A Life of Letters

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

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Wearing Your Striped Shirt is Enough to Make My Day

Posted in 1980, Loves, Rebecca by southpawcom on February 6, 2010

Bec taped this note to my door at 269 Phillips Hall at Michigan State, before she whisked off to begin her busy day. I remember that when I wanted to linger in bed with her in the mornings, she would demur gently: “I want to start my day.”

I’ve always felt a special intimacy whenever a girlfriend (or wife) would wear an article of my clothing. Bec would frequently wear a lot of my shirts and even my grey, Irish walking cap. Talk about cute.

For my part, she had a pair of denim OshKosh overalls that I could wear. She and others had applied to them all kinds of sayings and loopy flower-power designs with blue ballpoint ink.

When she wore them, though, as she walked past I would enjoy grabbing the utility loops on the sides, saying “C’mere…,” and kissing her before freeing her to her return to her appointed rounds. It was also rather nice that one needed only to slide a hand down under the riveted buttons on either side, as likely to be undone as done, for a little heavy pettin’.

There is no doubt in my mind that the tape at the bottom of the image was helped along toward becoming yellowed by having picked up a bit of the heavy stain and lacquer applied in many coats to the old oak door of my residence hall room, 269 Phillips, Michigan State University. Go Green!

Wish You Hadn’t Ripped Off Ma Bell, Son

Posted in 1980, Family, Mom by southpawcom on January 16, 2010

At the time my mom wrote this letter in November 1980, my life was about to take a dark turn. My dad, who had been diagnosed with colon cancer two years earlier, had been found to have bladder cancer just before I returned to East Lansing for my junior year at Michigan State. He was deteriorating rapidly, and the cancer was about to be found to have moved to his brain. Ronald Reagan, whom I despised, had just been elected president, to everyone’s horror. And John Lennon, an icon and our newly resurgent hero, had less than a month to live.

I was madly in love with Rebecca. We lived together at the Ulrey House Coop on M.A.C. Avenue in East Lansing.  We wore clothes from the Salvation Army and scrimped by, not necessarily because we were destitute, but because we were determined to live simply, “off the fat of the land,” at Rebecca would put it. We also rejected materialism, and I at least had been greatly influenced by my socialist professor of my Urban Sociology class, David Hill, and had learned to hate the multinational corporations that exploited us American consumers and workers while at the same time enslaving our brothers and sisters in far-off lands, such as El Salvador.

Over the summer I had read in a newspaper called the Flint Voice, written and published in part by Michael Moore, who later would become a famed political documentary film maker, about a method whereby one could make long-distance phone calls for free by dialing in a pay phone a phony credit card number with a certain code. It was irresistible — I could talk for hours with my beloved while at the same time sock it to AT&T, who of course had the blood on their hands of assassinated president Salvador Allende of copper-rich Chile. I remember making quite a number of free phone calls from pay booths around Louisville to Rebecca’s house in Detroit and believing it was perfectly all right.

All it took for me to stop ripping off the phone company, however, was Mom’s plaintive story of her bewildering involvement in Ma Bell’s investigation of my deception. It also stung a little bit that Rebecca’s mom also got involved…and perhaps even ratted me out. In any case, I hated to disappoint Mom like that.

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