Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pictures

Dad talks about sending pictures and we do have some that we need to scan in. I am trying out new things here so I have included a picture of Tim working on his Tera Trike. We went out biking this last week the day after Thanksgiving we used the new bike path and headed west then took some small roads out to Mesilla for the women's coffee group. Tim hangs out at another coffee shop while I hang out with a group of women. The group started a number of years ago when a woman died who a number of people knew through different associations. Since then some of the women have invited other friends so we do not all know each other outside of the group. One time Tim came when there were only a few of us and we let him sit in on the group but he had to go by the name of Tammy. He just got back from doing the neighborhood route to check his improvements to the bike, and it works well. Now I'll have more trouble keeping up with him. I have thought of creating another blog called 'What's Tim doing now'. This week he also went down to Fort Bliss to witness for a young man in the army who is asking for a conscientious objector discharge. He said the hearing went well. I do like the army's term 'a quickening of conscience'.
Three weeks in a row. I may be back in the routine of writing in the blog.

September 22, 1944


9/22/44

Dear folkes,

            I guess youn’s are getting even with me for not writing to you.

You may be too busy too. Well Anyway I’ll beat out a few lines. I’ll quit the double spacing. I had it shifted and forgot to change it.

            I’m pretty well back to normal after the firefighting and cold and I had after getting back. We havn’t had any real fires since. We had a thunderstorm yesterday and there was an old snag struck with lightening over on the other side of town a couple of miles. Maybe it wasn’t more than a mile. Well some of the boys saw it burning and we were sort of keeping our eyes on it but it seemed to be plenty damp so nothing was done about it till afternoon when the guy that owned the land called up and wanted three of us to come up and help him cut the snag down as the grass was drying off so that it would burn. So a couple of the fellows and I went over. We had a nice little afternoons diversion.

            There are six or eight of trying a new kind of meeting. We are going to meet 4 mornings a week for an hour before breakfast and talk over problems and things that are of interest to all of us. We feel a need to know each other better and also see the value of discussing things to clearify them. The first thing we are going to work on is how we use our time. I have done a little thinking on it this summer and thought I had an idea that helped me get more out of life. I took a survey of what I was doing with my 24 hours of day. It was quite interesting. I didn’t change my schedule much tho as a result. I don’t like to have a schedule to follow it seems too stiff and formal. I like to do things when I’m in the mood to. There are some things that I find it good to set aside time to do them regularly like reading and writing letters. I have been keeping up with my letters better this summer than I ever did before and I have been doing it by getting up before breakfast and writing one every day if I had one to answer.

            You got quite a bit of what I have been thinking about in Evelyn’s letter. I suppose you read it. Did you look at the pictures in it? I think I mentioned one time that the Classmate was going to give us some pictures some time. Well they finally came out and they sent for a lot of coppies which sold for 2 cents a copy. I got several thinking that it was a good cheep way of sending my friends camp pictures. They were taken a little over a year ago while I was out surveying or I might have managed to get me nose in one of them. I have some pictures here that I think I shall send to you if you will send them back as I only have on print of each.

                                                            Yours with love and stuff
                                                                                                Bernard
Attached: Insert from Classmate, August 13, 1944 entitled “Conscientious Objectors”

Sunday, November 18, 2012

September 19, 1944

 
9/19/44

Dear family,

            Just a note. I’d like to write more but I seem to have run out time. I managed to get a letter written to Evelyn that I hope may give her a boost. I’m mailing it to you to send on to her. I’l leave it open and youn’s may read it if you’d like. In fact I’d like to hear what you think of it.

            Hey Dad, isn’t it about voting time. Would you get me an absentee ballot and send it out? I don’t know when the deadline is but it can’t be long. I have been talking to some of the Socialists in camp. There are quite a few. They about have me convinced that I ought to throw my vote away on Thomas. I suspect Thomas would be about the most supprised if he won. I’m sending you a little of their propaganda. I really go for it.  I don’t know which of the other guys I do like the best. I’d like to see Roosevelt get booted I guess but I don’t have hope for the other guy doing anything wonderful. What are you thinking these days

            I hope everyone is doing ok, Mom’s eyes and Eileens ainlents too. I am pretty well over my cold and enjoying life. I’ll try to write a better letter when I answer you next one.

                                                Yours

                                                            Bernad

Throwing away votes

So I just posted two short letters of Dad's from 1944. He talks about throwing away a vote on a socialist. We do not even have this option today. I do not think that any vote is thrown away. If you vote for someone and they do not win your vote still has value. We just had an election and I find I have felt rather positive since then. Not because of all of the results but rather because of a few of them and because of the overall direction I feel that people are moving in. I am encouraged by the number of women going into the US Senate. by the votes in Washington and Colorado on changing our relationships with the use of marijuana. I do hope that we can move away from declaring 'war' on everything from poverty and drugs to other countries - War is not the answer.

September 14, 1944

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9/15/44

Dear folks,

            I think that I got the best of this deal. You have written me two letters and I havn’t gotten around to answering any of them yet. As you have probably guessed I have been on a fire. Last Fri. just a week ago fires broke out all over. To start with there were two fires right close to camp. One was just outside of Elkton and the other was about 4 ½ miles down the road. Well we got those pretty well under control by night and about 11:00 that night we got a call to a fire that had started that same afternoon about 60 miles or so south of camp. Well we went down and just got back Wed night. I slept most of yesterday. I developed a pretty good cold so am laying off today. I am in the infirmiry now using the ‘Doc’s’ typewriter. Hence the different type.

            I don’t have very much to write. I alos got enough poison Oak to keep me scratching for a while.

            That is a funny thing about Evelyn and the teaching job. I don’t know as I can figure it out very well. There are lots of people like her that don’t like to take responsibility. But they don’t usually get themselves in a jam where they have to take it. I think that as soon as I get a little ambition I will write her a letter. I don’t know what her address is but I can just mail it to you and you can send it on.

            I’ll have to close this as the mail will go soon. I’m ready to go to bed again anyway. I think that I’ll be ready to work tomorrow so don’t worry about me.

