Annie Moore, nursing school graduation, 1975
Ann Elizabeth Moore (1954-1978) was the youngest daughter in the
Moore family: John and Barbara, the father and mother, Carolyn Moore
Layton, the oldest daughter, and Rebecca Moore, the middle daughter.
Annie and Carolyn died in Jonestown, along with Carolyn's four year-old
The following excerpt is from The Jonestown Letters: Correspondence
of the Moore Family 1970-1985 (Lewiston NY: Edwin Mellen Press,
When Annie joined Peoples Temple in 1972, John said to himself, "Oh
God, isn't one child enough?" Carolyn had cut herself off from us
once she became involved in the Temple. We feared that Annie would
distance herself from family and friends in the same way.
We hadn't reckoned with Annie's strong sense of independence and
offbeat sense of humor. She never took herself very seriously. And
in spite of her deep commitment to Peoples Temple, she had difficulty
taking it seriously all the time. Life for her was something to use
to help people and find a laugh at the same time.
Her commitment to social justice came from a spiritual rather than
political viewpoint. While [my sister] Carolyn told us several times
that she was an atheist, Annie seemed to maintain some kind of belief
in God. While Carolyn worked from an ideological foundation, Annie
worked out of a simple desire to be of some use in the world as she
found it. While Carolyn talked seriously, Annie made faces and laughed
Annie organized a peace vigil in Davis, California when she was in
high school, and challenged the school administration to let her show
a media presentation on the air war in Vietnam at a school assembly.
She collected the money for the Yolo County Hunger Hike and hid the
proceeds in the butter compartment of the refrigerator.
In 1969, Annie wrote a letter to my first husband Patrick, who was
going through Army medical training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.
She was fifteen years old.
... The army is a tough place to be, but there are a lot of tough
places to be. Just let's think of every soldier and every Vietnamese
farmer and family and all of the Biafran people and even here in
the U.S. The world is full of them. That's what it is. I can say
I'm glad I'm not in your shoes or in any army boy's shoes. Life
is full of sacrifices. That's what [United Methodist minister] Phillip
Walker told us and some people have to do the dirty work and some
I can have an easy conscience because I don't have to do much of
the dirty work. That's what life's all about and I'm sure you know
it, but I just thought I'd remind you...
Some things you just can't explain, but with one mind you can do
wonders, and with two you can do more, and with three you can do
even more. We are really in control of our lives, and if we think
positive, it works better. You can't forget the suffering, but you
can feel better. You make other people feel better too...
In the summer of 1971, she stayed with Pat and me in Washington,
D.C. She got acquainted with some of our friends as we organized a
group house which became known at "Sanitary House," because the Sanitary
Market was located on the corner.
During that summer, she volunteered at Children's Hospital, an older
hospital in the heart of Washington's black ghetto. She rode the bus
through rundown parts of town every day, carrying her guitar to play
for the kids. She spent most of her time in the hospital's burn ward,
where children with grisly wounds looked forward to her visits. She
became friends with one child in particular, Tyrone, who had been
set on fire by some teenagers.
The next year she stood at a crossroads. John, my father, described
it in a speech at Kansas State University:
... Annie was graduated from high school in June 1972. We traveled
East. There were two places she wanted to go. She wanted to see
her sister and brother-in-law in Washington, and the Yazoo Delta
in Mississippi. She loved soul, jazz and blues. She had made a ceramic
man, an old man sitting in a chair, playing his guitar. She wanted
to see if the Yazoo Delta was as she had imagined it. In September
we moved to Berkeley. Annie visited Carolyn over the weekend. They
gave her the hard sell, and she changed her plans to live with Becky
in Washington. She chose to become a member of Peoples Temple. Barbara
Pat and I were disappointed. We'd looked forward to her living with
us. She explained her decision in a letter.
August 7, 1972
Dear Becky and Pat,
Well, I have finally made up my mind for good I think and I am
not going to stay permanently with you. It was hard for me to make
that decision since I have been looking forward to it for almost
a year. I hope you won't be angry at me for not coming to stay and
I hope that you won't think that I don't love you. Maybe you'll
The reason is because (and you'll probably groan) I am going to
maybe live with Carolyn or in one of her church dorms. I visited
her and her church a week or so ago and I am convinced that it is
a good place to be. (Even better than D.C. I guess.) I get along
with you guys better than I get along with Carolyn but I think her
church really has something to offer. It seems like most of the
people who go there, stay. Well, now I know why. Her church or Jim
Jones has and knows more secrets about the world than any other
group or person. Also their church is socialist in the real sense
(the kind of society Jesus was talking about). I thought I may be
dumping the real regular world by joining with them, but I think
there is little alone that I can do.
