I wrote my very first Letter to the Editor to the Pacifica Tribune in the spring or summer of 1982, not long before leaving for college. It makes me wince now, but I came across it in my old files recently, and decided to share it – documenting my early involvement with controlled growth issues – before we lost. I probably wasn’t much help.
In fact, my mother was initially angry at me for writing it. She had been very involved at the City Council meetings and told me that it “undermined” her because everyone would assume it was written by her husband and not her son. I was actually basking in the sight of my name in print so I didn’t argue with her, but my brother did.
Later she was complaining about it with some friends and they rolled their eyes at her, with one of them saying,”Gee Ethel. Most parents just have to worry about drug use, teen pregnancy, or dropping out of school. But your son, he writes political letters. Boy do we feel sorry for you!” When she got home she told me it was a good letter. Kind of like every picture your five year old draws is a good picture.
The letter was written in response, as you can probably guess, to another letter calling the Friends of Pacifica socialists. I’ve tried to be a little less patronizing ever since, but I doubt I’m always successful. At least I didn’t quote Erich Fromme or Milovan Djilas, which I was reading at the time and thought I had unlocked the secrets of the universe.
I’m pretty sure the council folk knew I was a kid. But the subdivision was built anyway. I hope I didn’t screw it up for the Friends.
Actually, I’ve come across college papers which make me wince even more. Like this letter, they were all typed on an ancient manual typewriter which had been used by my mother in college in the 1960s, complete with the circular eraser and brush, and the apostrophe above the number 8. Memories.
You can click on it to enlarge.