Wednesday, May 02, 2007

April 29, 2007

Dear Sis~
I've (very belatedly) received a packet of downloaded responses ("comments") to my various blog entries which you mailed to me some time back. The comments are dated as far back as April of last year and I feel bad that I was unable to timely reply to the few of them which asked me specific questions. One young lady, Rosa, from Iceland, wrote back on January 31st asking me to help her (by answering some questions re: conditions on death row) for an essay she was writing (apparently a class assignment) about life on death row. She probably thought I was a bum for never answering her! And, I was really pleased to read the long comment from my old childhood friend, Tom Aggeles, (dated Nov 29th). We were in the juvenile halfway house together back in the summer of 1970, in Tallahassee, when I was 15 or 16 years old. Tom was one of the "elder" residents, a JC (Junior Counselor) who was, even then, unusually wise and avuncular. He was probably around 19 or 20 years old, which made him about the oldest guy there, and everyone looked up to him (I still vividly recall us together once in the tiny library, where I pulled a book off the shelf about Mao Tse-tung and, reading from the front cover, I mispronounced the name as "Mayo Tee See Tung" and Tom began laughing hysterically. I was embarrassed at my ignorance (especially since I was reasonably familiar with who Mao was; I just didn't know how to pronounce his name!) but that incident segued into a pretty deep and wide-ranging conversation about politics, history and current events (the Vietnam war was raging at the time and the national cultural and political landscape was undergoing a dramatic seismic shift and awakening) which still sticks in my mind after 37 years later. I've often thought about Tom over the years and wondered whatever became of him, so I was pleased to read his comments and learn that he is alive and well, and as wise and enlightened as ever (he's been blessed with five sons!) I also vividly recall how well Tom played the electric guitar; boy could he wail on that stratocaster! I wrote about my experiences in the halfway house in my autobiography, A Checkered Past; that was a real crossroad in my life and unfortunately I took the wrong fork in the road. Anyway, I want to take this time to thank those writers who posted positive comments, and to apologize to those asking me questions I was never able to answer. Some of the comments were very touching...
That's it for now, Sis!
With Love,