We’re using your 5000 to register our car & complete the insurance payment.

All is well. More later. Immense gratitude.

Love, Peter, Marcy, Jed, Joaquin

Switching to Marcy’s handwriting.

Just wanted to add that I think it was extremely fine of you x not only to help us out of that jam but also to put all the love & thought you did into that letter.

Please bear in mind that Peter’s original estimate was somewhat on the negative side because he was very depressed & worried about that late paycheck, & also because I do most of the keeping track of funds & he wasn’t aware of what had already been paid. Also that 1) dental bills are not yet due (another month or two) & 2) will be paid by interest-free loan from my mother.

You were right, we felt very rich at the first month or two of Peter’s job, & did contract for a lot, but not more than we can pay, tho it has been kind of a bring-back to reality. As to the stereo, it was a very long-term investment, (will last many years) and the best compromise possible on quality/price for our needs. And you can’t return used electronic equipment for even half its original value anyway. Anyway, we love it very dearly.

We really do have some tapes almost ready to go—busy with projects that they’ll tell you about.

Many thanks—

Love, M.

The third page is a budget for 1973 and 1974 listing expected income and outflow. The key line is at the end:

So if all goes well, we’ll be comparatively debt-free after two years. HURRAY!!

The final page is a further note from Peter.

As far as the $1100 to Kohlbergs is concerned, they’re not concerned. When we talked with her, she actually cancelled the debt. However, I still feel an obligation to them, and at such time as we may well afford to reimburse them we shall. (Gail has never paid any of this debt to her parents, either, & doesn’t expect to.)

Big day tomorrow: Joaquin to dentist for filling at 8:00; 10:30 performance of puppet-play we wrote, at primary school (classroom)——“Are you a Person or a Puppet?”; again at 1:00; 2:30 perform again at faculty meeting at another primary school; 3:15 again at 2nd faculty meeting; pack up puppets, feed kids (Marcy’s helping w/ narrating) puppetshow——babysitter for kids); then 7:00-10:00 Gestalt-psychodrama group I conduct. 11:00 fall into bed. 10:00 tuesday back to work. then 10:00 Wednesday repeat of puppetshows. ARGH!


P.S. I’m going to go to school! (evenings) taking a computer-science course & ELEMENTARY JAPANESE! Racist mock-Japanese phrase removed by Jed.


“I do most of the keeping track of funds”
I didn’t know that until now. It makes sense—Peter never had any financial sense—but I don’t recall it ever coming up when I was a kid.
“we love [the $300 stereo] very dearly”
I’m kind of surprised about this, too—I know that Peter liked to listen to jazz records and the Beatles, but I don’t remember the stereo being so hugely important to us that it would be worth spending a whole lot of money on it. (Roughly the equivalent of $2,000 in 2022 money, according to an inflation-calculator site.) I wonder if this was the same stereo that we still had when I was in high school, or if that was another one.
“tapes almost ready to go”
These letters include occasional references to mailing audio tapes back and forth; I know that we did that now and then, but unfortunately I don’t think any of them have survived.
“debt-free after two years”
Peter could be very optimistic sometimes. As you’ll see in a couple weeks, this job didn’t last nearly that long.
Peter’s first wife and her parents.
puppet show
There are a few references to puppet shows in these letters, but I don’t think I remember them. I wonder how “Are you a Person or a Puppet?” went over with the students and teachers.
See Wikipedia: Gestalt therapy, psychodrama. As far as I know, Peter was not trained in any kind of therapy, beyond whatever training Awareness House gave their staff.

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