1974, September 28: Letter from Marcy to G&H

Five-page handwritten letter, in red ink, on fairly heavy and slightly rough unlined 7"x10½" paper.

Ages of the kids referred to here:

Name Age
Larry Nearly 16
Ivan 14
George (foster) 13
Jed 6
Jay (a.k.a. Joaquin) 4


Oh, Thank You Ever so much for your timely help. It came the next day and tided us over till we got everything together. Things have been totally crazy here, as usual only more so, and every day I swear to write, and every night I fall into bed barely managing to get myself under the covers x before I’m fast asleep. We’ve had a week of Ivan freaking out, refusing to do chores or clean his room, now George is taking his turn, refusing to accept any discipline & over and over, despite restrictions & rules, failing to clean up after himself, lyingx & modifying the truth, etcetera.

Amazing the clarity of my handwriting, considering I was (almost?) asleep when I wrote that.

Our dog’s name, our foster dog, is in heat, so she has to be walked instead of going out alone. Makes life a little more complex but at least it gets me out in the air, which helps everything else to go better.

I just xxx spoke to an aikido friend who says there may be a daytime class—which would be delightful.

J & J are extremely happy in school. Joaquin is a little young for the rest of the kids, but he loves it. Jed has two very good friends, one boy is just 6 & the other is 8, and they spend a lot of time together, so he gets a break from the after-school rowdies around here. Seems that Jed has always picked up friends easily, ’Quin likes to play by himself — he gets very involved in his own fantasies — and he also is so used to playing with kids Jed’s age that ones his own age seem too young to him.

George & Ivan are also happy in school — we expect their respective freakouts are due to getting out of “jail” (= public school) so fast, & not quite knowing what to do with the freedom to decide on their own classes & how much time to practice guitar or work on projects—

Peter just gave me a haircut—looks good but it’s a little too short — ’Quin got one, too, but Jed is still a longhair. Ivan has taken to wearing a hairband and his ¼ Indian heritage shows up — (a blonde Indian?)

Larry is about to have his 16thx birthday & wants to get his driver’s license — have to check out the insurance (shiver) — I expect it’s incredible.

We moved the stereo into the bedroom — now we have our xown “apartment” in the evenings. Gettin’ the mending under control, too — slowly.

John & Vicki’s visit was a pleasure — really short, but we had a lovely time together.

We finally got the TV in the bedroom hooked up to the cable — Jed just came in to watch a show about dinosaurs. Guess I’ll vacate — Jed is into mystery & secret code stories — so if you run into any at your fantastic gold mine rummage sales, Grandma, he’d be delighted. He can read any up to about a 7th grade level — he’d really like me to buy him some Nancy Drew mysteries but I’ve refused ’cos I think they’d be inappropriate, but he’s devastated because it has they have “mystery” in the title.

“They” say it’s going to be a long cold winter — thex caterpillers (??) in France have begun hibernating & they generally don’t ’till November. Wish I had one of those dehydrators for my tomatoes.—We’re going to get some insulation in the attic.—

Off to breakfast — Thanks again for your emergency help.



Amusing Google Docs OCR errors:

  • bedroom: bedrain
  • secret code: secret cale
  • hibernating: literesting
  • love: in the atta
  • Marcy: buergeree


It had been about a year since we had moved to Santa Rosa and started the foster home, give or take a couple of months. By my count, this is roughly the 34th letter from Hearthlight (counting kid art as letters), so we averaged sending George and Helen a letter every eleven days or so during that year. Which I think is a much higher frequency than we managed at any other time.
“timely help”
I assume this was yet another emergency infusion of cash from George and Helen.
Jay and I were attending Redwood School. I’m guessing that the two friends of mine referred to here were Ari and Roger; Roger being the one who played Jagwire Creature in our superhero games. (See linked-to entry.) I vaguely recall Ari being one of my closest friends there, but I don’t remember anything else about him.
“Jed has always picked up friends easily”
I knew that that was true from about 6th grade onward, but didn’t know it had been true so much earlier. Interesting. (I also don’t know why it’s true; it just seems to happen, somehow. But I am grateful for it.)
“freedom to decide on their own classes”
It never occurred to me until I read this letter to wonder where the foster kids went to school. I’m now guessing, based on this letter and a later one, that they attended Nonesuch, the alternative school for kids who were too old for Redwood School.
“Jed is still a longhair”
Still true! :) Well, OK, more like again true; I’m writing these notes in August of 2022, when my hair is, I think, longer than it’s ever been before, down to about the middle of my back.
“Jed is into mystery & secret code stories”
I continued to like secret codes for a long time (I guess I still do), but at some point I stopped being all that interested in mysteries.
Interesting that Marcy didn’t want me to read Nancy Drew books. I wonder what in particular she considered inappropriate about them. I later was a big fan of the Three Investigators kids-solving-mysteries series, but I never did read Nancy Drew. Or the Hardy Boys, which I think Jay got into at some point.
“He can read any up to about a 7th grade level”
I was a little smug and impressed with myself when I read this line; I was in the equivalent of 1st grade at the time, and I had only been reading for a couple of years. But then I reminded myself that I have no idea what Marcy was basing that estimate on, or how accurate it was. And then I reminded myself that I’ve always been kinda dubious about the idea of grade levels for reading anyway.

One Response to “1974, September 28: Letter from Marcy to G&H”

  1. 1974, November 26: Letter from Peter to G&H – Peter, Marcy, Jed, and Jay

    […] I read this letter, I had no idea that our dog had ever had puppies! In the previous letter, in September, she was in heat, but no indication that she had gotten […]


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