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Myra after finally talking with her ailing father, January 6, 1965:
[It appears she'd just gotten off the phone talking with Grandpa for the first time he was home and out of the hospital. It is written in huge, happy letters.]: Poppa's voice a few moments ago is the sweetest sound I ever heard! It missed some of the awesomeness of high school days but was more to be loved in its quivering tenderness. Oh, Poppa, it was so good so good to hear your dear voice again and not to overlook sweet Momma – how good to hear her happy again! And I am happier too than I have been since December 17th – it was thoughtless of you, Poppa, to get so sick when I was already in a muddle – or selfish of me to be in a mess just when you needed me. Don't know which way it was, but 1965 already looks cheerier to me!!
RJL, January 10, 1965 [typed exactly as is]:
dear chn here goes foran expriment – typing wyth my right frtrfingrt and i bet i make so mzny mistakes that yt will bav herder to read than my spasti c scrawrl. . . . appetite reamins ok. and if your t-v carrisxthe same cultursl ads as does ours, you will understand me when i say that carters littlr liver pills or ex-lax have produced the desirable results. your mother sez that i am showing more skill in the use of my walker. but i declare to you that progfrtess seems a but slow moo tee. must report a strange phrnornon. my lieft side, supposedly unafffected feels the hot water as my supposedly affected side id supposed to react! or am i nuts? beats me. something scrrwy. the sorest part of me is my right shouler complex. i exercise it faithfully but i swear i see no improvrment. i cannot use my right hand at all – or almost nearly so. my right leg isza more useful part of my anatomy that is, the right side. but enuff of this tripe. . . the demon of sleeplessness has takcxq me in his power again and it was not until 4:30 this a.m. that the inhabitants of d-21 were able to fall on slumber. your poor mother reads me to slleep and the first thing you know, there I am howling again. tis to weep.
Kip's 1965 diary, January 11:
This morning Mom's car started, mine wouldn't. Sat at home til 10:30, milkman pushed us. Felt like hell in Eng. last 15 mins. Saw Mustangs do audition they said they weren't going to do. Crowd. Huit sick. Couldn't audition. Practiced my song “Baba Yaga.” Call it my song cuz I don't like “Stop Shakin' Your Head.” Speakers shitty. Jeff got a $119 recorder from Dad. Christ what a weapon (small and hideable). Messed around with that. Jeff also got easel from Mom. Jeff pulling pranks already with recorder.
Myra, January 12, 1965:
Then there is supper to fix and Jeff's presents to prepare for his homecoming. I had bought him an easel & painting equipment. Roger came over in the evening with $120 worth (note that I am charged with extravagance!) of tape recorder for Jeff.
Kip’s 1965 diary, January 13:
Dad over here. One more try at reconciliation. Mom and Dad can't even talk. He just bitched about cars.
Myra, January 14, 1965:
Roger was here for a while yesterday afternoon and vowed never to leave The Millstone, nor even to sell it. Claims he will stay there so long as he lives in Rochester. The vain hope that he would give the place to us for the rest of 1965 grows dimmer. My problem is when should I move from here? I would rather go to Pine Island of Stewartville or a small town where the cost of living is not so high. If I do that then perhaps I ought to stay here till June – provided the house is not sold before then. I begin to fear that it will be difficult to deal financially with Himself. He intends to live in that house (he 'deserves it,' having worked so long and so hard), leaves town every week-end, and gives up no luxuries (“why should he?”) – nor even sell the boat. I am to expect $50/child and work for my own keep. The idea of having to obtain a divorce in order to get fair settlement is repugnant – and so very expensive. But that may have to be done. This I did not expect from – it seems that I am to be totally disenchanted. [The letter is picked back up the next day.] It does get black just before the dawn. He called last night to say he was looking for an apartment – that we could have the house. I may be being unfair to him but I believe I know what caused him to change his mind. When he was here last night, making such pugnacious noises, he said something meant to be a threat which secretly gave me cause to hope: “I have an appointment to see Dick Plunkett.” (A lawyer, remember?) He did not know, as I did (through Plunkett's wife) that Dick thought the housing arrangement to be outrageous! Furthermore Dick is subtle enough to have been able to make Roger feel that he has acted voluntarily and for unselfish reasons in giving us the house. I may be wrong – and the unselfish decision may have been solely Roger's. But the vehemence with which he took his stand earlier this week, along with the assumption that he did talk with Dick I may thank if we do indeed get the house.
Kip’s 1965 diary, January 14:
Today, Mom received telephone call about 8:30. I was playing guitar (“Dreamin”) when Mom came downstairs, said that Dad’s planning on moving out of house. Nearly shouted with joy. Mr. Plunkett evidently one to thank. Felt damn good since 8:30.
Myra, January 19, 1965:
I believe that if my life could assume some steady course it would be easier. January 14th I wrote to you with the assurance that I would never be back in The Millstone again – Friday we were on another track, the house being promised to us. Today, we are off in still another direction! He called last night (by the the 4th or 5th call) in a panic. 'Come get me!' he was in another of his unzippered, unshuttered, unmanned states. Frightened like an abandoned child. After a couple hours here he calmed down, seemed to have conquered his terror (this is a truly felt terror, not exaggerated, believe me – true, undisguised witless panic!) and has only phoned 3 times today (now 2:00). Today is his day to see Hal Martin but as usual he has pulled himself sufficiently together that Martin can have no idea of the degree of disintegration so evident even over the phone last night. [The following day her letter continues:] I had a very satisfactory conversation with Dick Steinhilber today. Told him I had three paths to take: stick it out where I am, insist that Roger do as promised and move out, or yield to his plea and return to him. “Which are you going to do?” Dick asked. “Without your advice – which I'm not likely to get – I'm going to stay where I am and hope that I've made the right choice.” In rare unprofessional openness he said “And you've made the right decision.” Which is what made the conversation so satisfying – I found him wiling to say I was right. Then – like frosting on the cake – he proceeded to agree with my reasons for not choosing the other two paths. I will not go back to him yet, because I have had enough experience with these periods of abjection to know that they are short-lived, because I cannot live with him until some very fundamental changes are made in him. I simply cannot step back into that chaotic, violent, senseless life. Nor am I willing to force him out of that house. I will not return to it until he says to me “The proper place for my family is in that house.” I am not going to give him the opportunity to say “She pushed me out of my own home.” That will require more manliness than he has – so I expect to stay on here indefinitely. And from Kip's 1965 diary: Dad called for 7th time at 10:10. Poor lonely bastard.
RJL, January 20, 1965:
I can well understand why visits to the Big House are painful. You have not said what percent of your books you moved. I sure do miss my books since moving from LW and then from Riverside Hotel. So far I have little inclination to read. I don't know why. Partly because my illness may have made my glasses improper.
Kip's 1965 diary, January 24:
Slept till 1:30. Practiced 5:30 - 7:00. Songs sounded good. “Dreamin’,'Baba Yaga, Stop Shakin' Your Head,” (or whatever the hell it's going to be called) Working on “Whole Lotta Shakin” on now. Voice shot. Ate like hell at Linda's [Wooner's]. So much to do, so damn little time to do it in. This week: Spring Valley posters, rehearsals (two of them), T. Jones recording sessions on Friday, Pagans on state at Talent Show Thursday, Armory on Saturday, Pla Mor on Sunday, posters to put up in Spring Valley, one more song to write and learn by Friday. Time goes by way too fast. Drinking hot tea for my g.d. voice.
RJL, January 28, 1965:
I really shiver when I picture you going out at -26˚ at 2:00 a.m. to start car!! But your idea of heating up the motor was good. How far from Rochester is Pine Island or Stewartville? I do hope you do not have to move there. I do not see how you can possibly live on $300 per month. If this outrageous treatment continues I see no avoidance of divorce. Three times $300 a month would not be enough. Then came the astounding reversal re the 'Stone! It is quite likely that the lawyer brought that about. The brief account of the collapse of C.R.S. (on the evening he asked you to “come get him”) – well, it is tragic, pathetic to see a young man of real promise become a mental wreck (helped by alcohol?). But of course, our concern is you. . . . You conversation with Dick was indeed satisfactory. I also judge that you have made the right decision. But we await with intense interest the further developments in the poor diseased mind with which you have to cope. Would that we could help in some way.
Myra, February 1, 1965:
Well as it turns out, I have no problem about getting my share of February’s $$ – for the simple reason that there is none. I have no access to his checks so I have no way of knowing where it all went. My guess is that when he received the bills for couch, stove, and ice box he in cavalier fashion wrote out checks in full, instead of arranging to pay on a three-month (which is still cash) basis. Regardless of where it went it is gone – only $130 is in the bank until Feb. 28th. I have $367 in my own savings account and rather than borrow a couple hundred from Jimmie, I'll borrow it from one of the boys' savings accounts. Surely once the big expenses of the split-up are paid we can live within his salary. I proved I can do it – having spent less than $650 in Jan. Even with insurance premiums to meet, he ought to squeak in an equal amount.
RJL, February 6, 1965:
I am equally surprised that seven of you lived on $619 in January. (I hope that you no longer have the responsibility of covering his over-drafts!) Was there no bonus this January? . . . The Warren Report dismisses any theory that JFK was the victim of a plot. But I confess that a different case can be constructed.
Myra, February 7, 1965:
At no moment since December 11th have I had even a flicker of regret over leaving or a beam of hope that I could ever live with him again. I am no longer (except spasmodically) angry or disgusted or outraged – my foremost emotion toward him is tiredness. I'm tired of trying to deal with him, tired of hearing the same stuff over and over again, tired of shaking off the clinging, whining, consuming dependence. Tired tired tired!!! And I wish I could decide what to do. If I were dealing with just a sorry marital situation, I would get a divorce and be done with it. But I am tangled with a psychiatric problem and such decisive action might threaten my economic security – there are so many decisions to make: where do I want to go to school: the U where I'd get a better education, or Winona State where I could live more comfortably in a small town – do I want to move or commute to either Minneapolis or Winona? Do I want a degree in education or library science? Do I want to stay in Rochester where all my friends are – or to a small town where cost of living is lower? Do I want to delay in the hope that I can live a few more months in The Millstone – or force the sale now so that I can find more suitable home? I am unable to find a solution for any of these problems – no, not unable to find a solution – to make a choice.
Myra, February 9, 1965:
I have got to force this situation. He called yesterday to say he was through “jumping through hoops,” that it was “high time I quit having my way” and that he was getting a divorce and keeping the house. When I saw Dick later yesterday I was still in a towering rage. He suggested that we are getting nowhere with this arrangement and that we should have a real separation –time to let the smoke clear. Which is of course what I intended this to be months ago – no more phone calls, no more meeting, no more cause for new and continuing anger. Such a separation might have saved this marriage if it seemed worth preserving later in the year. But until then I am not going to continue living with a small portion of my belongings in a house too small for seven people. Like it or not, I am going to force him to sell that house so that I can buy a house with the minimum amount of space for these boys to live in. So if I have to get a divorce in order to get adequate housing, I'll do it and be damned to a six-month wait." From Kip's 1965 diary: Found out Dad has been talking about Mom's reading. How it hurt the family! Christ. Didn't practice because of my headache.
Mom, February 11, 1965:
I'm so fed up with this mess that I don't want to speak of it. Nor am I even going to think of it today “I'll worry about it tomorrow” – like Scarlett.
