Rough Draft



Chapter 6  -  The Letters con't

  September - December  1963


Sept 5, 1963 (Thursday)

Dear Karen,

I received your letter this afternoon and so I’ll stay home tonight and write you a letter. I’m glad that you have a phone now, because it means that we can talk to each other as often as we want. You don’t seem so far away now that I know that I can just pick up the phone and talk to you. When I’m talking to you it almost makes me feel as if I can just hang up the phone and walk down the street to meet you. I really wish that this were true, but unfortunately it isn’t. 

I really was surprised on Monday to learn that we had been talking together for about half an hour. I guess that the time always flies by when you’re doing something that you enjoy. I hope that you didn’t think for a minute that I was going to let you get stuck with a phone bill like what that call will come to. You’d probably be broke for a week or so if you had to pay for these calls, so I’m going to send you enough money in this letter to cover them.

I hope that you don’t mind if you receive some unexpected calls from me in the future. I’m liable to come home around midnight some nights and feel that I want to talk to you and give you a call. Of course it will only be around 9 or 10 o’clock where you are, so I don’t think that there will be much chance of me waking you up. I know that you go bowling on Monday and Thursday nights, so I won’t call on those nights unless it is something really important. I know that you stay home a lot, so I’ll probably have a good chance of catching you at home when I call.

I’d really like to call you next week. You ought to receive this letter Saturday, and I’d like to call you on the next night at about 9:00 your time. If you have any plans for Sunday night, please don’t interrupt them to wait for my call, because if I don’t find you at home, I’ll simply call on another night. I would like to receive that call from you on Oct 1st that you wrote about. It wouldn’t be too late to call after midnight because I’m usually up until after midnight anyway. 

Karen, when I just wrote the word “too” in the last sentence, it brought something to mind. Do you know that you never use the adverb “too” meaning “also” when you write? You always use the preposition “to” in its place. I don’t mean to be smart-alecky in telling you this because I wouldn’t feel any different about you if you spelled every word in the English language wrong. It’s just that someone else who reads something that you’ve written would spot this in a minute and wonder.

I’m glad to see that you are like me in taking pride in your work that you do. You asked me if I thought it would be good to stay where I am working for a couple years in order to show that I am a steady worker. Maybe I can answer your question by telling you how I feel about working. 

If I were working just for the sake of making money, I would rather be back in Walpole. Working for the mere sake of earning a living and existing means nothing to me. You’ll probably think that I’m crazy when I tell you that, to me, Walpole had its advantages. First of all, I didn’t have to be bothered working for food, shelter, and clothing, etc. These necessities were all provided by the benevolent State. Secondly, since I knew that I wasn’t going anywhere, I accustomed myself to this fact and was then able to settle down and stabilize myself. Once stabilized, I was then free to pursue interests at will. 

I think that I accomplished more in two years in Walpole then I would have in 3 times the time outside. First of all, I lifted weights for about a year, which did me a world of good. I’m really not at all the weight lifter type, but it was good for me anyway. I managed to read about 300 books while there. I went through a 2-year correspondence course in chemistry in about 6 months because I had plenty of time to work on it. I spent about six months completely absorbed in chess, and I loved every minute of it. I learned to play the harmonica in about 6 months as good as an average student does in years, because I used to practice for about four hours a day out in the shop. 

I spent about four months completely absorbed in a system of memory training that enabled me to do such seemingly amazing feats such as flipping through a shuffled deck of cards just once in a period of a few minutes and then remembering not only the complete sequence of cards in the deck, but also the numerical position of each card in the deck. In other words, someone could ask me, “What is the 35th card in the deck?” and I could immediately tell him. 

I also got so that I could go through a magazine like “Life” or “Look” and then have someone take the magazine and call off a page number and then I would tell him the main gist of what was on the page, and how many pictures, where they were located on the page, what was in the pictures, what the story on the page was about, etc. When you do this with a magazine that has over 100 pages, it seems fantastic, but it is really easy if you know how. Of course, the system takes much intensive study to learn. 

These are some of the things I accomplished in Walpole that I might never have outside. If I had never been in Walpole, I also might have never discovered surrealism, either. Of course, Walpole had its many disadvantages also, and they completely outweighed the advantages. 

Well, getting back to work, I will just say to you that a job must have a purpose, a challenge, satisfaction, and above all, a sense of creativity about it in order to help me be content with it. If I am not content, then I am naturally discouraged, and when discouraged, I slide downhill at an alarming rate, and could very easily end up with a needle in my arm. 

So what would you say was more important-- staying on a discouraging job in order to show that I’m a steady worker, or finding another job that provides me with the purpose and creative feeling that I need in order to gain contentment and stability? To me, a job is not a measure of earning a living, but it is a purpose in life and an enjoyable interest. When a job is these things, it is not work, it is play. 

My main objection to the job I have now is not the low pay scale or the lack of opportunity, but the way the work is handled. I take great pride in my work, and am a perfectionist so far as beautiful mechanisms are concerned. I want every part to look like a mirror and function perfectly, and I want high accuracy even where it is not necessary or called for. When I get a project to build, I start off very enthused and interested and hold my personal standards of perfection. While I am building this project, the boss may give me a small important rush job to do and put someone on my main job to keep it going. The man he has filling in on my project may be doing a very good job, but he just isn’t as conscientious or interested as I am, and he works to passable standards, not to perfection as I would have. 

When I get back to my project, I find the enthusiasm has gone because the job is not completely mine any longer because there are some parts of it that have not been built with my loving care. As a result, I get a little discouraged. I don’t care to work this way, and I know that in many companies, a project is completely handled by one man until completion, and this is what I want. To me, the work that I do is a form of art, and I want to be artistic about it. Maybe you can understand now why I must leave this company. Of course, there is no hurry as I want to be sure that I’m moving to the type of job that I want before I leave. I have several things lined up now, but I’m taking my time about it.

Karen, there is something in your letter that I would like to discuss with you. You wrote about how you like to stay home and entertain yourself by doing all sorts of things, and how I must think that you sound square. You can stay home and pursue interests and enjoy yourself, and very seldom go out. This is something that I love to do, and want more than anything in the world to do all the time, but yet I find it impossible to do unless I have a companion with me whose company I enjoy. 

At the present, I can only stay home when I’m writing you a letter, or when the compulsion to paint overwhelms me. At the present, I don’t have a companion like the one of which I spoke, and so I find it impossible to live as I want to. Don’t you know that it is the quality that you call being “square” that is what mainly attracts me to you? Let’s face it, there must be an attraction of some magnitude between us, which is evident by the fact that we have been writing to each other for over a year even though we have never met.

I know that many girls appeal to me, but the attraction is mainly biological, and this is not important to any extent. My attraction to you is emotional, and this is what really counts. To be truthful with you, I think that you are the type of girl that I both want and need. Sometimes the things that you want are not necessarily the things that you need, and it isn’t too often that you find both combined in one. I feel that you may be just the companion whose company I will enjoy and who I will enjoy doing things together with. 

I hope that I am the type of companion that you both want and need also. I know that you would be much happier with the right male companion just as I would be with the right type of girl. There are so many things that I want to do, but yet I cannot do them until I find the right companion. I know that you and I are both inclined the same way in that we derive pleasure out of working with our hands and our minds combined. There are many things that we could do together along these lines.

I see that you mentioned that you want to get a model plan or boat and build it. I wish that you would try it. Models used to be my obsession when I was a little younger, and I have many elaborately constructed planes and boats around that I built years go. If I bought a model that could be constructed in 10 hours, I would always spend at least 40 hours on it in order to get it as perfect as possible. Even when I paint, I have to try to get the painting as perfect as possible or else I get myself all frustrated brooding about it. Sometimes I spend hours or days on one or two square inches of canvas before I am satisfied. I really love painting, but again, I can only paint when the urge strikes me for lack of the right companion to keep me company. 

You’ll probably notice that I have glued a photograph of one of my paintings onto this letter. I was experimenting with the Polaroid color film and I arranged some objects and paintings to photograph, and this painting was the only thing in the picture that came out decent, so I cut it out and stuck in on this page for you. If you have a magnifying glass handy, you can take a look into a small corner of my main love in art; the wonderful, fantastic, dream world of surrealism. 

When I painted this, I did it quite big and the canvas measures 16” x 20”. It took me about a month of dedicated work to do this painting, and I was obsessed every minute of the time. The first time that I saw a print of the original of the painting, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, and I just knew that I had to paint it. Here was a remote, alien world that only existed in a man’s imagination. A world in which objects that did not exist in reality were arranged in a desolate, lonely landscape on a terrain that was fluid and yet solid. The picture held sort of a romantic fascination for me, and I couldn’t resist it. I just had to have it and the only way to have it was to paint it. It has about another week of work left, and I will probably finish it shortly. I really never try to force myself to paint because I want the desire to come from within and I want to put feeling into the canvas.

Well, Karen, I haven’t even finished covering your letter and already it is past 1 a.m. I’m afraid that I’ll have to close shortly. Please tell me just one thing about your letter. You wrote that perhaps when you get ready to go back to Mass. to meet me that I won’t be ready to meet you. I’m not sure exactly what you meant by this, and I feel that I really should try to get you to say a little more so that I can know exactly what you mean. I hope that you will write me a little more about this in your next letter.

I’m really sorry that I have to close now because I haven’t said too much. I’d like to write more, but I guess that it will have to be next time.

Good night,

Love Joe

P.S. I’ve just read this letter over and I wish you a lot of luck in deciphering the hieroglyphics.

Sept 12, 1963 (Thursday)

Dear Karen, 

I just received your letter and I’d like to write back tonight so that you can get this on Sat. I want you to get this by Sat. to let you know that I will be waiting for your call on Sunday night. I really wouldn’t want to miss a call from you for anything, so I’ll always make it a point to be home when I know that you are going to call. 

In your letter, you asked me when the best days, or rather nights, to call me are. Actually, Karen, I really can’t answer this because I never know when or what time I’m going to be home. You see, I enjoy myself most at night and I like to utilize as much of the nighttime as possible, or is practical. When I get home from work I like to go to sleep for a few hours, and then get up and get dressed and out of the house about 8 o’clock. I have several friends that work on the 3 to 11 pm shift, and I meet them quite frequently after 11 pm and stay with them until about 1:30 or so. I usually don’t feel tired in work the next day because of the few hours’ sleep I got after work. 

I guess that I am just a member of the “night people.” This concept of “night people” occurred to me only a short while back and I am beginning to realize that it really means something. By “night people,” I don’t mean the type of people that you are probably picturing right now; that is, people who are drinking in nightclubs and dancing and out on the town. In reality, most of these are “day people” who think that this is the thing to do to have fun at night. As the example of the type of people I am talking about, I will tell you about myself.

When the sun sets, I really begin to awaken and become alive. The daytime was just something to exist through and bear as best I could while waiting for night to arrive. My personality changes completely when the night comes because I am no longer forced to cope with the “day people” and try to fit in with them. At night, I begin to be able to think deeply and to feel. I cannot feel and be affected by things of aesthetic value such as art, music, or literature in the daytime because it is a different world. 

I would really have to do a lot more thinking about this subject myself in order to come up with reasons why I dislike daytime and enjoy the night. I am now really beginning to wonder exactly what it is. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that in the daytime, the type of people that I feel no sense of belonging with are present in overwhelming numbers. Also, most daytime activity is indulged in by these people, which makes it even more repelling. 

These are the types of people who have probably never done one hour of deep thinking in their lives and only exist from day to day, committing slow suicide and calling it “life.” They are completely oblivious to the fact that great satisfaction and pleasure can be derived from thinking and feeling about things that are so completely out of their framework of thought. These people may be very happy in their little world, but I just don’t belong to it.

Some of the best times that I have had at night consisted simply of having an intelligent conversation or discussion with certain people whose company I really enjoy. I don’t have to really go anywhere to enjoy myself at night, as long as I have the right people with me. There is also something about the sunshine that makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t like the way the world looks in the sunshine. For some reason, I seem to feel best on days when the sun is not out and it is a little cloudy. The sun seems to rob me of energy and make me feel tired. 

Well, I seem to have gotten a little off the track from what I started to tell you about nights when it would be best to call. I guess that it would be really best if I could know ahead of time when you are going to call so I can be sure to be here. Many nights I come home early and read or paint because there is nothing doing out, but I never know when these nights are going to be. If you want to talk to me on the spur of the moment some night and if you call around midnight and I’m not home, just ask my mother to leave a note for me before she goes to bed saying that you’ve called, and I’ll call you back as soon as I get home.

I really made out like a bandit with the telephone company when I called you last week. We talked for over an hour but I was only charged for less than one half hour because of the first two poor connections that we had. I think they charged me about $8.00 for 27 minutes. Those night rates are really cheap and I’m glad that you told me about them. I’m looking forward to calling you in the future for some more long talks.

Poor Karen, I think that I confused you a little when I told you about your using “to” for “too.” I wrote you that “too” meant “also,” but I failed to add that it also meant “an excessive amount.” I know that you started to use it correctly for the second definition a few times in your letter, but changed your mind when you probably asked yourself if it meant “also.” In one place, you wrote “too to much” and the “too” that you wrote first and crossed out was correct. After that you wrote “to short” and a few other incorrect forms. It’s really my fault for setting your mind on the “also” definition, but I think that you can straighten it out now. 

You know, Karen, if you would like me to let you know when I see any errors in your grammar that I feel have become a habit with you, I would be only too glad to. Also, if you see any in mine, I wish that you would let me know, because I’m really not up on my English and it was never one of my great interests in school anyway.

You asked me if I could read your writing without any trouble, and I can truthfully say that I have no trouble with your script. It’s funny but I just noticed that your writing is really similar to mine. You write bigger letters than I do and put more space between words and lines and form several letters differently, but there is a certain similarity between your and my handwriting. Maybe I’m imagining things, but that is how it strikes me.

I see that you mentioned in your letter about that matter I told you on the phone that I wanted to write you about. I had been debating with myself whether or not I should tell you, but I guess that I really should. If a relationship is to mean something, two people should not keep things about themselves from each other. Unless two people accept each other for exactly what they are, the relationship is based on a false foundation. 

The thing that I want to tell you about seemed appalling to me when I called you last week, but has since lost some of its fearsomeness. I know that if I had a companion like you, it would never have happened. Last week on the weekend, I happened to quite unintentionally run into a situation where drugs were available and this time, in a moment of what must have been insanity, I didn’t refuse. Of course, after the junk was in my veins, I realized what I had done and was horrified. 

At least now a little illusion that I had in the back of my mind for years is completely shattered. I have kept the thought in my subconscious ever since I entered Walpole that if everything becomes more than I can bear, that I have a last sanctuary in the world of narcotics. I now realize that this can never be. Over the past few years I have put too much thought into what narcotics do to me. Some people can live with narcotics and as long as they have their supply, they are happy, serene, and contented. I fully realize that with me, even if I have my supply, I am greatly affected by the drug and have severe mental conflict, frustration, and become completely neurotic.

This reminds me of something that I’ve heard in AA that goes “After you come into this program and learn how alcohol affects you, the alcoholic, you might slip and drink again, but you will never enjoy it again because you now know the things about yourself and alcohol that you didn’t know before.” I have been applying the philosophy of AA to narcotics and I am glad that it has sunk in. I slipped and indulged, but this time it was different. Before, I tried to convince myself through years of addiction that I could use drugs and be happy. Now I know better.

This time I felt afraid and horribly guilty. I really hated myself. Actually, I think that this had been building up for a period of time, during which I subconsciously felt that a use of the drug again might be enjoyable. I might just have been in the right state of mind for this thing to come to a head last week. It really was far from being enjoyable. All the time that I was under the effect, I knew that the next day I was going to be sick when it wore off, and I dreaded the thought of this to such an extent that I was miserable. I was afraid that when the physical sickness started and I got that miserable nauseous feeling with a metallic taste in the mouth and an aggravating lingering lump in the throat, that I would think of another shot to feel better.

The next day, I felt double lousy, and the constant fear of this sickness coming made it much worse than it really was, because I was intensely conscious of it. That evening, I had a terrible mental conflict as to whether to get another fix to feel better, or to go to an AA meeting and help myself. The one thought that made up my mind was “If I don’t go to a meeting, I’ll ruin everything between Karen and myself.” Really, Karen, if I didn’t have you to think about, I would never have made that meeting. 

Well, anyway, I went to a meeting that night and the next night and the next night, and I came out of it alright. I really hope that this never happens again. To be perfectly truthful with you, I know that it is not within my power to make the statement “this will never happen again.” A statement like this would only be wishful thinking. All I can say is that I’ll do my best to see that it doesn’t happen again, but if it does, I know how to lick it. I’m really glad that I found AA, even if it was in Walpole. 