So that's my decision. I was also convinced about Jim Jones' power
and his 'words of wisdom' when I saw him pull incurable cancers
out of peoples' throats. I've never heard of any faith healer who
could do that (let alone any doctor). So as you can imagine, Mom
and Dad are really bugged by my decision because they think that
Carolyn's church is a real weirdo church. I must admit that I think
it's pretty weird. But the reason people are afraid of it and ridicule
it is because they don't understand it, and because they are skeptics.
So if I hadn't of gone to visit Carolyn I would still be coming
to Washington and although I was really looking forward to being
in Washington, I'm glad that I will be involved with Peoples Temple.
You probably think that I am brainwashed and stuff, but I think
I am a sensible person and no one can tell me what to do. I decide
I think another reason why Mom and Dad are bugged is because they
think I'll be like Carolyn and cut all ties with my family and friends
which I have tried to convince them that I won't do. Carolyn kind
of went overboard and I don't think I'm the kind that would. Well,
enough talk of this. Now you know what I have decided. I hope you
will still like me and not think I have deserted you. And I hope
you will treat me the same and not like some mentally ill person
from Peoples Temple. So I'll see you when Mom and Dad and I come
and I hope I haven't caused you any trouble like moving around in
the house and stuff.
Pat and I didn't like it, and we told her so. We were selfish: we
wanted her to live with us. But we had also seen Carolyn's withdrawal
from the family. Our letter in reply must have been critical, because
Annie wrote back on September 3, 1972:
... You obviously think that the Peoples Temple is just another
cult or religious fanatic place or something like that. Well, I'm
kind of offended that you would think I would stoop so low as to
join some weirdo group. I think I am a pretty sensible person and
I can tell what's real and what's not. People have a hard time fooling
me. The reason that the Temple is great is not just because Jim
Jones can make people cough up cancers but because there is the
largest group of people I have ever seen who are concerned about
the world and are fighting for truth and justice for the world.
And all the people have come from such different backgrounds, every
color, every age, every income group, and they have turned into
constructive people from being dopers and thieves and being greedy,
wanting lots of money and having 'things'. So anyway it's the only
place I have seen real true Christianity being practiced. Well,
I can't explain all of why I want to go there; I guess I kind of
want to be a follower because I sure can't try to change the world
all by myself.
The exchange of letters continued. We expressed our skepticism and
doubt. Annie defended her choice.
September 25, 1972
Sorry if my last letter bugged you. Your letter back was good.
I know already now, that the Peoples Temple isn't phony, but I will
show you and Becky that in time. The faith healing stuff bothers
everyone at first; they have people in the church who were more
skeptical than you are, so I guess they are the kinds who have to
'see it to believe it.' Anyway, that's not the most important part
of the church.
Jim says that after death (or after the heart stops beating and
breathing stops) the subconscious of the person still lingers and
by making that man I told you about last time come back to life
he transmits his spirit (or whatever) and says stuff like, 'We love
you, and care about you,' I'm not sure what else, and the body functions
come back along with consciousness. Normally anyone who came back
to life after 12 minutes would have brain damage, but Jim has extraordinary
power I guess. I certainly don't understand all of it. Anyway, people
can't be brought back to life if their subconscious has gone
somewhere else, but when people have been pronounced dead, many
times their subconscious has still been lingering around their bodies...
Annie believed in the sincerity of the faith healings. At the same
time, she decided to pursue a career in medicine. Her experiences
at Children's Hospital did not discourage her from thinking about
entering the field of nursing. She worked as a nurse's aide at a convalescent
home in Ukiah shortly after joining the Temple. A nursing friend remarked
that if she could do geriatric nursing, she could do any kind of nursing.
It turned out that she could, and that she wanted to. She applied
to the nursing school at Santa Rosa Junior College, and eventually
was admitted into the program.
Within a few months of joining the Temple and moving to Redwood Valley,
Annie's job at Ukiah Convalescent Hospital dominated her thoughts.
December 2, 1972
Dear Pat and Becky,
Hi! How come you haven't written to me? I've been waiting because
I figured it was your turn to write me. I've been really busy lately
with working and the church. Did you know that I got a job? I work
as a nurse's aide at Ukiah Convalescent Hospital. The work is really
hard and tiring but I like it OK because I like the old folks. It's
a messy job of cleaning up the people and crap. The funny part of
it is going around and seeing who's had a B.M. Then you have to
ask if it is large, medium or small. You have to watch with half
the people because half of them don't know what they're doing anyway
because when Mendocino State Hospital closed down, most of the convalescent
hospitals got their share of patients coming to their hospital.