                                                Yours with love
                                   
                                                            Bernard 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Time off and back again

I took off a few months. I wrote up some of my adventures with frivolous filing and war tax resistance. We are now finally through with the election and fall is setting in here. We are expected to get a freeze tonight and are making plans for covering our tomatoes. In dad's letter he speaks of what he learned in his four years in CPS. I do think it changed his life and set him on a different direction. I think this was true for a lot of the men in the CPS camps. So I hope to return to writing on a regular basis. Off to Quaker Meeting.

September 1st 1944


9/1/44

Dear family,

            Once again I’ll say that another week has passed. When I start a letter like that I sound like I’m bored. I don’t really think that I am. Occasionally I get impressed that time is passing right along too. I don’t get bored unless I get to thinking of the sameness of life. And life isn’t the same from day to day. There are lots of changing things to keep one interested.

            Your last letter had a dollar pinned to it. Dad. Thanks a lot. I did get the sisors. The came one day after your letter and I forgot about them by the time That I answered your letter. They are a little better pair than The ones that I left at home. They work fine.

            Coments on the farm news: I was glad to hear that you finally had built a fence north east of the south barn. As far back as I can remember, almost, that has been sort of a wreck. I’ll bet the boys will enjoy a good gate there. As to not getting a corn picker. I’m sorry that you didn’t get one. However, I suspect the you have quite a bit of new machinery in the last two years and tho you may need it more or as much as someone else they would be influenced by that. Maybe that is just rationalization but that helps.

            We had a small rain last night, it was raining when I get up this morning. I hope we get several. It will nearly shut off the fire season. About what will happen is that it will rain enough to encourage the farmers to burn their pastures then it will get dry again and we will have a bunch of brush fires that will have to be put out or they will get to some good timber. I wouldn’t mind going to a fire but I do hate to have them burn up good timber.

            I’m having a heck of a time thinking of something to write. I think I should have a page don’t you.

            We had a meeting with the project Supt. the other night. He had a few things that he was a little dissatisfied with and we had a nice sort of visit with him. I think he left understanding us a lot better than he did. I think that most of the men though more of him and appreciated his attitude towards us. I certainly could notice a difference in this meeting with him and the one that we had when we first came out here over a year and a half ago.

            I suppose the boys are still safely 2-Cs. Some times I wish they had gone to CPS. I have learned so much that I don’t believe I would have learned anywhere else. I wonder what they have done in the last two years besides work and spend their money? Are they any better prepared to live the next 40 years? It is something to think about.

                                                            Yours
                                                                        Bernard
P.S. (over)
I almost forgot to wish you a happy Birthday Mom. Happy Birthday.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cement floors, Radicals and Vice Presidents

Dad's letter has a lot in it. He describes a cement floor they put in. Talks about his future plans. I like the part about continuing to think and change and then he talks about radicals including Jesus. Last he speaks about the change in the democratic ticket from Wallace to Truman. I am interested in history and in these kind of small events that maybe ended up being large ones. How different would our world be if FDR had stuck with Wallace in '44? We also recently on the trip to Austin listened to The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, I found Trotsky's story fascinating. Why did we end up with Stalin and Truman instead of Trotsky and Wallace? What forces took us that way. I do think that the US lost a lot in WWII.

August 27, 1944


8/27/44

Dear Family,

            First off the bat I’m thanking you for the two bucks. Then I’ll explain how come You havn’t heard from me sooner.

            I am back at the main camp now to stay I think. This is Sunday and I came in last night. We finally got the wash house comleyed. It didn’t take so long to actually build the thing. But it took a lot of time to get the thing finished up. Like doors and windows and spteps and benches and shelves. We put a lousey cement floor in on top of a wood floor. One and one half inches thick. I guess it will work tho. I had never had much to do with cement before. I did remember some about making the hoghouse floor. But they wanted to use a lot of gravel and it didn’t trowel very good and I had never done any troweling before so it isn’t the smoothest floor in the west. It is as good as any other floor in camp tho and a lot better than the old one out there was.

            Well this is the story on answering your letter late. I got your letter on the supply truckout there at supper on thur. evening and there was a speaker with them that was going to speak that night and they had some lousey educational movies. So thurs. evening was filled jam full. And there wasn’t any chance to get a letter mailed till Monday. So I never wrote it. I thought that since it wouldn’t go out till Monday I’d just as well wait and make it more up to date.

            I don’t of much to tell this time. I had a pretty nice time out at the Big Creek side camp. It was something of a vacation. I had been putting in quite of bit of time in the shop here in Elkton. I think I will try and find some good guy to give my job to and get out of the woodshop some time this fall. I don’t suppose that I’ll ever find work that I will like as well as the work I have been doing in the shop but the shop demands more of my spare time than I like to spend all of my CPS life. I don’t have to put so much tme in if I don’t want to but if I do the kind of jobs or running it I have to be around quite a bit when the fellows are working in there as they don’t all know their way around and they will mess things up too. I think I have been doing some good there but I’m sort of tired of it and I’m sure that I could benefit by a change.

            In regard to my Co-op paper that I sent to you. I don’t expect to be thinking the same when we get started. In fact I’ll be disappointed If I don’t have some more and better ideas on what I want out of life and how to get it. We are doing a lot of planning mostly because we don’t have much else we can do right now to prepare for our post-war life. I think that we will be able to keep our thinking together better and to find more of the bugs in our ideas if we keep evaluating our selves and our desires. I don’t know whether the others expect to or not but I intend to go over the things I want to do and accomplish from time to time, possibly every six months and sort of compare and see if I have added anything or lost anything.

            I used to be a little warey of radicals but I have noticed that any more a fellow has to be awfully radical to seem radical to me. I guess it is because I am sort of in the radical class myself. There is still a question in my mind as to who is a radical that will do the world some good and which ones are just screwballs. The thing that I wonder is if we don’t treat as screwballs some of the fellows that will do the world some good. Then too, if we could slow up some of the screwballs and they would get on the right track maybe they would turn out to be good radical. Christ was a radical wasn’t he and they killed him.