Your letters really help me a lot too, because I enjoy corresponding with you so much. I really care more about you than about anyone else that I know. I would like to ask you to do me a favor if you would. I wish that you would answer my next few letters as soon as possible, because when I am getting letters from you and writing to you, I am very happy. When I expect a letter from you and don’t receive it, I get a little depressed and the longer I don’t get it, the more depressed I get, and right now I can’t afford to get depressed. Between your letters and AA meetings, I think that I can get through things like this or lick them before they start, which is even better. 

I feel better when I tell you things like this because I want a relationship with a girl in which I don’t have to hide anything from her. I would never tell things like this to another girl, but I tell them to you because you are something special to me. Ever since I first started corresponding with you, I really did everything I could to get to know you. You interested me from the very start, and I felt that I just had to get to know you. I always went with girls that lived only a few miles away and therefore never got a chance to write to them. I was really at a loss as to how to go about getting to know you. I know I really blundered around at first and didn’t really know what I was doing. 

When we first started writing, I was in a state of mind in which I was trying to follow up certain lines of thinking and was doing a very nice job of driving myself insane. Of course, at the time I couldn’t see this, but now it is quite clear. I know that you must have thought that I sounded like a nut at times, but I was sticking by my convictions. The trouble really wasn’t that my convictions were wrong, but that they were impractical. 

Anyway, I started off wrong with you. When Artie first told me about you, I guess he gave me the wrong idea of you. He said that you were a shy girl, but I know now that you’re not really shy. Maybe you appeared shy to him because you didn’t know him well. So I thought of you as being shy until I got to know you better. I know now that you are an introvert, which doesn’t at all mean that you’re shy. I am an introvert too, and have gotten to like it. 

An introvert lives a lot within himself. He has reservations when meeting new people and may appear shy, but once he gets to know the people, he can become very personable and feel right at home with them. It is sometimes difficult for the introvert to meet new people unless he feels an immediate sense of belonging with them. If the introvert takes to someone upon meeting them, the relationship is very harmonious, but if he does not take to them, then relationship may always be awkward. 

In contrast to this is the extrovert, who can bounce into a roomful of strange people and feel right at home, slapping everyone on the back and joking and laughing with them and never for a minute feel awkward or self-conscious. I usually call the extrovert the “politician type.”

Well, Karen, I really hate to leave off here, but it is after 1 pm and I have to get up for work, so I’ll have to beat it to bed. Please write back soon. I’ll be waiting for your call Sunday night, so goodbye until then.

Love, Joe.



Sept 23, 1963 (Monday)

Dear Carrie,

Well, as I told you on the phone, I didn’t receive your letter until Friday, and since I was going to talk to you Sunday, I put off writing a reply until today. I also put off writing for another reason. I wanted to see if my state of mind would change, but it hasn’t, and therefore I’m afraid that this is going to be a letter that is not going to be very enjoyable for you to read just as I am not going to enjoy writing what I am about to.

I am going to put this into a letter rather than have tried to tell you over the phone Sunday because I know that we don’t talk to each other over the phone the same way that we would if we were together. In your letter, you seemed to be a little concerned about how you sound to me over the phone. I just want to let you know that I realize that you probably can’t remember all of what you would like to talk to me about or that you really can’t say what you want to over the phone. It’s hard to relax and have a conversation on the phone in which you go deep into things. 

I really would not even attempt to have a deep talk with you over the phone because since I can’t see your face and look in your eyes, it would be too awkward. It’s hard to express yourself spontaneously to someone when you can’t see them. At least, I should say, it’s hard for me. That is why I didn’t talk to you about what I am going to write. I just wouldn’t have been able to put it right, and I don’t think that you would have been able to talk to me about it in the way that you would have liked to either.

I really should comment on the things that you wrote in your letter and what we talked about over the phone, but there really wouldn’t be much point in it now. However, there is one thing in your letter that I wouldn’t feel right about if I didn’t comment on. You said that you are an introvert like I described and that you held yourself back until after you got to know me. You also said that after people get to know you that they really don’t know you because you don’t want them to. You think that no one can understand you. I’m glad that you admit that you know that there are reasons for all this that would require a detailed explanation to bring to light.

Carrie, you are a very foolish girl, or rather, I should say, a very unfortunate girl to think that no one can understand you. You are unfortunate in the respect that you have never met anyone with whom you felt a sense of belonging with or a sense of having a transmission line with so that you could really let yourself go and talk about yourself. Do you know why that you won’t let anyone get to know you? There are several reasons for this, and I’m sure that some of them apply to you. I realize what these reasons are, not because I read them out of a textbook, but because I spent a lot of time figuring them out in order to try to understand why I was so introverted. 

I would never let anyone get to know me either, not even my best friends, and thought that no one could understand me. Now I don’t say that no one can understand me, but say instead that a few people can understand me because I have found these few people after many years. There are people who think like I do and have somewhat the same temperament and faults that I do. 

A person seems to always magnify his own personal shortcomings and character defects in his own mind until they are all out of proportion to reality. One of the reasons that I never let anyone get to know me was that I was afraid that if I did let them get to know me, that they might use my faults and defects against me as a means of belittling me. Of course, the sad truth of the matter is that many of them actually will do this, or at the least, will look down on you themselves because you are not like them.

Think if I went up to some upstanding citizen and said “I used to be a dope fiend.” He would surely be appalled and look down his snoot at me. But if I said this to another drug addict or an alcoholic, they would accept me immediately and would understand. Or course, this is an extreme example, but the same thing applies to other facets of character.

Another reason was that I was afraid that if I let anyone get close to me that they might try to take advantage of my seeming inability to say “no” and use me to further their own ends. A third reason is that I thought of myself as I would like to be and tried to build up this image in people’s eyes and naturally if I let anyone get to know me, they would see through this fabricated image of myself and see me as I really was, and surely I didn’t want this because I didn’t like myself as I really was.

Maybe some of these things apply to you, Carrie, and I feel sorry for you that you have never had anyone to whom you could really talk and get things off your chest. You will probably never find many who you can talk to, but all you really need is a few in order to feel that you’re not alone.

Well, I think that I had better start writing the point of this letter that is going to be hard and unpleasant for me to write. Carrie, we have been corresponding with each other for over a year now, and we are no closer to meeting each other than we have ever been. I really don’t place much faith in getting off of parole in Jan., so that means we won’t meet for at least another year perhaps. Maybe most people wouldn’t think that corresponding and telephoning is a complicated matter, but I’m afraid that to me it is very complicated. You see, it is such that I cannot live in the future or in the past. I am very aware of this now since I have been in AA and have been associated with people who have temperaments like mine.

Alcoholics Anonymous is in actuality a “way of life” for people like me. In this way of life, we learn that we can only be concerned with today, and must take things 24 hours at a time, or we are in trouble. The past has already been lived and cannot be changed, and concerning ourselves with it can only lead to trouble. It must be forgotten.

The future has not arrived yet, and when it does, we may not even be alive to see it, even if it is only tomorrow, and thinking about it and worrying about it will only produce frustration in temperaments that cannot cope with frustrations.

Therefore, the only thing that we can do anything about is today, and therefore must only concern ourselves with the present 24 hours. Actually, Carrie, this philosophy might also be just the thing for you too, because I know that you are a worrier and a brooder. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to live by the philosophy of AA, but only need to have an alcoholic temperament. Perhaps if someone had introduced you to heavy drinking, with your worrying mind and your temperament, you might have been in trouble.

Maybe you can see now why I didn’t sign up for school like I told you on the phone. I realized that if I signed up, that I was setting a definite pattern for the future in which I knew what I would be doing every night for many months to come, and this was something to get frustrated and brooding about. I have to do things as I feel the desire to do them, and must not make definite commitments to worry about. I try to keep all my spare time optional and fill it in by taking things as they come and doing things and going places on the spur of the moment.

The last time that I went to night school for 2 years, I ended up as a chronic drug addict because all my time was planned for 2 years and I felt trapped and consistently worried and thought about knowing what I was going to be doing every night for 2 years. I cannot live this way. An example of how commitments bother me is the fact that last month I committed myself to be an usher at my cousin’s wedding in the latter part of October. This mere fact that on this day in the future that my time is committed is in the back of my mind constantly, and I just can’t wait to get it over with because it bothers me. I know that this is ridiculous, but it is the way that my mind works and I’m stuck with my mind and have to learn to live with it.

I had started to tell you about the fact that corresponding with you and having telephone conversations is a complicated matter for me. You see, Carrie, I am very fond of you, as you probably already know, and I enjoy writing to you and talking to you very much. The only thing is that these things, instead of making me happy, get me frustrated, because the more I am in contact with you, the more I want to be with you to really get to know you, and the whole thing seems hopeless to me because everything lies in the distant future.

The one thing that I really need now is a girl, and I have not had one since Nancy and I broke up. The truth of the matter is that I have been keeping myself from getting involved with any girl because of you. I did not want to try to pay attention to two girls at once again. I went through this when I was going with Nancy and writing to you at the same time, and it was quite distressing. If I got involved with another girl now, I would be doing the same thing again, and I just couldn’t.

I guess that somewhere along the line that I developed an obsession for girls, and I am never really happy unless I have one for a companion. Of course, most of the time even when I have one, I am not happy because I am not suited to her and we really don’t have much to offer each other. Perhaps if you and I had met, we would be making each other very happy by now, but this is not the case. 

There are really so many things that I like about you. You are not a domestic little sheep who has lived a sheltered life under the wings of your parents. Nancy was like a protected child and was dominated by her parents and it ruined her. She was 23 years old and couldn’t break away from her parents’ influence. You make up your own mind about what you want to do, and live the way you want to (or strive to live the way you want to, anyway). Maybe you haven’t done as well as you could have, but at least you are trying.

Also, you are a sensible girl and are really much more sensible than I am in many things. You can concern yourself with the minor details of living, while I can’t to any extent. Maybe you don’t realize it, but right here can be the core of a relationship. I have looked carefully at many relationships in order to see what made them work and have made some interesting discoveries. 

One case in particular held my interest. This is the relationship between the surrealist painter Salvador Dali and his wife Gala. I recently bought a book called “The World of Salvador Dali” that cost me $30, and it was well worth it. Not only the beautiful prints in it were really something, but also the text was very interesting. Dali and his wife, after about 30 years of marriage, are still lovers and are so close to each other that it is really heartwarming. It seems that the core of their relationship is the opposition of order to anarchy. This may not ring any bells with you because it is something that you have to think deeply about for some time in order to understand, and I don’t completely understand it myself. Anyway, I think that this might be somewhat like what might be the case of a relationship between you and I.

Actually, Carrie, what I have been trying to tell you before I started getting off the track is that I just can’t go on writing to you and talking to you and not being able to be with you. As much as it hurts me to, I think that we should break off our relationship now. I must concentrate on getting a girl for the present and not for the future for reasons I’ve already explained. You see, Carrie, as long as I’m keeping in close touch with you, it is impossible for me to have a relationship with a girl back here.

I would like to get a girl back here now with whom I can have an understanding that she and I are not going to get serious, but are just going to be close companions. I know that you are going to come back someday, and if you are still unattached and uninvolved with anyone, I want to be unattached an uninvolved also so that we can get together. I really hate to break off our relationship, but I can’t think of any way around it.

I hope that you can understand that I am doing it because I am too fond of you for my own good, and not because I have lost interest in you. Maybe you can’t realize how distressed it makes me to not be able to be with you in person but to be in close contact with you through correspondence and phone. I really can’t afford to be distressed or frustrated like this, and I must do something about it. The only thing I can do now is to try to get my mind off of you. I really don’t want this to be the end of the whole thing, but rather more like a second beginning that will come to be when we finally get together.

I really don’t know what more I can say about this, so I’ll leave it there. There wouldn’t be much sense in answering this letter or making that call to me Sunday. I hope that you can understand all this, Carrie. I know that the last call you made to me is going to cost you quite a bit, so I’ve sent you enough money to cover it and have some left over to put toward your tape recorder. I hope that you get the recorder and have a lot of fun with it.

I hope that you’re feeling better and didn’t come down with a cold. You sounded like you were coming down with something Sunday that could have been a cold. I guess that you need more rest. You know, you really have been driving yourself pretty hard and should slow down a little. I’d hate to see anything happen to you.

Please be a good little doll and take good care of yourself for me.

Love, Joe.

October 8, 1963 (Tuesday)

Dear Karen,

I received your letter today and I want to try to finish this letter to you tonight. I am not writing it at home but I am down at the Stage Door Lounge sitting at a table in back all by myself. The place is back to being the way that I like it because there are only about five people here and they are all out at the bar. I think that the new owner has lost about $10,000 in the last few months by trying to run a high-class night club here with all big-name jazz attractions. I enjoyed the entertainment while it lasted, but now he’s thrown in the towel and is trying to sell the place. It's really so nice and quiet in here now that I really enjoy sitting here writing to you. It’s after nine o’clock now and so I must hurry if I want to get this letter into the mail tomorrow.

It's nice to see that you’ve stuck with quitting smoking. I know that you’d feel better and eat better if you stayed away from cigarettes. You remember that I told you over the phone that you’d feel more relaxed instead of more nervous after the habit was broken. I’m so happy that you’ve finally been able to worry less about money. I was afraid that you were going to worry yourself sick over the PF thing.

I hope that what I said in my last letter about how I could not live projecting myself into the future had something to do with your new frame of mind. I think that you’ll find that living only for today and trying not to worry about future events will make life a good deal easier for you. Of course, there are some things in the future that you have to concern yourself with, but aside from these I think that people like you and me do themselves much more harm than good by trying to cope with the future today.

I can see in your letter that your overall way of thinking has changed lately. You are in somewhat the same frame of mind as I was when I wrote you that last letter. You feel the same way about our relationship as I did writing that letter. You say that you agree that it seems kind of frustrating and senseless to go on writing and getting nowhere. You asked me what I think about calling once and a while instead of writing to each other also. Since we both seem to have the same general feeling at the moment about our relationship, I guess that we ought to get things straightened out now. I’ll start off by telling you how I feel.

First of all, Carrie, we both seem to feel that it is frustrating to be doing so much writing and phoning and yet still be completely out of each other’s reach. Of course, this is a mood that we’re in now and this doesn’t mean that we’ll feel this way next month or in two months, etc. Since we’re both subject to changes of moods, I think that it would be best not to completely break off the relationship, but simply to change its nature.

I can see now that it was bad for me to become so obsessed with you in the way I did. You see, Carrie, I understand you a lot better now than I did a year ago. I had some understanding of you after we had been writing for a while. I understood basically the kind of girl that you are. If I didn’t have this understanding, I would have stopped writing long ago, and I don’t think that you could blame me when I explain.

In all the time we have been corresponding, no matter how hard I tried to get close to you or what I tried to do to please you, you have never shown any affection towards me. If you think about this, you will realize that I’m right. You never told me how you felt about me or how I affected you emotionally or anything of this sort. But you see, Carrie, this didn’t cause me to lose interest in you because I understood why you were like this. I think that you and I both have lived lives in which we have received little or no affection from anybody. You wrote to me that your family was never very close and so I’m sure that you received little or no affection from that quarter. 

You also told me that you had had one love affair in which you were hurt and misunderstood. I wish that you had written me more about what happened during that affair so that I could understand you even better. 

Well, anyway, Carrie, I know how things like this plus other factors can affect a person. I used to find it almost impossible to get close to anyone or to really show affection toward anyone for fear of being hurt or rejected. I guess that we both are very sensitive and can’t easily get over being hurt or rejected. I was really withdrawn into a shell until a few years ago, and if I think back to then, I become very aware of the fact that I could have never written you letters like the ones I write to you now at that time.

I can understand from my own personal experience how difficult it must be for you to let anyone get close to you. I realize now that I may never be able to get close to you through letters alone and that you would probably never allow yourself to get close to me until after we have met and you have sized me up and decided whether or not that you would allow yourself to get close to me. So you see, Carrie, this is really what I meant about our corresponding seeming hopeless and pointless. 

So like I said, I think that we should simply change the nature of our relationship. Instead of making our letters and calls a part of our lives that we have become very attached to, I think that we ought to put it on a casual basis. In other words, we don’t want to lose touch of each other completely, but yet we don’t want to become frustrated over each other either. Actually, I don’t know whether or not you have ever become frustrated over me or not because you have never told me how you felt, but I have been frustrated over you and I don’t mind telling you so. 

At the moment you say that you would like to stop writing and perhaps have me call you once and a while. That’s fine, Carrie, because it will still keep us in touch. Now don’t forget, maybe later on you will have a change of mood and feel like writing me a letter. I would love to have you write when you really want to and I will write to you when I feel that I have something that I would like to tell you. Perhaps later on we will both feel like resuming our correspondence and we will do so, but for now, we will break away from any set pattern of writing or calling.