A scrap of paper in Kip’s hand, the Pagan's playlist for a weekend gig:
Good Golly Miss Molly, Long Tall Sally, Roll Over Beethoven, Kansas City, Satisfaction, Stop Shakin' Your Head, Baba Yaga [those last two written by Kip], House Of The Rising Sun, Green Onions, Batman, Pagan, Boney Maroney, Matchbox, Hard Day's Night, Be-bop-a-lula, Boys, Rawhide, High Heeled Sneakers, Rumble, Rip It up, Sea Cruise, Wooly Bully, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Bad Boy, and Route 66.
Kip's 1965 diary, February 13:
Great night!! Played on stage with raised sections similar to boards used for choirs. Steve in middle, Jim and I elevated on sides of him and Jerry and Jeff behind him and beside us. Curtain opened, and we smashed out “Good Golly Miss Molly.” Went by list I had made out previously, had good timing. For 1st time, everybody clowned. I tickled back of Steve's head with guitar, Huit swiped Steve's mike. Jim made Huit laugh on “Boys.” Speakers excellent. Wait till we get Bogen amp with 110 watts! [And then on the next day, he writes:] Dan's band “Burgandies” damn good for 11 yr. olds. Last night Mom broke down and cried when little brats argued about TV. Tensions increasing around here.
Myra, February 17, 1965:
I have finally sent Kip to the Clinic. Though I believe that his physical complaints have an emotional origin, one has to eliminate the chance of any organic disorder.
Kip's 1965 diary, February 18:
Feel better!! Pills must work. Saw Dr. Morrow again at 3:00. Discussed headaches; says due to pressures, body reacting to tension is diagnosis.
Myra, February 19, 1965:
Another week is gone and the week-end is upon me. We do very well in the little house until Sat & Sun. Then there is so little for the boys to do inside, so few of their possessions are here, and so little space to do it in, and nothing much and no friends outside. So I dread the week-ends – yet we always manage to get through one way or another. This week, which I had foolishly thought to be free of immediate problems because of his being in Philadelphia, has only made his life-sustaining contacts more expensive. He has phoned every day, often twice a day, with telegrams in between. When I consider all the financial corners I am cutting, it infuriates me to have money spent phoning 1,200 miles! Nothing to say – but he just “wants to hear the sound of my voice.” Poor man. Poor child. Clinic found nothing wrong with Kip – as I suspected.
Kip's 1965 diary, February 20:
After getting back from playing at Armory, Mom found booze in trunk of my car. All upset. God, she'd cry if she knew I spit on the street.
Kip's 1965 diary, February 22:
Dad showed up at house here in Elton Hills. Argued about the “worth of The Pagans” and being in a band. I was so P.O.ed by the time he left. Myra’s letters: Cold again. -12˚ last night, but with a 2:00 warm-up, car started at 7:30. Roger came over last night, but after 1/2 hour arguing an ancient argument with Kip and Jeff, he stormed out again, with a few equally ancient accusations flung over his shoulder. Stirred up everybody and nearly ruined the evening.
From Kip's 1965 diary, February 25:
Dad called six times. Mom doesn't know what's next.
Brother Collin writing in October of ‘91:
Once when we were living in Elton Hills, Dad called. Some of the brothers and I were in that tiny kitchen when I answered the phone. From the way everyone reacted, I felt I'd made a mistake. No one wanted to talk to him. He was asking for Mom and the brothers in the room with me were whispering, telling me not to say that Mom was there and to hang up. I didn't know what to do.
RJL, February 27, 1965:
I have just writ you my considerations of the “choices” which face you and you mentioned in your BB dated 2-7. I do not know that any animadversions are of any value, but at any rate, they reflect my thinking as of that date. Much depends upon what C.R.S. does and that is quite enigmatical. You can imagine the depth of our grief that all this has come to pass. And the end is not yet in sight.
Kip's diary, March 3:
Went to Linda's. Felt depressed cuz Dad's threatening to quit job, the goddam mouse.
Grandpa RJL, March 4, 1965:
It was not clear to me whether CRS was going to let you and kids have the 'Stone for the summer. This will be fine for you if it happens. But I judge that you are not counting on it. I note also what you said about appearance of CRS. Sad, sad. As you say, he is not the person we knew 15 years ago. And he has been warned by the directorate. I tremble for the ultimate in this matter. And Monnie finishes the Blue Book for RJL: Dear Poppa gets very tired and his writing shows it. Since he will not read this BB before I send it off, I might add this – He tires very often after any activity and at that time he face shows it. The right side seems to be drawn. The right side of his lips droop and his right eye waters. He complains of numbness of right side of face, even right side of nose. Some days he looks fine, as he did today and yesterday was so miserable I was worried.
Kip's 1965 diary, March 5:
Went to mixer . . . A guy from The Shandelles, my height but 10 to 20 pounds heavier, said something like “Ugly fuckin Pagan.” Surprised, I followed him with my eyes. He saw me looking at him, came back and repeated the same stuff. I just laughed and turned around to avoid fight. Just heard that Dad gave Pagan and Ciethle away. Mom upset.
Myra, March 9, 1965:
When I consider how breathlessly busy I am hour by hour every day, I wonder how I can handle a steady job – which is a problem I may not have to face very soon since I am having no luck at all finding a new job. If I had shorthand ability it'd be much easier. I have brought home my shorthand text and will review it until such time as I can get a course started.
Kip's diary, March 12:
Mixer was okay. Made several queer mistakes, like not coming in on the right beat for “Johnny Be, Good.” But good comments. Had three requests for “Baba Yaga.” Had two requests in school for it. Goddamn! Wish we had record out right now!
An article from the New Smyrna Beach newspaper titled “Another Day, Another Time, And Mr. Longstreet”:
Rubert Longstreet was a wondrous, remarkable man who lived in our midst for many years. He was, if you'll forgive a convenient aphorism, the Mr. Chips of our educational system, a beloved teacher and principal, a man who influenced directly or indirectly the lives of many neighbors of yours and mine, and maybe your life and my life, even though we are late arrivals on the scene. Rubert Longstreet, who started teaching in our town more than 40 years ago and who was until 1949 principal of Seabreeze High School – grows old, and he dignifies the joke of growing old. The joke of growing old? Yes. Of course it's a great joke, because the gales of age rattle the windows of the heart and waves of sadness and humor come upon the elderly, and sometimes tears fall. Some one, hopefully, is near enough to fetch a cup of tea, and the old one forgets whether the tears came from laughing inside, or crying. Such it is today, I suspect with Rubert Longstreet, visited with age. Visited by his old pupils today, too, and therein is our story. . . . All of these people, some teachers and some students will travel in a caravan to Jacksonville this morning, departing our town for a pilgrimage, if you will, to visit the home where Rubert Longstreet greets each morning with elaborate respect. . . . There is a class prophecy in each of the Seabreeze High School year books, just as in yours the year you graduated. The prophecy in the 1925 year book concluded: “Not one failure.” Will you join me in the hope the prophecy came true? Thus is it, this morning, those teachers who worked with Rubert Lonstreet – and the students they served – will drive to Jacksonville. On a shaded street they'll find the retirement home of the man they love. Names will be matched to faces, and a mental and friendly reconnaissance will prevail. Dreams will be dreamed aloud, dreams in which those few will recall a singular interest, funny and sad, comic and tragic. Each may recall a vivid patch of life that glows in recollection. 'Not one failure,' went the class prophecy. Perhaps, perhaps not. Does it make any difference now? Bless you, old friend, Rubert Longstreet, on this day.
Myra, March 23, 1965:
A week ago Sunday, I was informed that Pagan & Ceithle had been given back to the woman we bought them from. This was done in spite of my request that I be allowed to keep Pagan. I went to the house several times to get him, but closing the gate was too much of an irritant to Himself, so the dogs were gone every time I went for Pagan. The boys are heartbroken that Pagan is gone -- and I share the feeling. This has outraged me as much as anything in recent weeks. Recent annoyances: 1.) Continued calls – walks past my office at the Census. 2.) When I went out to dinner a week ago Saturday, he wanted to come stay with the boys. So I told Kip and Jeff I didn't need them to baby-sit for me. Result: he arrived at 8:00 instead of 7:00, left at 8:45 instead of 11:30. He left because he discovered Luke had spent 99¢ of his allowance on a model! 3.) Last week-end he wanted to see the boys. I offered him tickets to production of “Pinnochio” at Children's Theater – NO. I offered to have supper ready and he could be here with them while I went to the office – NO. He wasn't to come at 8:00 Sunday night – after the three littler boys were already in bed. Result: he's complaining everywhere that I won't let him see the boys. My most recent idea that I've been mulling over is the possibility of moving to Duluth where there is a four-year college. What brought this to mind was the 19-inch snowfall Duluth enjoyed when we were having only four. If I were there, the boys and I could all go to school in the same city -- cheaper and easier.
Kip’s 1965 diary, March 25:
Getting goddamn sick of headaches. Dr. Morrow just said keep up medication only stronger. Went to old house and watched game with Dad. It was really nice.
RJL, March 26, 1965:
I am concerned at your ill success in house-hunting. I do hope that CRS, in a lucid period, will agree on your return to the 'Stone. We have known of the blizzards about Rochester, but did not realize that they were bad enough to close schools for two days. It must have been hard on the nerves of the boys so imprisoned.
Kip's 1965 diary, March 28:
Mom & I had talk till 11:00. In August she thinks maybe we move to Minneapolis or Duluth. She has two years of college there while Jeff & I remain with Dad, but not in old house. Maybe I go one year to Rochester Junior College??
RJL, March 29, 1965:
Yesterday P.M. was eventful in that we talked with both you and CRS. That is, your mother did. I said nothing to CRS. I still do not know why he phoned. At any rate, despite his piteous face, he got nothing from your mother. She said little, other than to urge him to give the 'Stone to you and the boys for the summer and to express disagreement with what he said about money. I hope that he never calls us again. He is persona non grata here, which he would know were he in his right senses. The talk with you revealed something new, i.e. that you are thinking of moving to Duluth. I understand what inspires this possible migration – the branch of the University of Minnesota. Which would provide the educational opportunity for you and the children. Do keep us posted on your thinking in this matter. I can see some advantage to that move – as well as a few disadvantages. The decision is, of course, yours and you are in a position to know what is best." Myra’s letters: I am very sorry you were subjected to the earlier phone call, but temper your exasperation please. Remember the condition of the person you are dealing with. Don't try to be logical. Don't try to accomplish anything. You'll be frustrated and only give him more to rail at me about.
Kip's 1965 diary, March 29:
Feel better about my plans for next year. Because now I am justified in staying out of college one year. Dad wants me to apply U of Minnesota and Mom's going to Duluth or Minneapolis in Aug(?) so I'll need money. Gonna be cool if Jeff & I live alone with Dad, sorta like being bachelors. We'll know what's gonna happen 150 pages fr. now. [Sept. 1st]. If that happens, gonna miss the 4 little guys. Sounds like Hallenbeck's gonna do lead singing for Fury's. O.K. with me. Battle them anytime now.
RJL puts down a life-long hobby, March 30, 1965:
41 years ago I began bird-banding. Now I quit and tomorrow I [can't read] back what bands I may have left on hand. Good bye little bands. You have given me a lot of pleasure. Now it is finished.
Kip's 1965 diary, March 31:
Came home to get pill for headache I didn't have.
