1980, July 19: Letter from Marcy to G&H

Six-page handwritten letter on lined three-hole-punched paper.

At the top of the first page, Helen wrote: “mailed July 19 (before crisis).” But I think she was a little confused—that phrasing makes it sound like Marcy was in crisis shortly after this letter, but Marcy’s next couple of letters (written over the next couple of months) indicate that she was fine for a while after this. So I think Helen meant to write something like that on a later letter, from October, 1980, which was indeed shortly before things went bad.

A further indication that Helen may have gotten those two letters mixed up: On the envelope of this one (which is postmarked 19 July 1980), she wrote “Herein is invitation to visit (Oct 3 ’80).” But the invitation to visit was really in the October letter. So I think Helen just accidentally wrote both of those notes on this letter, thinking it was the October one.

Content warning for casual use of the noun Japanese to mean “Japanese people.”

Hi, folks.

Everyone’s asleep so I don’t want to type, but will try to write very clearly. Tonight’s my last night to have the bed all to myself (sure is nice to sleep with books & papers, but nothing’s better than Peter for cold feet.) (at least....) (nor do books ever snore, but neither do they cuddle. Peter hardly snores, either, so I guess I’ll have to admit I’ll be really glad when he’s home.) He’s really enjoying the class at Santa Cruz; I s’pose he wrote to you. And Jed is really learning to type, and Joaquin has one more day of his 4-class summer school: cello, comuters, x inventors, and gymnastics; and we’re all 3 working on swimming. I’m beginning to learn to breathe.

So much stuff happening, I’m having a xxx marvelous summer. The president of the whole, world-wide Johrei church was here from Japan this week. We put on an incredibly fancy potluck dinner for him, and it felt great to be in the same room with him. A very high person, indeed. They’re changing the organizational structure so it can become an American church here, rather than a transplanted Japanese organization. It’s really exciting to be in on changes and growth.

Hefzi’s parents are here from Scotland, along with her 12-year-old brother. (he was an afterthought, I guess.) They’re presently spending 3 days at Yosemite; I’m having them to dinner on Saturday. Turkey, fruit salad, and cheesecake. Then our friend Carol is coming back on vacation from Japan. She will spend a day or so with us, then on to Florida to visit her folks, then back here to take a tour group of 12 Japanese around California. Then back to Tokyo. That reminds me, I’ve got a piece of salmon I want to make when she comes, and I can’t find the sauce recipe. I copied it from Vicki, and she from you, Grandma. Can you hunt it up for me? I looked in that little recipe cardex you gave me, but it’s not xxx there, either. Thanks much. (I tried once to duplicate it from memory, but failed miserably.)

The good news about the house: we don’t have to move for a while; she hasn’t decided whether to sell it or not. The bad news: month-to month lease and a rent rise of $115, to $665. Peter thinks it’s terrible, but that’s the price of Palo Alto residency—good schools, etc. At that, we’re lucky. Smaller houses start at $750 and comparable ones to ours rent at $950. What a crazy world: all that money Peter earns, and can’t get ahead. Sure, we could live elsewhere, but the jobs are here. More xxx house stuff: we have to take out all the ground ivy. — I saw a rat on the telephone wire last night. Palo Alto is plagued with “roof x rats” and they live in ivy. yuk! squirrels are ever so nicer. Half a dozen house finches, a blue jay, a pair of morning doves, and assorted sparrows come regularly to my birdfeeder—what a piggy lot they are, too. but I love ’em. Even tho the doves poop on my strawberries. xxx How’s your little swallow? I hope he’s still about, next year. I’d like to get a better look at his back and tail, and his family. Lost my bird book; I hope it turns up.

Hope you are getting to spend lots of time at the beach. Lap! lap! lap! I can still hear it. What a lovely sound. Grandpa, how’s your cough? And did you get some extra glasses?

Did we tell you about the trip home? I think so; did we tell you that we watched Mount Shasta, snow-capped, framed by a double rainbow, just at sunset at the summer solstice! And Tuesday night Jupiter went behind the moon at 8:30 - but came out at 9:30 and we saw it do it! I was really excited: a real astronomical phenomenon, and we saw it. How marvelous the world is!

Ah, my best to the folks at your lovely church - I think of them often. We love you both a lot!



Peter and bed
I really liked that part of this letter. I feel like it’s been rare in these letters for Peter and Marcy to say sweet things about each other; I feel like in daily life their care for each other was clear, but it doesn’t necessarily come through so often in these letters. So it was really nice to read this.
“class at Santa Cruz”
I suspect that this was the math class (possibly about functors) from which Peter came home with a set of Rubik’s cube instructions, which taught me the cube-solving algorithm I still use today. …Though I don’t know why he went to that math class (it doesn’t seem like it had much to do with his work), and I don’t know why he was staying in Santa Cruz for the duration rather than commuting back and forth (it’s roughly a 45-minute drive each way, though longer at rush hour).
“learning to type”
I was startled to read this—I had misremembered my summer-school typing class as being sometime during high school. Possibly as early as the summer after 7th grade. But summer 1980 was the summer after 6th grade, so it was earlier than I thought. At the time, the only place I had access to something to type on (outside of that typing class) was my parents’ manual typewriter at home; I know that I wrote at least one paper on that, but I thought that was a couple years later. I had access to computers in the computer lab at school from 7th grade (fall of 1980) onward, but I don’t think I used a computer to write a paper until quite a bit later.
I remember the name, but nothing about who she was.
A friend of Marcy’s who later married Peter, which led to all sorts of things I’m not going to go into here.
trip home
Possibly we had visited George and Helen in Tacoma not long before this? I’m not sure.
“How marvelous the world is!”
This was another part of this letter that was really nice to read. Knowing that five months before her death, Marcy was still doing at least reasonably well, sounding happy and cheerful and appreciating the world, really helped me feel better about these letters.

Join the Conversation