The Letters:

Basic Training: April 23--July 4, 1972

Fort Knox, Kentucky

Company C, 17th Bn, 5th Bde

156.  Bill

May 17

Dear John.

Happy Birthday, brother. I read that you moved to a more exciting spot in VA. (balling green?) A few of us wrote letters & things and hope you are going to receive them, for they were addressed to your previous alma mater.

Anyways, I quit work for the summer, and I have a lot of time to spend. I would like to drive down there again this summer. I can bring your guitar, if ya just write to me & tell me how to get there. I can make the trek in the last part of May & part of June.

June 8th I have to audition & take a one hour exam at Eastern to qualify for Music classes. July & August there are days here and there that I have to go down to EMU (register, orientation, etc.) and Aug. 27 is my first day of school. So, write me soon so I can see you soon.

Take care-Bill



European Tour: October, 1973--April, 1974

Hanau, Germany

Company A, 503 Supply & Transport Battalion



187.  Bill

[This letter arrived in a Post Office envelope bearing the stamp "Damaged In Handling In the Postal Service" and the three sheets of paper were burned along the right edge and in a couple spots on the folds. Only a word or two was indecipherable in the letter itself due to damage. A postal date on the envelope states 19 NOV 1973.]

Thurs [November 1, 1973]

Dear Brother John:

Whutsa, whatsa happenin'? I can smell your sweet hash all the way over here. It's too bad you miss your guitar, but patience, the time will come faster than you think.

About school, I heard you might want to go to Eastern Mich so you can get an early out. Later on I can, if you want, send information about applying. But first, a few things: what about your job at Edison? In order to have both, you can take night school. But if you want to major in music, you (like me) need sufficient background to qualify. I figure at the pace I'm going, a few years should be good enough, but I'm not really sure what I'm going to do. Also, like you, I'm just going for guitar class. There are about 12 different classes that are required to take (science, english, etc.).

I'm going to quit piano, because both guitar & piano is getting difficult. Just by turning a page in the lesson books I have to practice twice as much for each instrument. Since I'm a bit more proficient at guitar (and it is getting more difficult; different strums reading strictly the music, as if you were blind, [burn mark] like it is suggested to keep your eyes on the music, not at your guitar and play fast.) I think I might want to teach it some day. Anyways, right now, Eastern hasn't much in music night classes. But I can check it out.

[drawing of Bill in handcuffs:] Sigh! My mug shot, for details, read on . . . .

That's right! If you can tell. . .) I've been busted, for grass of course. Nobody knows except for Chris V. (he was with me) and Greg (I told him when he asked me for some dope).

I got caught by some of the strangest circumstances only television could reproduce. Here's what happened. Today is Thursday. It happened Monday night, the worst weather, rain/drizzle for about 2 days straight. That night Chris & I went up to S. Lyon to see the Gows. I had just previously bought a 3 fingered dime bag of the greatest, most potently devastating weed I had in years. Gows weren't home, so we cruised (I was driving) to Ann Arbor. My headlight was out, but no one pulled me over. After some time we got back to Garden City and stopped at Ferminio's pizza to indulge in some Italian munchies. If you can remember Ferminio's is on Ford & Harrison, across from Big Boys & Burger King. Jus t as our pizza was delivered to our table a guy our age comes in and asks us if we could, when we got done, help him move his car. It stalled on Ford Rd., across the street in front of Dance gas station. Well, the pizza was hot, so we decided to help him now. After we pushed it into the station, I ran back across to eat; Chris rapped with the dude for a minute and ran back. Now, the G.C. cops saw him run across into Ferminio's and waited for him. After we were thru, we came out and we saw two police cars parked near mine. The time was about 12:30 AM. Because my stinkin' lock on my side of the door, I have to unlock the passenger side first. After Chris and I went over to see what they wanted (if it was my car) we both went back to the mighty Mustang. The cops observed our unorthodox way of getting into a car and I was fumbling for my keys, still buzzing quite nicely. All of a sudden one car pulled up behind me and shinned his light inside. The thought never occurred to me that they would search me, for I thought they were going to ask some more questions. Just as we both got out they ordered us against the car. Well, they found the dope on me and away we went, to jail. You see, those gosh darned cops thought we were the guys who just busted into a house two blocks away, for we resembled the crooks. Anyway they let Chris go, for when we got to the station and after a few questions, they came to the conclusion that we weren't the thieves. But me, I had my picture taken, with my U of Hawaii T-Shirt, relieved of my possessions including my shoelaces (so I wouldn't kill myself) and threw me in solitary. It wasn't like a normal jail cell with bars and a soft cot. It had an iron door with tiny windows, the room was cinder block with cement floor and a one foot wide bench to lay down on. Next morning, a detective talked to me for a while and Chris came in. Chris knew practically every cop there (except, of course the two that busted us. They were novices). Well, I guess I handled myself alright, for he said I can go, free, 'cause I look like a nice kid (oh brother). All I got was a ticket for possession, a misdemeanor. I go to court 21 of November. I asked the jerk what might happen. He said I could be fined, or jailed, or both. Or I would be let free with nothing except a warning. But I know the judge. His son used to play ball with me during the summer on the team. I hope everything works out alright. Mom and dad know nothing, of course, & I hope they never will.