Myra, April 1, 1965:
Last night we were informed that after much weighing and examination his lawyer came up with $500 as the figure I can expect! $500 – with rent and utilities requiring $175 and food $250 - $300, how much does that leave for household expenses, clothes, gas, insurance, health, and you know how long the list can be! Somebody has a very unrealistic view of how much it costs to support 7 people! I shall have to go to Owatonna, I suppose, to tell his lawyer he's crazy.
Kip's 1965 diary, April 4:
Jeff and I went to Millstone, hauled 15 boxes of books from Mom's library to car. Then drove to Bianco's. Carried each goddamn box up the steps to door and up 2 steep flights of stairs. Legs weak. Got letter from Mr. Plunkett asking if anything he could do. Nice man.
Myra, April 4:
We have wondered about the two wolves [Irish wolfhounds], so there is interest in the report that CRS gave them back to original owners. We know well your love for dogs and so understand the necessity of long trip to the north to retrieve one of the two. Regarding CRS, I was encouraged (last night) by the comment by JRL that he believes that Himself would become ineffective as a surgeon; if true that renews our fear of financial disaster -- which does worry more. Too many hostages to fortune! Undoubtedly, future educational costs would be reduced by residence in Duluth. More practical than commuting from Winona. By far. Do explain what you mean by “clean up the Millstone @ $1.50 per hour.” That is very difficult of comprehension. You are quite right as to have no response to a phone call from him. Listen and say nothing. He is quite beyond rationality – pity of it!
Myra, April 5, 1965:
My good loyal brother has spent much money in the past few hours trying to guide me through my tangled affairs. He called last night about a check I had sent him to invest for me – and I told him about the latest development. We talked long about it and Jimmie was so disturbed about it that he has just called again with suggestions. It is heartening to me to have a man come very near telling me what to do. For 20+ years I've dealt with so much indecision – except where his physical comforts were involved – and weakness – for the last few years the three male consultants and advisers I've had (Steinhilber, Plunkett, & Tony) have all been afraid of saying something peremptory – that to have Jimmie appearing on the scene with all his strength and decisiveness, I am in danger of allowing myself to fall into his lap and to say “Get me out of this mess!” The latest development is a renewed decision to leave the Clinic (why should he worry about supporting the boys or putting them through school? I've got them, I can support them.) This threat seems so realistic this time that I went to see the head of the department Sunday morning to ask him not to accept a resignation until he or one of the psychiatrists talk with Roger about the seriousness of such a move. Mark was quite willing to do so and most sympathetic. . . So Thursday morning at 10:30 I have an appointment with the Walbrands [lawyers] to discover why they think 1/4 of Roger's salary is adequate for seven people to live on . . . The “Pathetique” now sounds like a living nightmare to me. It was always the one (chosen almost masochistically) played at window-shattering volume whenever (and God knows how often that was) he was trying to recover from a rage! I hate every note of it now!
Myra, April 7:
I'm going to finish my housework and then go looking for another place to rent. He is so ugly about that big house that I don't want more to do with it. Even if I can't find a 4-bedroom place, perhaps there is a 3-bedroom one with more living space that we now have. Wish me luck.
Kip’s 1965 diary, April 9:
Mom went to Owatonna to talk to Dad's lawyer's. They agreed $500 per month not enough. At least $650. Some hope there too about getting house back."
Mom, April 9:
Thursday morning – in a thunderstorm – I drove 40 miles to Owatonna to talk with the lawyers Roger asked to settle our money affairs. My allowance was raised to $650 but I believe the figures supplied them are wrong. . . The one encouraging fact was the emphasis with which the lawyer repeated that the boys and I should be in the house. When they meet with him again, this is one thing they will push. Coming from his own lawyers, perhaps he can see the economy (if nothing else) of our having the house.
Kip’s 1965 diary, April 10:
Dad called couple times, bitching. Car stalled near Claydon's when picking up Dan. Drunk and belligerent, he pushed us.
RJL, April 11:
Very pleased that you are taking precaution of removing things from the 'Stone and storing elsewhere. Certainly such a package as that containing the blue dishes [heirloom]. This action is most wise and I urge you to continue it. The alleged attorneys for CRS should be hanged. And I rejoice that your good brother has been of some assistance to you. He is a brilliant young man. . . . CRS's threat to resign is very serious if carried out. But I believe it is all bluff. Unless it be the [can't read] of an unsound mind – which is the more likely. Your conference with Coventry was certainly a wise one. . . . $680 is not enough. You should get at least $1,000. But you deal with a man devoid of rationality.
Mom, Good Friday, 1965:
We will not be able to go over to the big house today as we had planned. Himself called at 8:00 to talk to Colly. Says he has the flu -- he probably has the flu like I have leprosy – I've heard that feeble excuse before. So instead of being able to spread out we are trapped here again. From Grandpa's letters: I spent countless hours on our own genealogy and hope someone, some day, will say “Hurray for the old codger." • [This whole website is a hurray for the old codger.]
Grandpa, April 10, 1965:
Do not give up. A way will open.
Kip’s 1965 diary, April 18:
Dad's been calling all night. That fucker is stoned. Phone's been off hook more than on. Danny's over at the Millstone, camping out. . . Now Mom's talking with Dad on phone. Another harangue which will only get her riled.
Kip’s 1965 diary, April 20:
Mom said she is going to have to talk with Dad about returning to the Millstone cuz this house in Elton Hills is now for sale. Hope it works but doubt it. Think I'll have small party once we're back.
Kip’s diary, April 22:
Boxes and crap all over house in preparation for move back. Sure am apprehensive about this.
Kip's diary, April 26:
Dad took Chris & Jeff. Home. . . went to Linda's, discussed “Burgandies” break-up with Tom . . . came home. Dad being “parental.” “Where ya been all nite, buddy? Out pickin' your eyebrows?” • WTF?
Kip remembers the day the Pagan’s 45rpm was finally pressed, April 27:
Records came! They're GREAT! I'm not gonna sleep tonite. “Stop Shakin’ Your Head” on now. At practice at Rushton's when Chris came down, said Mom wanted to see me. Looked in window. There 3 packs of records. Grabbed 2 packs, inside, band jumped and yayed. Timing little off “Baba Yaga” but cool! Took one to KWEB, played it twice. But spirits dampened when Donaldson's and Dayton's only stores take 'em til get requests cuz Fury's record flopped. . . . Home. Linda had called Mom. Said she heard us on KWEB.
Kip’s diary, April 28:
Left 25 at Woolworth's. When got down there, manager said some lady had just asked them about “new Pagans record.” Christ. Linda said blaring over store loudspeakers. Songs played 3 times on KWEB. . . . Mom says Mrs. Bianco and kids love both songs. Took one to Plunketts. Mrs. Plunkett said ordered 10 from Dayton's. Linda said she bitched out Phil's for not having it.
Kip’s diary, April 30:
Went to Linda's. Dan said Dad sounded tuned over phone. Said Mom had left and since trouble brewing when I left, knew we'd had another night. Slept at Linda's.
Myra, back at The Millstone, May 6, 1965:
I have been terribly busy as you may imagine. Packing, moving, cleaning the other immaculately and cleaning this pig-pen.
Kip worries about the future in his 1965 diary, May 30:
Pomona College accepted me. Letter of acceptance (telegram) posted on broom closet door under crepe paper and spangles. Going to answer “yes,” then later this summer ask if can be accepted '66. If not, not sure what but think Pomona. Depresses me to think about it. Hell, I don't wanna cut this life entirely. Shit, no band, new friends, no respect except what I build there, no Linda, no Kathy. From RJL’s letters: Your wire of last evening was troubling, indeed. Perhaps the return to the 'Stone has the advantage of a three-month playground for the boys. Otherwise, one fears the effect on you. We await developments with great anxiety. In the meantime, it seems to me wise to continue to remove to safekeeping some of your most valuable possessions, e.g., the blue set of dishes, and certain books. But how can I offer any advice at this distance. You know what is best. And we pray that moving back into the house will not prove to be too great a trial! By school time next fall, surely, some different life will be possible. I wish I knew what it will be! . . . Up from afternoon nap and you know what is on the top of our minds (What is a mind – top of, anyway?) I canvas the possibilities in all lights. A divorce as quick as possible remains my best judgement. What terrible changes time has brought! Do keep us au courant with all developments. You are our daughter, you know!
Kip’s diary, May 10:
"Baba Yaga” on WDGY up in the Twin Cities! Jeff heard it. D.J. said “Here's new sound from Rochester.” I was downtown, Dayton's sold 12 more. A WIN DAY. SHIT. I WISH I WASN'T GOING TO POMONA. IF THAT RECORD GOES BIG, I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'LL DO. Practice O.K. Mustangs must feel cool. Their record was on KROC, it was out 9 weeks. Ours is out 10 days and it's on WDGY twice. Russ says will send one to KDWB, big station in Cities.
Mom, May 14, 1965:
Kip is in the hospital with unexplained belly pains.
Kip’s diary, May 15:
10:30. [Written in very different handwriting than Kip wrote in most of the rest of his diary, all caps.] School O.K. Pain in abdomen. After school in so much pain, St. Mary's. In emergency room (took 2 hours before exam over). Hands and feet went numb and stiff. Shit. It was like I was paralyzed. I could move my arms but not hands. Dr. Ralston put brown bag over mouth, regained control. All within 6 - 7 minutes. Goddamn, what extreme pain!! Gave 1 sedative 10:30, no good, after repeated beggings gave 1 in other arm and I went out. Friday morning I felt much better. Still tender, but bearable. Linda saw me after school. Said everybody knows. Jeff called, said same, Kathy at 7:00, said same. Mixer cancelled. Heard “Baba Yaga” and “Stop Shakin' Your Head” were requested. Boring! Shit. Nothing but lying around to do. Awakened this morning by doctor poking stomach and sticking my ass. 12:30 Ralston said O.K. go home. . . . Laid around. Linda over till 10:00. Sat up here in Mom's bedroom. Never felt good. Jim & Steve over. Jerry's dad is dying. Heart attack. Jerry (according to Jim) sounds little depressed. Jerry & Steve got caught with liquor last night. God, everything's happening to Pagans. Mom depressed cuz I'm not going to Graduation. Gets me depressed.
Myra, June 3, 1965:
Last night Colly and I went to see Kip get two awards at Recognition Night at JM – his radio-speaking award and his merit scholarship commendation. There were dozens of awards made – but it was a great pleasure to see Kip receiving his. He made a comical sight – all dressed up – and with a dandy black eye. The night before (8:30) he was standing outside an ice cream stand – when two greasers drove up on a motorcycle, asked him if the car he was leaning against was his? He said “No.” They ordered him to move. He asked “Why?” And with that they jumped him – gave him a black eye and a split lip. And ran away before Kip could even get up.
Kip’s diary, June 5:
2:30. K. & I went to 'Beach Blanket Bingo.' Got home. Dad called K's, heard him do it (dumb bastard!!) Got in big argument about time I got in. Shit fucker was yelling. Hate his fucking guts.
Kip’s diary, June 6:
Well, have to think back. Woke up somewhere 9 - 10. Dad up, drinking whiskey with coffee. Belching by 5:00, really bitching. Jeff & I took tapes. . . . Ate Kathy's fish while Dad stood, leaned, against wall behind me and bitched. I made animal noise imitating Dad. And Chris nearly had hysterics. Mom & kids left after supper. Jeff & I took off with one of Dad's 6 packs of Hamm's. Sat out by Huit's and drank. . . . Went to Linda's. Sat around, then got sleepy and knowing going to have to sleep somewhere other than home. Slept there." [Kip's entry sort of melts into the next day.]
