1977, February?: Letter from Peter to Dobe

This letter is missing its first page (well, probably its first two pages, back and front of one sheet of paper). What remains is six pages, hand-written on lined three-hole-punched paper. The part of the letter that I have is undated, but it mentions two articles from January 1977 issues of magazines, and it refers to an event in April as being in the future, so it was presumably written sometime between January and April of that year. I’m arbitrarily guessing mid-February.

There are a lot more opened-but-unclosed parentheses and quotation marks in this letter than usual for Peter, and more bits of sentences that don’t quite make sense (like a he with no preceding referent). He clearly wasn’t drunk when writing this, but I wonder if he was high. (That said, as usual it’s possible that I’ve made a couple of typos myself in transcribing this letter.)

Content warning for discussion of drinking too much alcohol and some difficulty with cutting back on that. Also for yet another instance of Peter making an off-color joke about a Japanese word.

Now I’m sitting listening to “The Electric B.B. King” and enjoying the night--Marcy went to a Johrei-&-GO-party: I refrained because alcohol will be served there & I didn’t feel strong enough to go there yet--I just kicked about 4 days ago (had 3 bheers w/ next-door-neighbors playin pinochle while Marcy & Jed & Joaquin went to S.F. to do GoShinTai-Goji)(one “Victoria” beer w/ Jeffrey Mishlove, ^^(author of “Roots of Consciousness)^^ (after church last Sunday* (you probly met him? He lived w/ us when Joaquin was born almost 7 years ago…) last Sunday after Tsukinamisai, before soup & salad and a game of GO… I played disgracefully, I won by 60 points… I forgot to do what David Beard showed me--to pass when playing a beginning player who’s making ineffective moves. And the week before that was what convinced me I needed to stop drinking alcohol: I was playing GO with Jack, a Johrei member & chemistry major, he walked over w/ his new fold-up set, small stones, & we played a game, his 3rd or 4th ever… well I’d had a quart & a halfx of Oly, but gave him rest of 2nd quart & I switched to cream sherry (= brandy + grape juice), and played a good game, even though I was shocked at the end of two hours to find I’d emptied the fifth of sherry… with hardly any effect nor any headache later… so it’s actually been nearly 2 weeks since then, with 4 beers meanwhile.

Written in margin: * (we got to play with his ESP-training machine… neat-o!

So the money we’ll save from that, plus a WIN-program stipend that begins in April, we are putting in a stash for Marcy to go to Seichi in the fall: also she’s on the verge of switching over, indefinitely, to an all-live-food diet: just raw fruits & vegetables & nuts & seeds… (in certain combinations) she’s quitting the bookstore at end of this month… it was too much, 6 days a week (now 4)… but now soon, she will be eating just right, and will be able to get enough sleep & do yoga exercises & eat royal jelly & be of more service to God, helping the 6 new members that joined last month after 4 weekly classes at our home, and maybe do Nature Farming, etc. etc. besides going to Johrei all takers at Sonoma State College 2 days a week, etc. etc. (this last under the auspices of the campus GO club(!!), of which he’s pres (and his beautiful lady is one of the six new members…)

Written in margin next to “all-live-food diet”: (+ wheatgrass juice)

Written in margin next to “quitting the bookstore”: (o dear i already wrote this on 1st page, sorry… it’s a several-days’-letter…)

Well here’s an amazing thing--Marcy bought a bunch of daisies: the ones on the altar (one wilted today) have been fresh & pertx since being placed on altar last Saturday--one week today. But the ones that were put in the kitchen were wilting in 1-2 days…

Written sideways in margin: x Joaquin’s writing a story on adding-machine roll, called “The Endless Story”… Jed’s reading “The Calculus Primer” by Prof. E. McSquared, among other things. (Like “What Do You Say, Dear”, “What Do You Do, Dear”, & “Show Me”)

Well I don’t know what x you’ll make out of the enclosed weird handouts… I scarcely know what to make of them myself, but both people I promised I’d pass/send it on, so here they are: the condition on the chain-type letters was on me (you’re not under any obligation, to send on or back, but I am)--I told Barbara I’d send it on or back to her, and thought crossed mind you might like to see it… I don’t know whether I’ll xxx use it myself… I think I probly will, ’cause Barbara sent enclosed $5 check for some vitamins we sold her, so for $5 I guess I’ll play…

The other a twinkly man who looked like he thought of himself as a leprechaun gave me the other two weird sheets… he said he had 2 poll questions he’d like me to answer (outside supermarket in Rohnert Park): 1) Should Americanx Indians have a homeland? (I answered yes.) 2) Would I be interested in contributing any cash toward establishing same? (I donated 29¢.) I asked who he represented--“White Hopi Nation.” (How many people?) Well there were 2 now, himself (about 70 65 yrs old, white hair blue eyes red nose & cheeksx), & his friend. Well I Johrei’d him for 10 minutes & then left.

