Letter of 21 September 1977 from Herbert Alexander to Phyllis Chaikin

Los Angeles – September 21, 1977

Dear Phyllis:

Almost a month has passed since our tour through the British Isles. It was good to be home again after 37 days of abscence [absence]. While we were resting on the shores of Lake Windermere in North England, we met an English Jewish family from Manchester, the Josephs. Their daughter, aged sixteen wanted to correspond with an American girl of her age. So, don’t be surprised, if Gail receives a letter from her. Also, while abroad, we bought a car coat for Gail. Shall we mail it or will you be in L.A. to receive it?

Now, something like four months have passed, and we have received no communication, whatsoever, from you. We do not know where you are and what you are doing. From what we have read in S.F. Chronicle, the People’s Temple is in trouble. Indirectly we hear that David is in Guyana.

Now if you choose not to communicate anymore with us, not us know. If Rev. Jones and the People’s Temple against the Commandment: “Honor thy father and mother” unless they are embers [members] of the People’s Temple, it is your choice whether or not to break off all contact with your kin forever. However, it is our right to know in this alienation. Your refusal to reply to this letter will be evidence enough that you have abandoned us.

We have tried in every way to make an adjustment to an extremist radical movement that has swalloed [swallowed] you and your family. We visited you, and have been shunned. You have time to your week end tours to LA, so that we are rationed to breakfast and two hours. This adherence to a religious oriented radical movement which isolates your children from the outside world and jams among buses for a bimonthly 600 mile trip to LA, is not out [our] conception of Socialism, Christianity, and social reform.

We have a last express the sorrow and agony that we have restrained within us over six long years. It is not our business that we interfere with your relations with the church, however. But we can no longer endure is the rule of Rev. Jones and the People’s Temple over the exchanges and relations between Phyllis and the children and her mother and father and Gail and David’s grandmother and grandfather.

We have at long last opened our hearts to you, expressing their sorrow and agony, which we have restrained over six long years. Any time you express the wish to resume normal relations and exchange with us, the past will be forgotten. Her after all we do love you and the children more than any other persons. We shall continue to cherish you to our last day on earth. The peerless joy of raising you from childhood to use is a unique life experience, [handwritten word] indeed.

Your father and mother