Kip’s diary, June 7:
Left 9:20, home, Dad up, got tapes [I'm guessing the tapes he's talking about here are the tapes Kip and Jeff recorded of Dad in a Raging Drunk the day before], dressed, go to St. Mary's & see Dad’s shrink, Dr. Martin at 10:20. Long talk. Said we give different picture. Said it helped. Downtown. Osco's records gonna take more copies of Pagan's 45. . . . Home. Mom haggard. Says one of worst rages so far (the he was hitting her with fly swatter, throwing laundry around) . . . might take off if he goes again. This could be a week-long rage. This could be it. He could go crazy.
From psychiatric notes in my file from Mayo Clinic Drs. Delano and Moore, June 8, 1965:
After a brief interview with father and recontact with mother, it seems that there have been only two episodes of stealing outside the immediate family, both of which were handled by returning the stolen material to the owner and accompanied by rather sincere sorrow in Luke. He seems to be rather meticulous and well controlled emotionally with a hobby of collecting things. This latter fact may be related to his stealing. His parents clearly are each beset with personality defects and the marital strife at times has been severe. They are attempting to resolve some of this with psychiatric help. Recommendation: Watchful waiting in that Luke shows little in the way of disturbing signs besides the stealing. Have discussed with mother and father.
A happy chatty nothing-wrong-here-in-Rochester-letter from Mom to Dad's mother, The Rock, June 8, 1965:
This is of course a busy time of year for everybody, not just for Roger. The boys have been busy with end-of-the-school-year activities and studies and with summer nearly here they are busy outside too. Kip of course has been unusually busy, since he is graduating this year. There have been several banquets and assemblies that he has had to attend since he was selected one of the Champion Citizens, one of 52 outstanding students for the graduating class (of 730). This has been a good year for Christy at Central Junior High School. His grades have improved and he has seemed to enjoy himself more. His interests still are largely scientific (chemical and electrical), but he does a great deal of reading in other fields. He is the most helpful of all six, seeing things to do or be repaired and tending to it without having anyone suggest it to him. He plans to take some classes during the school session, but other than that has no plans for the next few months. I don't know that Danny will ever get everything done this summer that he plans to do. He belongs to a little rock-and-roll group, too, The Burgundees, and is an extraordinarily good drummer for one who has never had a lesson in his life. This Saturday the five of them go to Pine Island to compete in the annual Cheese Festival. Several weeks ago they played for an audition and were chosen to compete at the Festival. If they make it to the finals, they go back Sunday to Pine Island to play again. His group has an opportunity to play at the local Art Festival in late June and has played at the YMCA and for several private parties. Last night they played at the school picnic and were a huge success. Danny is also signed up for summer school sessions, is going to NYC with Roger in late June, and from August 1 to 14 will be in the far north at Camp Olson, a YMCA camp. So Danny's summer is well filled. Luke is going to the newly-organized Summer Enrichment Program here . . . [the carbon copy of the letter stops here, and then handwritten a note saying ] . . .This is part of a letter, obviously, sent to Roger's mother. The rest in BB which should be mailed by Saturday.
Kip’s diary, June 15:
A week ago this morning, I was up at 4:30 with stomach pains. By 6:00 Dad took me into St. Mary's, pain great, threw up, finally got to sleep 2:30, kept waking, pain down by 6:00 (didn't disappear for 3 days). That's the goddmandest wracking pain, exhausting. Was told by a 4 man team of doctors I was “gonna have nothin’ but trouble for the next coupla days.”
Kip’s diary, June 19:
Dad left for N.Y. with Dan Friday night. Jim Rushton had encounter with Dad while latter drunk. Said “Never marry woman like that.”
Myra on watching her boys play in rock & roll bands, June 1965:
Danny's band, The Burgundees, played in Pine Island Saturday night. They had auditioned several weeks ago and were accepted to compete in Pine Island's Cheese festival. Saturday night, replete with new red velvet vests (made by two other mothers) they played three of there wild rock-and-roll numbers – “Green Onions,” “What I Say,” and “McCoy.” They were the youngest of five bands and they really made quite a hit! I drove over with Colly and Luke and we had much fun – There was a carnival in the street that kept the little ones goggle-eyed all evening. It was not until 11:00 that the announcement was made of the fifteen who made the finals. The Burgundees were chosen – to the great excitement of us all. So Sunday night the Pagans loaded up their far better equipment and took the little band back to Pine Island to compete in the finals. Only two were chosen as winners – a college-age band and a little tap-dancer, but our boys won ten dollars for having made the finals and a great deal of confidence for having competed. . . Danny has never had a single lesson, yet he is a remarkably good drummer. It is a treat to watch him, for every cell in his body is jumping to the beat and his round little face is going through countless contortions. He looks ecstatic. Getting those drums for him was the best thing I ever did for Danny.
From a 1992 letter brother Dan wrote about his band, the Burgundees:
I'm proud of the effort we Burgundees made together. We were just kids, 6th-grade 12-year-olds. Despite our age, we were all really committed and worked hard at being a good band. Of course, at the time, we couldn't imagine doing anything else. We got our parents to spend money on good musical instruments. We learned patiently together, practiced at least once a week, sometimes more. And for a 14-month stretch, it seemed like we played somewhere every two or three weeks. I read in that Flip Side book that we were better instrumentally than vocally. That's very true I think. I did most of the lead vocals and I can't imagine that I was very good, being a little prepubescent kid. Still, for our age, we made a great effort, sometimes singing three-part harmonies. My favorite memory of the Burgundees was playing at the Bamber Valley Spring Fair of 1966. Our first song was “Johnny Be Good,” which had Brian doing an opening guitar thing and the rest of us (bass, rhythm guitar and drums) joining in. I remember thinking for the first time, “Hey! We really are good!”
Kip’s diary, June 30:
Mrs. Wooner says several have commented on my sickly appearance. . . Dad home, little nonsense talk. “Doesn't Mr. Wooner know?” “Do you think it's proper?'" • After which Kip drew in a small drawing of a hand giving the finger.
Myra on having boys in rock & roll bands, June 30, 1965:
There may be something to be said against these bands and the boys' participation in them. But on the whole, I am well pleased that they have this consuming interest. Danny has gained much confidence in himself, having finally found something he can do better than anyone else in the family. It has been especially good for Jeff because it has given him something to do with his time. The Pagans practice so long and so hard -- and usually are busy every week-end -- so that Jeff hardly has time to get into trouble out of boredom. Kip has enjoyed it tremendously and has gained a business knack and ability to handle himself in front of people -- but if the band activities had not turned up, he's the kind of boy who would have found other good use of his time. Whenever anyone asks me how I can put up with two bands, fully amplified, practicing in the house, the only answer is that there are indeed quieter activities that they might be engaged in like stealing hubcaps.
Kip’s diary, July 4:
Linda on phone said Danny said Dad told him (in N.Y.) that Wooner's are trying to get Linda to marry me because of Dad's money. WHAT A SHIT! The bastard made announcement this afternoon: that Dan's out of band. Started when Luke shot car window [with BB gun], Dad blamed band, talked about selling Dan's drums so Dan won't be “like us.”
Brother Collin reflecting in 1991:
Once I was in the car with Dad. I think we were someplace near Winona, where we used to go to get to the houseboat we had. Dad was fumbling for his lighter and asked me to hold the wheel. I could barely see over the dash and had no idea how to steer. The road suddenly looked very narrow and we were approaching a bridge. As I held the wheel, I remember being scared and when I told him I didn't want to steer, he seemed to get annoyed that I wouldn't do him that little favor.
Brother Chris reflecting in 1991:
Dad certainly got me between the ribs with his stiletto often enough. The wound he inflicted that I still remember he dealt when we were at the houseboat with Kip and Linda Wooner and some other brothers. I was in the area of the boat just behind the wheel and I was changing into my suit. I was anxious about being seen by Linda when I didn't have my pants on. Dad heard me worrying. His response: “You don't have anything she would be interested in.” What an extraordinary thing to say. What appalling incompetence as a father. Had he sat down and given prolonged thought to a remark that would maximize the damage to his own son's self-esteem, he would have had a hard time finding a better attack.
RJL on a day at Wesley Manor retirement home, July 22:
How goes a day at D-21, Wesley Manor? (1.) “Today” [show] heard for much of 7 to 9. (2.) Eat cornflakes and have glass of milk. (3.) Read TIME and sit around. (4.) Rest about 45 minutes. (5.) To library at 11:00. (6.) Noon meal 11:45 to 12:25. (7.) Library to 1:15. (8.) Knappe 1:30 to 2:45 while your mother shops. (9.) Relish most recent gossip. (10.) Read latest Saturday Review. (11.) New pen in hand for . . .
From the notes of Dad's Mayo psychiatrist, Dr. Martin, July 26, 1965:
Psychotherapy has continued since the above note, however little progress has been made. The focus has tended to remain on the marital conflict and we have made little progress in terms of therapy. The situation has reached the point that he can no longer really function effectively in his work and arrangements have been made for a referral to the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut.
Kip’s diary, July 27:
Jeff home from river. Dad into huge bitch, God, some control. To Mom: “You shut your goddam mouth!” Discussed our actions, past, pres. & future & how we do ‘em (“Gotta ask Dad.”). To bed 11:30, talked with Jeff till now, 12:15.
Collin remembers the day he, myself and Mom had to lock ourselves in the Tower Library to escape Dad, in a letter written in October of ‘91:
Then on another fine evening Mom had locked herself with Luke and me in the little study above the left front entry. Dad was trying to get Mom to unlock the door. Mom agreed to let Luke leave through the balcony, climb down to ground level and go for help. The last I remember of that event is the image of Luke running out to the driveway and out of sight around the trees. In Stephen King's “The Shining” there is a scene where Danny is locked in a bedroom with his mother . . . Jack has become a crazed, evil, counter-image of his former self, about to take an axe to the door. Whenever I see or think of that scene in the movie I am reminded of the night in the little study.
Kip’s 1965 diary, July 31:
Home. Asked Jeff & Jerry if knew what happened to Scotch bottle; Jerry said he'd looked all over – then Jeff asked if I remembered what did when car. [sic] That did it. Tore downstairs, picked it up from under radiator bench in dining room while M. in kitchen. Whew! Back upstairs we laughed about last night.
Kip’s diary, August 5:
Practiced 6:30 - 9:00. After one helluva row with Dad about Rockford. Won't let us go. And no reasons. Such a cock!
Kip’s diary entry about the infamous Pagan’s concert at the Olmsted County Fair, August 7:
Played at Fair 6:15 - 7:00. Had cool radio interview on KWEB (all of us talking at once, wise answers). Went to King Leo's, mixed bourbon. Guzzled on way to Henry's, met band, bought mix, went out by Plunkett's, boozed. God did it hit me. Played at fair 8:30, 3 songs, couldn't tape it, left. Dunked head in sink. Jeff took me out to Zumbro River swimming, froze, back, Bob Lee ran me up and down, gave scalding coffee, 10:15 on stage, three songs that I didn't sing. Then screwed “Dizzy Miss Lizzy.” Sat on stool with sunglasses on. On 'Down The Road Apiece' fell over backward, knocked my & Jerry's amp over. Jerry said later he never saw so many people laughing so hard in his life. Got up, kept playing, faded, picked up stool, explained why I was sitting on stool: 'Hurt ankle falling off a llama.' Rest of nite went O.K. Mom got three phone calls this morning . . . Went to fair this afternoon, reaction universal. Everybody looked and kept looking. . . . Dad said grounded tonite. Kept date with K. anyhow." • See video of Kip recalling this concert on the “Movies” page of this site.