            The other night they had a discussion out a Big Creek on why Wallace lost out in being Vice Presidential candidate. I don’t remember all that was said but it was really good. A lot of the fellows had been reading up on it in the papers and magazines. As I understand it. The convention was pretty much in favor of Wallace but FDR failed to give him the support he should have. I think that he did say that if he were to vote he would vote for Wallace. But as I understand it some of the boys that plan things were told by FDR that Wallace wasn’t the man because he wasn’t enough of a politician. The Southern states didn’t want him and the big City bosses were against him. So he was licked. I wouldn’t be supprised if he would do a lot more good now that he is out the mess. I don’t suppose I like everything Wallace will do I seem to have the idea that he is more interested in the capatolist angle than I think is good but I’m pretty much the other way.

            Say Mom, Am I to get the impression that the recovery of your eyes is going pretty slow? I had hoped they would be working as good as usual some of these days. There is a guy helping me in the woodshop that has something wrong with one of his eyes and he can hardly see at all. I don’t know exactly what it is but the Dr. he went to see in Eugene told him not to worry about it that it would probably get better afterwhile. His other eye is good and it don’t bother him if he doesn’t strain it. He can’t read either. The woodshop don’t seem to bother him and he likes it and is good at it. He would much rather be doing that than sitting around.

            I got a letter from Evelyn when I got in last night. If you see her tell I was glad to hear from her and will answer soon.

                                                            Yours
                                                                        Bernard

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Taxing My Conscience


 
 I have reached an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service regarding the frivolous filing penalty that I received a year ago relating to my war tax resistance. It has been quite a journey. I have learned many things. One of them is about conscience and acts of conscience. I have come up with more questions concerning how we individually and as a society deal with acts of conscience.  I will say a little about what my statement of conscience was, then raise the following questions: what is an act of conscience? is a statement of conscience an argument?  what is the impact to us as a society if we limit or discourage acts of conscience by our citizens?
In each of my tax returns during the Iraq war, I withheld the percentage of my income taxes that would have gone toward paying for war, in with the 1040 form I would include a statement of conscience. My letter would say something like “Once again I find that I cannot willingly pay all of my taxes. As a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), I oppose war and the support of war. “
In my view a statement of conscience is not an argument, but the IRS, the TAS (tax advocacy service), and the UNM law school all saw it as an argument. I think, if it is possible, the IRS had an argument with me, but I was not arguing with them I was simply not cooperating. I see my letters as a statement of conscience. It is a form of protest, but not an argument, as I am not trying to convince anyone of my position but rather making a statement of my beliefs.
A common misunderstanding people have regards the purpose of such actions by individuals. People will ask me if I felt satisfied or if I had achieved something by this action. I have come up with the following analogy, since it is summer and the temperature is very high outside, I often turn on the swamp cooler. The effect of turning on the swamp cooler does not change the outside environment but it does impact the inside environment of our home. I feel the same way about my small act of war tax resistance. I did not stop the US invasion or the killing of people in Iraq. I did not stop that action but I did change my own inside environment, that of living with myself and being able to say that I resisted as best I could the militaristic actions of the US.
As part of my agreement with the IRS I signed a letter promising to not send them frivolous arguments. This statement is restated three times, to cover enclosing, arguing and just sending them a frivolous argument (of course as defined by the IRS). What is interesting and of concern about this is that I was not asked to agree to pay the taxes, nor to promise to pay for war.  The promise exacted was to not send words that explain or argue or support an act of conscience. I often wondered about countries, whose governments were afraid of words, would censor or ban books or freedom of speech. Are we moving in this direction? What happens when we discourage conscience, discourage free speech by individuals but allow for nonpayment, allow for avoidance and corruption of our tax system by the rich and by corporations?
My favorite quote about conscience is Lillian Helman’s;
“I can not and will not cut my conscience to fit this years fashions”
I believe in both taxes and acts of conscience. I think that both are necessary in a vibrant democracy. Those who take a stand, as a minority, are willing to stand out or up, not based on winning or being part of the majority, or doing what they have been told but acting based on some inner guide that we call conscience, lend a service to the larger society. I agree with Thoreau that those acting and living lives based on conscience or goodness, act as a leven on the whole of society.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Making plans and settling with the IRS

So after the last post, which was on a Monday. When the law school called to say we would go on to tax court, the IRS changed their story and said that they would lower the penalty and also ask for a letter saying I would not send in frivolous arguments anymore. We agreed to the settlement. There were a number of factors involved including time, energy, money and the unpredictable nature of the IRS. What a very frustrating way to run things. I am struck continually by this phrase from an HBO movie on Temple Grandin, she said 'nature is cruel, but we don't have to be'. I think about that. In creating systems to collect taxes, or taking tax money from war tax resisters it is possible to act in a respectful manner. I believe that we can have a country and a tax system that meets both the needs of government and of those with a conscience.So I may write more in a future post. Just to follow up from the last one, I wanted to be clear that we are not going on to tax court.
In Dad's letter he shares some of his plans for the future and a bit of self analysis. I was glad to see that 'children' were included in his future plans. It is kind of fun as I did a similar thing while helping my sister Carol after her surgery. I worked through a book called Rewirement to help plan and get ideas about how and what I want to do now. I came up with a number of possibilities. Now that we are settled with the IRS I am ready to work on some of these.

August 17, 1944


8/17/44

Dear folks

            Well, what-do-you-know, I’m out at Big Creek this week. The wash and shower room out here burned down last Sunday and I am more or less building a new one. There are about 5 or 6 guys helping me. I’m having a good time out here. I had never stayed here before. I have worked out here some but have commuted from Elkton. There are a swell bunch of fellows here and the food is good. I don’t know whether I would like to stay out here all the time or not. I suspect I could manage pretty well tho. I am using a borrowed typewriter. I didn’t bring much of my junk out as I won’y stay long. I’ll probably get done sometime next week and be back at Elkton again.

            Getting part of the land all paid for sounds good. I reckon you are sort of happy about it. Changing your loan over sounds good to me too.

