1980, January 7: Letter from Peter to G&H

Seven-page letter on 11½"x7" brown very-wide-lined paper. For unclear reasons, Peter wrote the first page of this in letters that look like the model alphabet used to teach kindergarteners how to read. (See image below.) I’m assuming he was just being silly. The rest of the pages are in his usual handwriting, but written much larger than usual, with only about 40-50 words per page. I thought perhaps he was trying to make it easier for George and Helen to read, but no subsequent letters are written in large print, so I think it was probably just for fun.

Content warning for casual use of the word eskimaux.

Dear Mom and Dad,

First page of Peter’s “yaux-yaux” letter.
First page of Peter’s “yaux-yaux” letter.

Thank you for the Esquimaux’ yaux-yaux. I yaux-yaux’d a lot for a few days, & then they got a cut & sawdust began coming out, so I hung them up. It was fun--a lot better than the noisy plastic clackers.

Well, it didn’t work out with the French people (Guyots) and they moved. Inserted in Marcy’s handwriting: Got be danked But we now have 2 really nice housemates: Ed, who’s an ex-Alaskan ex-helicopter mechanic, now going to massage school & Stanford pre-medical classes; and Tom, a Georgia Tech aerospace engineering student here to work at Ames Research. Tom Ed has a B.A. in music (cello) from Antioch (where Marcy went).

In Marcy’s handwriting: he also fixes cars, washing machines, and tight neck muscles, and often even dinner.

Well it was good to hear of your trip to Montana & to Cashmere--wow, did we read it right--the 30 miles from Seattle to Tacoma took five hours ’cause of blizzard? Incredible! (A 50-mph headwind?) (or following a snowplow?) Anyway, it sounds like a great trip, especially visiting K, D, & J. Maybe we can get up there this summer...

In Marcy’s handwriting: please say more about this big reunion - looks possible!

Well I’m just finishing off our big Abel project for shipment to Europe Jan. 31. (2 Tinaxs ‘talked’ together through Abel today...)

We’re all doing well: Jed practiced about 2 hrs. today — I told him to watch out; he’d get super-good. Joaquin’s joined a basketball team, Marcy’s editing for a “space-peace freak”--I mean a firm called Strategic Arms Control Organization (for money), I’m working 11am to 8pm, just until 1/31.

well it’s 1am (Tues. night, 1/15), off to bed. Yes I used to play Yahtze with Mike Lyons & Candy. Heard they parted.

We now play “Dune”--Jed got it for Christmas, it’s a science-fiction game.

Much love,

P, M, J & J


“Esquimaux’ yaux-yaux”
Peter’s intentionally silly spelling of the phrase more usually written as “Eskimo yo-yo.” I’m guessing that Peter was unaware that the word Eskimaux is plural, and is (at least sometimes) pronounced with a /z/ sound at the end.
French people
Presumably they were temporarily subletters/housemates of ours. I very very vaguely remember the name Guyot, but I don’t remember anything about them.
Ed and Tom
I have no memory at all of Tom, but Ed became a close family friend. I haven’t had any contact with him since I was a kid, but I remember him fondly.
“K, D, & J”
My aunt Karen and uncle David, and their son (my cousin) Jesse, who was less than a year old at this point.
“big reunion”
I think this was the big Helen’s-extended-family reunion that ended up happening in July, 1980, in Oregon. I have a photo of Helen and four of her five siblings that I think was taken at that reunion. We didn’t attend.
Apparently at this point, Peter had left Oroweat and gone to work for a company called Logical Business Machines, which I mentioned in passing in a note on a previous letter. They made computers that had names like Adam, Tina (“Tiny Adam”), Mike (had a microphone built in and tried to do speech recognition), David, Goliath, and Abel. The programming language they used was called English.
“Jed practiced”
I assume this must have been violin practice. Once again I’m baffled by the implication that I was good; I wasn’t particularly. (I did eventually get picked for the All-City Honor Orchestra, but iIrc so did all the other kids in my orchestra class—I don’t think it was much of an honor.)
“space-peace freak”
See notes on previous letter.
Mike Lyons
Formerly a close friend of Peter’s, but in a previously posted 1973 letter, Peter expressed some bitterness that Mike had stopped responding to his letters.
I still have this boardgame. I recall liking it a lot as a kid; I keep meaning to try it again. I gather that it holds up reasonably well, but also that the 2019 reworking of it (which I haven’t played) is a better game.

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