Jeff told me recently (10/91) that this event took place at the Fair during what was basically a "Battle Of The Bands," sponsored by KROC radio, a common way they promoted rock and roll in those days. Between the prelims and the finals, Kip got seriously drunk. Jeff says he remembers it was a huge tent, with about 500 people there to see Kip fall off his stool; that he has an image of a drunk naked Kip sliding in the mud banks on the shores of the Zumbro River as they tried to sober him up for the finals. He also remembers that in addition to knocking over the amps, Kip also the drummer's boom mike rotating around in a wide arc with such force that the drummer had to duck twice as it made its two rotations before coming to a rest.
Kip’s diary, August 9:
Repercussions of fair. Mom getting bitched out. Dad's pretty drunk. He said only one person called about fair and that was Mrs. Wooner. Called Linda about it, she didn't know.
Kip’s diary, August 10:
Dutch Link didn't know about fair so I told him. Reason Dutch called was about J's drinking Friday night at mixer. Said actions, dress and name of band irritates people. “We live up to the name ‘Pagan.’” Dutch was damn good about it all. . . . Dad officially grounded me till Saturday night, then it's in by 12:00 every night till I leave."
Kip’s diary entry about the fistfight in the Low Forty, August 15, 1965:
10:40. Tomorrow is my birthday. Oh yay. [Sad little face drawn in.] It's a long story. Wed. [the 11th] was day like any other day. Change came when after practice, band went to Golden Carter where Steven managed to purchase three 6-packs of Grain Belt. Jim and I went to drink with Eddie P. Had to be in by 10:00 so band came along to my house to drink. Announced arrival to Dad, then we drank and talked in Low 40. 10 minutes later Dad came down with flashlight. “What's going on, boys?” Sat down beside me. Held up my beer and asked if he wanted swig. He started bitching “You boys get on home. Get going.” Said to me, “Get in house.” I go, “Have to finish my beer.” Swung at beer and knocked it away. “Get in house!' 'You wanna polish it off?” “Wise guy.” “You're a nosey old bastard.” “What'd you call me?” “A nosey old bastard.” He swung, something about “spoiled shit.” I backed down hill. He ran down, swung, I ducked, put one in his paunch. As he went down, pulled me on top. Just put my head in his chest and wailed about five blows in the face while I only got ears boxed. Separated. “Get in the house.” I just walked back up to driveway. “Get in the house!” again when I headed for gate where Eddie's car parked. Passed Eddie going back “to get his cigs” (to get beers). Mom came out. “Is he drunk again?” Got in car, took off, finished beers, to Benny's, to Eddie's, sat around plush basement. Around 1:00 Eddie took everyone home. I took shower, watched “Laurel & Hardy.” Ended up sleeping in room next to Eddie's."
According to Jeff, Kip lived somewhere else for the next five days or so. Just showed up to get clothes to go to work in and then left again. He also said that Dad swung at Kip with the flashlight. Jeff also remembers that he would sometimes put clothes and other items Kip needed in a bag, and when Kip drove past The Millstone, Jeff would throw the bag into his passing car.
Kip’s diary, August 16:
Dad showed me bumps on face. Funny.
Kip’s diary, August 20:
Dad in sorrowful mood. Told me planned to fly today to Philadelphia Institute For Living (or is it Hartford) at 4:00 this afternoon. Can't quite believe it. No one seems to know how long he'll be gone. Estimates run from 2 months to 2 years.
RJL discusses the news about Roger’s agreement to go to treatment, August 21:
Dear Daughter: These pages I suppose you will prefer to tear out and dispose of. Inasmuch as the BBs are bound into volumes for purposes of family history. But I can hardly write without some comment on the great significance of what happened yesterday – or, for that matter, what surely transpired in recent days. I judge that your strength (which I marvel at) must have been taxed almost to the limit. Of course, we do not know whether Roger was at the Clinic with some degree of regularity, or whether he was at the 'Stone. In fact we do not know any details, and I understand why. The last BB of the “old type” is dated May 16. Then came a page dated May 24th in which you tell us of the troubles connected with writing to us, and the fury that inexplicably ensues if a Blue Book is found. That was warning, of course, but I did not realize how much affairs had deteriorated. And that was three months ago. Next, I find in the file of your letters an undated message about a violent weekend seizure -- you close by saying 'I know you are all anxious about me but you will simply have to accept that I can do only what I am doing.' And I realize that you could say no more. In the BB started June 3rd, you start the process of keeping us advised of day to day doings in the form of a letter to his mother. Thus I began to see that your situation was increasingly critical. But of any details we were of course ignorant -- as we yet remain, save that a real crisis developed and that you were able to induce him to go to some sort of clinic in Hartford. And I believe that you said over the phone that he has been informed that he has no more job at Mayo's unless he takes the treatment (which I understand is for alcoholism as well as psychiatric -- or maybe alcoholism comes first). We are much concerned that he may leave there any day and show up before you [?, not sure I could read it]. And we are concerned about the money situation. That he cancelled the joint back account is the act of a despicable sort. I am somewhat comforted by the Mayo assurance of financial aid to the extent that you need it. It seems to me that some plan must be devised by which his salary check, or a share of it, is given to you. We do sincerely hope that he does stay in Hartford, does not pester you with telegrams, phone calls, and letters. And stays there a long time. So about all we do is think of you and pray for your deliverance from a tragic situation -- you and the boys. What seemed so auspicious and happy in 1944 has become a sad business indeed. And we turn over in our minds this development and wonder why and how. At the same time, we deplore our helplessness. There is nothing that we can do. Our one and only daughter is in deep trouble and her parents cannot help her. During the recent weeks, we have been aware of the situation at the 'Stone must be getting worse. Now comes your word of Friday night. We called Jim and his answer was a joyful “Good!” We believe that the crisis is past, and your success is a good one. He said he would call you at once. It will ease our worry if 'good' is the final word. But I confess to continued disquietude. Perhaps now you can tell us more about events in recent weeks. And about what the Clinic will do – for instance how long they will keep him on the payroll. You can see that all that can satisfy us would be a whole day of talk with you.
RJL, August 22:
My mind turns regularly to you and what faces you hereafter. I do hope that CRS's absence is long-continued and that this will bring some surcease to you, battered and bruised as you must be. How dear you are to our hearts. May God bless you and your boys!
Mom, August 26:
This week we have had the Pagans practicing here every evening – which Pied-Piper-like attracts all the little kids in the valley. . . . Today Danny's Burgundees arrived and for lack of a better place I had them set up their equipment in the big bedroom. They can practice there until the Pagans move on.
Brother Jeff describes Roger’s last day at the Millstone before leaving for treatment, in a letter written in October of 1991:
I drove Dad to the airport on the day he left for Hartford, Conn. Around noon that day he was dressed in suit and tie listening to Tchaikovsky's “Cappriccio Italien.” He was driving his fist into the air in time with the music. I think he had been drinking but was not being icky. He said he “would have given a testicle” to have written it. When it was time, I sat in front of the house in the driver's seat of the MG. The top was down. Dad got into the passenger seat and as he closed the door, Mom seemed to appear out of nowhere and gave him a very affectionate but reserved series of strokes on the top of his head and said something like “Good luck.” Dad did not look up and muttered something that I recall meant the equivalent of “You don't care.” He looked like he would sob.
From the Hartford psychiatrist's notes, August 25, 1965:
ADMISSION SUMMARY: Dr. Sullivan is a 44-year old, orthopedic surgeon, who has had a good deal of marital difficulty and an increase in his alcoholic consumption. The emotional problems, plus the excessive drinking, have caused decreased efficiency in his work; therefore on the suggestion of his referring doctor, the patient arrived, unaccompanied, to this hospital. The patient's medical history shows numerous fractures, but otherwise, the patient has been in fairly good health. Provisional Diagnosis: Passive-aggressive personality and alcoholism. Dr. Sullivan was admitted to Whitehall. . . . The patient seemed quite anxious on admission and requested several privileges, including permission to call his office. He was given Seconal, grains 1.5 at bedtime for sleep, but he did not use it during the first 24 hours. Dr. Sullivan did a Minnesota Multi-Phasic Personality Inventory and seemed quite concerned that the results would be distorted by his concern about his wife. . . His verbalizations center around his concern about the future and his interpersonal relationships, especially with his wife. He occasionally makes requests for increased privileges; these are always said in a very mild way, as though he does not wish to be a problem to any one. At times during the interviews, the patient comes almost to the stage of crying. This is especially noticeable when he talks in terms of being unable to take a firm stand in dealing with his wife. • Regarding that last line, Mom says: "Isn't that a laugh and a half."
From the psychiatric notes on my father taken at Hartford, August 27, 1965:
INSIGHT: The patient understands that his illness is such that he cannot deal with his difficulties in the environment he was living in. He indicated that his problems became so great that he could not do his “main tasks in life.” These main tasks he said, and the order he stated them in, are “physician, surgeon, father, and husband.” SUMMARY: The patient's attitude and general behavior are unremarkable. His mental activity, speech and thought show a preoccupation concerning his marital difficulties and financial matters.
More from the psychiatric notes, dated August 31, 1965:
It is almost impossible for the patient to date the onset of his illness. When he focuses on his drinking habits, he notices that the intake of alcohol increased one year after he “went on staff.” “I was using booze to get rid of my emotions.” The frequency at that time was less than once per month. As he recalls it, the drinking was always increased after a “spat with my wife.” [Cleverly worded to imply that it was the spats with the wife that caused the drinking.] The intake of alcohol increased continually until the patient began seeing a psychiatrist about a year and a half ago. The patient was able the reduce the drinking until Christmas of 1964 when his wife and family moved out of the house into another home in another part of the community in Rochester, Minnesota. At that time his drinking increased to two or three manhattans before supper, three or four scotches after supper, and a morning drink of gin and coffee. During this time, he would wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning, feeling quite anxious. During the evening and sometimes at night, he would have crying spells. This continued until April 1965, when his wife and family moved back into the house. Again, approximately eight weeks prior to admission [July 1?], the patient's drinking increased. The patient had continued to see the psychiatrist, but during the eight weeks preceding the patient's admission, the psychiatrist went on vacation and did not see Dr. Sullivan as frequently upon his return from vacation. At the same time, the patient feel that as his drinking decreased, he wife “started throwing tantrums.” [Mom after reading: "Oh, my God!"] During the period preceding admission, the patient became more and more unhappy with himself and found it necessary to “get plastered and call up my chief.” He would go to the home of his senior surgeon and talk about his difficulty with his wife at these times. During one of these visits, he indicated that his hands had begun to shake during surgery. As a result of the continued deterioration in his family relationships, increased drinking, and in the inefficiency in his work, it became apparent that hospitalization was necessary. . . . he says he has not been assaultive but has struck his wife on two or three occasions in an effort to get her “to control herself.” He has denied any suicidal tendencies but has stated that when he has had too much to drink, he has talked about himself being better off if he were not alive. The patient started with one therapist but changed to another because it was felt that the close patient-therapist relationship might interfere with psychotherapy – Dr. Sullivan and the first therapist had been classmates. Since then, his wife has seen the first therapist [Steinhilber] while the patient continued in therapy with the second therapist [Martin], who is the referring physician.
