1977, May 13: Letter from Marcy and Peter to G&H

Eight-page handwritten letter—6+ pages from Marcy, 2ish from Peter—on 3-hole-punched lined notebook paper.

Not sure whether postmark says May 16 or May 18, but either way, it was started on “Friday night,” which I’m guessing means May 13.

…I very rarely redact more than a word or two from these letters, but this time I’ve decided to redact a few paragraphs near the beginning of the letter. Marcy was responding to something that George had said about Japanese people, and she gave a well-intentioned but deeply unfortunate and weird discussion of various things about Japanese people and World War II, including several things that were factually incorrect. Rather than try to refute and rebut and clarify and elaborate on her assertions here, I think it’s better to just remove those paragraphs.

Content warning for brief self-fat-shaming.

Friday night

What grand grand Grandparents!

The Stuff jus’ keeps on flowin’ in — letters, a check, a huge box — I am feeling so rich & “fat” I want to call my secretary & dictate this letter. Whoops! not that rich yet..... but fat, that’s another story.... (not very, actually)

The check was totally unexpected & entirely welcome; the letter a delight. I’d answer it more directly if I could find it. Six paragraphs of weird and wrong stuff about Japanese people redacted here.

I’ll just leave the last line of that discussion, about Japanese American members of our church: 99% of the Japanese members in the US are American citizens.

Well folks, would you believe this started out to be a thank-you letter!

The tupperware is great — haven’t found uses for all of it yet, but it’s coming along. I love the two big containers, square & rectangle.

(There’s a new (10-yrs old?) grain called triticale (rice, wheat & rye) that’s supposed to be very high in protein — I’m eating the grains rolled, like oatmeal, raw. very satisfying with nuts & currants.)

The spool caddy is really neat, and the thread always welcome. Bobbins, too, tho I’m not sure if they fit. looks like they may be a bit too big. The cups were welcome, but the white one & the measuring cups didn’t make the trip, alas. The clothes were a delight — everything so neat and well done and looking so sparky & ready to wear. Just wonderful, Grandma! Someday I’ll do mending for your great grandchildren, to pass it on.

I really enjoy the rubber band game. Don’t know how the kids like it yet (we’ve barely been home since the pkg came) Oh, and the rope — great! We’ll try it out for jumping today.

Peter is hungry for sashimi (raw fish with hot mustard,—no xxx it’s actually horseradish) sliced real thin & served w/shredded daikon (the long white radish) so we’re planning a trip out to Bodega Bay to buy some fresh fish. The kids get to go to the ocean about once a month with the school, so they’re not real excited about it. They had a great coming trip at Bodega Dunes state part, all of ’em spent 2 days digging in & rolling down the sand dunes.

Anyway, here is a huge


for all of it, from the check to the church bulletin w/the Bible story, and all between.

Here’s a Cotati story: There’s a woman lives down the street called the cat lady ’cos she has billions of cats & she & her house smell like it. On a windless day you can smell her house nearly a block away. She’s not real popular with her nearest neighbors, you can imagine, but I think its neat: a real character in this impersonal age. She’s small & slight & has grey hair & a weathered, horsy face, but moves very springily & I suspect is much younger than she looks. You see her walking a little grey poodle all over Cotati.

Well, she’s been coming over to use our phone, & little by little we get her story: lonely & childish, living in a house belonging to her sister (who lives in Berkeley), any tiny accident to one of her cats is a dire emergency... she lives in a sad, paranoid world, with people always teasing her & talking about her (how much of this is objectively true I have no idea, but probably not much. She asked me why I’d said something that I never said, or even said anything at that moment, or thought it.)

Real money problems she has — gas company gives her a hard time, she “borrows” for vet bills, & animal control is a constant threat to her. From Kathy I learned that they often come & take away all her cats except 3, & they multiply again & get taken again. Don’t know how x true this is, either — you know neighborhood xxx gossip.

Anyway, one of the women on the street is running for city council. I’m thinking about talking to her about organizing the neighbors to go & clean her house & build her a cat pen outside so the smell won’t be so terrible. If it’s done like a rabbit hutch with a wired bottom & space below that can be hosed down or swept out, it should be workable. There’s plenty of scrap wood around, & plenty of people with a strong wish to have the neighborhood smell better. Might be a good summer project for kids. But it’s not something I could do alone, or would want to. It would have to be an organized thing. I just hate to see this poor ol’ lady, alone & crazy, feeling like the world is against her, & losing even her cats. Sure xxx are a lot of cats in the world!

School’s out in two weeks! We finished the China project this week, giving reports x out loud next week—but the work is done! Yaay!

Well, off to do the day. Take care of yourselfs!

much love,


P.S. no, I haven’t any plans to spend $15000 for a week at Ann Wigmore’s in Boston. I’d rather go to Japan — and I can do more good to more people with the results of that than by learning what I already know.

Now for the P.S.’s

Just realized I didn’t mention the framed foto (phramed photo?)—It’s great. Who took it? The frame is pretty neat, too. Wish I had one like that of my parents, but they were both camera-shy. I have one of my mother, somewhere—I’ll have to find a frame for it. Anyway, we love it. Not sure if the kids get it or we do.