            How’s the farm work doing? Are you having a slight lul since the oats are all harvested anf thrested at the same time?

I can’t seem to think of much to write. I have been doing a little reading. Another guy and I got a great big book out of the library in Eugene. THE INTALECTUAL AND CULURUAL HISTORY OF THE WESTERN WORLD It os about 2 ½ inches think and has about 1200 pages. I don’t know if we will ever get it read or not. It isn’t a regualr history. It deals with trends of thought rather than dates and wars and the like. It is very interesting, especially for a history book.

            I suspect that that story in the Young People’s Weekly is by the same Lillian Smith. She has grown up in the south in a rather well-to-do family and has come to see the injustices that go on there between whites and negros. She publishes a paper called SOUTH TODAY. I havn’t seen any coppys of it but I understand that it is good. I guess she can get by with saying quit a bit down there because they think she is one of them and not an outsider like so many of the people have been that started a reform. I don’t have a copy of the book that I read. The camp bought two coppys and they were keet busy all the time for several months. I think there were two other bookmarks in it when I read it. I would urge you to get a copy of STRANGE FRUIT, it will give you a different idea of the negro proplem in the south. We now have three negro fellows in camp. The last one was studying law when he was drafted I understand.

            It is funny the Evelyn hasn’t gotten a school yet. I thought that teachers were rather scarace, That agency sure gets a good rake off. Does that happen every year she gets a job or is it just a [typed over] That will take a [typed over] one year proposition? 20% is a lot of dough to pay to have job. But I suppose it is no use to have money tied up in an education if you can’t get it out. I reckon that is what they figure when they make a charge like that. That will take a lot of here first year’s profits. I’ll bet she will make more money than any of us.

            That camp is good for Eileen I imagine. It sort of amuses me to think of them trying to get a little Farmer’s Union propagands down them, I understand that the Farmer’s union is really going goos in around the Trenton N. Dak. Camp. That is where I am think of transferring to.

            This will amuse Harry. There was a new guy just came into camp a couple of days ago. He had been in the camp in Big Flats New York and had taken some furlo before coming west and visited several of the friend’s work camp. At the on in Idanapolis Ind. he met a girl named Caroline Zelliot. Imagine that. He was somewhat sold on her. She sent a helo with him to me. The guy’s name is Bob Wilson and he is from Ill.

            Well I can’t think of anything else so will sign off.

                                    With love and stuff

Enclosing a copy of my Co-op write up on what I want out of life. What do you think of it?

Attached:

Outline For Community Cooperators

                                                                                                Bernard LeRoy Aldrich

I. What am I seeking from life?

            A. Vocationally
I am not certain that I could mark out a very narrow field. I would want something that would come under the general head of Creative. I am pretty well convinced that cooperation can help solve a lot of out problems. Great deal can be done to propogate it be speaking and writing but it seems to me that my field is simply living it.

1. As far as actual work goes I think that carpentry and cabinetmaking interests me more than anything else.

2. My next interest would be in farming.

            B. Avocationally

1. I get a great deal of satisfaction from helping people. I would like to incorporate this disire with my vocation. However helping people isn’t always materially productive. I would like to spend quite a bit of my leisure time doing things for people and helping them do things themselves.

2. I derive a lot of enjoyment from stimulating discussions and simple ‘bull sessions’.

3. I enjoy reading and hope to continue my education in this way also.

4. I like outdoor sports and hope to be active in at least one the year around. Especially if my work keeps me inside.

            C. Personally

1. Marriage---I am planning to get married some day, but at present I don’t know who it will be.

2. Children---Certainly.

II. How do I plan to achieve these things?

            A. Short term plans

                        1. Immediate post-CPS plans
I plan to get into some community co-operative. If this one doesn’t materialize I will look for one that suites my general requirements and will take me in.

                        2. As far as this co-op is concerned
a. Under the proposed plan of settling in a rural community near some large city. I could assume the responsibility for the farm work if the group so desired I would also hope to spend considerable time, perhaps in slack farming season, in a community wood-shop and machine shop.

b. Under the proposed plane of seeking employment in some city were certain members could continue formal education. I would seek employment along carpentry and cabinet-making lines. Plumbing and metal work also interest me. I have also enough printing experience to get a job in some small job-printing shop.
           
B. Long term plan.
These are pretty tentative. Even my day dreams are a little vague. Here’s what they look like.
           
1. If our co-op should take up its existence in a rural community either immediately post-CPS or a few years afterward:

a. The wood-shop and machine-shop might evolve into a community shop where the local people would come to make repairs and gagets and I could help them. In so doing I could get better aquainted with them and perhaps be able to stimulate their thinking.

b. I might take further training along shop lines and become qualified to teach in a progressive school which the other members might set up in the community.

            2. If this Co-op fails to materialize I would probably seek another one.

III. Personality traits
These are some things that I have noticed about myself that might hinder harmonious living in a co-op group. Most of you have probably noticed them too, and more. My purpose in expressing them is to aquaint someone who doesn’t know me with my peculiarities and to let you know that I am aware of them and trying to overcome them.

A. I become irked with people and tend to become rather bitingly sarcastic.

B. I am not particularly witty but attempt to be funny all too often to attract attention. My attempts usually fall flat. My jokes tend to be at other people’s expense.

C. I am likely to be critical of other people. Consiquently few people make a good ‘first impression’ on me. However, given a little time there are few people I don’t learn to appreciate a great deal.

D. I am slow to meet people and feel a little ill at ease with strangers.

Monday, July 23, 2012

One out of sequence and back to the IRS

The post below this one, is a letter to Dad's youngest sister, Eileen. Somehow I skipped it yesterday, so I am posting it today. I also got word from the law school that the IRS penalty appeals officer ruled that I need to pay all of the penalty. It has been a kind of through the looking glass and onto the roller coaster type of ride. When I started with the penalty appeal a year ago, I said that 'it isn't about me, I didn't ask for it and why will open'. Today I am thinking, 'what is the way that is opening?' We will petition to go to tax court and could be dealing with this until next March. It is amazing how long this process is.

