1974, December 6: Letter from Peter to G&H

One-page letter, typed on onionskin paper.

Handwritten at top of page: P.S. -- Thanks for the nice letter…

* We’d of course repay you as soon as we have the cash...

Specific street address elided by Jed

Santa Rosa, Cal. 95401

December 6, 1974

Dear Parents,

H E L P ! We have a problem. In the past month, we have had to let two of our foster kids go back (Robert and Larry). Hence, we are now getting "only" $1200 instead of the $2000 we were getting.... We may be taking a fourth child on a temporary basis, and also Marcy or I or both may find a part- or full-time job. But in the meantime, we are down to $89 in our account for the rest of the month, we will not be able to borrow any more from any finance companies or from the bank, and Marcy's mother is also out of extra cash (she's lent us about$10000, including the $5000 down payment). In sum, we would like to borrow some money from you if you can spare any. We skimped on all our creditors this month, paying only token installments and interest-only payments wherever we could. So, $300 - $400 would probably tide us over until we S E L L   O U R   H O U S E !* Yes, we are jumping, as soon as possible, to an unknown lily pad.... In any case, we listed this house at $41500 (we paid $36500 -- a $5000 increase in a year -- not bad -- I wish we could hang onto it for another 8 - 10 years and it would probably double in price -- but we can't afford it -- one of the main troubles is with the kids up and down the street -- they're almost all crazier than the ones we have -- the whole neighborhood is a behavioral sink -- the pack rats have made off with at least $200 worth of tools, cash, food, kitchen utensils, etc. -- we can't wait to get out ... ) so we should be getting something like $7000-$8000 cash within the next two months, after paying the realtor etc. Then we'll pay Marcy's mother $2-3000, and still have enough left to apply on a down payment wherever we wind up. We're thinking very seriously about going in with about 8 other people to buy a 100-acre ranch in Mendocino county, we'd get 10 or 12 kids at $800-$1000 per each per month, and set up a survival community, schoolhouse, etc. Handwritten, added in margin at start of sentence: Please, wish us luck, pray for us, and let us know if we could borrow any $. Love,

Peter & Marcy

…And this is the last letter of 1974, which was by far our most prolific letter-writing year. I’ve posted over two dozen 1974-dated posts; not all of those were letters, but a few of them contained more then one letter, so I think it comes out to an average of around two letters a month that year, which is roughly twice the frequency that we managed most years.


Foster kids
With Robert and Larry gone, that left George, Ivan, and Mark.
down payment
I suppose it’s unsurprising to learn that Peter and Marcy had borrowed the money for the down payment on the house.
home ownership
I think that this was the only time that Peter and Marcy owned a home. (Although I suppose “owned” is a relative word, given that it sounds like they had very little of their own money in it.) About 25 or 30 years later, Peter bought a house, but that was long after Marcy died.
“jumping, as soon as possible”
The return address on our letters continued to be the same for the next three to five months, so it apparently took a while to sell the house and move.
“buy a 100-acre ranch in Mendocino county”
This is, of course, yet another plan that’s never mentioned again.
“10 or 12 kids at $800-$1000 per each per month”
…I don’t understand why they thought that was plausible, given that they were having a hard time finding a fourth and fifth kid at $400 per month.

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