I guess that we are both in bad spirits now and is probably why we feel the way we do about our relationship. Perhaps if we were together now, things would be different, but we’re stuck 3,000 miles apart. I’m glad that you say that you know I need a girl for companionship now and that you would like to see me do what I need to do. You’re a very understanding girl, Carrie. If I find a girl for a companion this doesn’t mean that I am going to forget about you. 

I wrote you once before that I would never be satisfied until I had met you and I meant it. I still have faith that we are going to eventually meet and that something is going to come of it. From now on, even though we won’t be writing to each other often, I want you to be sure to write to me when anything happens that makes you very happy so that I can share it with you and also to contact me when you are in difficulty and need a friend to stand by you.

I still want those pictures of you more than ever, but I want to get something straight with you about them. Actually, the prospect of getting a whole roll of pictures of you excites me so that I am happier than I have been in a long time over anything. I think that getting these pictures of you means as much to me as getting a tape recorder means to you. It’s little things like this that give me the most pleasure in life.

Now, Carrie, anything that I have ever done for you has been only for one reason. My motive for doing things for you has been that I actually get great pleasure and satisfaction out of pleasing you and making you happy. Is your reason for taking these pictures for me the fact that I asked you for them and perhaps you feel that you owe it to me to take them in return for things I did for you? If this is the reason, then I don’t want the pictures.

You see, Carrie, as far as I’m concerned, you don’t owe me anything and are not obligated to me in any way. The last thing I ever want a girl to do is to feel obligated to me. This ruins everything as far as I’m concerned. Anything I’ve done for you I’ve done because I’ve liked to do it and looked forward to pleasing you and felt good about the fact that it might make you a little happier. If your reason for taking the pictures is that you are looking forward to pleasing me and making me happier, then I would love to have them. To me, your reason for taking them has a great deal to do with how much they mean to me. 

You really don’t have to make a major project out of taking them. You can take them all in your apartment and outside the apartment house if you like. I would like to see you with and without glasses and perhaps a few dressed in casual clothes and a few with a dress on. I’d love to have a few closeups if you can get them and perhaps one of you lying on your bed in your pajamas, which I think would be an awfully cute picture. I guess that I just love to have pictures of you.

I’ve sent some money in the letter to cover taking the pictures and I wish that I could have sent more for yourself, but I’m kind of short this week. Remember Carrie, if you’re not taking the pictures simply because you would like to make me happy, then you might as well use the money for something else. I don’t want you to force yourself to take pictures if you really don’t want to. 

Carrie, I really have got too much more to say to you that I feel bad about having to close this letter now. By the way, I am finishing this letter at home now because after I wrote a few pages at the Stage Door, my pen ran out of ink and I had to get a ride all the way downtown to get another pen to finish the letter. It is about 1:30 in the morning now and so I’d better sign off.

Now why don’t you write me another letter when and if you send the pictures, or before if you would like, and tell me how you feel about changing the nature of our relationship in the way I have suggested, or give me any suggestions that you may have. I want you to tell me exactly what your feelings in the matter are and be honest with me about it. Maybe you will have a different outlook then, but I want you to tell me exactly how you feel.

Remember, Carrie, I still think of you as my baby and I probably always will.

So long for now,

Love, Joe.

October 9, 1963 (Wednesday)

Hi Carrie Honey,

Bet you’re surprised to get another letter from me today. I just happened to be thinking about you tonight, and since I didn’t have anything special to do, I thought I’d like to write you a few more lines. I am sitting in the Stage Door again, and if I don’t run out of ink again tonight, I’ll probably finish this letter before I leave to go home. 

I really like it in here tonight because I have the back room all to myself and it is quiet and peaceful and no one is around to bother me. I have been entertaining the idea lately of using this place as a nice little spot to bring my chessmen and chess study material to and study chess here and maybe invite a few friends down to play chess with me. I joined the chess club at the YMCA a few weeks ago, and I’m becoming pretty enthused over the game again. If I can only work up a real obsession over chess again, then I will really have something to keep me busy and occupied with and perhaps gain some degree of contentment with life.

I really had quite a surprise concerning chess last week and I’d like to tell you about it. I went down to the chess club last Friday night (it meets every Friday from 7:30 to 10:00). I went there hoping to get in a few practice games with some one of the members because I need all the practice and experience that I can get. I really only played chess for about 4 or 5 months and that was almost a year ago. So what little I knew about chess I am pretty rusty on. 

When I got to the clubroom, I was surprised to see boards and tables set up around the room with chess time clocks and score sheets on the tables. It seems that a match had been arranged on very short notice with the Lowell chess club, and it was going to be an actual Northeast Conference Chess match. Lynn’s chess club is a member of the Northeast League and therefore has matches with the other league teams.

Well, anyway, this match was arranged on such short notice, in fact it was arranged Friday afternoon, that most of our regular team players couldn’t be contacted and notified that there was a match. As a result, it turned out that there were only six members of our club present and Lowell had sent over its six strongest players. Since only six of us were there, I was asked to play in the match. I felt kind of awkward because I didn’t even know how to use the chess clocks and was hoping that some other member of the team would show up so that I wouldn’t make a fool out of myself.

No one showed up and so I had to play against the Lowell man who I was told was a strong player, which didn’t do too much for my morale. It was really kind of funny because I had to ask him how to use the clock and I guess he wondered what I was doing in the match in the first place. The chess clock is a cabinet with two clocks in it and a player on each side of the cabinet. While a player is thinking out his move, his clock is running, and once he had moved, he pushes down his plunger, which stops his clock and starts his opponent’s clock. Thirty-four moves have to be made by a player in 90 minutes of time on his clock or he forfeits the game. Well, half the time when I moved I forgot to push down my plunger and my opponent was playing on my time.

The Lynn team hadn’t beaten Lowell for years, and our team had this match figured for a loss because they knew pretty well the strength of each Lowell player and could pretty well figure how each individual game would turn out. Of course, I was figured for a loss because I was just a beginner and had never played in a match before. After about an hour, four games had been completed and we had one loss, two wins, and a draw. My game and one other were still in progress. If these games were lost then the match would be won by Lowell. 

Well, anyway, to my great joy, I won the game and the members of the Lynn team were all shaking my hand and congratulating me and I was so happy that I could have burst. I have been asked to play on the team in regular matches and to travel with them on out of the city matches. I think that I also won myself a rating in the Northeast League by winning this game. This was really one of the most satisfying experiences that I’ve had in a long time, and I hope to play chess seriously from now on. I am going to ask to be excused from playing in matches until I can get more experience because I don’t have much confidence in myself. I have got off to a good start and I don’t want to ruin it by rushing things.

Well, Carrie, I am now at home finishing this letter. A friend of mine dropped into the Stage Door and I talked with him for a while and he gave me a ride home.

You know Carrie, it seems that every time that I sit down to write you a letter, that I have quite a few things on my mind that I wish to write you about, but when I finish the letter, I find that I have not covered many of them at all, and I haven’t even said all that I’d like to about the ones that I did cover. Sometimes I don’t realize until later that I missed a lot of important points that I really wanted to write about, or that I just plain forgot others once I started writing. I have just begun to realize that you really can’t say much even in seven or eight pages written on both sides. I would like to say more on a few points in the letter that I sent you yesterday because I really didn’t say all of what I would have liked to.

As far as what I said about changing the nature of our relationship goes, I’m afraid that I did a poor job of expressing myself, probably because what I was trying to say wasn’t exactly clear to me. I was really groping for a solution to our problem, and I’m afraid that I didn’t say what is now in my mind that I think is much more satisfactory than the sketchy outline that I wrote yesterday.

First of all, I am assuming that you and I are quite fond of each other. I am really only assuming about you because I’m sure about me. We find that our present relationship is very frustrating for both of us at times because we have been corresponding for over a year and haven’t met yet. Also, I am very badly in need of a girl for companionship, and I want you to be that girl, but I can’t have you because it is impossible at the present. 

So the fact is that there is something wrong with our relationship if we both are unhappy about it. So now the thing to do is to find a relationship that we are both happy about. I realize that the letter I sent you a few weeks ago was a big mistake because I suggested that we have no relationship at all, and surely we both wouldn’t be happy at all about this solution.

I realize, Carrie, that you and I are both very moody people, and are subject to sudden changes of mood for no apparent reason. There have been many times in the past when you have written to me when you were not in a writing mood, and I know that you forced yourself to write because you knew I was expecting a letter from you. I know that there were times when I was not in a writing mood either, and I forced myself to write because I didn’t want to disappoint you. I guess that this relationship was not too good either, because we shouldn’t have had to force ourselves to write at any time. 

The thing that was wrong with this relationship was that for moody people like us, there was not enough freedom about it. When I sent you a letter I expected an answer soon, and if I didn’t get it, I got depressed. Maybe you felt the same way. Maybe we failed to consider the fact that the one receiving the letter might be in a bad mood and might not feel like writing. I used to think that it meant that you didn’t care for me if you didn’t answer for a long time, but I know now that that wasn’t the case because I failed to take your moods into consideration. I know many times that I was in a bad mood and I didn’t feel like writing, but still I cared just as much as ever for you. Well, anyway, I am going to suggest an outline for a future relationship that I hope will be acceptable and pleasing to both of us.

First of all, we both must agree and understand that when one of us sends a letter to the other, that an answer is not required immediately if at all. Each of us will write only when we are in the mood that we feel that we would like to write the other a letter. We will set up no set patterns of writing or calling, but will simply follow our moods.  For example, if next week I feel in a good mood and would like to write you a letter, I will sit down and write. I will not expect or count on an answer immediately and therefore won’t get depressed or frustrated if I don’t get one. 

If, when you receive the letter, you are in a writing mood, then you can write an answer. If not, then you will not have to force yourself to write just to not disappoint me. In other words, Carrie, our relationship should become more casual. We should not lose interest in each other, but we also should not be so attached to each other that we count too much on each other’s letters and calls. The time to become really attached to each other is when we are together and not when we are a continent apart. 

In the past, I let myself become too obsessed over you for my own good and I was too stubborn to allow myself to see this, and I put myself through a lot of unnecessary mental conflict. I guess that you knew what you were doing when you wrote me that you would not let yourself get too close to me until we met each other. I didn’t like this at first, but now I see that you were very wise. We must not let ourselves build our lives around each other now, as I have been doing, but must wait to see how things turn out.

I hope that the type of relationship that I described is one that is acceptable to you. I feel that it is perfect and will allow us to hold each other’s interest more or less in an indirect manner and yet won’t subject us to any more frustration. As long as we both understand this new relationship, neither one of us will be hurt. Of course, don’t forget that there is still the chance that I may get off of parole in January and will come out there to join you. If this happens, we really don’t have too long to wait, but if it doesn’t happen, I think that we can still hold each other’s interest until such time as we do meet by going along with the outline I have just described.

By the way, Carrie, the next time that you’re in a writing mood and decide to drop me a line, will you tell me all about your unfortunate love affair if you feel up to it and can tell me about it? I feel that I can gain much more understanding of you by knowing what happened.

Well, I haven’t again covered even a little of what I wanted to discuss and I’m going to have to close now. I really wanted to go into a long discussion of “affection” with you in this letter. I wanted to tell you all about how it is my fondest desire when we meet to smother you with affection. I wanted to tell you all about my reasons for this and how I think that you will be affected by receiving genuine affection from someone to whom you can return it. I’ll write about this in another letter when I am in the right mood.

Be a good little girl, Carrie.

Love, Joe.

October 15, 1963 (Tuesday)

Dear Carrie, 

Well, here I am back at the Stage Door again tonight in hopes of writing you the letter that I intended to write yesterday. I am sipping on a Brandy Alexander and just sitting back relaxing and I really feel good. I was thinking over what I intended to write to you yesterday, but now it does not seem appropriate anymore. It’s funny how your state of mind changes from day to day.

As I told you when I called you last night, I had intended to write you a letter last night, but I met Bonnie in here and had a long talk with her. I guess that I explained just about everything to you last night and there isn’t too much more to add. Bonnie did call me up after I got home from work today, like she said she would, and I gave her your address. She had ripped up the envelope with your return address on it and last night I couldn’t remember whether your number was 2419 or 2914, so she called me today to find out. 

She said when she called that she had to make another call when she hung up to get the money and she hoped that the loan came through. I told her that I called you and that you wouldn’t write to Artie until you were sure that she had let you down, and that you expected the money around Thursday or Friday. Really, Karen, I would have tried to talk to Bonnie earlier for you except for the fact that it was really none of my business and I would have been out of place sticking my nose in because this was between you and Bonnie and happened before I ever came in contact with you. 

Of course, now Bonnie has recognized me as sort of a go-between for you and her, and I can do a lot more to see that you get this money from her. I think that I know how to handle her, and between the both of us, we should be able to get her to move. She is terrified that Artie might find out about it, so when I talk to her I can clue you in on what to write to her that will get you the most money in the shortest time. 

You know, Carrie, I have been thinking about the manner in which I have been writing you letters, and I can now see why there was room for improvement. We were really writing to each other by system, and this was bad. In other words, when I wrote you a letter I would wait for an answer, and when I received that answer I would write you another letter. Often, while waiting for an answer to my letter for perhaps several weeks, I would think of many things that I would like to write you about, but naturally, I would not even think of writing them to you until after I had received your reply to my last letter. 

As you can probably see, this was something that can be called “foolish pride.” In other words, why should I write you another letter if you didn’t think enough of me to answer my last one? I see now that this was very childish of me. Of course “foolish pride” and also the fear of being rejected or making a fool of one’s self can hold down many a relationship. I should know by now that I can trust you and that you are not out to make a fool out of me or to use me. I know that the worst thing in the world is to let yourself get very close to another person and to give yourself to them completely, and then to be rejected or laughed at. I know that I could never deliberately hurt you and I don’t think that you could hurt me either. 

Well, getting back to the letters, I realized that many times you simply were not in a letter-writing mood, and it had nothing to do with the way that you felt about me. It occurred to me that when I find myself thinking about you, instead of getting frustrated thinking about the answer to my last letter that I am expecting, why don’t I just sit down and write you a letter? Actually, I’m now wondering why I didn’t think of this long ago. From now on, when I am thinking about you and I feel like writing you a letter, I am going to sit down and write and I am not going to hold myself back at all.

I really don’t hold myself back too much when I’m writing to you anyway because I had never really let myself get close to a girl before, and I just had to see if I was capable of letting myself get close to a girl. I had always been hurt and disappointed all my life, so I felt I had nothing to lose by going all out with you as much as possible by correspondence. After all, the worst I could have suffered at your hands was to have you laugh at me and reject me, but I felt that you were not like that. I have poured my heart out many times to you about how I felt about you and things in general, and I have never regretted it. In fact, it has made me very happy to have someone like you to whom I could write about anything that was on my mind and not have it treated lightly. 

But my poor Carrie, you have no one to whom you can pour your heart out to because you won’t let yourself get close to anyone, not even me. Would you really have anything to lose if you let yourself get close to me? You had been hurt in a love affair in the past in which you no doubt let yourself get close to someone. Just because you were hurt once, are you going to forever punish yourself for letting someone make you feel like a fool after you let yourself get close to him, by building a protective shield of ice around yourself?

Carrie, do you ever remember hearing the old cliché “It is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all”? There is such great truth in that phrase. You may emerge from a lost love affair, perhaps sadder, but also wiser and better prepared to enter upon another love. Perhaps in the end you will have gained after all in terms of experience.

Carrie, you’ve never even told me how I affect you emotionally. For all I know, you could be thinking of me as compared to a brother, a casual acquaintance, a close friend, a lover, etc. You see, Carrie, you hold yourself back when you write to me because you are afraid of being disappointed or hurt or something of that nature. Perhaps you just feel awkward about letting yourself show emotion or affection when writing. I want so bad for you to eventually allow yourself to get close to me. Our relationship could be so much nicer if this were so. 

Carrie, let me ask you a serious question. Do you feel that you are capable of getting close to a guy and loving him? What I mean is, do you think that you could actually be more concerned about him than about yourself and live just for him? A real love runs very deep, and these are some of the things it consists of.

I still remember that clipping that you copied down for me titled “Life of Love.” I remember that you said that you wanted more than anything in the world to feel about a man as the man in “Life of Love” felt about his wife. I wonder if it is possible for you to answer the question “Are you capable of loving”? Do you think that you are too wrapped up in your own personal problems to give of yourself to someone? 

These are questions that I ask myself also, and I really can’t honestly determine whether or not I am capable of loving, and it is very disturbing. Actually, you and I have never really been loved by anyone, and we also have never loved anyone in the true sense of the word, so how are we to know? Most people never attain a real love, and this fact scares me because I want a real love more than anything.