August 7, 1944


8/7/44

Dear Eileen,

            Did you ever expect to get a letter from me? Well, it won’t amount to much but I dash off a bit of one for you.

            How’s everything doing back home from your point of view? What do you do? Wash gobs of dishes and help with the washings and stuff like that I reckon. I suspect that you find time to read a few magazines too.

            Why don’t you drop me a line sometimes. I don’t really know you anymore, we need to get aquainted again. Do you know it has been almost two years since I came to CPS? The twelveth of this month I will be 2 years old.

            Do you and the old folks get out to a show once in a while? We have one here in camp every two weeks. We have had pretty good ones most of the time. We had a good Bing show, Holiday Inn. Then last week we had “Claudia”. That is a good one too. I had seen it down town in Elkton last fall but I didn’t mind seeing it again. They have quit having shows in town and there is a rumor around that they are going to make a cold storage locker out of the building but then another rumor gets out they are are going to have shows again. They used to have a good one once in a while.

            There were some girls visiting camp that are teaching in the Japanese internment center at Tule Lake Calif. That’s about 300 miles south. They didn’t interest me as they were a sort of frouzey lot. One of the guys invited them up for a swimming meet they had down at the river. They had all sorts of races in the water. It wasn’t bad at all. We had some pretty good swimmers. I havn’t learned much yet tho. But I hope to before the summer is over.

            Well, dash me off a letter some of tese days and tell me what’s cooking.

                                                            Your brother
                                                                        Bernard

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Patterns and Cecil Hinshaw

So I still seem to be in a seldom writing pattern here. This is one of Dad's more interesting philosophical type letters. He talks of patterns of belief and mentions Cecil Hinshaw. I think at this time Cecil became the president of Penn College, which is now William Penn University. Dad went there for one semester before getting drafted. My uncle Eddy also attended for a while. Cecil also came into our lives in Colorado, he became the head person (not sure of the title) of the AFSC office that was located in Denver. This was in the early 1960's. The important fact to me was that he had a daughter named Esther. The Hinshaws showed up in Denver and at Mountain View Meeting around the time I was 10 or 11 years old. Esther and I became friends and were often the only kids in meeting. We would sit through meeting for worship without any trouble and then play around on the chairs or if there was a business meeting sit in the back and read books. My sisters were old enough to say they did not want to attend and if Esther had not been there I might have dropped out as well. One of my favorite memories with Esther was when we were at Family Camp and we all hiked up to one of the high mountain lakes in Rocky Mountain State Park. Esther and I were ahead of the others and when we reached the lake we were taken by the beauty of it all and decided to go clear around it. We did just that, walking cross country over boulders and around bushes to the opposite side of the lake, there was no one there but us and at that end of the lake clear water came bubbling down over the rocks, we laid down on our stomachs and scooped up and drank from the stream. One of the best tastes in the world. When we looked up the others had arrived and we continued on around to join them. I can still remember the peacefulness and joy of our romp around that lake.

Augut 11, 1944


8/11/44

Dear folks,

            How are youn’s by now? I got this last letter in record time. Someone went down after the mail on Wed. afternoon and Your letter was in it. I usually get them on Thur.

            It seems that you are getting a little rain. That makes it hard to get straw in but you seem to be getting some in anyway. Say how much can one of those pickup bailers do in a day? The farmers around here have a lot of hay and they use a buck rake and stationary baler. Some of the fellows have been working with them and they claim that (the farmers) they can bale it faster this way than they could with a pickup. A pickup baler would cut down on the number of men they would have to hire.

            I’m ripe for a little discussion on religion and what-have-you. One of the fellows here has heard Ceicel Hinshaw and knows a little about him. He says that he went to Harvard and came back with some different ideas that some of the local preachers didn’t go for. Maybe that is what he was meaning. If he thinks about religion the way I do he couldn’t preach and maybe he isn’t. I’d like to know what is meant by the spiritual level of a college. I wonder what he means. He seems to be a go-geter and that is good. But this spiritual stuff is so vague to me. I never could figure it out. I used to think that Penn had no spiritual life and I think I was right if what I meant by spiritual was manifested by lots of prayer meetings and Bible study. But I have a hunch that now I’d think Penn was plenty spiritual.

            Here’s and idea that just soaked through me the other day. I guess it has been floating around the world for a long time. You and I have a pattern figured out that we would like to see people fit themselves into. The Church has a pattern and each minister has a pattern/ Society as a pattern, the Gov’t has one and just about everybody and every group has one. They would like to have everybody fit into their own special little pattern/ Their pattern isn’t perfect. They themselves can’t fit it. I know I certainly can’t fill mine. But still I want to fit other people into it. Do you follow me. Whenever we talk to anyone or in raising children people try to make other people in their own image. I am beginning to think that isn’t good. I wan’t my brothers to be pacifists. You wan’t them to be good workers and efficient and to be Christians, Dad. While Mother wants them to be Christians then good workers. Mom’s pattern makes people go to church every Sunday. Makes them work in the church. Your’s Dad makes them express part of their religion by doing a good job. The kids each have a pattern thay would like to fit you parents into. The Gov’t pattern for a young man is that he be in the army. If not then if he measures up to a other set of standards he may bu the grace of the Gov’t got to a CPS camp. When he gets there. If his ideas are such that they fit in general with the CPS ideas and aren’t too far from the composit pattern of CPS men he will enjoy his stay in CPS. If the thoughts that he thinks are far more radical he may find that he don’t fit our pattern and have to go on to a Gov’t camp or to jail or 1-AO. The thing I wonder is how far do we dare to go in assuming that we are right? How far can we go in making others conform to our pattern? I have been studying a little history lately and I have remembered the history I learned in school. It seems to me that most of the progress that civilization has made has been made by those who were way off the beaten track. Look at Christ. He certainly didn’t fit into any pattern of his day. I don’t know as he tried to make people fit into his pattern either. He just went about doing good. Then the people couldn’t stand it so they tried to get him to fit their pattern and whipped him and threatened him and finally killed him thinking that they had at last conquered him. But he has lived on for 2000 years.