What they do in ours is hide them all in the back so when people
come in, they won't see them. The patients in the front get a whole
lot more visitors than in the back. The people in the convalescent
hospital are really pathetic, some of them, but there sure are a
lot of humorous moments too. I sure rush around all day to get my
work done. The employer is a real snot so the place is underhanded
[understaffed]. You have 12 patients usually and although that may
not seem like many, it is if you have to dress half of them and
change the beds and run around trying to find someone to help you
lift them. You have to keep changing some of them too in the afternoon
before the P.M. shift comes on because they'll have a fit if anyone
is wet when they come to work. Our morning shift is the hardest
of all I am told. I work from 6:30 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. It sure is
tiring by the time you get through spending your day on your feet,
running around. I get to do some official stuff like irrigating
catheters, measuring urine, and writing in charts. I have never
given a shot and know I won't do that. Oh, I've taken blood pressure
too. So it's o.k. work.
I applied to Santa Rosa Junior College and hope I can get into
their nursing program. I will be going in January if I get accepted,
but I don't know how soon I can get into the nursing program because
they are really tight when it comes to that. They try to discourage
you before you get a chance to see if that's what you want to do.
But I won't be discouraged.
I'll have an extra bonus especially after working in Children's
Hospital in Washington and from working here, if I do O.K. here.
All I can say is that I'm doing as well as I know how. It's hard
I'm sure glad to be living here in Redwood Valley. It's really
beautiful country around here and I love the people in the church.
It's the only place I ever saw that people aren't phony and really
come face-to-face with their hang-ups and problems. It's really
refreshing because then you don't have to deal with people through
blocks they put up. If they have molested children, they say they
did but they don't any more. Or if they have had homosexual experiences,
they say so and that makes one less block to communicate through.
No one really cares what you have done anyway. As long as you're
doing good now, it doesn't matter. The main part is working for
change in our society but you can't work effectively or as Jesus
said, 'You have to take the cinder out of your own eye before you
can change others.' (Or something like that.) So that's what we're
doing and I think that's the most important thing to do.
I don't mind sacrificing things to help change the society because
there's not much in this world to offer anyway. I don't see how
anyone can find happiness or true satisfaction or whatever until
the whole world is free of oppression and people are totally equal,
honest and unselfish. I'm not worrying about getting married anymore
because no matter what the cover-up is, people don't act like their
marriages are all happy and fulfilling like the big romantic story
is. Anyway the dudes around here are real creepy and I think they're
a bunch of queers anyway. So are girls queers too but it seems like
dudes are worse off, so I don't want to hassle with it.
This church offers a place where you'll never be lonely and the
counseling group stays up till 5 in the morning doing stuff. People
are really giving. So we have here a real apostolic community, just
the way Jesus was saying with black and white and old and young.
And the reason I know it ain't fake is how could it be if the leader
can bring life to dead people, make the blind see, the lame walk,
know the thoughts of your mind and the intents of your heart. I
can tell a fake if I see one. I literally saw in one meeting this
lady's leg literally grow out four inches because it was shorter
than the other leg. Last week I saw 8 people cured of blindness,
four of them totally blind for all of their life. And of course
spitting up cancers and expelling them from the anus or vagina is
old stuff. So I know it's real. Anyway, that's not the most important
part. That's just a sideline so that we will know that working for
true brotherhood is the right thing to do.
Willie [the dog] is doing fine and likes Redwood Valley I think.
We have lots of animals around. It sure gets cold here, though.
Well, tell me how Washington is and how you like school and work.
Annie's experiences in Peoples Temple, meeting people of different
classes and races, made a profound impression upon her. In the spring
of 1973, my mother Barbara wrote me that:
Annie spent two days with us during Easter vacation but was very
pressured to finish her term paper so was not exactly her old whimsical
self. No smiles, just a few good piano workouts. She's going through
culture shock, I believe. She now realizes how the poor live and
the way it really is for so many people in the U.S. and the
world. I thought she already knew before she began going to services
at Peoples Temple, but I guess not ...
Peoples Temple changed her life. The decision to join was not an
easy one, but once made, she committed her life and thoughts to the
institution. John reflected upon her choice in a letter to me dated
December 5, 1979:
... When Annie decided to join PT, she quoted scripture, which
I'm sure she had been taught in PT.
'If you love me less than your family, you are not worthy of me...'