Carrie, I wonder if this whole letter is making much sense. I am really dead tired because I didn’t call you until about 2:30am yesterday and didn’t get much sleep. I have been home for about an hour now, as I had to leave the Stage Door because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I feel terrible because I have a million things on my mind that I want to write you about and it seems as though each letter doesn’t even begin to cover one of them. I haven’t said what I wanted to say in the way I wanted to say it in this letter because I am so tired. I had been debating whether or not to even send you this letter, but I guess that I’ll mail it because I want to get as many letters as possible to you while I’m in the mood to write.

So long for now.

Love, Joe.

October 16, 1963 (Wednesday)

Dear Carrie, 

Well, here I am back again. I don’t know how much I’ll get a chance to write tonight or even if I will finish this letter tonight. I’m starting it at home but I am going out either to the Stage Door or to a friend’s house in a little while. I’ll take the letter with me to either place, but I’m not sure that I’ll get a chance to work on it. I hope that I write a better letter tonight than I did last night. I was very tired last night and it was just one of those nights where I just couldn’t seem to put my feelings into words the way I wanted to. It is really terrible to be in a writing mood and to not be able to express one’s self at the moment.

I guess that I have been writing you quite a few letters lately and I hope that I’m not boring you with them. I find that I enjoy it very much to just write when I feel the urge to and not wait for answers which you may not be in the mood to write. I don’t expect you to answer all these letters. You should just take the points that you feel you would like to comment on from each letter and write back whenever you are in the mood. I know you are pretty busy and can only find time to write on weekends, so I will probably send many more letters to you from now on than you send to me because I have much more free time than you do.

Besides changing the nature of our relationship like this, I also realize that I had better start thinking about changing my mode of writing. It seems that before I sit down to write to you that I have several different things on my mind that I wish to write you about, and I am pretty sure that I know what I want to say about each topic, but when I start writing I find that each topic has much more to it than I thought and I really end up saying not anywhere near as much as I wanted to about anything. I hate to leave out parts of anything that I want to say to you, so I have been thinking about just taking one subject in each letter and saying all I want to about it. This is going to be hard for me because many times I drift off onto tangents even though I don’t mean to. Well, we’ll see how it works out in future letters.

I have just realized that I have an awful lot to say to you and that I could write letters for a very long time and still not say it all. I think that it is wonderful to have a girl like you that I can actually find so much to say to. Sometimes my friends see me writing to you or I happen to mention the fact to them and they say “What could you possibly find to write about to fill up so many pages?” 

When I think about this, I am surprised to find that I have actually said very little of what I would have liked to say in each letter. I really can’t even bring myself to write a one-page letter to my brother because I just can’t think of anything to say to him. I guess that I’ll never run out of things to say to you.

When I was in work today, my mind drifted onto thinking about your pictures. Every time that I think about them, I get excited. I don’t know if I’ve ever explained to you why your pictures have such an effect upon me. Since I’m in the mood for talking about pictures of you, I guess that I’ll tell you.

I think that it was in July of 1962 that I first ever realized that you existed. I was sitting in the yard at Walpole one night with Artie and we were having a conversation concerning girls. He, of course, was talking about his wife, and since I wasn’t going with any girl when I got arrested, I didn’t have much to add to the conversation as far as love and dear ones were concerned. It was then that Artie happened to think of you.

He only knew what Bonnie told him about you, and so he asked Bonnie at a visit to try to get us to write to each other. Now, at the time that Artie told me about you, I guess that he had only seen you once, and that was when you came up with Bonnie to see him. He told me about your likes and dislikes, and that you were studying drafting and played chess and were inclined toward mathematics, etc. He also added, with a look of anticipation, that you were not a very pretty girl. I told him that I was interested in the girl primarily and her looks were secondary and to go ahead and start us corresponding. 

So for about eight months we corresponded and I was under the impression that you were not at all a pretty girl. Finally, one day in February of 1963, I received a letter from you. When I opened the letter, I found two pictures. From the colorful background of Griffith Park, there gazed out at me a long-legged, blue-eyed little doll with lovely red-brown hair and the prettiest half-sad smile that I had ever seen. That little doll captured my heart right at that moment. Not only were you a girl that I felt I would get along with wonderfully for companionship, but also you had the type of appearance that appealed to me as no other could.

You see, Carrie, there are many different types of beauty. Take, for instance, Bonnie’s type. I have heard men tell Bonnie that she is the most fascinating woman that they have ever seen. She has a type of beauty that I would call exotic. The only thing is, her type of beauty does not appeal to me at all, and I really see her as just another girl. There are other types of beauty such as the girl that always wears expensive clothes, jewels, and the latest hair styles, etc. This type of beauty I would call artificial and it does not appeal to me either. 

But Carrie, the best way I could describe you would be as a “nature girl.” Your beauty is fresh and sparkling and natural. You look wonderful dressed in casual clothes, and it is your type of beauty that has always appealed to me. So that is why I love your pictures and get excited at the thought of receiving more. You will probably think that I’m nuts, but often I talk to your pictures as if they were you, and even kiss them goodnight before I go to bed. I should feel foolish telling you this, but I don’t because I want you to know how I feel about you. I guess that I am in an emotional mood tonight and I’m not going to hold myself back because I don’t see any reason to.

Carrie, when you and I first started corresponding, I still remember a letter in which you said that you had never had a male friend who was a real friend to you. I made up my mind right then that I wanted to be that friend to you that you never had. One thing that I will never forget and that still bothers me is when you were living with your girlfriends in L.A. around January and you were having such a tough time of it, not even having enough money to eat or buy cigarettes with, and I was still in Walpole and I was helpless to aid you in any way. I think I actually made myself sick worrying about you and hating myself for not being able to help. Really, Carrie, as long as I’m in a position to help, I’m sure that nothing like that will ever happen to you again.

You know, Carrie, when I write letters to you I like to say things that I know you would like to hear. You see, Carrie, a guy will tell a girl things that she likes to hear for one of two reasons. The first reason is that he is trying to seduce her. Now I’m sure that I’m not trying to seduce you when you’re 3,000 miles away. I say these things to you for the second reason and it is that I really mean them and I am sincere with you because I am more than fond of you and I want to make you feel wanted and needed because I do want you and I also need you very much.

You see, Carrie, I know what it is that you need more than anything else right now. You have to be made to feel like a woman. Carrie, you are a full-grown, adult woman now, almost twenty-four years old. How long has it been since someone has made you feel like a woman, if anyone ever has? It is a basic instinct within a woman to love and to be loved. I think that the happiest women in the world are those whose lives are built around love.  You have probably seen for yourself examples of women who have rejected love perhaps because they had been hurt in an affair at a time when they knew nothing of love, and should have profited from the experience instead of turning their backs on future loves. These women are perhaps the crabby old spinster schoolteachers that you had in school, etc.

Carrie, I want in the worst way to make you feel wanted and needed and above all, to feel like a woman. But no matter what I do or how hard I try, I can’t get any damn response out of you. Look, Carrie, I wonder if you are still feeling sorry for yourself over that love affair that you had years ago. I’m not trying to knock you because I went through the same thing. One of my first love affairs was when I was in high school and I was going with a girl that I thought I was madly in love with. I went all out for this girl and treated her nice and the whole bit. 

Well, one night, at a dance, she met someone and threw me over just like that, without blinking an eyelash. I was heartbroken and felt so sorry for myself and was so mad because I figured I made a fool out of myself by treating her so nice and acting like her trained dog that I vowed never to let myself get close to a girl again, and that I would never go after a girl again and give her the opportunity to reject me, but would make her come to me, etc.

Well, Carrie, with me this wore off in time, but maybe for you it didn’t. This really happened to me more than a few times, but now I can actually laugh about it because these same girls are now married and I see most of them every now and then, or I know their husbands and I look at them now and sigh a sigh of relief when I think of what they saved me from by rejecting me. I shudder when I think that it could have been me in place of their husbands. I couldn’t see it then, but most of them were spoiled brats or irresponsible, etc.

Carrie, I am not the demanding type when it comes to girls, and I do not demand anything from you. I do require something of you though, and it is your trust. I want you to trust me implicitly and never have to doubt me for a moment. I also trust you this way. You see, I am all through playing schoolboy games with love. This was all right when I was younger and didn’t know too much about love. Now that I am older and wiser and I know that this thing called “love” in its ultimate form actually exists, I am willing to go all out to try to achieve it. I am willing to leave myself wide open to be hurt in order to get this thing. If I am hurt, I will just consider it as having taken a chance and lost, and I will start over again.

The point that I am really trying to make is to convince you that you don’t have anything to lose by letting yourself get close to me. I don’t mean that you have to go all out and leave yourself wide open. I mean I would like to see us get to the point where we will show affection towards each other and will really confide in each other. I think that this would be a much more enjoyable relationship for both of us.

Actually, Carrie, at the moment I’m not even sure that you’re still interested in me at all. I remember not too long ago when you used to write me nice long letters and tell me how you used to think about me receiving and reading your letters while you were in work. I used to like this, but you haven’t sent me a long letter in quite a while. I don’t know if you have changed in the way you feel about me, or if it’s just that your personal problems are getting you down.

Also, sometimes when I’ve been calling you up lately, I’m really not sure that you even want to talk to me. Sometimes I’ve wondered if you wished that I’d just drop dead and hang up and stop bothering you or something. I wonder if that letter that I sent you when I was in that terrible state of mind has caused you to subconsciously hate me. I sent that letter at a bad time because you had just received the summons the day before and maybe you felt that I had forsaken you. Of course, all this could be just my imagination because you were put into a very bad frame of mind when you received the summons and I couldn’t expect you to be too happy talking to me. I hope that nothing has changed between us, Carrie, because there is such a good chance that we would be very good for each other.

Well, I’m tired now and I see that I still didn’t get to say even a small part of what I wanted to, so it will have to wait until another letter.

Goodbye, my little doll.

Love, Joe.

October 20, 1963 (Sunday)

Well, here I am again, still in a letter-writing mood. I’m sitting in the Stage Door tonight, and on Sunday nights the place is really dead and that’s just the way I like it. Horror of horrors, I hear that they are going to bring a rock-n-roll band in here starting very shortly, and if so, I guess that I’ll have to set up headquarters elsewhere. 

I intended to start this letter at home and come down here later and finish it, but my uncle and aunt dropped in and words were being spewed out at the rate of about 5,000 per minute with the usual nothing being said, and so I beat a hasty retreat to find some peace and quiet.

It seems that the last two times that I’ve called you I had hoped that I had good news to tell you that would really cheer you up, but I guess that it didn’t work out that way. First of all, Bonnie didn’t come across with the $100, which disappointed me as much as it did you, and second, I thought that when the lawyer told me that the case would be settled within two months, I figured that was good news, but you told me that he had played that tune for you a year ago.

Really, Carrie, when I asked you how much Bonnie sent you and you replied FIF-TEEN-DOLLARS in such a way that I could tell you were boiling, I really wanted to tell you that I bet that you looked very pretty when you were mad. I had to resist teasing you because I thought you might blow your top if I did. But seriously, Carrie, I think that we can get both Bonnie and the lawyer straightened out without too much trouble very shortly.

I feel really good about sitting here writing to you now. Before, I used to come down here at night and just sit around and brood and be depressed. I really didn’t at all enjoy myself then, and I wish I had started writing to you like this long ago. It probably would have saved me a lot of miserable moments. Of course, I don’t know if this is something that I can continue consistently or whether it is something that will come in spurts, but we will find out as time goes on. Anyway, no matter how it works out, it is still an improvement on the way our relationship was being carried on.

I’m going to try to write to you about one main topic tonight. I really should try to do this all the time so that I can say more about something without trying to get everything on my mind into one letter. Maybe I can be more complete in what I say this way. Tonight I want to write to you about marriage. I want to tell you about my views on it and how I feel about it, etc.

Before I start, I want to write an excerpt from a book that I am reading that particularly struck me. The name of the book is “Big Sur” by Jack Kerouac, and the whole setting takes place in California. All Kerouac’s books are based on his own life and only characters’ names are changed. In this scene he is hitchhiking along a road near Monterey. It is the first time that he had hitchhiked since his books started becoming best sellers and he can now afford to travel everywhere in style. His first book, written 15 years ago, was titled “On the Road” and was mainly about his hitchhiking around the country. Well, anyway, let me write down the passage and then I will comment on it.

This is the first time I’ve hitch hiked in years and I soon begin to see that things have changed in America, you can’t get a ride any more (but of course especially on a strictly tourist road like this coast highway with no trucks or businesses) – Sleek long station-wagon after wagon comes steering by smoothly, all colors of the rainbow and pastel at that, pink, blue, white, the husband is in the driver’s seat with a long ridiculous vacationist hat with a long baseball visor making him look witless and idiot – Beside him sits wifey, the boss of America, wearing dark glasses and sneering, even if he wanted to pick me up or anybody up she wouldn’t let him – But in the two deep backseats are children, children, millions of children, all ages, they’re fighting and screaming over ice cream, they’re spilling vanilla all over the Tartan seatcovers – There’s no room anymore anyway for a hitchhiker, tho conceivably the poor bastard might be allowed to ride like a meek gunman or silent murderer in the very back platform of the wagon, but here no, alas! here is ten thousand racks of drycleaned and perfectly pressed suits and dresses of all sizes for the family to look like millionaires every time they stop at a roadside dive for bacon and eggs – Every time the old man’s trousers start to get creased a little in the front he’s made to take down a fresh pair of slacks from the back rack and go on, like that, bleakly, tho he might have secretly wished just a good old-time fishing trip alone or with his buddies for this year’s vacation – But the P.T.A. has prevailed over every one of his desires by now, 1960s, it’s no time for him to yearn for Big Two Hearted River and the old sloppy pants and the string of fish in the tent, or the woodfire with Bourbon at night – It’s time for motels, roadside drive ins, bringing napkins to the gang in the car, having the car washed before the return trip – And if he thinks he wants to explore any of the silent secret roads of America, it’s no go, the lady in the sneering dark glasses has now become the navigator and sits there sneering over her previously printed blue-lined roadmap distributed by happy executives in neckties to the vacationists of America who would also wear neckties (after having come along so far) but the vacation fashion is sports shirts, long visored hats, dark glasses, pressed slacks and baby’s first shoes dipped in gold oil dangling from the dashboard.

Carrie, when I first read this book by Kerouac, I felt a sense of belonging with him. I wish that I could get him to write this letter to you and use his wonderful descriptive ability to put across what I am trying to express. You see, Carrie, I realize I don’t think like most people and I am more aware of this every time I talk to someone and they look at me oddly and remark about my odd way of thinking (odd because it is different from theirs, of course). Things they have accepted as the correct, normal and right way to live and do things are the very things that sometimes make me sick. 

In the passage from Kerouac’s book, for instance, I was revolted by the mention of the “ridiculous vacationist hat with a long baseball visor making him look witless and idiot.” A pet peeve of mine has always been men with their “conformist” hats. No matter how ridiculous the hat is, if it is the “style,” the idiots will all have hats perched on top of their pointed little heads. 

The passage is full of little things like this that revolt me such as the description of “wifey,” the mention of the “P.T.A.,” the reference to the pressed suits in the car so that the jerks can put on airs when they stop to eat, the description of what is today considered to be a “vacation”: Motels, roadside drive ins, bringing napkins to the car, etc.

You see, to me this passage pretty well describes how things are done by the married American today, and it all makes me sick. Don’t think that I’m stupid enough to use this passage as a summation of married life. I’m just taking a small facet of the whole thing here. I’m going to explain my views much further in this letter, in fact, as far as time will permit.

I just want to mention one more thing before I go into explaining my views. It concerns an acquaintance of mine to whom I never gave much credit for having any intelligence. He did, however, have one heart to heart talk with me that made me sit up and take notice. Here is the gist of that talk.

This friend – his name is Ron – has been married for about four years. One night, I met him in the Stage Door and he buttonholed me and began to talk. I really wanted to get away from him, but I’m glad I didn’t. He told me about the time when he was courting his wife and life looked rosy and wonderful. He was enthralled over his relationship with her, and after a few years of such pre-marital happiness, they decided to get married. Yes, he felt he really had something special here and an exciting, happy future lay ahead. 

Now, four years later, he is utterly disgusted. His reason for being disgusted is different from any I’ve ever heard, and that’s why it struck me. I’ve known men who were disgusted because they realized they married the wrong girl, or they were overwhelmed with bills, etc. Ron was disgusted because his marriage was so “ordinary.” After the honeymoon was over, he worked at an ordinary job, live in an ordinary house, did ordinary things that married couples do, had children who grew up in the ordinary way, going to ordinary schools, getting the usual ordinary childhood sicknesses like whooping cough, measles, etc. His wife lived life as an ordinary housewife doing ordinary housework, having ordinary amusements like T.V., etc. 