            Well, that is one thing that I have been thinking. I don’t know maybe I am on the wrong track. I’m still looking. I hope I never get to the place that I think I am the only one that is right. What do you think?

                                                Yours
                                                            Bernard

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hard time writing

In Dad's letter from August '44 he has a hard time writing and I've missed a whole month. I got into a routine of going to the library or Barnes and Noble and writing a couple of times a week. I've been writing about the years from 2001 to 2011. I'm up to 2009. I want to reflect on our life during those years. Since I last wrote in April we went to Austin in May and saw Jenny and Chris and also I attended the Friends Peace Teams council meeting in Austin. We are now getting ready to go to Intermountain yearly meeting at Ghost Ranch. Our hope is to camp. We have a full size blow up air bed so we can be fairly comfortable.

I guess I can catch up on where we are with the IRS. When we returned from Texas we had a conference call with the lawyer, the IRS lady and Tim and I. there was some learning going on on this phone call. The lawyer was surprised that the IRS lady thought that putting a letter in with the form was the same as an attachment. I was surprised 1)that the IRS appeals person had not really considered the law schools position, 2) that she had not looked at or seen the original form when that is what the penalty is about and 3) that even though the penalty is about frivolous filing the fact that I still owed money for years after the one the penalty is for seem to figure in to what she is deciding. It is one of those things that come up in my life, people say something and I can not believe what they are saying so I am sure they are wrong. In this case, each time I talked with an IRS person they would say, 'this penalty is because you owe us money'. That is not what the frivolous filing rules say but evidently it does seem to be the case. As one tax court judge said 'it is about manipulating you in to compliance'. So in order to work with the lawyers at the law school I have sent in the money owed for 2011. The IRS seems to be after getting the penalty down to $500 or 0, considering that somehow or other they paid $700 toward it. I think this is some of the money they took from my paycheck for past due taxes. So there will be another call. I am considering letting the law school handle it without me, as I am not as artful as the professor in not saying something confrontational. In terms of surprises, I think the IRS lady was surprised that she was expected to do her job. I was impressed that the lawyer just said she was glad to know her position and asked for a few weeks to regroup with the new law student, who was also listening in. I realized that this time gives the IRS a chance to really look at the situation again and get the original form. Anyway I feel that this is a labyrinth I am ready to get out of.


August 8, 1944

8/4/44

Dear family,

 Some how I don’t seem to have anything to write this week either. What is the matter? Am I slipping? I guess I’ll tell a few of the sundry little things that happened during the week.

 I took an inventory of the shop and found that I had lost only $1.01 in the last two months. That isn’t bad as this place is supposed to be run with profit. The shop had a total net worth of $99.49. It consists of lumber and hardware, nails, screws and lacquer and varnishes and stuff that I sell to the fellows to make things and that I use in making things for the camp and project. I don’t mind losing a little as there are a lot of small items that are used like nails and a few screws at a time that it is impossible to charge for. I try to charge just a little extra for some things but I don’t cover everything.

 We had a fire drill this week for getting away on forest fires. We had the project Supt call in a false call from home and it fooled everybody and then all we did was drive around camp. We got away in 15-minutes from the time the fire bell was rung. That wasn’t exceptional. We wanted to make it in ten but there were about three guys that came along after that.

 We have another visiter. this week. This time it is a girl about our own age. She is Philiadelphia. The exec. Sec. of some young Friends organization in the east, we will probably have some meetings with her and some interesting discussions.

 Eight new men have arrived this week. All good guys. Most of them about 20 years old. It is funny how young they seem. One of them is from Iowa City.

 At this time I want to thank you for the two bucks in your last letter. I’ll take care of them. I had just put my last Air Mail sticker on my letter to you last week. I don’t know what was happening to those sisors that I left there. I’m sure that I left them up stairs on the dresser. Well, if you find them send them out as we can’t seem to find any in Eugene.

 I suspect that you have received the two books that I sent home. I had read the Philosophy book twice and got a lot more out of it the second time. The other one isn’t so hot at first but gets good about half way through, I just bought it cause I had heard that the author was good and I wanted something to read on the train.

 I read a very good book last week. STRANGE FRUIT by Lillian Smith. It is a southern story and deals with the negro problem in the south. It is certainly interesting and I wish yous could all read it. If Evelyn is working over at Jeff I would advise and urge her to get it from the library there. You can never tell it may be in the paton libraby. It got a lot of publicity when its sale was banned in the city of Boston.

 I’m glad to hear that the ailments are getting better and that the oats is all in and the straw will be by now.

 So Mary is married. More people getting married!!

 I’m not surprised at the boys and their girls splitting up. Who is Charles chasing now? That certainly si a situation isn’t it. Farm boys left at home and not enough girls. We have the same trouble.

 Yes Mom. E. J. is pretty nice. You never can tell how things will turn out. I wouldn’t even want to guess. But I’m not blind or asleep.

 I guess I’ll quit and go eat breakfast.

    Good By now------

     Bernard

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's an And

I really like Dad's post about God and people not knowing and not pretending to know the answers but that that did not mean they were atheists. It seemed similar to discussions I have had recently about religion and spirituality. Today is Easter Sunday and also our anniversary, 17 years since our wedding. I have started writing to reflect and see if I can remember some of the last 11 years and the different roads we ended up taking. It was not a planned out trip.
The title comes from my case with the IRS. We heard from the law student who is working on the case and she has sent in a document or argument to the IRS based on the word 'AND'. I think that may be the way that lawyering goes, it is in the details. So everyone who is not a war tax resister believes that indeed our arguments fit the definition of frivolous arguments as put down by the IRS, however there are two requirements for getting the penalty one is a frivolous argument the other is that the form is filled out in someway incorrectly. Between these two there is the word 'AND'. So it is an And and not an Or, one must do both of these things to merit the penalty. It will be interesting to hear how the IRS responds. I do hope that they respond before the student working with us is finished in May. I had looked at this statement a number of times but had read it as or instead of and, so I am very glad of the lawyers eyes.
I have been having the computer in a different space as it is a laptop and have not written for about a month. Habits are interesting.