Jesus' words about forsaking family and following him. Matt. 10:37
'take up your cross...' 'forsake mother and father, sons and daughters,
and follow me...'
This was actually the choice Annie was feeling. She wanted us to
join PT. She wanted us to be together. She did not want to cut the
tie with family. The tie would not have been cut if we had joined
PT. She chose a new family. This is the choice that often confronts
the young, perhaps always in marriage, or joining a religious order.
The new family she chose did not allow her the freedom we had respected.
Matt. 19:21 'Go sell all you have and give to the poor...' Annie
sold her records. Mom bought them from her. She was going to sell
her guitar, but PT told her not to sell that. She entered PT in
the same way a woman might enter a religious order .. with a vow
of poverty. Mom knows more about this.
What Annie had been taught in the home about loyalty beyond mother
and dad, i.e., loyalty to God, and readiness to renounce possessions,
or a distancing from possessions, were the things in PT that pulled
her ... among other things. We could not renounce what we had taught,
although we did not like her new allegiance... [ellipses in original]
The following letters date from 1973 to 1974, and reflect Annie's
views on life, nursing, Peoples Temple, and Jim Jones. She also discusses
men, somewhat cynically, although she doesn't include her boyfriend,
Chris Rozynko, in her characterization of all men as "queer".
January 7, 1973
Dear Pat and Becky,
Howdy! You should be back in Washington by now. I'm glad I got
to visit with you even though it was for such a short time. I sure
was busy that Christmas week. I worked for six days in a row after
I visited with you guys. Then I skipped a day and worked four days
in a row. My schedule is always so weird. I won't have to hassle
with it much longer because I'll be starting at Santa Rosa Junior
College on February 5. I have my appointment on this Tuesday. Hopefully
I'll know what I'm doing and I'll do well -- hope, hope. The thing
I'm worried about most is chemistry and other math courses. Well,
I guess I won't bother myself worrying about them.
Thanks for that neat photograph and the book you gave me. Everyone
likes Becky's original photographing techniques and the book is
really interesting so far. Three people have died in the hospital
since I've been there. I didn't know any of them very well. Two
of them were so sickly that they were like walking skeletons but
one was a surprise to me because he seemed to be O.K. -- to me.
Now the place is full -- 58 beds. I've had it kind of easy lately
because I haven't had to clean up any B.M.'s in peoples' beds or
pants. Just wait until tomorrow or the next day. I'll probably have
some awful messes.
I hope you are enjoying school O.K. again. You never told me too
much about it. I guess there wasn't much to tell. School is school.
The Christmas service at church which we had New Year's Day was
really good. The reason we celebrated on New Year's is because after
Christmas the prices on toys are cut in half and the kids get double
what they would normally get if they were to spend $16 on each child
before Christmas day. Some really miraculous things happened in
the service. People are always being restored after dying but better
things than that happened this time.
Well, [President] Nixon makes me boil. It's too bad people don't
see how much like Hitler he is. I think he is a devious person.
He doesn't have any intention to end the war at all. I don't see
how the American people can be fooled by all of his lies. He keeps
putting us off again and again.
Well, enough of him. Thanks again for the good stuff. Say hi to
Sanitary House folks and tell Barbara [a friend] that I really like
it here. She wondered about it.
February 4, 1973
Dear Pat and Becky,
I just moved to Santa Rosa a couple of days ago. The dorms are
really neat. All they are are duplexes that the church bought. Ours
will have seven girls in it. The garage is all fixed up and has
all of the beds in it. There are bunk beds. Then there's the kitchen
and living room and three bedrooms which are converted into study
rooms with each person having his or her own special desk with partitions
kind of like at the library. It's really neat. Everyone is gone
right now except for a few of us because we had to stay to take
a nursing entrance exam. (It's the weekend and everyone else is
in the L.A. meeting.) The test was sure weird. They want to know
some funny things before you become a nurse. There was a vocabulary
test making you give synonyms and antonyms of words. Then there
was a math part (easy math), science part, a general information
part and a reading comprehension part. The general information part
had some pretty dumb questions on it. One of them had the word Tinkerbell
and you had to match it with A) Robin Hood B) Peter Pan C) Jack
and the Beanstalk D) The Old Man and the Sea. It was sure a dumb
question. Overall, it was an easy test compared to the SAT test
that I took. (Watch me wreck up on this one.) Oh, and at the end
of this test there was a psychological part asking like A) I like
to read about murders and other violence in the paper or B) I would
like to be a recognized authority in my field -- and you had to
choose which one you would rather do. They kept repeating it again
and again these questions to try and catch you up on it. I had a
hard time figuring this test out. On some I can figure them out
but this one was different. So, I hope I did good so I can get into
nursing school ...
