Confessions of a Florentine Pet Sitter

1972 Letter RE: Protesting Pt Arena NP Plant
Letter to the editor of the Mendocino Beacon, 1972

Letter to the editor of the Mendocino Beacon, 1972

Also in the old brown portfolio of photos and art, I discovered this 1972 letter written by my father Al Need. It is to the editor of the Mendocino Beacon, the local newspaper. It surprised me when I read it. I realized I didn’t know him as well as I thought I did. In my child’s mind, I understood him as non-religious, not atheist, but not interested in going to church and talking about God or religion. Also non-political.

Click on this image to be able to read full-sized printed material.

 It wasn’t until when I was a young adult and we began to write letters to each other that I realized he was spiritual, but not religious in the traditional sense. He never went to church, but he was a constant seeker of peace, non-violence and serenity. Although a student of all shapes and forms of spiritual beliefs, he never used the word God when speaking of his spiritual life (except for when he was near the end of his life).  He referred to god as the a priori, an invisible force, or the universal consciousness. He talked about synchronicity and propitious unusual happenings as palpable representations or communications of the greater force within us and around us.

As a kid, I also never thought of him as political. He seemed more concerned about his reputation than anything else. I never thought of him as an activist until he decided to join me in the large 1965 San Francisco Peace March with thousands of people marching down Market Street. He marched and he loved it. He went home an excited and different person. After that peace march, he seemed more tolerant and less negative and critical about people of difference. He became aggravated by things like the Point Arena Nuclear Power Plant proposal in the early 1970’s or the Vietnam War or other political events, but for most of my adult life after 1970 when I got married, I wasn’t around him enough to hear it or see that side of him.  Although, he did discuss with me ways in which our medical system fell short. He believed the field of medicine could better serve its patients by using a more holistic approach. He had faith that people would wake up, that this new medical perspective would develop in the future. And so it is…somewhat.

In 1972, have been married for only three years and involved in our own lives, we didn’t visit the family too much. Self-absorbed and narcissistic, and immersed in my own neurotic fears and struggles to be a good wife and step-mother, I couldn’t hear the words from other people. Most of the time I didn’t understand the full meaning of his personal letters.  Thus my amazement when I read this 1972 letter to the editor of the Beacon.  His writing was funny, sarcastic and self-deprecating at times, and all the while he referred to his spiritual beliefs and search for inner peace through his personal reflections and his relationship with natural environments on the northern California coast—the ocean and forests. For him, that was the clear answer—the most important thing.  I’d seen that in him before, but had not understood it fully.

I’d also heard from other family members of his tiny bits of humor, more in things he did rather than in words, like making the Christmas dinner mashed potatoes green and shaped like a tree or baking and decorating cupcakes in beautiful colors for a daughter’s wedding reception instead of a three-tier wedding cake. These were fun and enjoyable little things for the family, but for him they were a big deal, meaningful because often he was reluctant to get involved in matters of the house and family.

© 1972 All Rights Reserved. Alvin W. Need. 1972 Letter to the Editor, Mendocino Beacon.

© 2013 All Rights Reserved. Susan Canavarro.

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