July 28, 1944


7/ 28/44

Dear folkses,

            I can see right now that this isn’t going to be much of a letter I just don’t have anything to write.

            I reckon I can tell about the weather. It has been nice and clear and the sun shines all the time with a few little fuzzy white clouds now and then. Sometimes it gets hot in the afternoon.

            I have gone swimming a few times in the rivers. It is about five minutes walk and we have set supper back so that we have a half hour to swim in after work. I think if I go every night I may learn to swim before the summer is over. It sure is fun.

            We have had a very interesting guest here this week. Irene Pickard. She is an English Friend and she and her husdband worked for the AFSC in Genevia Switzerland for 14 years. I don’t know what all they did I guess there was a sort of school there that kids from all over Europe were brought to and I suppose they had something to do with the feeding that has been done as all of that has gone through Switzerland. They got pretty close to all the world politics meeting and the league of Nations and she is reall up on that sort of thing. We have had a couple of discussions around camp as to what part we as pacifists can and should play in the Churches. So many of us are discusted with the way the church has been doing, not only with the war question but everything that comes along that makes much difference. We had a discussion on that the other night. It wasn’t very satisfactory tho. I had the feeling that there were a number of men there that believed very strongly on a certain kind of God and they thought that the rest of us didn’t believe in God at all and they were trying to convince us that there really was a God. There are really very few men in the CPS that would call themselves Athiests. There are a lot of us that have gotten away from our old conception of God tho. We don’t know a lot of the things that some people think they know about God and God’s will and we aren’t willing to guess at them and call it faith. I hope we have some more discussions on this in the future.

            We are beginning to get aquainted with our new director. They are swell people.

                                                Yours with love and stuff

                                                            Bernard

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Quakers, Oats, the Amish and taxes

We just finished watching the PBS show on The Amish, it was interesting and got me to thinking about change and the difference between Quakers and Amish. One of the things I have always liked about Quakers is that I feel there is a balance between the individual and the group. This seems to be a difference from the Amish who emphasis the leading or discernment of the group over the individual. In terms of war tax resistance our monthly meeting and yearly meeting passed minute saying they support individuals who are lead to not pay taxes that go to war. The group as a whole does not need to believe this is correct but they can support an individual who is spiritually lead in this direction. I suspect another obvious difference is the importance of the equality of women among Quakers, from the beginning there was support for women as ministers and even those who were lead to travel in the ministry.

In terms of oats, dad talks about harvesting oats and the combine instead of the threshing events that they use to have. It is interesting to note that this is in 1944 that they are making this shift on the farm. Thinking about how the Amish live and how their lives were not that different from other rural farmers until the last half of the 20th century makes me more aware of the changes in our society within my life time and within my fathers also.

Last the good news, the UNM law school will be taking our case. They will argue it not in terms of my position on war taxes or the IRS regulations but in terms of 'case law' and in relation to how the penalty was applied. I'll know more as time goes by. I was surprised at how much I was relieved at this news. I was a bit disappointed that they suspect it will take more than one semester. I fantasized that it was like a western movie scene when the cavalry would come riding in to the rescue, the IRS would look up from their desks and drop everything and run shouting 'look look it's New Mexico law students!', 'we give up'.   Evidently, this is not the case, we are not at the end, just beginning a new chapter.

July 21, 1944


7/21/44

Dear folks,

            Another week and another letter. We almost had a break in our weather. They did get a nice rain north of us around Eugene a couple of days ago. Here it has been cooler and foggy or cloudy for a while in the mornings and not quite so hot in the afternoons. I guess it has been a little hotter than usual for this month in Oregon.

            Thanks a lot for the fiver. I was getting a little low too. I had bought a few items, shirts and socks. I got a pair of swimming trunks from another guy which would have taken nearly all of my cash. But your letter came in the nick of time. I don’t mind being broke if there isn’t anything I want. I think that I had bought about all the clothes I need. Maybe I’ll learn how to swim a little more this summer. A lot of the guys swim in the river on Sundays and sometimes in the evenings.

            Evelyn sure got a bad bruse, I didn’t know the extent of her injuries before. At the rate she was doing she is probably still in bed. It is good for her to loaf around a little I suspect. That is as long as she is cheerful about it. I certainly hope it clears up soon. It is a shame she didn’t get to Myrt’s wedding. I was counting on a detailed report.

            I get the impression that your eye is better Mom. Good. When Evelyn gets back on her feet youns will be pretty physically fit. Unless something else happens.

            Guess I’ll comment on crops a little. That piece of oats didn’t make a very high yield did they. But good quality is something. You had a very lousy season too. I didn’t hear anything about you guys liking the combine just fine for oats. I know Harry is crazy about it but how about the rest of you. I imagine Mom likes not having to get a big threshing dinner too. I bet I’d sure mis the good old time threshing. I guess them days is gon fer ever.

            Some of the fellows were listening to the Democratic convention yesterday. Then they heard Roosevelt shoot the bull last night. We jokeingly call Roosevelt the ‘Great White Father’ around here. We are doing a little talking about who we will vote for. We are all against Roosevelt but differ on who we will vote for of the others. Some say they won’t throw their vote away on Thomas and others feel that they must vote for him. I don’t know what I think. I’d reckon that Dewy is as bad as Roosevelt but a change would be awfully good. I certainly hope we get some kind of change. Three terms is too many and four is terrible. I guess he has had three now hasn’t he? I sure don’t know much about what goes on do I. I’m getting a little more interested tho.
                                                So long
                                                            Bernard

P.S. (over)

P.S. On my way home I bought a cheep pair of sisors which I must have left upstairs. Well, they don’t do me much good there. Would you mail them to me. I tried to get another pair but there don’t seem to be any in Eugene. Also I’m about out of the “Via Air Mail” stickers if you have gobs of them stick a few in your next letter. I prefer the standard air mail envelope but they havn’t gotten any out yet I guess any(?) they don’t seem to get any here. I’ll probably send you a couple of books soon. I just finished reading one and have the other about done.

                                                            Yours
                                                                        B. A.