How is everything in Washington, D.C.? I know a girl here who lived
there all her life. We were talking about it there. Everyone likes
that picture you took and mounted, Becky. I'm still reading the
death and dying book but am almost through with it. It really is
a good book.
Oh, I quit my job a week ago at the hospital. I totally earned
about $500 in the 2-1/2 months I worked there so I didn't earn much,
but it has been a little bit of help to me. It costs $750 a year
to live in these dorms. That pays for food, room and books so that
is pretty good. We have to pay for our own personal articles. Well,
I have more letters to write...
February 21, 1973
Hope you have an exciting 24th of February now that you'll be a
big 22 years old. I thought this was a cute card, appropriate for
School is exciting for a change, what a shock! I actually am enjoying
it. I'll tell you about my classes. First I have Sociology 2 --
The Study of Social Problems and 'Deviances'. We had a prostitute
come in last week to talk to us. All I could think was that from
her attitude, she sure was masochistic. This week we have some people
from the gay liberation coming...
I really like my English 1A class. It is readings on social problems.
My book is called Love, Violence, Capitalism and Other Topics
and has excerpts of things written by all kinds of people like Dostoevsky,
Erich Fromm and Eldridge Cleaver. I always argue in that class.
I don't want to sound egotistical but most of the people in that
class are sure dumb, especially the teacher. She tries to be hip
and be in on the new stuff happening today but she just can't quite
'get it on'. My best friend in that class is a 35-year-old housewife.
I'm not speaking as Miss Experience but most of the people in that
class sure are naive about the world. I like the class though because
it's more fun to argue than always everybody agreeing on something...
I really like Santa Rosa J.C. It is a beautiful campus and the
classes aren't full of any more idiots than a university, contrary
to popular belief of snooty 'intellectuals'. I like living in the
dorms too. There are three and what they are are 3 duplexes. We
have seven people in ours and it works good. All the bunkbeds are
in the converted garage. Then two rooms are study rooms with desks
and one room is for storage and then there's the kitchen and living
room. It may sound small, but I like it and get along well with
the people. We are all organized so that the house is always clean
and people can't leave messes around and have their certain chores.
Anyway, I like it here so far. I hope you have a cheery birthday
and have a good time. I was glad to get yours and Pat's letters.
March 30, 1973
Dear Pat and Becky,
How are you? I was glad to receive your letter, Boo-Boo. The train
is going by our house right now. We live right near the railroad
tracks. In fact, they are right behind us. They don't ever wake
me up in the night, though. I am usually so tired. I average about
four hours of sleep a night. It's not quite enough but I'm hoping
it will be soon. I feel good all day when I get just six hours.
That is an average for me now. It just shows that you can adjust
yourself to less sleep if you want to or have to...
I don't know if you two or Mom and Dad understand where my thinking
is. You see, I don't care if I have a so-called 'good time' and
take time out for my personal pleasures. All I want is to work hard
for the ultimate goal -- brotherhood for all. I'm not interested
in carrying on a relationship with a dude at least right now. I
have never found enjoyment at parties or games or going to movies.
I don't believe anyone can enjoy life or really be happy with so
much pain and suffering in the world. They would have to be totally
unfeeling if they did. It's not fair for me to have more 'things'
than someone else, or more money to spend on personal pleasures
than others. Americans are such gluttons. We eat so much more than
we need while 2 out of 3 people in the world are starving. We put
all of these poisons into our systems like meat and other unhealthy
food. Then everyone wonders why so many people have cancer today.
I can't believe how unconcerned about the state of our country and
the world that people are. Here each one of our checks that we write
is photographed, it is impossible to take $5,000 or more over the
state border without telling why, slowly our freedom of the press
is being taken away, Nixon says our Congress is irresponsible, people
were arrested for bringing food to people who were protesting at
Wounded Knee, Billy Graham goes to South Africa and says how wonderful
it is there and all kinds of other things are happening. Anyway
things are going to get worse and worse unless people join together
and make them better. I want to be in on changing the world to be
a better place and I would give my life for it. So I don't care
about cute dudes or good times. I am the gladdest I have ever been,
to be in this church working for social justice and brotherhood.
There's no place else that I would rather be because I know I am
doing what my conscious [conscience] says is right to do.
It's not important that Jim Jones can heal people of cancer and
blindness. What counts is that he gives his whole self for others.