More from the same notes:
FAMILY HISTORY: The patient is the only child of a Methodist minister and his second wife. The family had limited economic assets throughout the patient's life. They lived in parish houses and moved around a good deal. “By the time I was in high school, we had lived in 14 different homes.” The patient denies any familial diseases, alcoholism, mental disorders or epilepsy in the family: Father: Charles William Sullivan, a Methodist minister, died of a coronary in 1942 at the age of 72. The patient describes him as having been a farm boy who came from an Irish immigrant family. The patient's paternal grandmother died when his father was an infant, and his father was adopted by a “Protestant family.” His father lived most of this life in the Midwest and moved around from parish to parish. The patient remembers his father as having been a stern, rigid man, whose primary interests were along religious lines. His father's first marriage was terminated with the death of his 30-year-old wife from tuberculosis. Father was a prominent member of his community. He could also “paint well.” Mother: Irene Compton is 80 years old. The patient says she was born in Coshocton, Ohio, and is of English-Scotch-Irish ancestry. Her forefathers came over to this country “a long time ago.” She is said to have coronary heart disease and diabetes at this time; the latter was discovered fairly recently. She was “a farm girl who taught school and married when she was 30 or 31 years old; she was 17 years younger than her husband at that time. She is 'good about church-going.” The patient said at this juncture, '” don't like my mother, as you can see from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory.” Siblings: The patient has a half-brother, who is presently 65 years old. The patient recalls that there might have been a miscarriage, but he is not sure. Home atmosphere and influence: The home is described as a “typical, Methodist parish home. We always had enough to eat.” The patient was impressed repeatedly with the limited financial resources. He was also impressed with the stern, religious environment. On one occasion when he was at a summer camp, he recalls “the atmosphere of the old time, religious environment” got to him. He recalls crying and going to the altar in response to an evangelist's plea. On the way home that night, he recalls his parent's disapproval and his feeling of resentment.
Neurotic traits: He recalls his mother saying “Oh, you are so nervous.” He also recalls going to church services and prayer meetings where it was difficult for him to “sit still.” Education: . . . He attended Ohio Weslyan University in Delaware, Ohio, and from there went to the University of Rochester in New York from June of 1946 to the fall of 1947 – There he took a straight surgical internship. During medical school, he was enrolled in the V-12 program after his first year. On completion of his internship, he spent three months as an assistant resident at Strong Memorial Hospital and then went into the navy. One year after discharge from the navy, he resumed his postgraduate training, starting out as a resident in orthopedics at Mayo Clinic in January of 1951. He completed his residency in January of 1954 and then remained on staff at the Mayo Clinic. Attitudes: The patient has not been close to his half brother at any time in view of the large age discrepancy. He recalls being compared to his brother frequently, especially in the academic areas. His half-brother had dropped out of college. The patient sees himself as having been a timid young man, who had difficulty socializing and yet never felt any warmth or closeness with his parents. Occupations: On leaving Strong Memorial Hospital, he entered the navy and signed up with the regular navy because “I needed the money.” He was in the Navy from June 1947 to 1950, initially at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth and on shipboard for the last year and a half while he was in the service. On discharge, he worked for one year with a general surgeon in Norfolk, Virginia, while arranging for his residency program. On completion of his residency program in January of 1954, he stayed on the staff at the Mayo Clinic as an assistant from 1954 to 1955. Since then, he has been in practice on the staff as an orthopedic surgeon. Sexual Inclinations and Practices: . . . He recalls some guilt feelings concerning his pursuit of sexual information [as a child]. . . . since his marriage, the sexual relationship has been deteriorating and is currently unsatisfactory. The patient's wife has used a diaphragm and jelly, and three years ago, she used oral medication for one year. Marital History: . . . They met while in college, when Dr. Sullivan was looking for a “blind date.” [Mom says that's not true. It was a regular date. They went to "King Lear."] They fathers had known each other and the patient was aware that his wife-to-be was at the University when he was there. Prior to their marriage, she had been told that she had tuberculosis and had been unable to go into nurses' training as she had planned. She came to Rochester to go to business college while he was going to medical school, and they were married while he was in his third year of medical school. After their honeymoon [Mom says there was no honeymoon], she went home and resumed a prescribed course of bed rest, returning to live with her husband while he was in his senior year. She stayed in bed most of the time during the first year that they lived together because of the suspicious “apical lesion.” It is difficult for the patient to really describe his relationship with his wife. Physically, he describes her as being small, dark haired, and pretty. He is also able to say that she is extremely intelligent and was an excellent student. As their marriage progressed, his ability to communicate with her deteriorated and his image of her is difficult for him to put into words at this time. Children: Kip Roger. He is described as resourceful and an excellent student, who is well rounded, but 'more like his mother, in that he says "I'm never wrong.” He has a good deal of musical ability, is an active hockey player, and won the state speech contest, as well as being an Eagle Scout. He is planning to start at Pomona College this fall. There was a miscarriage after this child's birth [Mom says it was after Jeff's], but this was spontaneous and not dilation and curettage was required. The next child, Jeffrey Warren. . . [patient feels] is just as smart as the first born, but he is lazy and “less well motivated.” This child also plays a musical instrument but is 'less confident than his older brother.' The next son is Christopher James . . . He is said to have scientific interests, especially in electronics. He gets average grades and has no music ability. Daniel Martin . . . is a “square-built water rat.” He likes to swim, has his own band where he plays the drums, and makes friends very easily. Luke Longstreet, born September, 1955 [sic], “goes a mile a minute.” He is a “collector of notes and lists'” and does average work in school. The youngest child is Collin Charles . . . He is the “baby of the family.” He is said to have school problems, which the patient feels are due to “too much mama and too little poppa.” Habits: The patient smokes three packages of cigarettes per day at this time. The patient was brought up in a home in which there was no drinking permitted. He began drinking beer in medical school and would have a glass two or three times a week. During his internship and naval career, the drinking increased, but usually took place in an officers' club or following a medical conference. On completion of his residency, he was drinking only on occasion until one year after he became a staff member, when he was using alcohol to 'get rid of my emotions.' Medical History: . . He has a history of numerous fractures. When he was two years old, he fell from a two-story high window, sustaining a fracture of the left humerus. When he was 12 years old, he had a Colles fracture of his right wrist. In 1953, he fractured his right navicular bone. In 1963, he fell from a horse, fracturing his left fibula. PERSONALITY BEFORE ILLNESS: Dr. Sullivan describes himself as being somewhat quiet, and a serious man who had difficulty in social relationships before he left home. With a good deal of effort, he was able to attain some comfort in being in groups. Up until his entrance into a college setting, he had limited social involvement. Greater financial difficulty prevented him from joining a fraternity, but he was able to take part in numerous activities and made some close friendships. He considers himself to be quite sensitive and “compulsive.” The compulsivity he points to is his need to have things in their proper places and his concern about financial matters. . . . He finds it difficult to describe his mood, but he feels he was a good deal happier earlier in his marital life. He indicated some confidence in his ability as a surgeon, but seems to be concerned about his ability as a father and husband. He is able to sustain long periods of work, doing 10 to 14 major surgical operations in one day, frequently skipping meals and yet not being aware of any difficulty in his work until recent months. His eating habits he describes as being somewhat unusual, in that he will eat almost no breakfast, will frequently skip his noon meal, but will eat a large supper.
From Kip’s diary, August 31, 1965:
12:03. Jay committed suicide!! Shit, can't believe it! Jane Saur called around 6:00. We were just getting ready for Colly's birthday cake. She said a Dr. had told her dad. I finally called Thompson's asked for Roger. Then Mark, then Mrs. T. [second wife] asked who it was, said “Kip, wanted to know where Jay was.” Sad voice “Kip, haven't you heard?” Mom cried. Band over. Took 45 minutes getting out of frantic situation with two dates for band on Saturday. Finally got the Rogue's to take them. . . . Fuck what a day.
Myra, September 1, 1965:
The boy who was replacing Kip [?] in the band (a boy who was the original drummer in the Pagans and who was a diving companion of Kip's) had committed suicide. Although Colly seemed to go on about his birthday affairs without concern, the rest of us were so shocked we did nothing but speculate and mourn. The rest of the band arrived for what had been a scheduled practice but they did nothing but talk about Jay – and solemnly put his guitar back in its case. The boy's mother killed herself five years ago (by the same means – carbon monoxide) at this same time of the year – perhaps this very day. No, September 12th. Jay has had a rough time – his father remarried about three years ago – but the boy seemed to be happier this summer than I've ever known him to be – seemed – for we were wrong. One reads about the prevalence of teenage suicide but it's meaningless until it happens to someone near you.
Kip’s diary, September 1:
11:25. Papers carried Jay's story. He used vacuum cleaner tube through window connected to exhaust. Deedee M. called from Post Bulletin, told her all I could about him. Paper said he played for us. Felt sort of depressed all day. Band tried out Terry Sullivan, terrible. Gonna try Chris Hallenbeck or lead singer for Intruders. Shit, how depressing.
Article from Rochester Post Bulletin, September 1, 1965, headlined “City Youth is Suicide Victim.” A 17-year-old Rochester youth was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a parked station wagon on a private road in Rochester Township about five miles southwest of the city. The youth, Jay Thompson, son of Dr. John H. Thompson Jr., 1105 8th Avenue SW, died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Dr. T. O. Wellner, Olmstead county coroner, said today following an autopsy. He said the youth had been dead at least 12 hours. The death was ruled a suicide. The youth apparently took his own life by running a vacuum cleaner hose from the station wagon's exhaust pipe through the rear window. He was found by a young boy riding a horse in the area, a Sherriff's Dept. spokesman said. Jay, who would have returned to John Marshall High School today as a senior, played drums, guitar and was a singer with the high school rock 'n roll band, the Pagans.
RJL, September 2:
It grieves us immeasurably that for so long a period you suffered so undeservedly. What wife could have done more to make a marriage a success. We often speak of the work you did when living on the farm. And how you denied yourself almost all the necessities of life for the others. I am not sure whether Steinhilber is your attorney, or friend or the psychiatrist. I shudder at the necessity of his advice to be alert for violence. I telephoned your friend Tony about that (when you first revealed the situation) and he assured me that the gun was not available to CRS. [Mom told me years later that our dear friend Tony Bianco came by and took that .22 rifle out of the house.] Of course he could buy another. This has been naturally a fear in my mind, but I would speak of it to you. I cannot escape the fervent hope that none of you will ever see him again. It does worry me that he might leave Hartford and suddenly appear at the 'Stone. It is my judgement that you should change the locks on all doors. Your mother agrees with me on this. I do hope that the money for operating the home comes regularly. If it does not, the Clinic should by all means withhold 75% of his take-home pay. This is an important matter. Of course, any money they advance to you can be charged to his account. Do keep us posted.
Mom, September 3, 1965:
This is Kip's last week of work -- he is taking next week off as vacation before leaving for California. He leaves Spring Valley (after the Pagans finish an engagement there) at midnight with Chuck Rushton (older brother of one of the Pagans) who drives directly to Los Angeles. So with this plan, Kip won't have to entrain or em-bus or en-plane for any part of the trip. So, as of midnight, our boy begins his last week at home.