Filling the left, top, and right margins: Now I see I forgot to tell you this idea, I’m not interested in doing the whole trip, but you’re welcome to the idea, maybe Doc could use it. A camp-cot, with telescoping-tubing-sides, attached to inside of car, just above doors. Rolls up & clamps there, collapsed, for storage. Extended, & unrolled, with legs to tops of dash and seats, becomes cot for sleeping. Passenger may lay out while driver drives. Driver’s cot xxx also unrolls and extends for stopping. Feet toward front for safety, also safety belt. Bottom of cot/hammock clears seattops. How do you like it? Seems cheap to make & would sell over 100,000 I bet…. at $40 each, that’s $4 million gross. (ooh, gross!)

Cot attached to tops of car seats.
Cot attached to tops of car seats.

Now listening to The Blues Project (Lazarus)… good stuff. Marcy Jed & Joaquin are into Rodgers & Hammerstein and sang many songs together on trip to L.A. & back (Marcy as a Fukyo (that’s “Foo-kyoh”, “Expansion”) Conference representative (everybody makes the same joke… “Well, Fukyo too!”)--but J & J & I & 2 kids from church (their Chinese mother was a representative from East Bay, the girl plays with Al & Sherri Albee’s daughter in Albany (they lived next door in Albany Village)… all went to Disneyland, and next day to L.A. zoo. Disneyland is really nice--I didn’t think I’d like it, that it’d be very hokey, but it was very solid, the construction & operation is quality throughout, very craftsmanlike, I enjoyed the whole thing a lot…

Now for the 3-album set I bought for a quarter at Baker St. Books… Bach’s ‘Mass in B-Minor’ (or at least some of it…)…

Well I’ll list a potpourri of xxx books I’ve been into lately, you might enjoy any of them…

In margin: Did you ever read “Dahlgren” or “Triton”, by Delaney? Or his old stuff? How ’bout “Protector” & “Mote in God’s Eye” by Niven?

Robert Silverberg “Capricorn Games” (GO on a starship, among others…)

Arthur Clarke “Imperial Earth” (I thought of the personal computer/secretary/dictionary/clockx described herein when I saw an ad for a calculator/clock/alarms with 4 different sounds, you can set each one to ring when you want, it costs $30…)

Will Cooper “Death Has a Thousand Doors”

Peter Dickinson “Poison Oracle”,* “King and Joker”,* “Old English Peep-Show”, “The Green Gene”, “The Glass-Sided Ant’s Nest”* *signifies especially good--there’re several more, not a bad ’un in the lot--this man is amazing, I’d go so far as to say “State of the Art”!

Rex Stout all the Nero Wolfe books, they’re all good, some are better: last one was best, I thought: “A Family Affair”… great stuff!

In margin: There’s a biography of Nero Wolfe: (“Nero Wolfe of W. 35th St.”)

John D. McDonald--I learn something every time I have read one of his books, about how the world works… “The Green Flash” was good… (Often his are too similar to each other…)

In margin: very violent however… I haven’t read any of his for about a year now…

Peter Farb, “Word Play” (linguistics)

Sydney Sheldon? Pike? “Other Side of Midnight”

“Tales of a Dalai Lama” … excellent.

Len Deighton “An Expensive Place to Die” too cynical & gloomy for me… not terribly good writing either…

John Le Carre “Spy Who Came In From the Cold”--pretty good… pretty depressing throughout though.

Did you read John Brunner’s “Shock-Wave Rider”--wow! also how about “Gold at the Starbow’s End” by Williamson & Pohl”--high-level stuff, I liked it.

Charles B. Hanna “The Face of the Deepx: The Religious Ideas of C.G. Jung” excellent, incisive, very deep, intriguing, beautiful.