He averages 2 hours of sleep a week because he is up all night doing
counseling and church work. I never saw any soul care and have so
much love for all aspects of life as I have in Jim Jones. He would
not kill the slightest bug or pull a weed unless it was harming
man as a whole. I've never seen such dedication in any person before.
This is how I know the church is good. No one else could bring black
and white as close together as in the church. Anyway, I want to
work hard and make something of myself because I have the brains
(I think) and I should put them to good use. It took me a while
to figure this out but I finally did.
So, now you know how I think. I hope you and everyone else in Sanitary
House are doing well. Everything is okay with me. I'll hear from
you another time.
June 14, 1973
Dear Pat and Becky,
Well, it's taken me a long time to write but at least I'm finally
writing. I've got all kinds of things to tell you...
The super-duper good news is that I got accepted into the nursing
school here at Santa Rosa! Out of 500 or more applicants, they picked
40 students to be in the program, and I really lucked out. So, I'll
have my R.N. is just two years and if I want to go on further, I
can. I don't know what gave you the impression that I didn't like
medicine and that I was doing it because I wanted to help the suffering
in the world. I enjoy the sciences, especially physical sciences.
I have always been interested in different diseases and physical
anatomy. (Pat seemed to think this. I don't know if you thought
this, Becky.) I can't think of anything I would rather do right
now than become a nurse. They put you right to work in the program
that I am in, right in the hospital. I'll know how to give shots
by this December even, so they really put you to it. No one from
Santa Rosa Nursing School has ever flunked the board examination.
At least they said 99% of their students pass. Someone told me that
they flunk everyone out of school before they can get far enough
to get out of school.
Anyway I am glad to be in nursing school and I'm actually pretty
proud of myself for it. In response to Pat's letter about Bach,
I think Bach was a good guy but music isn't all there is. You don't
give a starving man a Bach concert or give a person who is burned
all over a Bach concert. I don't know how great a loss it would
have been if Bach hadn't been around. To me, the greatest person
is someone devoted to working for justice and brotherhood for all
and not one who isolates himself from the problems of the world
to 'do his thing'. How could one even compare any musical genius
or artist or inventor or scientist to someone who would give his
all for others. I'm comparing Beethoven and Franklin to someone
like Jesus I guess. There's not much to compare, to me, because
they are at such different extremes.
Well, I get a week off, and then I get to start summer school.
I have to take anatomy before I start nursing. I'll be living in
Redwood Valley so write to me there because I'm going to commute
to school. I'm going to find a part-time job somewhere too. I was
hoping for somewhere other than Ukiah Convalescent Hospital, but
knowing how hard it is to find work, I'll probably end up working
there. I still never got a job as a hamburger flipper but maybe
I will someday.
What are your summer plans? Do both of you still work at the same
places? Who's going to move into the house with you guys? I bet
it's getting really hot and humid in Washington now.
Well, I must go now. I've got to look for a job this morning. Then
I get to clean up the house and take care of the animals. We now
have six dogs (including Willie), four cats, one new kitten and
one myna bird named Barney. It's real nice here. I hope to hear
August 1, 1973
Dear Pat and Becky,
How are you? I've been fine and busy. I'm going to summer school
here in Santa Rosa and am taking an anatomy class. In lab we took
EKG's the other day and naturally mine was the weirdest-looking
one of all. My heart waves barely showed up... I found from the
testing that my heart overreacts to everything. We also did some
blood testing the other day in class. We already had some blood
in the lab that was stored so most of the people used it. But a
few of us used our own blood, like me and my white blood count came
out just right. So that was good since my heart beat was so screwed
I'll be glad when summer school is over or else when I'm living
in Santa Rosa and going to school there at the same time. I'm getting
all excited about nursing school. I'm the youngest one or one of
the youngest ones in the program now. When I start in September,
they will put us all in the hospital right off. I'll know how to
give shots by December and everything. They told me that they first
practice on oranges. I'd rather do that than practice on each other
at first. I guess I'll have to get used to blood and gore again
from when I was working at Children's [Hospital in Washington, D.C.]
with the burn patients. One lady must have had cancer on her legs
here at the hospital and they are all raw as if the cancer was just
cut off. They were something to get used to. They are looking a
lot better now.
Boy, all I can say is that our society is really screwed. This
hospital is such a perfect example of how bad it is. Nobody cares
about old people. They are just a lot of excess material hanging
around, cluttering up the world to Americans. It makes me sick how
they are treated. Most of them are just as sweet as they could be
and could use some loving care, yet some of these nurse's aides
treat them as if they are some object or piece of machinery the
way they throw them around, rolling them one way and then the other
way. It sickens me to even think this is one of the better convalescent
hospitals around. Just imagine the hundreds of other places that
are worse than this.
