1977, August 10: Letter from Marcy to G&H

Two-page handwritten letter, on three-hole-punched lined notebook paper.

A note about the complications of figuring out the date of this one: Marcy just gave the date on this as “August 10,” but at some point Helen added “’77.” This letter does seem to have been written not long after the previous letter (from Peter) (which Helen also labeled as ’77), ’cause I think that in this one Marcy is referring to returning from the visit to her mother that Peter mentioned in the previous one. As I mentioned in notes at the end of the previous letter, it’s conceivable that both of these are from a year later, 1978—except that by August 10, 1978, according to a later letter, Peter already had a new job. And in this letter he clearly didn’t. So I think the 1977 date on this must be correct.

Content warning for referring to a situation that sounds like it may have involved someone being abused by a partner; also for reference-in-passing to fictional rape.

August 10

Hi, folks.

Just a quickie (you’ve heard that before, eh? preceding a 6-page tome) to let you know we’re okay, and wondering when you start your trip? and where? and all that.

We are alive and swamped, as usual. Trying to take care of all the details I manage very few —

The trip back was not terribly eventful; took 3 days on an alternative bus similar to the green tortise; not near as much fun. Home to find a friend who needed a safe place to stay while she figured out what to do about her boyfriend, xxx then to LA for a Johrei conference. Drove xxx down with Curtis, another member who is interested in Nature Farming, and goes along to work at the 10 acres that are cultivated with that philosophy at Camarillo - and a man who works with Peter (also programmer trainee) and is blind. We took turns reading a very funny book called Academia Nuts, which consists of various logical interpretations of literary classics —

like: The Wife of Bath was a nun in disguise; she pretended to be old & much-married so she wouldn’t be raped on the way; Lady Macbeth was pregnant; Oedipus married Jocasta but did not sleep with her; Beowulf was a homosexual; etc, etc. Some are very clever ideas, others are just superficial & funny.

In the margin next to the phrase “10 acres that are cultivated with that philosophy,” Marcy wrote: how do you cultivate with a philosophy?

Anyway, I returned from LA with Curtis and the son of some friends who have recently moved there; he’s a few months younger than Joaquin, and has a hard time at home with a younger brother who is always after him, and parents who (tho they are good friends, I have to admit this) don’t discipline him, or stop him from whining. So he is visiting for a week, learning a lot from Jed & Joaquin.

But today we got up too early for him & he was tired, and ’Quin fell off an airplane wing (an old Navy fighter, painted blue and sealed and set in a huge sandpit and made safe for kid climbers) and I had to sit and judge the relative merits of their respective xxx grouchinesses.

I was going to say, so I’m pretty tired- but I fell asleep before I could write that part.

Getting ready for a leap of some sort. The man who was interested in having Peter work for him is still in NY raising $ $ to start his company, so we are applying to a few other places; will let you know asap.x We are considering going down to stay with friends & search down there, so as to be there when school starts. But this is not an ecnonomically sound plan at the moment; may look better later.

If I hang onto this xxx letter long enough to write more details it may never be mailed — so I’ll end it here, for the time being.

love from all



“your trip”
Presumably George and Helen’s big 1977 trip, except I had assumed that they had started that a few months previous, so I’m not sure.
“The trip back”
I’m assuming she’s talking about returning from a trip to Philadelphia with me and Jay, as Peter had mentioned in the previous letter.
“green tortise”
Weird that I apparently haven’t mentioned this before; I thought it had come up in previous letters. Wikipedia says: “Green Tortoise was one of several low-cost, no-frills ‘alternative’ bus companies established in the 1970s and based in California and the Pacific Northwest, providing long-distance bus service, but by 1982 it was one of only two still in operation. Also commonly referred to as ‘hippie bus’ companies during the 1970s, for their counterculture vibe and casual atmosphere.” We took at least one trip on the Green Tortoise itself (maybe the Colorado hot springs trip?).
Academia Nuts
Turns out this was a 1977 quasi-novel by Charles R. Larson, a professor of English and African Studies. I suspect that a 1968 piece in The Atlantic called “Come to the Ship, Leggatt, Honey?” was one of the pieces in the book; it’s about his (presumably fictional) student Clara LePage’s interpretation of Conrad’s The Secret Sharer. (Content warning for homophobia.)
Larson was apparently influential in serious academia; for example, “His course in African Literature at the University of Colorado was the first one taught in the United States.” He wrote and edited several books about African literature and Native American literature, among other things.
“man who was interested in having Peter work for him”
Presumably the millionaire named Duran who Peter mentioned in his previous letter. This is the last time he’s mentioned.
“applying to a few other places”
As far as I know, Peter stayed at his job for another year after this.
“going down to stay with friends & search down there”
I’m not sure where there was. LA, maybe? At any rate, we didn’t end up moving for another year after this.

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