Leslie H. was a sister in our little San Francisco band of dirty Peaceniks. I lost touch with her years ago so I can’t ask her for permission to print this letter to me. But it’s a document well worth sharing – it seems to me a brilliant picture of The Life, as we baby beatniks conceived it in that long ago year of 1962.
I don’t have much left from that era, but God is gracious, and left me this letter. How can I not share it with you? That it still exists is a minor miracle.
Leslie is eighteen and on the road with Peter, her lover (they married later, a true-love match.) She’s living the life we loved. The long hitch-hiking journeys, the drugs, a bit of the world-weary feeling I associate with those unpsychedelicized times, the uncapitalized sentences, the eternal ongoing planning of adventures to come. And of course – the literate self-awareness and ability to express herself well on paper.
Together they make up the essence of my times, kiddos – welcome to the winter of 1962. The day I received it the snows were beginning to fall over Long Island and the first winter rains were pouring into the sewers of Lily Alley, San Francisco.
I’ve added a few links to references that may be obscure today.
all this culminated last night with peter pouring chocolate milk shake on my head and i throwing my newly acquired enovid out the car window. i cried myself to sleep thinking of the past with the help of three seconal. but all is slightly better this morning–peter and i woke up early and talked and made love. so i have made him his breakfast, listened to e power biggs playing bach’s royal instrument (the organ), finished sanding, oiling, stringing, and tuning our new guitar–we took off all the mexican finish and wanted to leave it like that and oil it, but we ended up some how putting mahogany varnish on it–, and teaching myself bach’s minuet in g major on the piano and guitar.
a new thing for me–a snow storm the other night. if i had been younger or marguerita i would have run outside in it naked. now the snow has been here for two days and it is melting and looking a bit soiled.
we have been here for three weeks and i haven’t yet seen new york city, which is why i think we hitched out here. i can’t really remember why we came anymore except it has something to do with rolexin and the president and me and peter and new york/and cuba and kruschev and bombs
once i had a job for two weeks where i had to type all day.
i could tell you what happened to us hitch hiking and the people we met and what they said but it is not really very interesting or xxxxxx
(typing fades and gets scratchy-looking)
What is wrong with the fucking typewriter?
(she switches to pencil)
i will use a drafting pencil for want of a pen.
(she switches to blue ink)
i found a pen – i don’t like it
(this time she switches to black ink with bold point)
here is a fountainpen. i’ll use this.
anyway my point was that before i started i thought that hitch hiking to new york would be a great adventure and it wasn’t at all just mostly cold and boring. i have lost all my faith in jack kerouac.
we did meet some wonderful people in madison, wisconsin. They were students and mostly hippies but some cool – not cool really, but sweet. peter and i set out to close the university of wisconsin by turning everyone on to rolaxin (romilar there) i was introduced to everyone as the high priestess of romilar. we were staying with two great friends of peter’s – sam and john. one night we were all high and someone knocked on the door. john answered it and a man asked – do you have any cockroaches. sam told him – yes, but they’re on our side.
the night before we left i got into a drinking contest with peter. i lost miserably. it’s the first time i’ve ever been drunk. i vaguely remember crying for two hours about my abortion – peter was very sweet and says i really wasn’t too bad. i also somehow cut off a large section of big toe. i am now firmly convinced that pot is so much better for teen-agers than booze.
i don’t want to write on and on and bore you. so i will shortly close.
how are you and linda and expected baby? and working, being responsible, etc.
everyone there except peter’s mother thinks we’re married. address any future mail accordingly. i even have a woolworth’s golden wedding band ($1.00, without tax) i am also maybe pregnant, which is fine with both of us. peter is a very fine person to have babies from.
we have plans. we will be back in san francisco by april (by way of virginia, etc.) and then peter and i will get jobs (if i am not pregnant, i will) save money until june. take a bus to mexico city – some odd $60 dollars (both) and go to mexico city college. my parents will support me – i will support peter. will have baby in mid-August and let a maid take care of him ($15 a month). i want so much to learn things! i mean, at college – therefore a maid for the baby. i am going to see all the art galleries and museums in new york (while peter works – he may be able to get a job as an artist’s model for 7.50 an hour). i am going to learn to really cook – no instant anything. and find a place to practice piano, and look at new york and maybe sew pregnant clothes. – why do i always plan things?
anyway write to me – maybe often. i need it. are you kidding about the naval? tell me about it.
very much love to you – and i will think about you.
[this letter started out fine but it bogs at the end and is incoherent – i’m sorry]