From the Hartford psychiatric record, September 7, 1965:
The patient is being seen three times weekly for 45- to 50-minute periods. The patient has recently been discussing, in an attempted systematic manner, his feelings about anger. He inevitably seems to lead back to dissatisfaction with his marital situation and a desire to see his wife change. The patient's control of himself and his compulsive defenses seem to work adequately. However, in his home situation it is apparent that his ability to control situations is not adequate. He appears to vacillate between the desire to control and to be controlled. He says that he wishes to exert his authority, but on the other hand, wishes to be treated as one of the boys by his wife. The patient has not heard from his wife regarding his recent request that she come to visit him at the hospital. The patient describes strong anxiety feelings, which include “globus hystericus, a feeling that I'd like to die, and trembling of the hands.” The patient presents this symptom with a request that the therapist tell him what to do about them. Attempts to trace the basis of this anxiety have not been met with any insight at this time.
RJL, September 10:
I know that you are lonesome tonight. Your #1 boy is on the way to California. You have found him a real help in the recent years. Our thoughts are with you. And eagerly you await the first letter. We know! From Myra’s letters: Friday was a day of very mixed emotions: gratification and pleasure that Kip was going to college – but mournful about his leaving home and apprehensive about the next 48 - 60 hours. Kip left here with the rest of the Pagans at 4:10 – and we left about 5:00 to watch their last (with Kip) performance in Spring Valley. They were to play from 5:00 to 9:00; we left at 8:45. The band played one of my favorite pieces – when they were through, I threw Kip a kiss, called “Send me a postcard!” and deliberately turned my back on him and walked to the car. That was the last I saw him. Jeff says Kip was a bit overcome because he immediately called a 5-minute break and would not watch the Plymouth disappear around the corner. And so he's gone. And God be with him!
Notes from the Hartford psychiatric record, September 14, 1965:
The patient traced a history of being an only child who never felt close to his parents and indeed felt pushed by them into academic aspirations. While able to attain an academic and subsequently vocational success, he has found his home life more difficult to tolerate as the years went by, and this resulted in an increased consumption of alcohol, [NOTE: again, note the key words "and this resulted in," wherein Dad establishes a causal relationship running counter to reality. What actually happens with any alkie is the reverse, as in, "the increased use of alcohol resulted in a difficult home life."] with a steady deterioration of his home life and more recently a deterioration in his professional capabilities. This was recited in a somewhat flattened manner. However, with the end of a recitation of some aspect of home life, the patient would turn to the therapist requesting guidance in how to use this in dealing with his current difficulties. Throughout the description the patient verbalized some pessimistic feelings about the future. His role in therapy during these three weeks was that of a patient who was turning toward a physician to tell him how to solve his problems. Although aware of his angry feelings toward his parents and wife, he would discuss them in an intellectual manner, as though presenting this as an intellectual question for the therapist to base his opinion on. His relationship with unit personnel and other patients was apparently pleasant but distant.
Notes from the Hartford psychiatric record, September 14,1965:
CASE DISCUSSION: Dr. Sullivan has seemingly passively accepted his role in life as he felt his parents sought. Because of his innate intelligence and an ability to apply himself in an academic vocation, he has found himself to be quite successful in a structured setting. Within his marital situation, passivity and dependence have not been possible, and this had led to strong feelings of rejection and of anger. The anger has been both self-directed, as well as directed toward his wife. [Because of the] continued deterioration in his home situation and continued deterioration of his ability to tolerate the anger, he has turned to alcohol as a defense and as a means of showing his hostility as well as his increased dependency needs. With the failure of alcohol to provide an adequate defense has come an increased consumption and subsequent deterioration in his ability to deal with his current realities. Whereas compulsivity has been an excellent defense in the development of his vocational ability, it has not been effective in his relationship to his wife, for within the closer interpersonal relationship he is unable to deal with the problems of being dependent and being treated that way; or being independent and assuming the role of the authority figure. Unable to accept either role has led to further feelings of anger and a greater need to retreat from reality. DIAGNOSTIC FORMULATION: Although reality testing has been poor in recent months, it is apparent that his dynamics are primarily those of a personality disorder. In view of his difficulties in his role as a husband and father, as evidenced by his need to be indecisive and clinging at times, and obstructive and irritable at others, it is apparent that the patient's diagnosis is most likely passive-aggressive personality, passive dependent type. Because of the use of alcohol as a primary defense against his inability to handle these stresses, he must be further classified as having the diagnosis of addiction, alcoholism. The patient additionally shows some depressive features as well as severe anxiety symptoms. These, however, are considered more as a result of his inability to find a replacement for alcohol at this time; that it's a reaction to the failure of his defenses against stressful situations. [Bullshit.] Additionally, one must consider the possibility of an organic brain syndrome considering the evidence of physical manifestations of the alcohol, as well as some apparent deterioration of judgement. 1.) Precipitating stress; deterioration of relationship with wife; 2.) Predisposition; moderate, passive dependent personality; 3.) Impairment,; severe; requires hospitalization. PROGNOSTIC DISCUSSION: In view of the patient's willingness to come to the hospital and accept therapy, the potential outcome for the current emotional disturbance is good. In view of the longstanding personality disturbance and the apparent need for and yet lack of support in the relationship with his wife, the prognosis for a long-term improvement must remain guarded.
Notes from the Hartford psychiatric record, September 21,1965:
The patient has been in contact with his wife, and she has indicated her intention to come and visit him at the hospital. Dr. Sullivan has remained in a passive dependent role in the therapeutic sessions. He comes in determined to speak of one matter, presents it, and then requests the therapist to advise him how he is to handle the particular difficulty when he returns home. This has been pointed out to him repeatedly, and he seems to be aware, but unable to control this need for direction. The patient's discussions about his wife continue, and it is a pattern, from his description, that when he has been more aggressive in the family role, she has been more unhappy. On the other hand, he finds the aggressive role uncomfortable and when he returns to the more passive role there is very little communication between him and his wife. As the patient talks about his difficulties, there is a depressive quality to the content of this speech. He appears at times to see no way out of his difficulties except for his wife to change. • Mom says "I was never sure just how I was supposed to change, except to “Grow up!"
From the psychiatric records of my father taken at Hartford, September 23:
BEHAVIORAL OBSERVATIONS: Dr. Sullivan is a slightly built, middle-aged man who reacted to testing in a timid, compliant manner, often seeking confirmation from the psychologist as to what was and was not allowed. He appeared afraid and tense, laughing anxiously when he felt his responses where not up to par, smoking steadily, and generally being unable to relax. Psychological testing seemed to be a very serious, stressful business for him and he put forth a great deal of effort in the sessions both to perform adequately and to not let the situation get the best of him. INTERPRETATION OF TEST FINDINGS: The most prominent impression about this patient is the massive armor of defensiveness which characterizes his approach to situations. He employs a wide gamut of maneuvers, from compulsivity and intellectualization to evasiveness and passivity. Pervading all the activity is a frantic quality, as if Dr. Sullivan were in a constant search for the best means of protection for the stress he experiences in his life. . . . As part of his intellectualized approach, Dr. Sullivan becomes compulsive in his need to include and integrate all elements of a situation into his response, leaving no loose ends. . . . While he is presently able to regain control when lapses in reality testing occur, the inner turmoil and the increasing external threat he experiences are at such a boiling point that the potential for a psychotic reaction appears very great. He reveals the precariousness of his control on the Rorschach, where he sees “a volcano, with erupting fires surrounded by explosives black,” “a battering ram projected through a wall with pieces splintered and flying off in different directions,” “an oil well or gusher spouting up out of a hole in the ground in a thick stream and splashing back down,” and “a mushroom cloud bomb explosion.” In addition, he senses that any eruption of his inner tension would be so uncontrollable that it would selectively destroy or obliterate himself and everything in his environment. . . . Underlying the patient's prominent, unreliable defensiveness is the absence of a concept of self. He is analogous to a building with various, elaborate decorator features but without a foundation. His figure drawing aptly reflects himself; it is a broad-shouldered, spatially balanced figure, but it has a fragmented, broken-line quality which suggests such an extreme vulnerability that it could crumble at the slightest touch. Even more striking in terms of the patient's self-concept is his response to Rorschach Card IV which is a “scarecrow's tattered clothes fluttering in the wind. It's headless. I imagine there's a broomstick inside holding the thing up.” Stemming from Dr. Sullivan's lack of a developed sense of self is his continual search for support, structure, and dependency on the one hand versus his drive to be independent and individualistic on the other -- all of which appear to be heretofore futile efforts to achieve stability of some sort. He has great difficulty relating to other people in a significant way, perhaps due to originally faulty identification with his parents. Often he seems unable to fathom what other people are like and cannot view them without projecting his own indefinite, yet abasing, feelings about himself onto them. His relationship with his wife appears unsatisfactory in many respects. On a conscious level, he feels she is too self-absorbed to provide any satisfaction for his needs. Less consciously, he views their relationship as a part of a continual struggle to prove his masculinity and, consequently, sees his wife as a repugnant representative of a conflict which he cannot avoid. SUMMARY: Dr. Sullivan is a patient whose dynamic make-up is characterized by varied, fluid defensive approaches and reactions to situations. Underlying this is an exceedingly poorly defined self-concept. Hence his frantic use of defenses seems to be a search for some kind of stability. His interpersonal contacts are affected by his own impaired sense of self, so that he cannot view people without projecting his own nebulous, yet negative feelings about himself into the situation. His marital relationship appears highly conflicted, one in which the patient feels quite inadequate and helpless, with a wife who he feels gives him little support or gratification of his needs. In view of such an inadequate self-image, the patient feels depressed and extremely vulnerable to environmental influences and to his own inner tensions -- all of which combines into an ever-present experience of stress. And when such stresses accumulate, Dr. Sullivan sometimes loses critical control over his perception of reality. While he appears to be maintaining a borderline adjustment at present, his precarious defenses and rapidly mounting inner tension suggest very strong potential for a psychotic mode of adjustment.
Notes from the Hartford psychiatric record, September 28, 1965:
Sullivan has been utilizing this town pass and denies any drinking on the occasions that he has been off the hospital grounds, but admits that this is primarily because he is concerned that people might be observing him. . . . He is still waiting to hear when she will be coming to see him, but is quite hopeful that she will come. However, he describes it as being “the same old story” in her ways of dealing with him. . . . Hospitalization currently appears to be satisfactory in that it is reducing some of the environmental stresses on him. However, his passivity and dependency needs are exaggerated under the present circumstances.
Notes from the Hartford psychiatric record, October 24,1965:
The patient describes his mood as being a good deal less depressed, and indicates that the anxiety symptoms are less frequent than they used to be. He continues to discuss his relationship with his wife and is currently centering his interest on some of the financial problems which have been a source of frustration to him. The patient is able to see how his wife's inability to handle these financial arrangements has been a source of frustration . . . [such alcoholic bullshit we have here. The problem, lest the reader forget, is that Roger, our patient, just as recently as July, was drinking three-quarters of a bottle of scotch a day, smacking his kids around, and terrorizing his wife with a gun] . . . but has been unable to maintain any sustained leadership in these matters himself. His ambivalence about being the authority figure within the home situation is apparent in this aspect of his relationship with his wife. To take charge of the situation, in the home life, is for him an undesirable idea in that he might not be liked by his wife and children. On the other hand, when they are unable to fulfill the role that they expect of him, he becomes angry and yet is unable to provide the leadership which would give them direction. He is able to verbalize fears, express feelings of anger, but always ends up by asking the therapist what is he supposed to do with these feelings.
