One-page typewritten letter. At some point, Helen wrote “June ’77” at the top of it; that date seems like it more or less matches the contents of the letter.
Dear Parents --
Hey, thank you "munga tusen" for the Care package that arrived Saturday -- it was perfect ! Y ou know, I've been so tremendously busy, that I've hardly had time to use & fully appreciate your
xsuper gifts -- here it's Tuesday and I'm just getting around to the first bite of the * * DELICIOUS * * Cake.
Well, you wouldn't believe the changes I've been going through here. You probably know Marcy, J & J, are in Philadelphia visiting her mother, so I'm batching (botching?) it ...
Well, I don't think you heard about Mr. Duran, a millionair in Los Angeles that Marcy & I talked with about a job -- and HE'S GETTING ME ONE! (Really!) It's with a new shop which is putting computer terminals in doctors' offices, for records retrieval and billing functions. Mr. Duran walked into the Johrei church in
xLA, and walked out several hours later, without his lifelong asthma. He felt so grateful to God that he not only joined the church, but bought 58 acres in Woodland Hills for $700,000 cash (seven big round ones!) for a new church to be built, seating 5000 (no matter there're only 1500 members in America, so far ...!). He channeled to his millionaire friends, and they have donated the wood, marble, and concrete for the buildings ...! His wife's a computer consultant, makes$36,000 a year. (Please forgive me for not cleaning up my typing errors -- I correct keypunching errors all week at work, it's nice to just let it be for a change).
Such a juggling! Watering the plants, getting in full hours
xxxat work, paying bills & balancing checkbook, cleaning up the bookstore parking lot, inviting people to be partners in our new business (which is going to net us $18,000 in the next 12 months ... ! ... ! ... !) You might even be interested in seeing how this business works. (Don't worry, its' completely legal ... .) And I just chose the tenants who'll take over the house from us, it's two brothers and one's wife, who have a tow-truck business and attend the college (California State College, Sonoma -- alias Sonoma State), taking engineering.
Anyway, thank you, and love to y'all,
- munga tusen
- I gather that mange tusen takk means roughly “many thousand thanks” in Norwegian. See also previous use of this phrase in a 1971 letter.
- It took me a while (when I read this letter) to figure out that Peter was referring to living on his own, like a bachelor. I’ve heard the phrase baching it, but don’t think I’ve seen it written before. My dictionary says that it’s spelled either with or without the T in the middle.
- Peter did not in fact end up working for millionaire Duran. I don’t know why not.
- I think that at this point, Peter was working for the San Francisco school district, doing data processing, and I think he continued to do that for another year after this. The timing is a little muddy and confused, though, and he never explicitly says where he’s working in the 1977 letters.
- I have no idea what this $18,000-a-year new business was, but as usual with Peter’s big plans for businesses that would make lots of money, this one is never mentioned again.
- money amounts
- An inflation calculator tells me that prices in 2021 were about 4.6x prices in 1977. So that $700k is about $3.2 million in today’s money. (Though with California real estate being what it is, I imagine that 58 acres in Woodland Hills would cost a whole lot more than that now. A quick glance at a real estate website suggests that empty land in Woodland Hills now goes for about $1M-$2M per acre.) And the $36k/year salary would be about $166k today, and the $18k that Peter hoped to make in the coming year would be about $80k today.
- “tenants who'll take over the house from us”
- We didn’t end up moving for another year after this. …This line is the biggest thing in this letter that makes me wonder whether the date is right; this letter could conceivably have been written around a year later, in mid-1978. But the mention of the trip to Philadelphia correlates with the next letter, from Marcy; and although the date on that one is also confusing, there’s complicated evidence that suggests that it’s really from mid-1977, which suggests that this one is too.