Found yr letter. A few weeks ago I went thru the mending box & found a lot of junk already — an old bedspread & some old curtains (just fabric) — probably will donate to Goodwill. Nothing else except x some jeans Peter wants patched — if I find anything for the kids, I’ll take you up on it, tho. Many thanks for the offer. (and again for the products thereof)

I’m really not up for visiting Ann Wigmore’s “mansion”—I already know what to do, but being there won’t help me putting it into practice while cooking for the family. That’s the hard spot. That and remembering all the details like watering the wheat, etc. I did recieve Eydie xxx Mae’s book right away — really glad you got to read it. I do know about her San Diego Branch. That’s where Eydie Mae is from — I guess there’s a connection.

Please, please Grandma, do send us a painting. A smallish one, you know our walls, but we’d love to have one. Maybe better wait a month or so till we know where we’ll be, though.

I’m going to leave some space for Peter to add a note.

love M.

Hi--Marcy’s right, as usual--the picture is really fine--THANK YOU for it & for all the mending...

Job’s going well, I finally got my teleprocessing program working ... we’re getting a resume together & will soon be actively searching for a job...

In preparation, I trimmed the beard last night-- the scissors slipped, it’s one-thousandth of an inch long now ... Went out & bought two disposable razors for 49¢!

Finished “This Timeless Moment” yesterday, & read a book called “Christian Mythology” last night -- both extremely good (enjoyable) books.

Marcy went to VocRehab, they said she might qualify for re-training (school) -- she mentioned Crim. Justice (parole counselor), they said there were no jobs, that she should go for MSW--Mother, do you know any prestigious schools for MSW?

O--did you get that farm & household hints book to D&K? Have they found a house yet? We pray everyday for them to find just the right house...

Hope you have the plumbing straightened out by now--if not, Mr. Dick (“Tricky”) Nixon will be glad to recommend some unemployed “plumbers”...



Amusing Google Docs OCR errors:

  • institutions: exoticketing
  • church bulletin: charch helltin


Wikipedia says that Triticale “is a hybrid of wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale) first bred in laboratories during the late 19th century,” but yeah, it apparently didn’t become commercially viable until the mid-20th century. The name comes from Triticum + Secale. Rice isn’t involved.
“The kids get to go to the ocean about once a month with the school”
I have no memory of this, but it sounds nice.
Bodega Bay
My only memory related to this trip is that Peter wrote us one of his notes on punched cards that included the line “I do-beg-a-boon—tell me, how was bo-deg-a dune?”
“School’s out in two weeks”
I don’t know whether this meant (a) school for us kids, (b) the graduate program where Marcy had been a student, or (c) Marcy substitute-teaching. I suspect (a), because I have a very vague memory of having written a paper for school about Qin Shi Huang (though I used a different transliteration of his name), which I suspect is what Marcy’s referring to here when she mentions the China project. But not sure.
(Especially uncertain because in 1977 (what would have been 3rd grade for me) I was still at Redwood School, the alternative school that I’d been attending for a few years, and I don’t remember writing papers or doing presentations there. But maybe.)
Ann Wigmore
Wikipedia says that Ann Wigmore was, among other things, a raw-food advocate and promoter of wheatgrass.
“they were both camera-shy”
Marcy’s father was dead by this point, but her mother lived for another decade or so, so I’m not sure why she’s using the past tense here. I’m guessing that George and Helen had sent some sort of studio portrait of the two of them together (probably one of the ones from this studio session), and that Marcy was just saying that her parents hadn’t ever wanted to have that kind of photo taken.
Eydie Mae
That would be Eydie Mae Hunsberger, author of How I Conquered Cancer Naturally (1975) (though I don’t know whether that’s the book that Marcy was referring to here). If I understand right, Hunsberger followed Ann Wigmore’s instructions about wheatgrass and other dietary changes, and she claims that doing so cured her cancer. I am appalled and a little angry—I really hope that when it became clear that Marcy had leukemia (not too long after this letter, I think), she didn’t try to cure it with nothing but wheatgrass. (I know that she did undergo at least some Western medical interventions.)
I’m a little confused about Peter’s job chronology. He had been working at a bookstore (presumably Merit Book Center) last time he mentioned a job in these letters. I know that at some point around here he attended some kind of a programming class, and then after that he got a job doing data processing for the San Francisco school district (I think he was commuting to San Francisco every day from Cotati for that job). I think that must be the job he’s referring to in this letter, and even though he says here that he’ll soon be actively searching for a job, I think that he stayed with the school district job for another year after this.
This Timeless Moment: A Personal View of Aldous Huxley, by Aldous Huxley’s wife Laura Archera Huxley, and (I’m guessing) Christian Mythology, by George Every.
I have no idea why Marcy wanted re-training, or what had happened in the preceding months to cause her to give up on anthropology grad school.
My uncle David and aunt Karen, who I think were either living on a farm or soon about to live on a farm.

One Response to “1977, May 13: Letter from Marcy and Peter to G&H”

Join the Conversation