In short, instead of having the anticipated special relationship in marriage, he realized that he and his marriage were disgustingly ordinary. After listening to him for a while, I got so depressed that I had to get away from him. Maybe this is where most marriages become sour after the honeymoon is over. The anticipated “something special” does not pan out, and both parties are disappointed.

Carrie, first of all, I want to give you my views of what marriage actually is. Did you ever do much thinking about this? As far as I’m concerned, the ceremony in church or the Justice of the Peace’s office, or the license or the ring or the vows, mean nothing. To me, these are mere institutions set up by religion and society for the control of the stinking masses who can’t think for themselves and must be guided every step of the way through life.

To me, marriage is nothing more than a state of mind. All this other business that I’ve just mentioned means nothing to me as far as the marital relationship goes. When two people decide that they are right for each other and that they would like to live together and love together more than anything in the world, then I feel that at the exact moment that this decision has been made mutually, that the couple is as married as they will ever be. At this moment, the state of mind that to me is marriage has been achieved. Can you see this Carrie? 

The conception of marriage that the majority of people have makes me sick. They think that when the license is obtained and the preacher says the magic words, that all of a sudden they are married. They have been so brainwashed by society and religion that they can’t even see things for what they really are, and are entering into the institution of marriage not even knowing what is really going on.

If it were up to me, Carrie, I wouldn’t even go anywhere near a preacher or city hall to get married. I would like to be alone with the girl and look in her eyes and say “I want you to be my wife, for as long as we both wish to remain as mates.” She would say the same thing to me, and we would be married. Do you notice that I said “for as long as we both wish to be mates”? What could be more practical than this, Carrie? If the relationship is entered with the mutual understanding that if, after a period of time, it is not satisfying to both parties that the marriage will simply be dissolved by mutual agreement, then there is no problem, if both parties are sensible.

Of course, things just can’t be done this way when you are dealing with mass man, and standards must be set up to conform to. I guess I’ll just have to get a license and be married by an official, but in my own mind, I’ll at least realize the absolute insignificance of the acts.

Now, Carrie, I want to tell you about how I feel about married life. When I go and visit friends of mine who are married, I always have my eyes and ears open and I am soaking up everything that I possibly can. This is not because I am a gossip or a snoop or anything like that, but simply because I want to satisfy my own mind about things pertaining to marriage. What I have seen has made me sick. 

They get married and then they get into the rat race. The husband gets on the treadmill and wears himself out, for what? To gain possessions and bring up children. They become like domestic little sheep and grind away just to earn a living and exist in comfort. They develop unnecessary problems and bills because they feel that when they get married they must live in a certain manner and they must have certain things.

I have watched men change after being married, and it revolts me. I wouldn’t mind if they changed in a manner that gave them contentment, but they change in a manner that makes them seem to be as bearing a great load on their backs and are disgusted with the whole thing. Why does everyone that I know that is married tell me in the most persuasive manner not to ever get married if I want to be happy? What is wrong with the average marital relationship? Are they getting into something that they don’t have any concept of? Why are they seldom, if ever, happy? Do they see the whole thing through rose-colored glasses before they get married? Why must marriage be a constant struggle for them?

When I go into some friend’s house and I see him in his work clothes, plopped into a corner of the couch, perhaps after returning home from his second job, and his wife working over a hot stove with her hair all messed up and her clothes disarrayed and several children yelling and running around and perhaps a dog or cat entering the fray and the house a mess and the combined smells of diapers, food cooking, the pet’s mess, etc., I really want to get out of there as fast as I would want to get out of a madhouse.

Now Carrie, I want to get straight with you what my idea of a marital relationship is, or rather, what my idea of a relationship that would please me would be. First of all, Carrie, I do not primarily want a girl for the purpose of being a housekeeper, a cook, or maid, a mother to my children, a bedmate, or a nurse. I want her primarily for a companion. I don’t want to have to change my whole life around to conform to a married way of living. I want to keep my interests and likings, but only now I will have a companion to share them with. 

To most people, getting married means gaining possessions and here is something that I don’t want to change my way of thinking about. To me, possessions are like loads of weight upon my back. With each new possession, my back becomes a little heavier, and I don’t like heavy loads on my back. As you probably know, right now I own nothing but my clothes, my tools of my trade, and a few other minor items. I have not a heavy back, and feel very comfortable. When I own material things of value of volume, I begin to get the feeling that I really don’t own them at all, but they own me. You see, I am tied down to these things as sure as if they were anchors, and when I consider any type of a move or change in my life, I also must consider my responsibility to my anchors.

I know that this is all in my mind, but if I must dispense with possessions to attain some degree of serenity and peace of mind, then that is the way things are, and I’m not going to fight it. Of course, when I get married, I will need some possessions, and so whatever I buy I will probably put in my wife’s name so that they will belong to her and I will be relieved of that feeling of burden. I will have to trust my wife implicitly to do this, but I’d never marry a girl I couldn’t trust anyway.

Now as far as children go, I’d like to tell you how I feel on that subject. Usually children repel me and I never developed a fondness for them, but every once in a while I find a child that I really fall in love with and spend many hours thinking about what it would be like to have that child for my own. This never happens with boys, but only with girls. I know that there is a psychological reason behind it that concerns my relationship with my father and mother, but I’ve never actually fathomed it out. It has something to do with the fact that I could lavish much more affection on a daughter than I could on a son. I don’t know if I could lavish any affection upon a son because of the deep mental scars I have from the relationship between my father and myself.

I would like to tell you about one little girl that I was attracted to. The guy that picks me up in the morning has four children, and sometimes he takes his wife along in the morning and she picks us up at night with the children in the car. Now, getting off the track a little, I like this guy, whose name is Andy, but the way his life is lived repels me. He owns his own home in Nahant, and has a ’63 station wagon. He works two jobs, is always worried about bills, and his whole life is built around earning enough money to exist in comfort and raise four children. 

My life must be built around a girl and the inspiration that she can instill in me that will enable me to follow interests and pursuits in order to do creative things and attain contentment and peace of mind, which is more important to me than money or anything else in the world. Peace of mind is really the most important thing in life, and so few people realize this fact. Once you have peace of mind, you have contentment and serenity and happiness. Different people require different things in order to be happy. Possessions and money may make some people happy, but they do little for me if I don’t have that feeling of accomplishment.

Andy’s wife is a nice-looking girl who, to me, is exactly the kind of girl that I don’t want for a wife or even a companion. I listen to her talk on the way home and I really get depressed. To her, major events of the day are whether or not she got her Green Stamps at the store, what the hairdresser said to her about her next door neighbor, what all the mothers have discussed about the church’s cub scout pack, what great and interesting things happened to her on the way down to pick up Andy such as some man simply wouldn’t give her an opportunity to pass and the policeman on the corner looked at her as if he was going to pull her over and she simply couldn’t imagine for what etc. etc. etc.

These are really earth-shattering events to her. I can tell that she is the type that was brought up in a refined, sheltered environment and never learned much about life, and thinks that everyone leads nice little lives like her and if they don’t, it must be terrible, etc. Really, Carrie, I hope you aren’t anything like her, and if you are, I wish you’d tell me now so that we can forget the whole thing. But I really am kidding and know how different you are from her. You are just the kind of a girl that I do want, and I’ll tell you all about why in another letter.

Now, getting back to the child. The first time she brought the children in the car, I was immediately drawn to the little girl, about 7 years old. She is a slim, dark-haired little thing with a face that I would call sweet. She is very quiet, which is one reason why I was drawn to her, because one quality I love in girls is a quiet nature, and she talks softly and seems quite bright. I would give my right arm to have her for a daughter, I really don’t understand it because I run into thousands of children and only a very few have ever attracted me. By the way, this little girl’s name is Karen, just like yours, and I was almost shocked when I did learn what it was because it is such a coincidence. Another little girl that I know attracts me in the same way, but I won’t go into telling you about her.

Carrie, if we were ever married, I think that I would love to have a little girl that looked like you, and I would like to name her Karen. I can only express the way I feel about children in words that I am sorry to say are not my own, but when I read them I agreed with the author’s way of thinking to such an extent that I really couldn’t add anything more or say something better myself.

The author was Hemingway and his outlook was “When I got married, I did so only because I loved the girl and wanted to be with her always. As far as children go, I consider them as just something that happens, and I may become fond of them and I may not. I did not marry because of the children, and so how can I honestly and sincerely say how I am going to feel about them when they come? I do know how I feel about the girl and so I will do my best to be a father to her children, but I cannot say beforehand whether or not I can love them as I do her.”

Well, Carrie, I have written a lot of pages and it is getting very late. I really haven’t covered the subject to completion at all as I would have liked to. I told you over the phone yesterday how difficult I found it to say all of what I wanted to in a letter. Maybe in a future letter if I’m still in the mood to write on the subject, I’ll say more. I would like to have you write about how you feel about marriage in a future letter. I think that it would be fun to have each other write about what we would like to have each other say to know our views about things, if there is anything that you want me to write about, will you let me know? 

I guess that I’ll sign off now. You’ll probably get this letter around the same time as I get yours. I am going to mail it tomorrow morning, so you should get it on Wednesday.

Goodbye for now honey.

Love Joe.

October 21, 1963 (Monday)

Dear Carrie,

Hi, honey. Hope you can stand another letter after that short novel I wrote you yesterday. I’m at the Stage Door again in my usual corner, and it is the usual dead Monday night in here. I guess that Monday night is dead all over, and it’s a good night for writing letters. I don’t have any specific subject on my mind tonight as I did last night, so I’ll just write along and maybe one thing will lead to another and I’ll come up with something. 

I don’t know if I’ll try to finish this letter here tonight or bring it home to finish. I finished the one yesterday at home and really didn’t get it into the envelope until after 2 a.m. I think that it was the longest letter that I have ever written to you. Maybe it was so long because I stuck pretty much to one subject and I didn’t want to end the letter until I had said about all I wanted to concerning that subject while the mood was upon me. Actually, there is really much more that I would like to say about the subject of marriage, but it will have to wait until another time.

I am funny in that I will have to be in just the right mood for something in order to write about it. Many times in the past when I received your letters, I wanted to get back an answer to you as soon as possible and I really wasn’t in the mood to write about the things that I felt should be written in the particular letter, so I didn’t do as good a job of expressing myself as I could have at another time when I was in the mood. Now, of course, there is no problem, and when some subject pops into my mind, I can sit down and write you all about it almost immediately. 

To show you how temperamental I am, I would like to give you an example concerning the corner where I am sitting right now. The whole back room is usually kept in darkness here because there is rarely anybody in it, but when I come in, I switch on the lights for the back corner. The corner is illuminated indirectly by a blue florescent lamp that is set down in a recess near the ceiling, and the light reflects off the ceiling and illuminates the corner. Now this lamp is not very strong, and the light emitted is really inadequate to write by without slightly straining one’s eyes. 

About a month ago, when I hit upon the idea of using this corner to write in and study chess in, I installed a floodlight lamp on the molding that extends out from the wall near the ceiling so that I could have plenty of light to work by. Now the funny thing is, as I found out a little while ago, if I am writing you a letter and I switch on the floodlight to see better, I suddenly find that I am unable to continue the letter because the mood has been completely destroyed by the light. I must not only have the right surroundings, but also the right light in order to write. 

I am actually most comfortable and emotional in a subdued light that has perhaps a tinge of blue to it. I just could not write a letter to you that showed any degree of emotion in a bright light. I guess that is what part of what I was trying to explain to you in a previous letter was all about when I mentioned that I considered myself as a member of the night people. I really dislike bright light intensely, and I still am really trying to figure out why.

Saturday, for instance, was an unusual day for October in that the temperature was in the 80s and the sun was shining brightly. I hated every minute of it, and I was miserable and uncomfortable all day long, not because of the heat, because it was not at all that hot, but because of the bright sunlight. I hate bright, sunny days with a passion. When someone remarks “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” I really feel like telling them with a well chosen few words what I think of the day. 

On bright sunny days, all the citizens suddenly emerge like snakes from under rocks and they abound by the score no matter where you turn. They clog the highways and the sidewalks and smile and remark to each other what a beautiful day it is while I feel out of place and alien and lost and miserable in the glory of their beautiful day. What’s wrong with me, Carrie? Why do I despise the things that most people like? I wonder if it is because I despise the people themselves and so find their way of thinking and their likings also repelling to me. 

You see, Carrie, I am the type of person who is very sensitive and is affected deeply by little things that probably wouldn’t even bother other people. I have noticed that no matter how much I like something—a game or a place, etc.—if it becomes a common liking or a common thing, it automatically becomes objectionable to me. For instance, when the book “Peyton Place” came out and was raved about, and every idiot and his brother was reading and commenting about it, I would not even read the book because it was such a common thing. I still l haven’t read it and never will. To me, if it’s so well liked by all the common citizens, then it must be cheap and I want no part of whatever it is. I don’t want to be like them and I don’t want to do the things that they do and like the things that they like, etc. 

This is why I wonder if I could ever get to like bowling. Bowling is a common game and everybody and his brother bowls. If I could just feel that it was a personal game. I know that it is a wonderful game and if I could only get that personal feeling about it, I could probably become obsessed with it like you are. I also won’t have anything to do with baseball, basketball, football, etc., simply because they are so common. I know that this is the wrong attitude, but I can’t help it.

At least I can be obsessed with chess because it is a game that very few people play and I can get the feeling that it belongs to me, and the masses are excluded from my personal chess world. In fact, one of the reasons that I quit playing chess about a year ago was because I ran into several obnoxious people that I couldn’t stomach who played chess. 

Well, enough of this idle chatter. I am going to go home now and finish this letter because when I wasn’t looking, a rock-n-roll band sneaked in somehow for an audition and they are now vibrating my eardrums with their twanging guitars and other such unpalatable noisemaking implements.


Well, here I am at home after being detoured off course for about an hour by a friend that I ran into. It is now about 10:30 and I have changed to get ready to go to bed and to get more comfortable while I finish this letter. Carrie, it’s really times like this that I really wish you were here. The platonic love affair that we are carrying on now is the best we can do at the moment with us being thousands of miles apart, but it’s still not anything like being together. 

When I go to bed at night, I hate so much to be there alone and I long to have you beside me. Maybe you are under the impression that when a guy is in bed with a girl that he isn’t married to that all he has on his mind is sex. I don’t know what would be on other guys’ minds, but at the moment it’s not what is on mine. I would be a liar if I told you that I never think about us making love together because this is something natural to think about in relation to someone you are fond of. Tonight, though, I have something different on my mind. 

You know, Carrie, it is not necessary all the time for a couple to make love when they are in bed together in order to have a wonderful emotional experience. You notice that I said “emotional” experience and not “physical.” When two people have real feeling for each other, the experience is completely different from the instance in which two people are only biologically attracted to each other. When real feeling is present, the experience is the most beautiful thing that can be imagined. When each party is more interested in pleasing and satisfying the other than in pleasing and satisfying himself, then the experience becomes one of those things that give real meaning to life. 

When real feeling is present, after both parties are spent and exhausted, there is an afterglow which one can bask in just as one can bask in the sunshine. When sex is used only for the animalistic pleasure derived from it, this afterglow is not present after the act and the partners may actually loathe each other and wish that each other would just disappear after the desire has gone. The desire was the only thing that brought them together in the first place and so after it is gone, there is no attraction.

As I was saying, Carrie, tonight if we were in bed together, I would be in the mood for a different type of emotional experience. What I would mainly want to do with you is talk. I would love to hold you in my arms and press your body close to mine so that we could feel the warmth of each other’s bodies and to play with your hair and stroke your face. I would want to just be there with you like that and talk about many things and go as deep as we can into emotional subjects that we may want to discuss. I would love to kiss your lips and your eyes and your face and caress your lovely fair skin of your back and cup my hands around your pretty, slim waist. 

When both our eyes begin to grow heavy, I would want you to fall asleep in my arms. I would love to look at your pretty, sleeping face and listen to you purr like a contented kitten. Oh, Carrrie, I do so love to have a girl sleeping in my arms. I get such pleasure from just holding her when she is sleeping. When I look into the face of a girl who is sleeping in my arms, she always looks like an angel to me. I want so much to have you sleeping in my arms, and I become sad when I realize that it will be a long time before anything like this can take place. 

You probably couldn’t understand the emotional experience that I have by being affectionate towards a girl. I love to make her smile by touching her face and looking in her soft eyes while I arrange her hair or run my fingers lightly across her lips. This is a real tender, emotional experience and makes me so contented and happy that I feel absolutely wonderful. Just to be able to make a girl’s eyes glow with starry lights is enough to make me blissfully happy.