Well, Mike is bothering me to drive him to the barbers for the wedding Saturday. Besides that incident Monday, nothing has changed. By the way, your records and headphones are safe under your bed. Gotta go. Toodle-oo
brother bill



202.  Bill

12-13-73

Dear John

Hadn't a buzz in a while, but I haven't quit. Bill Dillon is representing me in court Jan 7. He told me I might get off on probation for a year, then go back (if I keep clean) and my record is erased. He also thinks they searched me illegally, but a law just passed yesterday dammit, giving all the stinking cops the "right" to search any person for anything even if the offense was so minor a traffic ticket would be sufficient. But I'm not worried, since I have no previous record, but the judge is a bastard, crew-cut type holy roller. Yes, mother/dad know. Mom was very upset when I first told her, but she's over it. She now just worries a bit.

Goes to show what a screwy government this is. One of the worst a man can think of. But, the only good thing about it is it is 20 times better than any other contrived today. Enough speeches.

Now for the bright side of me life. Moody Blues were beyond outstanding. They put on one hell of a show, did 4 cuts from my favorite, "Children's etc., etc.", and a couple from every other album. Lead guitarist Justin Hayward is the genius of the group, behind him Pinder, the mellotron artiste', in my opinion. After my excitement died down, I went to see ELP. (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer) They were also beyond description, playing all of their new album "Brain Salad Surgery" (which I bought along with "Quadrophenia"). They also did "Take A Pebble", y'know, the one with amazing piano solos. Emerson is one hell of a pianist/organist composer.

No, I didn't see Who, but a friend of mine, damn him, was 3 rows back from the stage, in the middle. He said they were one of the best groups he's seen this decade. I saw all the groups I wanted to see this year (Tull, ELP, Moody Blues, Wishbone Ash) except for Zeppelin.

Sky is overcast now, sleeting, snowing, raining at the moment. I'm out of school, except for a piano exam I have to take Friday, tomorrow. My guitar class has been over for 2 weeks now; I finally got my major official-Music of course. I have my classes all set for next semester (Jan-April). Since I am now majoring in music instead of minoring, I have guitar once a week for an hour, instead of once every 2 weeks for 1/2 hour. I'm learning quite a bit, a lot of new techniques. There was so much I was doing wrong before I started, so I think I'm really benefiting from it. Piano is handy to know, too. I'll be getting a B+, probably and A if I get an A on my exam. I have a "B" in guitar class, "B" in speech, and either a "C" or "D" in lit class. Man, I hated that class. One hour and fifteen minutes of nothing but taking notes on books we have to read. The books are good, but I hate note-taking. It's the only class I had to do it.. The reason I've done poorly is due to the fact I failed badly on one exam. Shoot, I didn't even read the book the exam was about. Oh, well; my average at least will be raised a bit.

I'm reading a good book "Stranger in a Strange Land." Science Fiction at it's best. Mom is worried that you didn't write for a while. She thought you were busted, but Dad and I tried to convince her otherwise, but it didn't help much. Now I got your letter couple days ago and it eased her mind. Sorry I didn't send you a present. If I found the shirt before Mom mailed the packages, you would be wearing a lime-colored long sleeve shirt with a portrait of the dude on Tull's "Aqualung" album with the title "Aqualung" on the front. Looks nice on me, though. Sorry.

Well, signing off now. I'm gonna see if I can score on some dope tonight. Write.

See you in April,
Guitar-brother Bill