We always seem to completely or almost completely discard all that
we don't feel comfortable around; all that we want to have nothing
to do with. I remember seeing a program about the mentally retarded
and it talked of the terrible conditions these 'creatures' were
in. It showed the poor children naked, all curled up on the floor
screaming and moaning, many banging their heads against the wall
or floor. It makes me sick how people could even joke about the
retarded and call each other 'retard!' Then we shove off all who
have committed crimes (many committing the crime of just being black)
off to prison. It is so terrible to think of all of those who have
been set off from our society because us more fortunate ones don't
have the care, time or patience to do something constructive with
I guess it must be some kind of test to have all of these ones
around to see how people will respond; who will be compassionate
and who will want to do their own thing. It is so painful to think
of all of this suffering that exists right now that most of us don't
want to hear anything about it. We would rather live as ostriches
with our heads in the sand than face the truth, the whole world
stirring and churning full of many different kinds of suffering.
I didn't want to get on a low note but I was just sitting here
at work thinking of everything outside of my own little world, imagining
how it would be to have to be in a hospital like this. That is what
set off the rest of this brainstorm. The world is such a crazy mixed-up
place. Anyone that would think it is wonderful and great must be
completely set off and isolated from the reality of the world. There
are many good people in the world, this I don't deny, but it is
hard for single persons to make a change in the world, in fact it
is most probably impossible.
That's why I am so glad to be here in this church or body of persons
here in Redwood Valley. I have never before met such a caring group
of people who love truth, justice and freedom. I don't know anywhere
where you will find such a huge group that is totally integrated
with all races, ages, income backgrounds that get along so well.
The animal shelter, children's home, senior citizen homes and college
dormitories are only a few of our projects. Practically all of the
students down at the dorms now (which are just converted duplexes)
wouldn't have had the chance to even go to college because they
did not have the money and because they may have done so poorly
in elementary school. But anybody that can't pay, the church pays
for. We recently paid the tuition for two of the students to go
to medical school. Both, before they were in the church were drug
users, one of which was so bad that he had brain damage. Some of
the people said that when they knew him before, when he first came,
he didn't even know his name, he was so strung out. It's really
neat to see all of these people who never had a chance or who were
screwy on drugs, now take a concern for what is going on in the
world, working for change.
Mom and Dad could tell you about Mr. Muggs, the chimpanzee. Muggs
kept jumping on Dad's head when he and Mom came up to visit. He's
the funniest thing. The other day he took all of the cans of Spam
in Joyce [Touchette]'s (the lady he belongs to) house and opened
them and gave them to the cats. That was so funny when we heard
it. Muggs is too much. I'm just so glad to know that there is a
group of people who care so much for animals that they will take
in any homeless animal.
And on Christmas it was so great to see each child have an equal
Christmas. Little black children who had never known what it was
like to have a Christmas with presents have one here. And everybody
doesn't get the same thing. It is all different, but each has a
certain amount (the same amount) of money spent on them. I think
that is really great. At any rate I'm glad to be here although I
wish I could see you folks again soon. Well, Pat, I've been here
over six months, so now you know it's not phony. I had some doubts
at first, but I have seen too much already and know that this is
Well, I hope I'll be able to see you sometime in the near future.
That was interesting to hear of your experiences with writing and
talking to those people about the towns in France and South America,
Becky. I'm glad to see you are interested in those other political
systems since ours obviously doesn't work well at all. I hope you
both enjoyed [Rick] Freeman although I'm glad I wasn't there to
experience him. I do fine without him. July 4 leaves bad memories
for me anyway since beside that being 'Independence Day' for America
that was the day little Tyrone was lit on fire by these teenage
boys. I won't ever forget Tyrone.
Well, write again. Carolyn says hello and to give you her love
and so do all of the animals.
January 17, 1974
Dear Pat and Becky,
Well, I'm finally finished with finals and I sure am relieved.
I did well in both my nursing and nutrition classes. I spent my
entire Christmas vacation doing my term paper for nursing and fortunately
and rightly so I got a 99% on it. (1% off for misspelled words.
I re-read my paper again and it turns out that my teacher missed
half of my misspelled words ... )
I have really learned a lot about medical stuff along with learning
about people this one semester. One thing is that the nurses in
a regular acute hospital aren't much more sensitive to the patient's
feelings or anything than the nurse's aides at the convalescent
hospital that I worked at. They made fun of this man that was incontinent
of his bowels and already had a urinary catheter and felt de-masculinated
because he had a prostatectomy and vasectomy, both. This one dumb-ass
of a nurse told me what a dumb-ass I was for buying a Datsun or
having one and that I should buy from Americans and all this stuff.