Carrie, I really don’t want to write any more tonight because I get depressed when I realize that you won’t be in my bed waiting for me when I go there, so I will close this letter now and go to sleep without you. Maybe someday we can sleep in each other’s arms, but now I’m afraid it’s only a dream, so goodnight my pretty baby.

Love, Joe.

October 22, 1963 (Tuesday)

Dear Karen,

I just finished supper and I am sitting on the couch relaxing and smoking a cigarette. I have your pictures in front of me and was reading over your last letter. I noticed that you wrote that you are going to take your state exam on the 22nd. You didn’t say which month, so I assume it is this month and the day is today. I hope so much that you pass it this time because I want to see you with your license. It is too late now to wish you luck, and I’m sorry I didn’t last week, but the day arrived so fast that I was caught short.

I didn’t plan on writing to you tonight but while looking at your pictures and thinking about you I just grabbed a pen and started writing. Perhaps I won’t get very far with this letter and may end up not writing much and not even sending it, but I’ll go along writing and see how it turns out. 

A while ago, I discovered something interesting about your pictures. I found that when I put one of them a few inches away from my eyes and closed one eye and just relaxed and focused all my attention on the picture while just letting my mind go blank and trancelike, that all of a sudden you become three dimensional and it is not a picture anymore, but I am actually there with you very close to you, and great detail shows up that cannot be seen when I am looking at the picture in a normal two-dimensional plane. It is just like looking into one of those three-dimensional viewers that they sell for kids, in which the figures and objects actually stand out in space just as if they were not pictures at all but were real. I can only do this with your pictures once in a while, and I think that it has a lot to do with the mood that I’m in. 

Maybe you think I’m a little soft, but this actually happens, and I am thrilled when it does. Your figure takes on depth and density and your features stand out and I can swear that I see your hair move in the breeze. It really scares me sometimes because I really expect to hear you speak to me. Your lips become so real and full and moist that they really look as if they are about to move. This effect is something that I look forward to every time I sit down by myself when it is quiet and peaceful and pick up your pictures to look at. I can hardly wait to get more pictures of you and I hope that you have started taking that whole roll for me. The sooner that I get them the happier I will be.

I was just thinking about what I wrote to you last night and now I’m wondering if I should not have written it and sent it to you. I am afraid that you might take it the wrong way and think ill of me. I’m really not sorry that I wrote it because it was just the way that I felt and I simply put my mood on paper. I think that we’re both old enough and mature enough to accept natural feelings for what they are and not feel ashamed or awkward to talk about them. Telling you about intimate relations of this nature that I would like to experience together with you acts as a release for me and makes me feel better when I am depressed because you are not with me. 

I don’t have a girl now that I can lavish affection upon and be nice to, so I like to tell you about how I would want to treat you and make you feel. I wish that I could just forget about girls until I meet you, Carrie, but the truth of the matter is that I love girls! I love the way that they walk and the way that they talk and the feel of their hair. I love their pretty eyes and faces and legs and waists. I love the way they feel and the way that they make me feel. Of course, I am just generalizing about all this and don’t really mean that I feel this way about every girl. This is really the way that I want to feel about just one girl. 

When I am attracted to a girl because I see things about her that I think are very pretty and feminine, it usually ends up that when I get to know her that she has lost all of her appeal. All the things that I described that I love about girls really don’t count at all unless I really take to her. I guess the things I have described are what appeals from a distance. I don’t mean a physical distance, but an emotional or psychological one. I can never rest until I find a girl that I love every inch of and love everything about. 

When I have this girl, I will not need anything else in the way of women and she will be all the women in the world rolled into one for the simple reason that when I have her, I will not desire another woman. I have been with quite a few girls that I really enjoyed being with for periods of time for one reason or another, but it never lasted because we never had enough for each other.

I have written the last few pages of this letter while sitting in the Stage Door, and I was just talking to Bonnie for a few minutes in here. She says that she is going to send you some more money tomorrow night, and since I am going to mail this letter in the morning, the letter will probably get to you before her letter does. I told her that you were mad because she only sent you $15 and that she had better send you money regularly if she doesn’t want you to write to Artie. She said that she is going to send you money every week from now on. You can take this for what its worth, Carrie.

Before I forget, I would like to tell you about something. It seems that lately in the Stage Door, there has been a girl here that I have been very strongly attracted to. I haven’t talked to her yet, but I have found out her name and know someone who is a friend of hers, and I was going to ask him to introduce her to me. I didn’t realize why I was so attracted to this girl until the other day it just hit me, she looks remarkably like you, Carrie. When this struck me, I looked at her closer, and she really does resemble you in both her face and her figure.

I have changed my mind about getting to know her now because I realize that any relationship that might develop would be no good. I would just be substituting her for you and would not really be interested in her for herself and would keep trying to see her as you. When you are attracted to a person because that person reminds you of someone who you are very fond of, the ensuing relationship really isn’t fair according to my way of thinking because of the fact that I just mentioned, that you would be trying always to substitute this person you are fond of for the one that you are with.

Well, Carrie, I don’t have much written in this letter, but I am very tired. I haven’t had too much sleep lately, and my mind is blank right now. I guess that I have enough written here to warrant sending it to you, so I will. At least writing this gave me a pleasant way to spend the evening, and it will give you something to read Thursday even though it is not much. I dread the thought of dragging myself home, but once I’m there at least I can flop into bed. Goodnight Carrie, and be good.

Love, Joe.

October 27, 1963 (Sunday)

Dear Carrie,

I received your letter and I am in a writing mood tonight, so I’ll try to complete a letter tonight to send to you. I’d like to thank you for the pictures as I was really pleased to get them. You say that you don’t like the one of yourself that you sent with your glasses on, but I think that it’s adorable. I think that you look so cute with glasses on. Perhaps it is just that I’m prejudiced. When you’re fond of someone, you are very noticing of everything about them and everything that they do and they always look wonderful to you simply because they are someone special to you to begin with. 

It's funny how with most girls that I know, they always seem to look the same to me. It doesn’t matter how they dress or what they do to their hair, etc., they just are another girl to me and I never notice any little things about them because I’m really not interested in them as anyone special. But with you, I notice everything that you do and say and everything about you in pictures that you send, and I place great importance on these little things that I wouldn’t even notice in another girl. Every time that I look at a picture of you, I get a warm feeling and have to smile. I like to feel this way about a girl, even if I have never met her, because I know that she is someone who means something to me. I even find myself worrying about you at times, but also I find that it’s nice to actually have someone to worry about.

I really like what I can see of your apartment, and you are a good housekeeper I’ll bet, because it looks immaculate. I find it hard to believe that such elegant furnishings can be found in a furnished apartment. Maybe things are different in California, but around here when you get a furnished apartment, all you usually get for furniture is a pile of junk. Did you say that you paid about $80 a month rent for your apartment? I find this hard to believe from what I can see of it. 

I like your paintings that are in the background, and I hope that you finish them. Maybe when we get together, we can both get really interested in painting and do some serious work. I still haven’t finished that painting that I have put about 3 months’ work into because I have no one to encourage and inspire me and share my enthusiasm with.

You really have some beautiful sunsets in California, judging from the picture. I love this time of day, because it means that the torturous daytime is over and the safety and sanctuary of the night is approaching and I can begin to relax and live. 

I get a kick out of the way that you are like me as far as being temperamental goes. You’re a putter-offer (procrastinator) like me, and I know just what you mean when you say that in order to take pictures that your hair has to be just right and you have to put on the right clothes and it has to be the right time of day when you get the feeling that you want to have the pictures taken. I could never get mad at you for being like this because I am the same way.

I actually think that it is good to be like this because everything that you do has feeling in it and means something. Most people are just clods and plodders and do things as a matter of routine or necessity without putting something of themselves into whatever it is. I would rather have you take pictures in the manner that you described than to just take them to get it over with, because I can really see the difference, and I’m serious when I say this. 

In most pictures that people take, I’ve noticed that the people in the pictures just stand or sit there like bumps on a log. Every picture that you have sent me shows life and vitality, and you are posed just right and natural. This is all because of the little bit of yourself that you put into your picture-taking, and I like this about you. I don’t know why, but I like this last picture of you the best. Maybe it’s because you have such a pretty smile in this one.

Carrie, I really enjoyed this last letter that you wrote because it really let me learn a lot more about you. I like the way that you are frank and sincere about everything. You talk to me straight-forward and don’t beat around the bush and play games with me. I seem to feel that you are just the type of girl that I could really talk to when I finally meet you. It’s not easy to find people that you can really talk to, and when I do find one, I like to stay close to that person. 

You know, Carrie, earlier in your letters, when I didn’t know you too well, when you told me about your love for bowling and basketball and other things, I sort of wondered if you might be an overgrown tomboy. Now I have found that you are so delightfully feminine in everything that you do that it’s such a pleasure to have a relationship with you. One thing that really amazes me is that I haven’t found even one single solitary thing about you that I don’t like or that doesn’t attract me. You know that I don’t pull any punches with you and I write to you exactly as I feel, so if I didn’t like something you did or said, you’d know about it. 

We have been carrying on a relationship for well over a year now, and my attraction to you is stronger than ever. I don’t know if I told you before, but I usually never had a relationship with a girl that lasted more than a month. The three-month relationship that I had with Nancy was a record for me. It is really amazing that we are going stronger than ever after more than a year, and even more amazing that our relationship is entirely by correspondence and phone. 

I really don’t know whether the blame for the failure of my past relationships lay with me or with the girls. Maybe I’ve never explained to you the way I operate, but I will now. Maybe I have the wrong method of treating girls, but it’s the only one that I feel right about. Now, most of my friends have the idea that girls should be treated like dirt and sometimes I wonder if they are right. They seem to feel that if you treat a girl like dirt that she will want you all the more. 

For them, this seems to work, and I realize that the reason that it works is because of the type of girls that they are attracted to. With some girls, the worse you treat them, the more they seem to want you. I always liked to treat a girl nice, and they always called me a fool for doing this. Maybe I was a fool, because I got hurt many times. But I don’t want a relationship in which I have to treat a girl like dirt in order to attract her. I really just can’t do it.  

The way my relationships with girls always seemed to progress was like this: I would get acquainted with a girl and try to be as nice as possible to her. I was really looking to give her as much affection as possible and having her return it and mean it. Now, somewhere along the line, most of these girls seemed to get the idea that they had a real live one on the hook and that they could take advantage of this fact. They felt that because of the way that I acted towards them that they could do anything that they wanted to and because they felt that they had me wrapped around their little finger, that I would always forgive them no matter what they pulled. 

But I had one defense mechanism that they didn’t count on. The minute I even felt that the girl was treating me in a manner that I would never consider treating her, I would immediately turn into a block of ice and never call her again or give her my attention from that moment on. I never tried to patch things up or ask for an explanation, because I would never leave myself open to be rejected after I once felt that she had wronged me. 

I guess that’s why I never had a relationship that lasted too long. Most girls like to play games with guys and most guys will go along with them. I wanted a real, honest, sincere love from the very beginning, and I guess that I just never ran into the right girl. 

I really feel that you and I have a good chance of achieving a real love because we both feel the same way about love and want the same things out of it. To tell you the truth, I will be very disappointed if nothing happens towards this end between us because we really seem to be basically the same type of person and are attracted towards each other.

Before I forget, I want to tell you about something that happened. At the company where I work, things have become very slow and there is no work and so Friday I was laid off. I was the last one in the place to be hired and wasn’t married and so was one of the first to go. Actually, when I was told the news, I was so happy that I could have kissed the boss. 

When I first started working for him at his other company after I graduated from high school, I was a real naïve sucker. I always put everything I had into the job and wanted to show him that I could do the best possible work. I figured that I was getting invaluable experience and disregarded his low pay rate because I felt that after I became a top man that it would pay off and he would treat me as my personal merit warranted. At that time, because of my devotion and enthusiasm and quality of work, he laid off other men with more time in the company rather than me. 

But as of this July when I asked him for that substantial raise and got refused on phony reasons and I really learned what a dirty, sneaky, underhanded person he really was, my attitude completely changed and he knew it. It became quite apparent to me that on one’s own personal merit one would get nowhere in the company and would not even make a decent week’s pay besides. I began to notice that in most companies, helpful ideas and personal effort were appreciated, but in this company they were actually resented. The boss didn’t want to believe that his employees could also think. He wanted to believe that he was the only one in the place capable of thinking, and resented ideas and suggestions about things that were not his own. 

I used to spend my own time going over engineering assemblies and making calculations to check the designs, etc., and finding many mistakes and making many improvements. I thought at the time that he appreciated it, but I learned that he didn’t. He made it seem to the other companies that we were doing the jobs for that he found the mistakes and made the improvements. If I came up with an idea, he would take it and change it around a little and have the nerve to come back to me and make off that it was his idea. I could go on and on about the unfairness in the company but I won’t bore you too much. 

Anyway, when I realized that he was going to give me the minimum in pay, etc., I decided to give him the minimum in work. I made it plain that I intended to leave very shortly. I was really only hanging on there until I found if I was going to get off of parole in Jan. or not. I didn’t want to take another job for just a few months if I would be going out to Cal with you around Feb. Now, of course, I will have to change my plans. 

Really, Carrie, you’ll never know how relieved I am to get out of that place. I was becoming so depressed and frustrated and was in such a state of apathy that I couldn’t stand it. There was no incentive for me there. I was getting nowhere, I was accomplishing or creating nothing, and it was becoming just a 9 hour a day ordeal. I’d like to give you an example of how that place affected me. 

The main thing that affected me was the people working there. First of all, there was Bud Clodberry (his real name was Newberry, but Clodberry was my name for him as it fitted him better). Clodberry was one of the dullest, boorish, most uncouth people I have ever met. I used to look at him every day and think about his life and say to myself “So this is an example of a Tool & Die maker. This is my destiny? To be like him? I will perhaps work in this field for many years and finally end up as a Clodberry?” You see, Carrie, how people can poison my mind toward things? Even my own profession.

Next, there was Al Allknow. Al thought he was an expert on everything, and every time that he opened his mouth, he said absolutely nothing. Every time that I looked at Al at work, I got sick. Al has stood in front of the same grinder for 15 years and turned handles. To me that grinder represented a tombstone upon which was carved his name, date, etc. That grinder represented 15 useless years of a useless human’s life to me. 

As far as I was concerned, he was better off dead, and I wished he was. He stood in front of that grinder for 15 years and did nothing but complain and gossip and talk about everybody in the shop. Actually, Carrie, all the pettiness and trite things that he talked about concerning the other men were things that I never even noticed going on because I don’t concern myself with petty human affairs. 

The trouble is that when I’m in an environment like that and constantly subjected to people like him for long periods of time, I find myself actually being pulled down to his level out of sheer frustration, and I hate myself for it. He had me actually starting to notice these petty things about the other men, and didn’t want to concern myself with these things because it was not my way. I am really glad to get away from him.

The last one I’ll mention is Danny Duncecap, or Danny Dimwit, whichever you prefer. This guy had an I.Q. of about zero and was the shop flunky. He was used to deliver things and run errands and do simple machine chores that any idiot could learn in minutes. Whenever this guy opened his mouth, I got sick and it always seemed to be open. I wouldn’t mind if he was quiet in his babblings, but the fact was he was a loudmouth. When he babbled, he could be heard the length of the shop. 

Of course, this idiot made as much money as I did, because he had a couple of kids to support and the boss felt sorry for him and wanted to play the role of the benevolent, charitable employer who was supporting the poor clod out of the goodness of his heart. Naturally, the fact that it was the other employees who had to work for low wages to support several pieces of deadwood like Danny never entered the boss’s mind. He was the charitable one. 

Well, I‘ve said enough about that joint, and I get sick just writing about it. Anyway, he gave me an extra week’s pay as sort of a getting-laid-off present, so I actually collected three week’s pay Friday: The week due me, the week held back, and the severance pay. This should last me a while. My immediate plans hinge on something that I intend to do tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I am going down to see my lawyer and try to make arrangements for getting off of parole. If he thinks that he can swing it, then I’ll get back to work as soon as possible in order to have the money to pay him and get to California. Lately, I have been saving as much money as possible, and I think I have enough to take care of the lawyer end of it. If he doesn’t think that he can swing it, then I am going to take as long a vacation as possible as long as I can get away with it with my parole officer. 

I can collect the maximum benefit of $45 a week from unemployment, and with the severance pay I received, I can loaf for about three weeks and not lose any money. Adding the severance pay to the $45 a week for an average of three weeks will give me the same pay per week as I have been receiving. I really don’t know if I can stand loafing or not, I am the type that loves to work, but I have to have the right work. I am not going to rush into another undesirable job just for the sake of working because I can’t afford to feel dissatisfied and despondent over a job. I have to be happy in my work, or I’m in trouble. 

