Yosemite Letters

This small book is a collection of letters written to me while I lived in Yosemite during the early 1970s. I found them in an old briefcase that hadn’t been opened for forty years. Some of them reveal the fear, hope, and love of those turbulent times. A few were incomplete or had sections unreadable thanks to spilled water years before.

Twenty poems serve as a counterpoint to the subjects in the letters. The work as a whole is mix of impressions and slices of life fifty years ago plus current poetic commentary.

I was there to climb, but was always a second rate climber. My heart was in it but after my driving accident and broken back, I was too afraid to take a hard fall. It was just as well – the skin tore off of my hands too easily and I was never as strong as I needed to be.

We didn’t have much technology then, no cell phones, no email, no computers. Our main way of staying in touch was with letters. Any traveler could pick up their mail at General Delivery in virtually any post office in the world.  In Athens we sent letters care of American Express to the office just off Syntagma Square. The letters were written on aerograms, thin blue paper that folded back on to themselves so that no envelope was required.

The letters tell a story of the times, the dislocation, the protests, the awakening and the liberation that captured the spirit of the generation of children whose parents experienced World War II.