HLS - The Letters Of Harvey L. Slatin

Plaza Azul Productions
Offices of
(505) 473-1954

September 1, 1988

Dear Tommy,

I have abandoned the Condensed Bold typeface in favor of this one to conserve paper and ribbons.

Your calculator is working perfectly, at least as regards addition and subtraction.  Ruth and Jeanne went off to Germany for six years, and Ruth visited me twice thereafter, both times at substantial cost to me in air fares.  The last time I saw her was when she was 14+, and the last time I heard from her was in late 1981, when she was an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College.  Since then, complete silence except for a recent incident.  The recent incident is a lawsuit she has filed in Albuquerque against a bank that paid back to me the principal and interest from a Certificate of Deposit I tried to give her for her 21st Birthday.  She refused to accept it, despite five efforts on my part and that of the bank to deliver it to her.  The last letter I wrote to her, sent Registered Mail, Restricted Delivery, Return Receipt Requested (top of the line Postal Service service), was returned to me marked “Refused; Return to Sender.”  My letter contained a Signature Card that she was supposed to sign and return to the bank if she wanted the money.  Then, I talked with the bank’s legal department and we concluded that a good-faith effort (over a four-year period) had been made, and they gave me my money back.  Now Ruth is suing the bank.  She wouldn’t take the money from me, but she is willing (I can’t imagine where she got the idea, can you?) to hire a lawyer and go after the bank.

The circumstances leading up to this total estrangement of my daughter are too complex and too dreary and too painful to go into detail, especially in a letter which does not permit you to ask penetrating questions.  Suffice it for now that Ruth Ellen (my daughter) evidently hates me with the same implacable hatred as does her mother.

As for having Jeanne committed, I did that twice.  Actually two different physicians did it, at two different times.  She did some hard time in a couple of loony bins, and it didn’t help a bit.  Upon entering, she beat up the attendants, trashed her room, got herself heavily sedated, and then obeyed all the rules so as to convince everybody (everybody but me, that is) that she was all better now, and the institutions had no choice but to release her.  And she went right back to work.

The admitting diagnosis the second time was Paranoid/Schizophrenia, a mental illness that is essentially untreatable because the patient cannot accept the idea that there is anything wrong with him or her — it’s the nameless, faceless “them.”  Add to that the fact that Jeanne has an I.Q. of about 160, and you have a formidable adversary.  Just how formidable, I will leave to your imagination.  Yeffe was right on target.

The reason there is still alimony, for which Jeanne is currently suing me in the Santa Fe Court, is because there was no time-limit specified in the Settlement Agreement.  “Until the death or remarriage of the wife” is all it said.  Well, she hasn’t died — perhaps she never will, like Count Dracula — and she claims never to have remarried.  Curiously, however, she has a second daughter, name of Martha Christine, born in West Berlin on January 11, 1972, three weeks before our divorce was final.  Who the father is, she refuses to state.  At least, she doesn’t claim I am.

In short, Tommy, what we have here is a madwoman who is also a bigamist, a perjurer, an extortionist, a pathological liar, and an all-around nasty person.  I checked your price-list, and did not find “Hardwood (oak, persimmon, ash, other — please specify) stake, driven through the heart at a London crossroads at midnight, date and price to be negotiated.”  Please keep me informed if you go international.

That is all I intend to tell you in this missive.


If you choose to cling to the fiction that you launched my theatrical career, be my guest.  I could remind you, but I won’t, that I launched community theater at the Forbidden City with “Blythe Spirit,” which I directed and in which I appeared, some years before “Hillzapoppin” burst forth upon the wicked stage.  I envy your ability to forget facts that might give the lie to your theories; keep up the good work.

Not only am I a member of the Board of Directors of the Santa Fe Community Theatre, I am a Member of the Physical Plant Committee.  Unless I play my cards close to my chest, I may be drafted to be its Chairman.  At any rate, this Committee is charged with the responsibility for creating and maintaining a facility that is reasonably comfortable and reasonably safe for performers, crew, and audiences.  The converted garage falls far short of this ideal, despite plans for extensive and expensive alterations.  I have taken the position that SFCT, while it is making needed repairs and staying one jump ahead of the code-enforcers, should be seeking a new permanent home.  We are a couple of months from having the mortgage paid in full, making us sole owners of what I regard as an albatross.  It is now worth about six times what we paid for it, and I propose that we sell it and invest the proceeds, along with a lot of money from a massive fund-raising campaign, in the construction of a real, Honest-to-God theater.  As matters now stand, only SFCT and the Santa Fe Opera own their own homes.  That sets us apart from the fly-by-nighters who come and go in rented quarters, and I don’t want to change it.  Your suggestions for alternatives to the converted garage are appreciated, but I would just as soon avoid rented quarters.  We already have the New Mexico Repertory Theatre, the Actors’ Theatre, Theatre in the Red, West End Productions, the Southwest Rep, the Theatre of Music, Southwest Children’s Theatre, Theater Intime Association, and others, operating in rented quarters.  All of them are struggling to stay solvent, rents being confiscatory.  SFCT is, for the first time in its sixty-five years, in the black.  We have siz grand in a Money Market Fund, and no other local performing arts organization in Ciudad Diferente can make that statement.


Eyesight.  My problem is a simple one — cataracts.  I had them in both eyes, and they were maturing at different rates.  I had one cataract removed, and a new plastic lens installed.  It worked pretty well, but there more some post-operative problems that yielded, more or less gracefully, to a YAG-laser zapping.  The implanted lens is decentered, which means I have ghost images, especially when driving after dark.  Nothing I can’t handle by avoiding brightly-lighted main roads.  Then, I had the other cataract removed, again with implant, but with a different surgeon.  The result was perfect.  I am now, for the first time in my life, 20/20 in both eyes.  I wear reading glasses, which I buy at the local supermarket for about ten bucks a pair, for reading and for operating this word-processing device.  I wear sunglasses when I drive my Eldorado around town with the top down in bright sunshine.  Otherwise, no glasses.

I have a dime enclosed to be dropped in your tin cup.  Please send one #2 pencil, unpointed.  I have an electric pencil sharpener.


I believe that the main problem with everything is that lawyers write legislation.  If legislation were to be drafted by, say, convicted felons, displaced home-makers, AIDS victims, Viet Nam veterans, sixth-graders, and other uncredentialed folks, it would make a whole lot more sense.  Lawyers suck, and they suck you dry.

Dessicated, I am,

Yours Faithfully,

John K. Herzog

President and C.E.O.

a.k.a. Howard

Encl: One thin dime.

one thin dime

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