I intend to take a few weeks off in any case for certain reasons. I wish that I could write to you in the daytime because I’ll have plenty of time, but I usually find it impossible to feel in the daytime. I don’t think I could write anything to you in the daytime that meant anything. Right now I am in the Stage Door writing this letter. I started it early, about 6 o’clock, and it is about midnight now. I don’t come down here too much anymore because the place has been taken over by rock-n-rollers. The band is not here tonight and the place is empty, so I can write in peace.

I notice that you’ve postponed your R.E. exam until next month. This is good because it will give you a chance to get more studying in. In my last letter I thought that you were going to take the exam on the day that I wrote the letter. I didn’t have any idea that you might postpone it.

You seemed quite concerned in your letter about what you are going to do if Bonnie doesn’t do as you want her to. Actually, Carrie, I wouldn’t worry too much about her because I think that you’ve got her pretty well straightened out. I think that she will send you the money like she says. If it will ease your conscience any in relation to going through with your threat, I can tell you that Artie will be going to see the parole board in about 3 weeks, and after he sees the board, a letter from you like the one you threatened to write will have no bearing one way or the other. If his parole is refused, a letter from you won’t hurt anything, and if his parole is granted, the letter won’t hurt either. I really don’t think that you’ll have to write it, though.

Now that I look over your letter again I really find that you have explained to me all that I really wanted to know as far as how you feel about our relationship and how you feel about me, etc. I understand and accept your reasons for not getting closer to me or being more affectionate.

Really, Carrie, if I could keep myself from thinking about you too much, as you keep yourself from thinking about me too much, I would do it. I really enjoy your ability to do this. Of course, the fact that I was in Walpole for two years may be a prime factor in my not being able to shut girls from my mind.

Well, my cousin got married yesterday and I was an usher at the wedding and am I glad that’s over. This wedding has been a roadblock in my life ever since I agreed to be an usher a month ago. It really ruined the whole month because every day it was on my mind that I was committed to do something on this particular day, and as the days went by, it was on my mind more and more until I finally was just miserable. I don’t know if you’re like this or not, but I’ll tell you that I’ll never commit myself to anything again if I can help it.

My cousin’s sister was living in California for the last 3 years and I want to tell you about something. I was told before about people who move from a New England climate to a sunny one, but I didn’t believe it until I saw her. She looks horrible. She looks 15 years older than when I last saw her 3 years ago, and at that time she was a beautiful girl. Her skin is all dried out and she has age lines on her face, etc. The fact is, she is only 28, but she looks 40 now. I was really shocked. 

I was told by several people that when a person has lived all his life in a New England climate and has become adapted to it, that when they move to a climate like California that they age rapidly because the sun dries out their skin, and the dry air also hastens the process. If the person has lived in the California climate all their life, then there is no problem because they are adapted to it. 

Please, Carrie, be careful of your pretty, fair complexion because it might be being ruined gradually without you even noticing it. I’d hate to see what has happened to my cousin happen to you. I really don’t know what you can do to prevent this drying process, if anything, but I wish that you would be careful and take care of yourself. 

I guess that I’d better get to bed now, because I’m very tired. Goodbye for now.

Love, Joe.

November 26, 1963 (Tuesday)

I received your letter a few weeks ago and I know that you are wondering what has happened with me that I haven’t written for so long. I’ll try to explain everything to you in this letter. I’m really still not ready to write a letter to you, but since I wanted to send you a card for your birthday I thought that it might upset you if you just got the card by itself. 

I want to thank you for the picture that you sent. You really look so pretty and happy in the picture that I become very sad whenever I look at it because I would love so much to be together with you and happy instead of in the situation that I am in now.

When you called me on the phone a few weeks ago, I probably didn’t make much sense to you. I told you that there was something wrong, but I didn’t say what. I really couldn’t tell you over the phone. I am really a little hesitant to even write it in a letter, but I want you to know. I wish that you would destroy this letter after you read it because I wouldn’t want anyone else to get hold of it.

For the past two months, I have been constantly upset and in a very bad state of mind. It has been a period of intense mental turmoil and still isn’t straightened out. I guess that it all started back in about August when I realized, after asking my boss for a raise, that the job I had was a dead-end. I realized that my own personal merit would get me nowhere in the company and it would not even eventually get me a decent wage. 

I told you in past letters how I feel about a job, in that I build my life around it, and therefore it has a great effect upon me. When I learned the truth about the job I had, what I should have done was immediately found another job in which I would be happy. Instead, like a fool, I decided to hang on to it until I found out whether or not I was going to get off of parole. I didn’t see that as I went along, I was reaching a dangerous point as I became more and more discouraged with the job.

I wrote to you in a past letter around September that I had used narcotics on one weekend, but had pulled myself out of it. I should have known then why I had reached a point where I let myself reach, but I didn’t. The fact of the matter is that I reached it again in early October and I didn’t pull myself out of it that time. As a result, I have been living in a personal hell of my own making for the past few months. 

I guess that the reason I was writing you all of these letters and saying some things in them that I normally wouldn’t was because I was scared. Maybe I was trying to escape the situation in my own mind by throwing myself obsessively into writing to you in order to make it seem that I was really not so far away from you. I really don’t know.

Anyway, this thing progressed to the point where I know that I was using drugs to escape from the disappointment and discouragement of the job I was working at. I kidded myself into thinking that I had control over the situation and could stop when I wanted to. When I got laid off, I was happy because by that time I realized that the thing was out of control and I had to do something. I knew that I would never resolve the problem as long as I was working in that place. Now that I wasn’t working, I had to do something about the problem. I know that I needed help and so I turned to AA.

Up until this time I had been around AA for several years but never really in it. I came in contact with AA in Walpole when I was already off of drugs and didn’t really know whether the program was for me or not. I hung around because I knew that these people had something that I wanted, but I didn’t know exactly what. Now I had come to them for help and they welcomed me with open arms. Two members, who I am now very good friends with, arranged to take me to a place in New Hampshire for alcoholics for a few days so that I could get out of West Lynn while I was withdrawing from drugs.

I was sick for a few days, but it really wasn’t bad, and when I came back to Lynn, I began going to AA meetings every night and making new friends and really enjoying it. But something happened. The AA program is a way of life and it is a wonderful way of life, but you don’t get it overnight. You must turn your will and your life over to the care of God, as you understand him, in order for this thing to work. I was an atheist and this “God” scared me. I was never able to form a concept of “God” before, but now I could clearly see where I must receive help from a “higher power” to guide my life.

I want the help from this “higher power” so bad that I can taste it, and I am beginning to see why the spiritual part of this AA program is so important, whereas before I paid little or no attention to it. AA is not a religious program, but it is a spiritual program, and there is a difference. By “spiritual” they mean simply that you must go outside of yourself for help. 

Going outside of myself for help was something I was not familiar with, and as I was seeking the answer, I was also being tormented by the compulsive desire for drugs. I was on very shaky ground, and I found myself using drugs for a few days, then not using for a few days, and all the time still going to meetings and trying to grab on to this program, I am still battling it out and I don’t know what the outcome will be.

I have just had a “down” period where I have been using drugs for a week, and now I have built up the courage to face another few days of being sick and shaking this thing off. I am not using a lot of drugs and it isn’t so much being sick that bothers me. My great fear, that is giving me all the trouble, is getting back to facing reality again. I am really terrified of reality at the moment, even though there is no reason to be. Maybe you can’t understand this, and you will condemn me for being weak-willed and cowardly, but I hope that you can understand it. 

The people that I’ve talked to in AA have all been through this phase and they know what it is like to be afraid to stop using drugs or drinking and also afraid to go on using drugs or drinking. They tell me to keep coming to many meetings and keep trying and I have a good chance of grabbing on to the program. Once I do grab on to it, I don’t ever want to let go, because now I know that my life depends on AA.

My biggest fear that is giving me the most trouble is a job. I build things up in my mind until they are all out of proportion, and that’s probably why I am like I am. I am afraid of getting a job and not liking it and being discouraged with it. I am making the mistake of projecting myself into the future instead of taking this thing one day at a time. When I think in my mind of going to work day after day to a job that discourages me, and seeing each day as an 8-hour ordeal of just working for the sake of making money so that I can exist, I get a terrible fear of facing it and want to cling to drugs to escape reality.

I have to change this negative thinking and do things the AA way. For the last few weeks, I had no idea of what my next job would be and so these fears were constantly preying upon me. Just yesterday I lined up a job and now at least I know where and when I will be working. I start work Monday on a trial basis to see if I can do the work, and so I have six days in which to get away from drugs and prepare to face reality.

I have even built up foolish fears in my mind about this job, but I am trying to think positively about it and see these foolish fears for what they are. If I can just start putting days of not using drugs between each new day that I face, I know that these fears will disappear and I will lose the desire to use drugs. I guess that it is in the hands of a higher power now. 

Of course, I realize that a higher power can help me, but I still have to do the legwork, I just can’t sit back and expect a “higher power” to do everything for me. One of the AA sayings is “Don’t analyze, utilize,” and I realize how important this is. If I stop and try to analyze what this “higher power” is and how it influences my mind, then I am going to be in trouble. I am going to have to rely on something that I have never relied on before, and that is faith.

So Carrie, maybe now you can understand why I have not written. As long as I have this problem, I am not capable of maintaining an interest in anything. I am really like a zombie. Whenever I think of you, I get a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach because I am afraid of everything between us being ruined. I think of writing a letter to you and I feel remorse and sorrow because at a time like this, how could I put my heart into anything I was writing as long as this drug problem is on my mind?

I know how devoid of feeling I am because for the first time in my life, I have no interest in girls. In the past, girls were always on my mind and I was always interested in them. Now, even the thought or prospect of sex arouses me not. I just have a constant gnawing, nauseous feeling that I know won’t leave me until I have recovered physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Please, Carrie, if you still care to have anything to do with me, I wish that you would write to me because I need the moral support. I don’t know when I will write to you again. I don’t know how long it will take me to become myself again if I lick this thing and I don’t want to write to you unless I am feeling like myself. I want to be happy when I write to you and not be writing with a troubled mind.

I really want to wish you a very happy birthday. I couldn’t get you the present that I really wanted to because I’m not working, but I hope that you enjoy yourself some with the money I sent. I wish that things were different and we were together and happy so that I could really try to make it a happy birthday for you. Please be a good girl and take care of yourself. Goodbye for now.

Love, Joe.

December 20, 1963 (Friday)

I received your letter and I was really very surprised when I found it in the mailbox. I actually thought that, because of the last letter that I sent you, you decided that you didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. I had even already rationalized the situation in my own mind to the extent that I said to myself “Since Carrie has condemned me because I have had a “slip,” then she can’t be a girl very well suited to me and so I don’t want anything more to do with her either.” I guess that rationalizing this way was an attempt to salvage my already crumbling pride, but I really felt hurt even though I wouldn’t admit it to myself.

I really felt wonderful after reading your letter because it made me realize that you do care about me. Up until now, I never really knew whether or not you cared about me or if you would stick by me in bad times. You never let yourself get close enough to me in past letters for me to know how you felt about me. Of course, you explained to me why you wouldn’t let yourself get close to me and I understood your reasons. 

I really am quite amazed at times at the effect your letters have upon me. Sometimes, when I don’t hear from you for a while, I begin thinking about how we have been corresponding for about a year and a half and still haven’t met, and I start saying to myself “Isn’t this whole thing futile?” I ask myself why you should be so different from all the girls that are around here and that maybe I have just imagined the fact that I think you are very special and we are well suited to each other.

I turn these and many other thoughts over and over in my mind and I finally start thinking that maybe I should just stop writing to you and forget you and find myself a girl around here. Then I get a letter from you and when I open it and begin reading, I just melt and the tremendous feeling that I have for you deep down comes rushing to the surface and I am all enthused and happy and glowing over you again.

Sometimes, I try to analyze the reasons why I am attracted to you so strongly, but I know that it is a combination of many things, some of them intangible, and so I shouldn’t try to analyze too much. I know enough about you to realize that you are the kind of girl that I have always been trying to find. 

You are a down-to-earth girl and are the quiet type. You run your own life and are a sensible girl. I know that you are not the frivolous type who takes things lightly and is always trying to attract attention. You are a girl that I could trust with my life and I’d never have to worry about you cheating on me or anything like that. I would never have to worry about being used if I treated you nice because I know that you don’t play the game that way. Also, I don’t think that you are the type of girl who would expect to go out to nightclubs or bars loaded with people when we were together. 

I usually enjoy myself most with a girl when I am alone with her just talking and holding her in my arms or pursuing some interest together. To me, having always to go somewhere on a date where there are a lot of people around and entertainment just means that the girl and guy really don’t have too much for each other and must create attraction. Really, Carrie, most of the time I would just as soon take the money that I would spend at a nightclub and give it to the girl to buy herself something with and stay at home with her.

 I remember how Nancy used to really make me mad at times because, to her, having a good time meant drinking and nightclubs and rock-n-roll and after-hours joints, etc. I realized that she lived in a different world than I did and I had no right getting mad at her because we liked different things. But, Carrie, I think that you and I are basically the same type of person and our minds work pretty much along the same lines and so we should get along with each other in the way that I have always wanted to get along with a girl.

I know that I have been neglecting you lately, Carrie, but it really couldn’t be helped. I still haven’t won my battle for life yet (it really is a battle for life when you come right down to it), but I have made vast improvements. Your letter really touched me when you told me that you wished that you were here to try and help me. It made me feel so good just to know that you would want to help me.

I feel bad about what you said in the letter about being depressed and lonely. You really didn’t even have to actually tell me because I could tell how you felt just by reading the letter. You mentioned that you are fighting a little battle inside that you think are going to win and I do so hope that it’s nothing that can cause you any real harm. If it is something that you could have told me about, I wish that you had, because I know what it is like to have to face these things alone and have nobody to confide in. 

Carrie, I think that this is one time when we really do need each other and it’s more than a shame that we’re not together. I guess that we are both searching for faith in a higher power and all that it can bring, and I agree with you when you say that if we were together we could be getting this faith that we both need and we could help each other. It is really things like that that are important in life, and I think that it would be wonderful to have a girl like you who is sincerely searching for the same things that I am. 

You speak a lot about going to church as a means of finding this faith. Church in itself is not the answer. I know that you have been brought up to associate God with church and so your mind works in this manner. As far as I’m concerned, Carrie, the concept of God that is presented to the people in the churches of Christianity, especially the Catholic church, is very immature and inadequate. Maybe you don’t realize it, but the aim of the church, to put it crudely, is “keep ‘em stupid and keep ‘em coming.” The concept of God and religion that the priest has in his own mind, that is, the concepts that he acquired while in the seminary, are not the same concepts that are presented to the people. This may surprise you, but it’s true. 

You see, Carrie, all this jazz about heaven and hell and fire and brimstone and angels and devils, etc., is the means used to present religion in the fairy-tale manner that the people can understand. This means of presenting the religion was necessary up until a few hundred years ago when people were ignorant and superstitious and could never grasp a highly intellectual concept of religion and a higher power. Now that the average man is more enlightened, there is a need for a change in the presentation of religion to the masses, but it has not as of yet come about. 

I’ll bet that you are not aware of the fact that at the moment, there is a big controversy going on within the Catholic church. This controversy has many of the high church officials pulling out their hair. Not too much of this has been made public, but I know of it through a friend. You see, a Father Hogan, who is an alcoholic priest and a member of AA, is attempting to institute a reform within the church. A friend of mine in AA met Father Hogan at an AA retreat recently where Father Hogan was doing some speaking concerning this reform. My friend is very intellectual and very religious, and after hearing Father Hogan speak and talking to him, he was so impressed that he told me he would follow Father Hogan anywhere. 

After my friend told me about Father Hogan’s battle for reform, I was highly impressed also. I have been at war personally with the church for years because of the way the church presented religion, but now I have the feeling that my private war with the church is over. What Father Hogan proposes to do is present the religion in an entirely new light. First of all, the fairy-tale presentation is going out the window. There will be no more brainwashing of the young children with catechism. The heaven and hell and purgatory, the angels and devils, etc., are going out the window also. The image of God as a fatherly being sitting in heaven with tears rolling down his face saying “Oh, there is little Joey sticking needles in his arm again” is going to be changed. Christ will be presented as a man who worked as a carpenter and who occasionally may have hit his thumb with a hammer and it hurt. So you see, Carrie, this man has a long hard fight ahead of him to try to institute these reforms. 

Well, I seem to have gotten a little off of the track here, but all I have been trying to tell you is that you shouldn’t confuse “God” with “church.” Right now, my church is in AA and my higher power is there also. Many of the people in AA who have the strongest faith and the most peace of mind and serenity do not go to church because they have found their own concept of a higher power and are at peace with their god. AA is a spiritual program but it is not religious. There is a difference.

