A Life of Letters

Spring Break Tree Planting

Posted in 1981, Family, Michael by southpawcom on March 9, 2012

Michael sounds stressed in this letter. And why wouldn’t he be, with a wedding, a new home, and his father’s death waiting for him in the next six months?

Rebecca and I did join him on our Spring Break from Michigan State to go tree planting with him and his crew in southern Indiana. I don’t remember much about it, except that Rebecca was better than I at pulling those white pine seedlings out of the quiver and wedging them into the moist Hoosier earth with the specialized, iron tree-planting tool.

Sans All That Fuzz

Posted in 1989, Family, Mom by southpawcom on March 9, 2012

Vaguely I seem to recall it bothering me that Mom’s message was flush right.

I didn’t know it, but Mom was only four or fewer years from showing indisputable signs of dementia. There isn’t a whole lot here, other than the flush right formatting, to foretell of any problems. She is fawning of her birthday presents, but just not as journalistic as usual of her doings.

She loved the sweatpants that Julie and I got her. She crocheted ankle warmers and sewed them onto the cuffs of the sweatpants.

Supreme Songster

Posted in 1984, Friends by southpawcom on March 9, 2012

If one was not a supreme songster but could still somehow be made to feel like he was, my friend Mike M.– the flaming heterosexual — could do it.

Start Walkin’!

Posted in 1974 and before, Mom by southpawcom on March 9, 2012

Usually Mom picked me up after play practice at West Hills Junior High School in Bloomfield Hills. However, as she was by the fall of 1973 a working mom, she sometimes had to work late and it wasn’t always possible for her to pick me up.

Seems this day she called the principal’s office, and Mrs. Gwin, the trusty secretary, took this note. A note like this today would be a smoking gun of child neglect (I was 13) but you can view for yourself the Nancy Sinatra-like alacrity with which they kicked the children of Bloomfield Hills to the dusty trail in the early ’70s.

It wasn’t unusual for me to walk the three or so miles from middle school to home in those days. I recall doing so several times, happily…and safely. Occasionally I would stop on the way at Lisa Mc’s house, across from our school, for some companionship. Only companionship. Dang it. Because I wasn’t paying attention….


Posted in 1986, Kim, Loves by southpawcom on March 9, 2012

I was firmly going with Julie by Christmas of 1986, engaged even, when Kim sent this card from Washington, D.C., where she had taken a writer position with USA Today. She had no business suggesting a holiday get-together, but moreover I had no business not discouraging her.

Had Shrimp Stir Fry for Dinner!

Posted in 1990, Julie, Wives by southpawcom on March 9, 2012

An excerpt from my journal of January 1990.

Late Mid-20s

Posted in 1985, Friends by southpawcom on March 6, 2012

I remember commenting to Jamie that I was entering my “late mid-20s” on this birthday. That was in an effort to not feel so old compared to the others in my group, who all were still in their early 20s. It made a difference at that age.

I remember also being disappointed at the impersonality of her card. A cat?? Today her choice is redeemed by the nostalgic, period look of the graphic art.

I thought I was getting something started with Jamie in the early spring of ’84 but she got spooked either by something I did (likely) or something she heard about me (even likelier) that she didn’t like.

If my late mid-20s encompassed the age 27, then I got this card in 1985, when I was going steady with Julie. Otherwise it was 1984 when I think I would have gotten something a tinch more personal.

hope, hope

Posted in 1980, Fellow Travelers by southpawcom on March 6, 2012

Jackie S. was a friend of Tori, my New Jersey girlfriend in the late 1970s. I was friendly with two of Tori’s girlfriends, Jackie and Cathy M., quite independent of Tori and for quite a while after Tori and I stopped seeing each other. I doubt that Tori even knows this!

Right out of a Springsteen song, Jackie was just a nice New Jersey girl who had a long relationship with her boyfriend, Denny H. I remember hanging out with them some from time to time, drinking beer and listening to ELO records. Once we all piled in a car in the fall of ’77 and drove down to Rutgers to hang out for a day and night. I had my first Guinness stout on that occasion and nearly threw up I hated it so much. I also recall trying to play Frisbee outside but the closest thing we had to a Frisbee was a round sofa pillow.

Evidently when Rebecca and I took our hitchhiking trip up the East Coast in the summer of ’80 we stopped in NJ to hang out with Jackie, Denny, his bearded brother, Chris, and others, but I don’t recall it. If I heard again from Jackie after this, I’d be really surprised. I have a strong feeling she has had a good life, probably with Denny, and with lots of kids.

hope, hope

I Don’t Know If I’ll Ever Get On the Water

Posted in 1983, Loves, Rebecca by southpawcom on March 6, 2012

Bec had moved to Seattle with a young woman she knew from working at El Azteco in East Lansing. She was 22.

Lindsay Ann Became Unhinged

Posted in 1982, Family, Mom by southpawcom on March 6, 2012

Mom had some pretty close girlfriends among the ladies who lived on the dusty road of the new subdivision they made out of a farm in Goshen, Kentucky. Ann was a Kentucky blonde of the type that today we would confidently call a “milf.” Although I believe she and her husband, Clyde, were childless, Lindsay Ann was more of an “earth mother” type. I think that Mom liked her more, because she was more down to earth. She and mom would share books and frequently have coffee together in the airy kitchens of their designer-built homes.

I treasure these newsy updates she would send me frequently in the years after Dad died and she still maintained the homestead all by herself.