When Tom was a child, he and I wrote each other a lot of letters. Unfortunately, the two of us were apart a lot. During his infancy and early childhood, I was often at sea, and later, when Tom was four years old, his mom and I separated. Tom lived with his mom in southern California, and I lived in a variety of places, all hundreds of miles away from him: Siskiyou County, San Francisco, and then southern Oregon where I live now. Also, I continued to work on ships and often travelled thousands of miles from home.
During all of that time, I wrote letters to Tom, and he often wrote back to me. I will share a few of Tom’s letters here.
The following is a letter Tom wrote me when he was five years old, about to turn six, in March of 1975. I was living in northern California at the time:
Greg will you come down to my birthday Love Thomas
A couple of months later, in May of 1975, he wrote the following:
Today I am home. I saw Bill, Jackie and Jenny. I am coming to see you in June.
In April of 1978, at the age of nine, he wrote:
I think the last ship you were on is the SS Hawaiian Merchant. I’m not sure what ship you were on last. [At this point Tom drew a ship labelled “SS Merchant.”] I am having fun on my skateboard and green machine. I hope to see you soon.
In November of 1978, still at age nine, he wrote:
Nothing has really happened but I just wanted to tell you I won first place in the fiddle contest. Before that contest I entered another contest witch I won third place. If I ever wanted to ride in the back yard I have to still fix my skateboard and green machine. We could fix up the Sprite [my brother Bill’s car that Tom and I sometimes drove around in] take a couple of rides. We could go to the arcade. Are you coming down in November or December? Hope to see you soon!!!!
In May of 1984, at the age of 15, Tom wrote the letter below. He was in ninth grade at John Adams Junior High School in Santa Monica, getting ready to graduate and move on to Samohi that fall:
How are you? I’m doing great.
I finally found out the date I get out of school. On June 19, after my graduation, I will be officially out of school. Maybe you can see my promotion. [I did, in fact, attend his promotion ceremony at John Adams. This was especially moving for me, since I had graduated from John Adams about 21 years earlier.]
On the cars you asked about, all of those you have inquired about are great.
I have just successfully repacked the hubs of my ** Miyata ** [mountain bike]. It went very easy and there was very little of a mess.
Hope to see you soon.
Love, Tom (Mr. Slurp)
In a future post I will share one of the letters Tom wrote in 1991 when he was in college and also one he wrote in 1993 after he had moved to Santa Barbara.