I am really going to have to take you to some AA meetings when you come back. I think that you may get a lot out of them. Don’t forget, AA is a way of life and can be used by anyone. The whole AA way of life is based on the belief that a higher power can help us to live our lives with happiness and peace of mind. Really, Carrie, it is very possible that you may have an alcoholic temperament, I know what you are like and I think that if you were a drinking girl that you would have a lot of trouble. There are actually many people who have never taken a drink in their lives and who are alcoholics. The whole thing is in the makeup of the person.

I started to tell you about how I was coming along a few pages back. I started working a few weeks ago and by now I am used to the shop and job. I look back at all the fears that I had and they seem strange now. Actually, it is easy for me to see how I developed the fears that I wrote you about, because I had been out of work for a month or more and using drugs and so my perspective was very distorted, and day by day I took little things and built them up in my mind. I made the mistake of trying to project myself into the future, and it was a bad mistake. I took the fear that I might not like the job and worked on it in my mind until it was all out of proportion. 

I did the same thing with the fact that I was going to have to get up earlier in the morning and make two changes of buses. I built this transportation thing up in my mind until it seemed as a real ordeal. I was afraid to face all these things that I built up in my mind and so I was afraid to stop using drugs. Now, after a few weeks on the job, I find that I really like it and that I don’t even mind the changing of buses in the morning, and all my ridiculous fears are gone. 

As you know, on my old job, I used to work 9 hours a day and Saturday mornings, except in the summer. We had to work this overtime in order to make any money. If I only worked 40 hours, I would have made about $85. On my new job, I only work a 40-hour week and I make $110. So I actually got quite a raise in pay by just changing jobs. 

Now that my state of mind has improved, I am ready to try to get off of the drugs. I will have to finish this letter tomorrow because it is 3 o’clock in the morning. Actually, it is Sunday morning now because I started this letter Friday night and fell asleep after completing one page. I picked it up again Saturday night around 11 oclock, and have written until now. I hope that I have used drugs for the last time on Saturday, because when I go to bed now and wake up tomorrow, I don’t intend to use any more. I hope that I can make it and don’t feel too bad. I’ll write more Sunday night and let you know how things are going. G’nite for now.

Well, Carrie, here it is Sunday night – time about 10:30 – and I’m going to try to finish this letter so that I can mail it tomorrow morning. I hope that you will get it before Christmas. I haven’t gone back and read over what I wrote yesterday and Friday because I’m afraid that maybe I’ll find some things that I wouldn’t feel right about sending to you and I’d just start the whole letter over and you wouldn’t get it for a while. But I’m in pretty much the same mood now as when I wrote the preceding pages, so I guess that I still feel the same way about everything that I’ve written.

I just looked at the Christmas card that I got for you again and it just struck me that it is really a card for a little girl. I thought that it was cute when I bought it and I still do, so you’ll just have to excuse me for sending you a little girl’s card. I really like to think of you as a cute little girl anyway because it makes me happy to do so. 

I’ve sent you a gift of some money that I hope you will get yourself something that you want with. I didn’t want to buy you a gift that would be something that you really didn’t want or need, so I’d rather send you the money and let you pick out something yourself. Sometime, though, I am going to surprise you by sending you a special gift when I find something appropriate. I wish that I had you here so that I could always be surprising you and making you happy. I also wish that I had you here to help me get through this thing that I am fighting. 

I really need you, Carrie, and I probably will always need you. If we were together now, I would stick to you like glue. I would want to be with you as much as possible. I want so much to live again instead of just going through the motions of life as I have for the past three months. Since October, I have had no purpose or drive or incentive for anything. I have no interests or desires or anything. I don’t want to be like this, and I am afraid. I know that things like using drugs or accumulating money are like drinking salt water. They carry their own thirst. In other words, there is no satisfaction in these things. There is only an increasing obsession that leads nowhere – like a merry-go-round. I forget what it is to look forward to being with a girl at the end of each day. I long so to have someone like you who I can think of each day and build my life around. I know that I can never really be happy until I feel complete and no longer lonely. 

Before I forget, Carrie, I want to ask you about something. You are probably getting sick of hearing me ask you about this, but since we can’t be together, there is nothing that could make me happier at the moment than to get those pictures of you that I have wanted so badly. There is no more precious gift that I could receive from you around this Christmas season that that roll of pictures. I hope that you have finished the roll by now. A few letters back, you were talking about waiting until you felt like getting all dressed up to have some pictures taken. I hope that you have done this by now. I really don’t care what you are wearing, although it would be nice to have a few of you all dolled up, as long as they are pictures of you. I’ve really waited a long time for them, and now they mean more to me than ever because anything that will make me happy will help me to win my battle.

There is something else that I wanted to tell you about and it concerns something new. A few weeks ago, several friends of mine in AA, who are also drug addicts, and myself took steps to institute the first group of Narcotics Anonymous in Massachusetts. I think that I was indirectly responsible for getting the ball rolling when I went into Boston on Friday when I wasn’t working to see my parole officer. While I was in the parole office, I ran into a parole supervisor named Jim Gavin, who is an alcoholic and a member of AA himself. 

This man is in charge of alcoholic parole supervision and is the one who started the AA group at Walpole. When I met him, I asked if the newly instituted drug program at Walpole, of which I was a member just before I left, had progressed any or if there were any extensions of this program on the outside. He talked with me and I showed interest in finding other drug addicts in AA to get together and hold a special AA meeting for those specifically with a drug problem. He said he would contact an alcoholic priest in AA who was very interested in the narcotic problem. 

A few weeks later, I was notified that the first meeting of the Narcotics Anonymous would be held in Boston. At that first meeting, there were two guys from Salem and Beverly, who I know well in AA. There were two girls, one is the wife of the guy from Beverly and she has a drug problem, and the other is the girlfriend of the guy from Salem and she also has a drug problem. A fellow from Boston, whom I never met before, was there, and myself. Several alcoholics who were non-addicts were present to help in setting this thing up. One of them was the priest, and the other was Jim Gavin. Gavin was really happy to see me show up for the meeting and I have a good friend in him.

The second meeting was held last Monday and we moved our quarters from the priest’s office to the AA meeting room in the same building and a few more people showed up for this meeting. I am going to the third meeting tomorrow night and I am taking a kid from Lynn with me who is having some trouble with narcotics and just recently squeezed out of a scrape with the law. He caused me quite a bit of worry when he was grabbed because if he opened his mouth, I would have been in trouble. 

He has a car and had been helping me and my friend out lately, and he knew enough to cause a lot of trouble if he talked. He made the mistake of getting loaded and hitting a house with his car. When the police grabbed him, the idiot had a couple of pills in his pocket. He was really out of his head when he got grabbed and told the police that he was using. 

I managed to contact him the next day to get his story straight, and he talked himself out of it now that he could think straight. His mother knew that he was using and wanted to have him committed, but I suggested that he tell his mother that he would go to Narcotics Anonymous, and that made her happy. I have been trying to get this guy and my other real close friend into AA for months, but they weren’t interested. Now, maybe we can all help each other.

I realize very much that I am going to have to call on a higher power to help me through this. I admit that I am helpless to do it alone. Some AA members use the power of the group as their higher power, but I need something closer to God. I don’t know who or what my concept of God is yet, but I will ask his help anyway because it is my only chance. I don’t know if I will make it or not, but I will try. 

You moved me when you told me about how you obtained help from God to stop smoking. I believe you because I know that faith can work wonders. You said that you needed a good reason shown to you why you didn’t ever need to smoke again. This is really not the best approach because, for instance, you can show an alcoholic or drug addict dozens of reasons to stop, but they can’t. 

The way that is best to go about it is first to admit to yourself and accept the fact that you are powerless over the drug or alcohol or cigarettes, etc. Next you must go outside of yourself to find help in the God of your understanding. In the morning, you must ask him for help to get through this one day without one cigarette or drink, etc. If you are successful, you should thank him at night. Don’t look for reasons to stop that or project into the future. Just do it for today and don’t worry about tomorrow. Maybe on rough days at the beginning, you will have to ask his help every hour or twenty minutes, but do it. It works. I have seen so many examples of it working. Now I have to make a sincere effort on my part to have it work for me.

One thing about AA that I really like is the fact that here in this program you are going to find yourself. You are going to understand yourself and learn all about yourself. I remember reading in the AA “Grapevine” of a man who spent 7 years being psychoanalyzed and at the end of that time he had spent $10,000 and was more confused than ever. He had great faith in the science of the mind to solve his problems and make him understand himself, but it wasn’t until he came into AA that he found himself and understood himself. I should think that with the interest that you say you have in psychiatry, that the AA program would prove very interesting to you. 

In the future, I would like to send you some copies of the AA monthly publication the “Grapevine.” This publication has struck me in a way that no magazine has ever before. Now that I think of it, I have the December issue here and I am going to send it to you. Read it through carefully. Especially read the first article “The Christmas Fighters.” This meant a lot to me because it was the way I always felt about Christmas.

Well, it’s getting very late, Carrie, and I must get to bed to get up for work tomorrow. Please be thinking of me and pray that I can come through this successfully. Merry Christmas.

Love, Joe.

December 30, 1963

Dear Carrie,

Hi honey, I felt in the mood to write a letter tonight, so I’m going to start one to you now. I don’t really know when I’ll finish it and mail it to you because it’s about 10 o’clock now and it takes me quite a few hours usually to write a letter to you that satisfies me. Maybe I’ll just write until midnight or so and then just stick what I’ve written in an envelope and send it to you. Anyway, I’ll decide later whether or not to continue writing more later in the week before I send it.

You really are a darling, Carrie, because you called me last night just when I really needed to talk to you to bolster my spirits. I really didn’t know that I needed to talk to you or I would have called you myself, but after we finished talking, I was happier than I have been for quite a while. It was really a very pleasant surprise and I even forgive you for waking me out of a sound sleep (I’m only kidding). I really wasn’t sleeping because I had something on my mind that was bothering me. Talking to you helped me to forget about it and think about you instead. 

I haven’t been thinking about you lately as much as I used to and this isn’t because I’m losing interest in you, but because my mind is constantly troubled day and night worrying about the situation that I now find myself in. It is really a horrible thing to have a troubled mind that will give you no peace. I am very aware, and I’ve probably told you before, of the fact that the most important thing in the world is peace of mind. I laugh and also feel sorry for these fools that think that the most important things in the world are money, power, prestige, possessions, etc. If you have peace of mind and serenity, then all the other material things will be seen in their true perspective.

I told you on the phone last night that I was going to go to the Narcotics Anonymous meeting tonight. Instead of going to the meeting, I did something that I derived a great deal more benefit from than I would have from the meeting. I resolved something that has been on my mind and constantly bothering me for weeks. I was actually worrying myself sick over this matter. I really can’t write in a letter exactly what it was, but I will say that it was something that could have gotten me in a little difficulty if discovered. As you probably know, when you are on parole, it doesn’t take much to get you put back in prison. Some minor infraction of the law that an ordinary citizen might just laugh off could put me back in prison for a parole violation. When you go back on a violation, you stay there for another year before you can get out on parole again. For instance, something as ridiculous as being picked up for being drunk could cause me to do a year back in Walpole. And of course, in the situation that I find myself in now, I really have to watch my step, because one slip and I’m done.

This thing that I resolved tonight concerned a little slip-up I made a few weeks ago in such a way that it could still be discovered now and sink me. You probably wouldn’t believe it, but this thing on my mind was actually, to a certain degree, preventing me from getting away from drugs. If I was making an attempt to stop using, I would find this thing on my mind plaguing me and I would say to myself, “If I stop using drugs, I must still continually worry about this thing being found out and I’m still going to be miserable.” As a result, I worried myself right back into using after a day or so. 

Now I am free of this thing and I feel a new sense of freedom that I hope will enable me to make better progress. Really, Carrie, I just can’t describe how a thing like this, that really wasn’t such a big deal in the first place (but of course with my parole status it could have been serious for me), affected me. 

I don’t know if you are like me in this one respect, but I seem to have my worst times as far as worrying and building things up in my mind is concerned, when I am in work. This is purely psychological, but when I am in work, I sometimes get a trapped feeling. It is more that my mind is trapped rather than my body. My mind is trapped for 8 hours, and for these 8 hours, things build up in my mind all out of proportion to reality and the mental turmoil is terrible. 

The whole thing is really the fact that you may have something bothering you that can be resolved after you get out of work, but while you are in work, you can do nothing about it and so it builds up and mounts all out of proportion while you are feeling trapped and helpless until the work day is over. Sometimes this happens concerning things that can’t be resolved after the work day is over, but are simply things that seem to be perfectly suited to worry about and build up in my mind when I am in a “trapped” atmosphere. I don’t know if I’m making any sense to you or not, but it does me good to talk about these things to you and feel that maybe you can understand them. 

Do you know what I mean by a “trapped” atmosphere? It is simply a time and place when you can’t go anywhere or do anything and your mind knows this and just to be a “bitch” about it, your mind begins to torture you. Maybe your mind does this to you also and you know just what I mean. The thing that really irks me is that my mind may torture me all day long in work about something and I am all worked up over it and almost feeling sick about it, and then suddenly when I walk out of the door after work this thing doesn’t even bother me anymore. Then, of course, the next day in work it may start all over again. 

Maybe you can see now why AA is so important to me. AA teaches you how to cope with these things that plague the minds of those possessed of alcoholic temperaments or personalities. AA just doesn’t try to keep a person away from booze or drugs, but also tries to teach him how to obtain peace of mind and serenity and happiness. It teaches you to know yourself and understand yourself and therefore be able to accept yourself and not hate yourself and be bent towards self-destruction. 

AA is really one of the miracles of the 20th century. Just imagine that all modern medicine and science is powerless to help the alcoholic, but this God given program of AA can and does allow hopeless chronic alcoholics and drug addicts to become happy people glowing with health and inner peace. You just know that I want bad what these people have, and I must get it at any cost or be doomed to a miserable, useless existence.

Maybe you think that I write an awful lot about AA, but I have my reasons for doing so. If you met these people you’d understand why. You see, Carrie, I realize that both you and I are looking for happiness and a way of life that will provide this happiness. We are both dissatisfied with what we have found in life so far and are looking for better things. I think that AA could be a program for life for you as well as for me because I have a feeling that you seem the type of person that “fits” with what the AA program has to offer. You know yourself that you don’t seem to fit with the so called “normal” humans that we in AA facetiously call “earthlings.” Just remember, you don’t have to have been a skid row bum to be an alcoholic. All you need is the right temperament and personality.

I have sent you a couple more AA “Grapevine” publications that I had at home. I also included the pamphlet that I got at the Narcotics Anonymous meetings so you can read it. The program is basically the same as AA. These books are coming by regular mail and probably won’t arrive for a few days after the letter.

Notice the AA prayer on the front of the NQA pamphlet. It is really one of the most meaningful prayers I have ever seen. In fact, a lot of the program is built around this prayer. The prayer is: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I find that using this prayer at the appropriate times can really help you over some tough spots. I’m really feeling bad because you are in a slump and I hate to see you like this. Please hang on through the rough spots and things are bound to get better. 

I guess that you are just like me when it comes to interests. It seems that we both will throw ourselves into an endeavor with all our being and become so enthused that we practically live only for this interest and then suddenly, for no apparent reason, interest seems to wane and finally disappear. Most people will develop an interest and go along at an even pace and perhaps retain the interest at all times of their life, but I guess that we don’t do things that way. 

I used to be very concerned about the way I would develop an interest and throw my whole heart and soul into the endeavor and find myself making real progress, then all of a sudden after a period of time I would find the interest leaving, and then finally gone altogether. When I felt the interest first beginning to leave, I would try to close my eyes to the fact and refuse to believe it and make excuses why I was “temporarily” slowing down. Now I have learned to accept the fact that this is my makeup and I can’t change it and I don’t think of it as a weakness or shortcoming anymore. It is things like this that the “Serenity Prayer” that I wrote for you can help us in.

Well, Carrie, I see that I did get a few pages written tonight and I guess that I’ll send the letter in the morning. I really have so much more I want to talk to you about. I hope that it won’t be too long now before we’re together at last and can have unlimited time to talk and do things together. I know that I have just got to resolve this drug problem because there is really so much to look forward to in the future. Most of all, I look forward to being with you and then maybe we will both find what we have been looking for.

By the way, please let me know when you intend to have that cyst on your spine taken care of. If you go into the hospital, I want to know when and where so I can keep in contact with you while you are there.

Be good and take care of yourself. Bye for now.

Love, Joe.




















Create Your Own Website With Webador