1978, July 26: Letter from Marcy to G&H

Two-page handwritten letter from Marcy, with a brief addendum from Peter.

The date that I put on this entry is the postmark date of an envelope that I think goes with this letter, but I’m not certain. Some aspects of the letter fit very well with that timing, others not so much.


As you may have guessed, the trip-to-Portland deal fell through, and we are, as always, running around in circles - having a lot of work to keep my act together and get the house even a little bit clean - now we have a Japanese exchange student coming for 3 weeks, age 13, arriving tomorrow. I think the tour group will find another place for him pronto when they hear we are moving. Just as well; it’s pretty hard to get us together - how to add trips & excursions and entertainment and such? But sorry to lose the opportunity.

Packing weighs heavily on my mind - wish there were a friendly local grandparents’ society - but the boys are able to help much this time & I expect it’ll all all get done more easily than before. ’Quin is constantly after me to go get some boxes, and we still don’t know what sort of house we’re packing for. Yeek.

Hope to be in higher spirits next letter.

much love


Please save the Creative Writing folder (sent separately)—We can’t find Jed’s but we’ll send it when we do.

Did we tell you (I guess not) that Jed won the American Legion Award (a medal & certificate) for anx essay on Americanism, for the 4th, 5th & 6th grades in Cotati & Rohnert Park. His essay was submitted to a county contest but no results yet. Further, the 2nd & 3rd prizes were also won by kids in his room. What a flash! How’s that for naches? (naches is a Yiddish word for how you feel what you “have” when your grandson xxx is valedictorian and wins a scholarship and is so handsome the girls call him all the time and he respects his grandparents. Actually it’s a xxx noun, corresponds to “a feather in your cap” only with the pride-of-family angle accentuated.)

Philadelphia, by the way, was a disaster - but my mother is free of cancer & of that particular terror. Just back to unhappy again. I guess she’s realizing she makes herself that way.

Take care, much love, Marcy

Final page added by Peter, on the same kind of paper:

A famous old saying (that I made up at work today):







. . . . .


Marcy added:

Isn’t that grand? I’ll call it atrocious but I can’t spel it ....


trip to Portland and visit to Marcy’s mother
I’m not sure how Marcy had time for any sort of travel if this really was during the two-week period between Peter getting hired and his start date.
Japanese exchange student
We did have a Japanese exchange student staying with us for a while, but I think that may have been a couple years later, and I think he was older than 13. But I may be totally wrong about that. I don’t remember a lot about the one who stayed with us, except that he ended up ringing up a quite large phone bill by making phone-sex calls. It looks like 900 numbers didn’t come into wide use until at least 1981, so I think that must have been later than this letter.
Americanism essay contest
At some point in 4th grade, we were assigned to write an essay about what Americanism meant to us; the essays were to be entered into a contest run by the American Legion. I intentionally wrote the sort of patriotic nonsense that I figured they were looking for, rather than anything I really believed. Then I forgot all about it.
Toward the end of that school year, we had an all-school assembly that covered various topics. I was sitting with friends, whispering with them about other stuff, paying no attention to the assembly, when suddenly the room around me got quiet. A kid I knew told me that they had called my name. I looked at the front of the room, where someone official (school principal, probably) was waiting expectantly. I went up to the front of the room and was informed that I had won first place in the Americanism essay contest. They gave me a little medal.
I think this was my first real lesson in understanding that recognition could come from saying what the people in charge wanted to hear, regardless of what you really believe. I suspect this episode contributed a fair bit to my cynicism about such things.
I thought that at the time, I explained to Marcy and Peter what I had done and why this award wasn’t a big deal, but apparently either I didn’t, or Marcy was proud of me for it anyway.

One Response to “1978, July 26: Letter from Marcy to G&H”

Join the Conversation