My letters from dad
All of these pieces of correspondence began as letters my dad would send to me in 1997 while I was living in a halfway house in Abilene owned by Billy Sol Estes and continuing on long after I moved out into my own place and then back to Dallas. He would routinely write a letter and walk out to the mailbox with it and return to his study and think of something else he wanted to write and repeat the process. It was not uncommon for me to get as many as six letters in a day. They were a great comfort. While I was at Estes’ “Freedom House” and attending ‘family meetings’ every week (lord, that’s a story in itself), he would end each letter with, “DON’T DRINK THE KOOL-AID!”
In the last fourteen years or so of dad’s life his circle of correspondence grew geometrically, first to immediate and extended family and then, via a forum he joined in late 2001, to people all over the globe. These folks challenged his politics and his frame of reference, but they also treated him well and treasured the interaction. I think it did a great deal for a man who otherwise characterized himself as a loner, but who I knew full well thrived on human interaction.
In the two or three years just before dad passed he diminished his circle of correspondence back to mostly friends and family. But he still hand wrote these letters and made copies to send to his Aunt Rowena in her nineties and living in an assisted living joint in Albuquerque and a few other folks besides. His understanding of how the computer functioned and how the internet worked seemed to have diminished a bit as well, and he forgot things much more quickly. But he still had great enthusiasm for life and for the goings on at the farm, and he still cared a great deal about staying in touch with his kids and his extended family.
His letters were roughly divided into four groups. There were stories he wrote, travel pieces that he always titled FCHMLR (First Class Has More Leg Room), Notes (a list of his thoughts, quotes from books he was reading, and various miscellany), and reminiscences about the world of his childhood titled TWIW (The Way It Was). I’ve added bits from his online postings as a category of addenda titled Rants and Orts.