Jay Haley “The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ” (still reading it, it seems pretty good)

John Allegro “Sacred Mushroom & the Cross” and Gordon Wasson “Soma” whom author (Tom Robins) of “Another Roadside Attraction” & “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” (both superfine) referenced in his “Mushroom That Conquered the Universe”… (in Jan. High Times)

Just got one from man who x got 2nd Ohikari in U.S. (his wife got 1st): (He’s a stamp-auctioneer, sold $1.5 million of stamps last year. He’s read s.f. since 1926…!! They have an original Divine Scroll, written by Meishu-sama personally!) Well we swapped some s.f., & I just started “The UnHoly City” by Charles Finney, author of “Circus of Dr. Lao”… seems good & weird.

In margin: Donald Knuth, “Fundamental Algorithms: the Art of Computer Programming”… Raymond Piper & Lila K. Piper “Cosmic Artx”, very spacey; great stuff. Hieronymous interview--January Analog, very good.

Added to the top of the penultimate page: Closing: Well I hope all is well with you & yr family, and parents, & Paul & Dave & families: maybe I’ll get up there in June, for 20th hi-school anniversary re-union… anyway, love to all, Peter, & Marcy, & Jed & Joaquin


B.B. King
Peter loved at least some forms of jazz and blues. A lot of his tastes rubbed off on me, but somehow not those.
That’s the traditional science fiction fannish way of spelling beer.
As noted in a 1976 letter, I vaguely think that this was the name for taking care of the altar and other things at the church.
Jeffrey Mishlove
See note at end of an earlier letter.
“played disgracefully”
In the context in which Peter learned to play go, it was considered bad form to win by a lot of points. I’m not sure whether that’s standard in go or not. (On a side note, I’m not sure why Peter consistently wrote the name of the game in caps and underlined in this letter; I don’t think that was his usual approach.)
WIN was apparently a work incentive program that provided financial aid, but I don’t know more about it.
books I was reading
The calculus book was Prof. E McSquared's Calculus Primer, which presents an introduction to calculus in comic-book-format. I was fascinated by it as a kid (I was about 9 years old when Peter wrote this letter), but I never got very far in it. On re-examining it as an adult, I haven’t been especially impressed by it—for example, it uses phrases like “smooth and squeezed together,” which didn’t really help me understand concepts like “continuous.”
What Do You Do, Dear and What Do You Say, Dear are delightful picture books (published c. 1960) by Sesyle Joslin, who later became a favorite author of mine for her prose children’s books.
Show Me! was a sex education book with photos for illustrations. I don’t recall reading it on my own; my memory of it involves Marcy bringing it in to our (alternative) school and reading it to all of the kids.
camp cot
I feel like the cars that Peter was talking about must have had much higher ceilings than the cars I’m used to, or much lower seat backs; I can’t see how such a cot would fit above the seats in a modern car.
Rodgers & Hammerstein
Interesting; I don’t remember encountering any R&H shows except for Sound of Music until I watched the movies of several of them in the 1990s. And I don’t remember being a big Sound of Music fan this early. (My earliest specific memory of Sound of Music was that a girlfriend of Peter’s in the 1980s liked it a lot, and I think he got mad at her for listening to it too much. But I feel like I was at least vaguely familiar with the songs from it before then.)
I knew that we had gone there at some point when I was a kid, but I didn’t know when.
Imperial Earth
I wrote a blog post in 2010 about that calculator/PDA device.
book recommendations
I can’t help noticing that of the 26 authors whose work Peter mentions in this final recommendations section (including two works without authors listed), all but one was male (as far as I can tell). And all but one of the ones I’ve heard of or looked up are white (as far as I can tell). One might respond by focusing on the science fiction and saying that most science fiction writers were white men at the time; but one might respond to that by pointing out significant works of sf by women that had been published in the year or so before he wrote this letter, such as Butler’s Patternmaster, Wilhelm’s Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, and Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. (Peter also didn’t mention prominent then-recent works by some of his favorite male authors, such as Dick and Zelazny’s Deus Irae and Spider Robinson’s Telempath—but I’m pretty sure he read both of those later, and I suspect that he never read the Butler, the Wilhelm, or the Piercy, given how few books by women were among his large book collection when he died.)
An Interview with T. Galen Hieronymous, by Joseph F. Goodavage. (Not sure whether the misspelling of Hieronymus there is a typo in the original magazine or introduced by ISFDB.) Hieronymus was the inventor of the Hieronymus machine.

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