After that May 1973 letter, there’s a big gap before the next dated letters, in November 1973.
There are about nine undated letters that probably come from somewhere around that time, but those are mostly kid art with descriptions, rather than anything substantive. (I’ll probably post those over the next week or two.)
Which is especially disappointing because during that six-month gap, some big changes happened:
- Peter quit his job.
- We may have temporarily moved to our family friend Donna’s house in Woodacre, in Marin County, a bit north of San Francisco. I have no record of this address, but I know that we lived there for a bit, and I feel like this is the only time it could have been—the rest of the sequence of moves is fairly well documented, and I think this is the only six-month gap between letters. I don’t know why we lived there, nor for how long, nor why we left.
- We moved to Santa Rosa, a little further north of San Francisco. (Link is to now-updated map of places we lived. This is the tenth place I had lived in the five and a half years since I was born, assuming that the Woodacre note above is correct.)
- Peter and Marcy bought a house. (I think this is the first time either of them had owned a house.)
- Peter and Marcy started “Hearthlight,” a foster home for (as they phrased it at the time) “mentally and emotionally disturbed teenagers.”
- I started attending an alternative school called Redwood School. (For more on that school, see my blog post from late 2021.)
I have no idea how/why Peter and Marcy decided to start a foster home. It’s clear from the last couple of letters that Peter liked counseling people, but I don’t know what led them to the idea of a foster home in particular, nor why they focused on 12ish-year-old boys (we called them “the teenagers”) (…it never occurred to me until I wrote this post that it’s a little surprising that all of them were boys; I don’t know whether that was intentional), nor why they chose Santa Rosa for the location.
The next substantive letter (which I’ll post in a couple weeks) is from November, and by that time we were ensconced in the new house and two foster kids were living with us. (Edited in June 2022 to add a correction: Turns out the letter I had in mind is really from early 1974, so it’ll still be another couple weeks before I post that one.)
Things changed fast in the Hartman family in those days.
(I’m dating this post as September 1973 in order to make it appear in the right order in the chronology, but I’m writing and posting it on May 29, 2022.)