She is always convinced that anyone who shits in their bed does
it on purpose just to get attention. I hope that when she gets old
that she can't control her bowels and then maybe she won't think
Anyway I really enjoyed the presents you sent. I've already worn
all of them. Everyone comments especially on the muffler and hat
and all. I really needed them go thank you very much. My present
for you guys will have to do, I guess, even though it got kind of
messed up. I wish I would have had time to make something better.
When are you guys moving or are you going to? I bet you'll miss
that old house if you do.
Thank you for those poems, Pat. I finally have a chance to read
them, now that I get two weeks off from studying.
I've been practicing the piano a lot. Did you know that I am getting
taught lessons from our church organist and the pianist? They want
me to be able to play if they need a fill-in sometime. It's really
neat because it's that gospel-type stuff and the pianist (who does
most of my teaching) sings just like Aretha Franklin and plays better
than any of those people on the radio. I feel really fortunate to
be able to learn from her. She refused an offer to go big time,
just so she could play for the church.
Chris Rozynko (my Russian friend) is fine I guess. He's been on
a break for more than a month from S.F. State. He'll probably go
back to school when I do. I think I already told you that he's studying
to be a lawyer. I'm bringing him home next weekend to meet Mom and
Dad (or just Mom if Dad is at a meeting).
Well, I have to be going on now because the library is closed now.
Hope to hear from you soon.
(Also this is my last piece of stationery and it would look weird
with an old piece of binder paper attached to it.)
May 2, 1974
Happy Birthday (belated of course). What would it be like for me
to send a birthday card or present on time? At any rate, I know
how little time you have, but I was hoping you may have time to
read this in the summer. I don't know how popular or well-known
this book is out there in Washington, but everyone is talking about
it here in California. At any rate it is pertinent, and written
in an interesting manner, unlike some books of its kind.
I don't have too much time to be writing but I thought I should.
I'm really bogged down with schoolwork in nursing and microbiology.
I just had my 6-week clinical evaluation and my teacher told me
I did everything excellently. She likes me, anyway, so probably
anything that I might do, she would like. I have learned the way
to go about kissing asses so that is a major factor in getting good
grades. You learn to agree with everything the instructors say and
do and be sure to ask them lots of questions to build their egos.
I'm sure my pleasant attitude has helped me to pass the class. It
really is difficult for such a crammed period of time. We learn
in two years what a regular R.N. learns in four years. I was talking
to a friend who is a R.N. and is in the nurse practitioner program
now and she graduated from the SRJC program too. She said that our
school is so hard that they only pick 'the cream of the crop' to
be in it. I don't know how creamy I am, but I know you sure can't
be a dummy to get through. I'm going to have to study my butt off
in the next few weeks so I will do well on the exams.
Next year will probably be interesting in the program. All of the
second year teachers are active homosexuals. There are three women
and the director who lives with his boyfriend. I don't mind at all
because I would rather have that than some phony-acting feminine-type
teacher that I have now and some creepy flirtatious man who tries
to get you all the time. I just found it interesting because it
seems like a lot of people in nursing are homosexual. Maybe it just
seems this way. I'm not imagining this either, because Joyce, the
girl I told you about, who is working for her practitioner degree
walked in on one of them making out with her (the teacher's) girlfriend
when she went here to school. I don't know how well I will do with
the male, but he and I get along well, but I know with the women,
I can try to appeal to them for a good grade. Oh yes, I have learned
how to get a good grade besides doing good school work. You should
see how some of the teachers have done with Debbie [Blakey] and
some of the other girls here. One teacher was coming on to Debbie
and this other girl, Jeanette, all the time and as long as they
flirted with him, they did well. Another teacher Debbie had, when
she talked to him about her low grades in one class he told her
not to worry about her grades and that he graded on other things
and gave her this weird smile. She luckily has gotten A's on her
other tests for him, but isn't that something how if you kiss-ass
you can do well. I'm going to always talk to my teachers from now
on (I always have in J.C.), because it really works. You should
try it if you haven't. It is pretty humiliating sometimes, but becoming
a nurse is so important to me that I'll do it. After I finish with
school, then I can tell them off. Well, I must study for microbiology
as I am having a midterm exam for it this Monday. So, happy birthday
and I hope the present gets to you about the same time as this letter.
This is for Becky to read, too.
Sorry I couldn't think of a more original present. I had no time,
this time, to draw a picture. Chris says hi, too.