Myra on President Johnson’s surgery at the Mayo Clinic, October 6, 1965:
The stunning news here -- as everywhere -- is President Johnson's surgery. We are all greatly excited about it because His Doctor is George Hallenbeck, our neighbor here on the hill. (Do you remember the red-wood house just across the gulley to the north of us?) This morning was my day to stop on the way home from school to have a cup of coffee with Marion. She said they have known about this for a week, but could tell no one, not even George's mother, until the news was announced. The five doctors from the Clinic left yesterday morning in the true cloak-and-dagger fashion.
TV Guide lists the top 10 TV shows for the '65 - '66 season as Bonanza, followed by Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., The Lucy Show, The Red Skelton Hour, Batman (Thurs.), The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, The Beverly Hillbillies, Hogan's Heroes, and Batman (Wed.). Tuesdays at 9pm we all settled in to watch David Janssen search for the one-armed man and stay a step ahead of "Lt. Philip Girard" in The Fugitive.
RJL, October 24:
Our thoughts are much with you this weekend. We do not know at what time you leave the Rochester or what arrangements for the 'Stone while you are gone. But perhaps we will get details before you leave. This is, of course, a very important trip and we await with anxiety what will issue. Some pleasure, to be sure, for Myra to see Uncle Russell and JRL.
From an undated letter from Kip to Dad:
Enclosing clipping from the Student Life. Pomona was in the thick of those damn demonstrations. I was beating away on a typewriter when just outside this guy's room (that I was typing in) I heard “We Want Victory, We Want Victory” and “Kill The Cong, Kill The Cong” being chanted. I hopped outside and there was an anti-anti-protest parade of 2 or 3 hundred students pacing down the street. There were equal numbers watching on the curb. What a lot of wasted energy. . . . P.E. ticks me off. So damned tired and it's such a waste of time for athletes with Atlas builds like me. I'd rather dive and stay in shape that way than do wind sprints for a half an hour. Whoooee! Haven't ironed but 2 shirts since I got here (no time, no talent), bed remains hideously covered with rumpled shirts and covers and shirts and jocks and book and papers and guitars and, still no haircut, wear same socks 3 days if any at all. Only discipline I can muster applies to homework and brushing my teeth. So long. Hope you and Mom get along. Kip.
Notes from the Hartford psychiatric record, October 29, 1965:
Dr. Sullivan returned from visit on this date. The patient subsequently reported that the visit went extremely well. He found that he was able to discuss many difficulties with his wife, that they had been unable to deal with in the past. The therapist was visited by the patient's wife during this visit, and she confirmed the benefits of the visit.
Notes from the Hartford psychiatric record, November 5, 1965:
The patient continues to demonstrate many dependency characteristics, but his generally more optimistic outlook on life permits him to talk in terms of when he will return to work, rather than if he will return to work. This is to a great extent related to the patient's understanding of the visit by his wife. It is evident both from the patient and his wife that the time spent together was the first time in their recent married life that they were able to communicate with each other. The therapist has pointed out to both of them that the brevity of their contact and also the difference of the contact from a day-to-day existence at home. However, both the patient and his wife have agreed to another visit in the Hartford area and are also planning for the patient to come home for the Christmas vacation to spend some time with the children. Dr. Sullivan has stated that much of his anxiety is reduced and he is able to be productive in the rehabilitative program supervised by the Department of Educational Therapy.
Mom, November 6, 1965:
I have returned from Hartford very much encouraged and – this you will find hard to believe but will have to accept as a fact – in love with my husband! This whole thing is so mysterious to me – the working of the mind and the heart -- that I realize you cannot be expected to understand any of it – nor do I. From the moment of arrival in Hartford, I could see this was a new man! He looks in splendid health – thinner, tan, his face free from the harassed lines and frantic eyes. He may be greyer but he looks younger. But the most miraculous part is the personality change! He is kind, considerate, eager to understand me, tender and loving. I spend the entire time with him – from Thursday noon to Thursday noon. – and never a hard work, never a criticism, nothing but gentleness! I know this is hard for you to believe – it is for me, too! But when my train pulled out of Hartford, I felt an anguish of separation such as I haven't known since the Navy days. Except for Monday and Tuesday when we were in Mystic Seaport and two nights when we saw a play and a movie, we did nothing but talk! It was as exciting as a courtship – it was like getting to know a new person. Of course, there are many things I see in him that are troublesome – he is very unsure of himself, uncertain how to do ordinary things like make a telephone call, and he is extremely nervous about being with people, and his memory is very faulty. But Dr. Rosenberg says these things will gradually improve. I very much like Dr. Rosenberg – he's a young man, perhaps in his late 30's – and he must be responsible in large measure for this miraculous change in Roger. He thought that it might be possible for Roger to make a Christmas visit home, but warned me that everything depends upon how he feels as that time comes near. He warned me that there are good and bad times in this process – and spoke of Roger as having been “very sick.” So I am trying not to be too enthusiastic about the results of my week in Hartford.
Kip’s diary, November 12:
Wednesday I got letter from Mom saying very good news from Hartford. Hurray. In an undated letter, Kip writes to Mom: When I read that first good newsletter I could have jumped off the balcony. Boy, does that sound good! Dad told me in a recent letter that you two really had fun. No wry comments. He also added that he doubts very much he'll get to go home by January. Anyhow, things sound O.K.
From Monnie’s letters to Myra:
We are amazed at the great change in Roger in such a short time. However, I hope he stays there many more months to be sure the cure sticks (rather a crude way to express it). If he leaves too soon, he may slip back. I can fully understand why you spent your entire time with him. Bless you both. I pray that all your troubles are behind you, that your stormy days are gone forever. Your suffering has been great. Now may there be ever lasting peace. Our love, dearest daughter, Mother.
One of the few surviving letters from my father, this one written at Hartford for Kip out in California, November 15, 1965:
Monday AM. Dear Kipper: Monday morning has rolled around again – another week gone by and am delighted to report that I am feeling better and better. Do wish there were some way of speeding up this process of emotional regrouping. It is impossible to describe to anyone who hasn't been through this business how painful and actually exhausting it is. Am convinced, however, that the months spent now will mean so much more happiness in the future. I've already, of course, seen the difference in Mom's response in the short time that she was here. Can also hear it in the kids' voices at home. Called yesterday and Colley [sic] and Luke were bubbling over on the phone. Even that experienced man about town, Jeff, sounded great. Mama's change since her return home after our visit has made itself felt in the kids doing better school work, staying on the ball more, etc. Yes, the power failure involved Hartford. There's nothing like being in a mental hospital in the dark. Can't say that I'd recommend it for idle amusement, except maybe for Halloween. Glad to hear “The Real Things” are picking up some $$. Hope your ride home materializes but didn't mean to give the impression that we wouldn't pay your way if you didn't get one. Needless to say you are in my thoughts so much of the time and can hardly wait to see you. Looks as if we'll both be getting home for Christmas about the same time and probably both leaving about the same time. I'll have to return here for a few weeks after my visit. Take care – Dad.
Psychiatric notes from Luke's Mayo Clinic psychiatrists Drs. Delano and Moore, November 16, 1965:
Trouble – hamster died, post-mortem. Worry about hamsters, should I keep them? Born free. Had rats – 42+, [noted] differences between them, freak, tumors, etc. Feelings about difference. Worries – pan worry about everything.
An undated letter from Kip to Dad, November 16, 1965:
Dear Dad, When I got your letter from both you and Mom saying you both had a good time, I could have jumped off the balcony for joy. Man, just think what a difference all this will mean for all of us. Take Danny, f'rinstance: I was worried about that guy because he wasn't getting along real well with his friends and I could remember how he used to be the most happy-go-lucky guy in the world. You mentioned some of the changes you have sensed already. God, that sounds good! Good news or bad, I guess this crock of a body of mine will always have indigestion, insomnia and constipation. (And warts.) . . . My Saturday and Sunday afternoon are shot because Smiley got a T.V. So I have to watch the Pro games. Saw the Vikes lose 41-4 to the Colts. Unitas didn't start for the 1st time since 1958! Time for the weekly practice of “The Real Things.” Ooh, that amp's heavy. Kip.
From the psychiatric notes, December 5, 1965:
Dr. Sullivan continues to be active in the Department of Educational Therapy and has voiced his satisfaction with the return of fine movements of co-ordination. This is particularly apparent in his work in leather, where he was done some very fine tooling. Additionally, he has been actively participating in the athletic program with tennis as his major interest. . . . He reports that many of the anxiety symptoms have disappeared and that he feels quite well and is interested in returning to his practice. However, the thought of actually going in to social situations is a major concern of his. Of particular concern is how to deal with many of his peers in a less passive way that he had before. The patient verbalizes an awareness that the passivity caused him a good deal of discomfort. He also voices his ambivalence regarding returning to therapy after leaving the hospital. The patient is concerned about his relationship with the referring psychiatrist and says he fears becoming a psychiatric patient for the rest of his life. The message apparently was also given to his wife. When I met with Mrs. Sullivan this was one of the concerns that she voiced. Dr. Sullivan is planning to go home over the Christmas vacation and he was advised to see the therapist during this time and discuss some of these difficulties at that time.
Mom, December 6, 1965:
I'm safely home again. Our visit was just as loving as the first one. I can still find it hard to believe that after such a nightmare we can now so thoroughly enjoy one another. We count off the days now till the Christmas visit. Roger and Kip both arrive on December 17th – what a joyous Christmas this is going to be for all of us! . . . Roger met me in New York Saturday morning and we stayed there till Tuesday. Saw a very funny play Monday night – “Luv.” I do so love a stage play! We visited museums in New York and in Hartford but we did little else except talk talk talk. We have so many years to catch up on." [On the next day the letter continues:] I spent much of yesterday looking for bedroom furniture, drapery material and rugs. As you know, that room of ours had never had anything done for it since we moved in and since we do have to have a new bed, it seems that now is the time to choose all or most of what needs to be added to that room.
Kip’s diary, December 20, 1965:
Ride home from Rochester airport from Broadbent's. Yelled in door “Let's get Kip.” Mom raced in, big hug. . . . Talked all day with Dad. Oh, has he changed. He can be talked with!! It's unbelievable.
Brother Jeff writing in October of 1991:
During the week before Christmas, Dad came home for awhile. I knew he was acting/feeling well before we saw him. I remember coming home from school full of anticipation. He was sitting at the kitchen table and I extended my hand to him as I approached but he reached out and gave me a big smiling hug. Shortly after that we went down to the dark room. Jerry Huiting and I had been doing a lot of photography and I had a lot of stuff to show him. I remember following him around the furnace and to the darkroom and we had a very pleasant 20 minutes together.
From the psychiatric notes of Dad's Clinic psychiatrist Dr. Martin, December 28, 1965:
He is home from the Institute of Living for the holidays. During our brief interview it appeared to me that he had made much progress in examining himself and his relationships and is much more realistic. He seems to recognize that a focus on his frustrations is not likely to lead to constructive change and that he himself had been making a contribution to the overall conflict. At present it is planned that he return to the Institute of Living for a brief period after the holidays. His doctor there has recommended that he continue in psychotherapy on his return to Rochester.
RJL, December 31, 1965:
The New Year. And such it is. I trust that '66 will be a happier one for you. And that your mother will be relieved of some of her worries about me.
Kip says one of his final pictures of Dad comes from this time home from college before The End. He remembers Dad lighting a cigarette for Mom, and Mom's hands gently caressing Roger's as she steadied the flame.