My son and I have written many snail mail letters. Here is an example of our thoughts on our communication in 2001.
A Different view, looking back
So far these letters to relatives and friends that constitute my published biography have been my point of view and opinions. Now that my son Richard has had a few years of successful adulthood, I thought it would be illuminating if he had some input here also.
Here is my e-mail letter from November 6, 2001.
Hi- I was ruminating on my next newsletter, and thought that I had gotten side tracked from finishing up the story of our adventures in outdoor living. How about I ask questions of how you felt about things?
Then you answer and I make it into an interview format?
Like camping out in the 18 foot travel trailer, tent, and car, living at Lake Elsinore, El Mirage, California City, Turf Soaring Arizona, Wisconsin, Knightsen etc. Just let your mind drift back to the days of stones heated in our campfire for the feet on winter nights, picking up cans for video game money, long “nature” hikes and whatever you want to get off your chest at this late date.
Well I remember a few things from that eraJ.
My nightmare was when we camped out at Saddleback Butte, the most godforsaken campground on this planet.
As I recall, it was a barren strip of desert, made into a campground with a non-flush biffy and a faucet for “facilities”. Also I recall crewing at one airport –Tulare was it? And it was even worse.
On the other hand there were times I quite enjoyed roughing it. Once in the desert, it was a full moon out, and the wolves were howling and it was bright enough to read a book by- so I did. I was not too engaged by this reading thing at first-in the first grade I was in remedial training. However, after my first book I got hooked, soon to be followed by stacks and stacks of books checked out from the library. Later on, on the side, I think you home-taught me math and other things.
Also, I really enjoyed the Devil’s Punchbowl and the park ranger there, who let me play with a Boa as big as I was! I remember hiking around and it seemed so vast! A few times I was a little afraid.
In Arizona, I remember archery at Turf Soaring School, and playing with the local girl. I played in the mud a lot, because frankly, there wasn’t much to do around there. O.K. I really have to do some work here. Love, Richard
There were no wolves in the desert, but the band of coyotes must have sounded ferocious on a bright moonlit night, so his 8 year old imagination got carried away.
Next letter from Richard as an afterthought.
I also remembered getting kicked out a lot. In particular, we lived at some single guy’s house in Lake Elsinore I believe. And then one would get drunk and say you were not raising me right, and then you would get mad and we’d take off.
I think that was our nemesis Bob, who wanted me to wash his windows on my day off from working at the aircraft factory at Rubidoux Airport. I got mad because I was being exploited.
I think Joe S— was the only one criticizing the way I was raising you, but he was a real native type German from the old country and that is standard ops, and not to be taken seriously in this day and age. After all, I changed the tires and oil on the Volvo, drove the retrieval vehicle for sailplane pilots who landed out in the bushes, and in general took no s— from anybody. Love, Mom
Okay, I remember Bob! Yes he was a bit of a dork wasn’t he? Good to move away from those types of guys. Now Joe S—I remember him as a good influence on me.
Since I hardly saw my Dad, my father figures were limited to Joe S—and maybe my friend Keith’s Dad a little bit. You were embittered with the whole male species, and I think it rubbed off on me when I was attempting to make my own transition into being a man. I ended up apologizing to girls for making pretty normal moves on them when I was 16, and felt extremely ashamed of myself. Now, I can’t blame you Mom—you made a lot of sacrifices to make sure I got a good education, and gave me love and affection and all that stuff, and I was on autopilot anyways by 16. It really gets back to Dad- I think he either didn’t realize what he was putting you through, or didn’t care. You did the best with what you had and I appreciate it!
I do know this though, I think Dad felt very responsible for Mike’s death and it weighed on his soul.
I am 28, the same age as Mike when he died, so am anxious now to make my mark on the world.
Honestly, I feel the irrational desire to redeem not only my lack of a life so far, but maybe Mike’s and Dad’s as well. I’m not sure karma works that way. We’ll see.
Your insights to my questions are certainly very pithy and frank. It is valuable in showing another side of me and our life in relation to family and society. In another era I would have been doomed to a life of depression and perhaps committed to the looney bin, and not had the opportunity to use my survival skills to living life my way.
As it was, my childhood of loss and deprivation prepared me for the gypsy life on the road with you, and in more ways than one was my normal life style. Living in Irvine amongst the up-tight homeowners gave me nothing but ulcers and high blood pressure, and I was very glad to flee to the wide open vistas of Lake Elsinore and the glider airport life.
Now that I have adjusted to life in the Really Big City of New York, it seems kind of impossible that I was once out in those God forsaken desert campgrounds cooking pea soup on a wood campfire, and using the “biffy” with no running water.
P.S. Even though we have gone through some scary times both in the desert and in the city (I had a view of the Twin Towers out my bathroom window on 9/11/01) my family is close and loving towards one another.
My son Richard and daughter Pam intend to fly out to see me in the middle of December. They have faith that they will arrive safely and able to celebrate life in Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza.