1974, January 22: Letter from Peter to G&H

Four-page handwritten letter, on lined but not three-hole-punched paper.

Content warning for mention of a stereotype about Black people, sigh. (But if I’m reading it right, Peter seems to be disagreeing with that stereotype? I think.)

Also content warning for another claim that “the more we give, the more we get” (and related ideas).

Jan. 22, 1974

Hi folks——

I was sorry to hear about your hassles sending the organ——having had years of experience as shipping clerk I appreciate the superior service of UPS——it’s funny, I always think of them when shipping commercial things, like Shaklee products, but hardly ever think of them when sending gifts to friends——maybe because they don’t handle letters, only parcels. At any rate, we enjoy the organ more every day: I bought a couple of music books, rock & jazz, and practice songs from them. The other budding organists in the house might be inspired to learn to read musical notation by this, because there’re no numbers in these... I’d very much enjoy x listening to a tape of some of your repertoire; no matter what style you played, to me it would always be “pop music” (groan...).

It was heartwarming to read of your phil-anthropic (people-loving) work with the “free-store” at Christmastime. I know that you both know the secret of being happy: to make other people happy ... and your gracious generousity and people-to-people social work have always inspired me & enhanced my love for you. I only wish more people knew this open secret, that the more we give, the more we get (“what goes around comes around...”)——it’s like sitting in a bathtub: if you try to pull the water to you it goes around & past you & piles up at the ends, away from you; but if you push it away, it curves around & comes right back to you ... also taught by the Master Jesus: “to those who have much more shall be given, but to those who have little, even the little they have shall be taken away”: if I act & think in a spirit of abundance, the cornucopaeia-universe spills its riches on me; but if I think & act in a miserly, complaining (Yiddish: “kvetching”) manner, the universe withdraws its energies, & I am left with nothing.

Note in margin of page: P.S. Apropos of nothing, have you ever seen the movie “Slaughterhouse Five”? It is one of the very best, most life-affirming movies I’ve ever seen, and I hope that if you ever get a chance, you would see it...

We’re glad you liked the “Hearthlight“ brochure——we’re very pleased with it, and just this morning we got our first “bite” on this “bait”——a nice social worker from San Mateo called up & said he thought he might have one boy for us: one with emotional problems like, expressing how angry he is, all the while a big smile’s on his face. Sounds challenging.

Re sleeping bags: we won’t need any until, at the earliest, spring vacation, and probably until summer. (Also, two hitchhikers left one in our car——I didn’t discover it until two days later, so there is no way to return it to them.)

We’re tentatively planning to come North (maybe climb Mt. Ranier?) this summer, so maybe we can save you postage on things you wanted to give us. Jed has a carom board (got it for fifth b’day), and I’m not sure if we’ll be able to trust our charges with the mallets & heavy balls of a croquet set x (some of them might, in a caveman mood, see them as clubs & missiles, instruments of mayhem: but we’ll see...), but the rhythm toys sound very useful: I know that black kids are supposed to have a natural sense of rhythm (& white kids a natural sense of logarithm? ...), but I think that all kids enjoy pounding & shaking rhythm instruments, just both to get more in touch with their own natural body rhythms, and to learn to harmonize these with their friends’ natural rhythms... Also glad to hear you’re interested in meditating——this not only attunes a person to their inner rhythms & processes, but also (physiologically) relieves tension & anxiety by lowering blood pressure & lactase levels...

One more thing——if you’re unable to get the information on the dates & causes of my grandparents’ passings, would you please let me know so that I can get in touch with the vital statistics departments in Roy and Missoula? Thank you in advance: I think blessings will come to you as well as to us, when xxx my (your) ancestors have been formally honored.

Love from all of us, Peter, Marcy, Jed & Joaquin

Drawing of heart with wings
Drawing of heart with wings


See Marcy’s letter about the organ.
This is the first time in over a year that there’s been any mention of Shaklee in these letters, and it’s been about three years since the last mention of being Shaklee distributors; I had assumed that they had given up on that. (It’s unclear to me from the phrasing here whether they were still sending out Shaklee products regularly at this point, or whether he’s just talking about having done so in the past.)
“years of experience as shipping clerk”
Until I read this letter, I had no idea that Peter had ever been a shipping clerk, much less done so for years. I’m not sure when that was, but must have been sometime in the sixties, before he met Marcy.
As I’ve mentioned before, Peter’s faith in the abundance of the universe always feels a little odd to me when he mentions it in letters to his parents, who were so frequently the source of the abundance that he received when he wrote to them asking for money to bail us out of whatever dire financial circumstances we had once again fallen into.
“carom board”
See an earlier letter.

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