Attached:
-EDSEC Newsletter, July 17, 1944, Vol. 1, No. 14
-Project News, July 17, 1944, No. 11

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wood turning and visiting the Law School

I missed last week. Every so often I am on a conference call for a committee on Sunday evenings and I end up without time to post a letter or to write. I'm trying to schedule another time for this blogging. So in today's letter Dad took a career test that did not put him high in carpentry which is what he spent his life doing. He mentions that he actually was more interested in wood turning. I remember the year when he got back to doing some work on the lathe. I think Carol may have already graduated from high school and she helped him to wrap the presents. He had his shop which was away from our house so we were not aware that he had been working on these presents. When Christmas came we found these presents under the tree and they said from Dad but were not in Mom's hand writing so we knew something was up.  For Carol and Mom he made platters and Bonnie and I each got a round wooden jewelry box. This would have been in the late 1960's. Many relatives and Friends were to receive wooden bowls from that day on. Every craft sale fundraiser for AFSC would find a collection of Barney bowls for sale. At one point he joined a craft coop and I offered to put in the hours at the store. I think the coop did not last long and Dad just went back to giving the bowls. This Christmas Jenny said she would like one and so I picked one of the small platters to send her. Glad to see that she values these family treasures.

Back to the continuing saga of the IRS and my war tax resistance. We got an interview with the UNM law school clinic and drove up to Albuquerque and presented our case to them.  The student who interviewed us seemed interested and we should hear later this week if they will take the case.

July 15, 1944


7/15/44

Dear home folks,

            How you been? I’m still getting along pretty well. We are having very good weather. Gets pretty hot and dry in the afternoons. Bad weather for fires, I mean it isn’t good to have one start now. We got a call at 2:00 a. M. a week ago today which really woke us up. We never had to go tho but we really whipped our organization into line from 3:00 to 5:00 that morning and now we are ready for anything. I guess it was quite a way to that fire and they had to call Portland to authorize our leaving and they talked them into hunting for men closer.

            We are supposed to get 12 or 15 new men soon but we havn’t seen anything of them yet. I guess transportation is pretty crowded. 3 are them are new west coast assignees. We only have 113 men now.

            Some time ago we had the opportunity of taking vocational interest tests. I took it. Just got the results the other day. The test don’t tell whether you can do the job or whether you would be successfou or not. It says that your interests were the same as those of a group of men that were in these occupations that were tested. I scored the highest in Mathamatics and Science teacher. Imagine that. I was high in what they call the social uplift group. YMCA secretary Personel Work, Minister and stuff like that. I was quite high in farming too. I was alos high in Musician. That doesn’t mean much as all CPS men run high in that. I guess it is ‘cause they have a lot of the same interestes that musicians have like to read the same books and spend their leisure time the same way. I wasn’t very high as a carpenter. But the group I was compared with was a bunch of Calif. union carpenters and I don’t suppose our interests would have much in common. I’m not so much interested in carpentry as I am in cabinet making and wood turning. I scored pretty good as printer which was interesting but I don’t think I would want to be a proffesional. This test didn’t really tell me much but it did confirm some of my ideas about myself. According to t is test I think I would be pretty happy in this Co-op deal we are talking about.

            Tell Evelyn I was glad to get her letter. I hope she is over her bruises by now and back with those dull people again. She should be able to learn a lot of things not to do from them. I bet I’d get tired of it tho. I’ll try and get her off a letter soon.

                                                            With love,

                                                                        Bernard

Attached:
-EDSEC Newsletter, July 10, 1944. Vol. 1, No. 13 with note: This put out by the Educational Secretary each week
-Project News, July 10, 1944, No. 10 with note: This is put out by a guy who’s job (?) is Project Education and Safety Education and stuff. Both these guys have their headquarters in the main camp but spend part of their time in the side camps working with the men and working on their jobs too.
-The Reporter, July 1, 1944, Vol. III, No. 1

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Civil initiative

Today Jim Corbett's name came up twice to me, once in an article I read and then again when someone spoke at Quaker Meeting for Worship. Jim Corbett lived in Arizona near the US Mexico border and got involved in the last century in a movement known as the Sanctuary movement that helped people who were fleeing oppressive regimes in Latin America. Jim said that what those who helped give sanctuary were doing was not Civil disobedience but was Civil Initiative, the quote I liked was in the March 2008 Friends Journal and states;

"Nonviolent civil initiative by covenant communities is... the way human beings preserve and develop society based on consent, in which the rule of law, as distinguished from the rule of commanders is necessarily gounded..."

So I'm thinking about this in terms of conscientious objection to military taxation and my dialog with the IRS. I think this idea of civil initiative applies when we as citizens are working to bring government or society back inline with it's agreements. It changes the emphasis from objecting or disobeying authority to that of supporting and initiating civil society. I am copying below here parts of the Jan 17th letter to my Senators explaining my situation with the IRS.

Dear Senators Bingaman and Udall;
It seems appropriate that I am sitting down to write you today, the day we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. I am writing to you both in regards to a personal concern that is also a larger concern regarding our government and conscience. I have been withholding the part of my taxes that go to promoting war and developing the military since the US invaded Iraq in 2003. Each year I put the money into an account labeled ‘war taxes’ in our credit union. Once the IRS collected money out of this account and once the money was taken from my paycheck. I do not oppose taxes and I do not ask for any special treatment.

I see my actions as civil disobedience and I accept the yearly penalties that have been applied. For the last year I have been in dialogue with the IRS over a new penalty one for ‘frivolous filing’. It is in regards to this penalty that I am writing to you and enclosing with this letter, the letter I have sent to the IRS requesting a face-to face hearing.

It is my understanding that the frivolous filing penalty was first created and approved by the US Senate. I believe that the Senate needs to now take a look at this legislation that has grown into a rather large monster that is no longer in line with the spirit of freedom of speech and conscience that has always been part of the United States of America. I do not believe that the intent of this penalty was to harass or penalize those of us who are not willing to pay taxes that go to war. I have also learned that those in the IRS do not have much familiarity with this penalty or it’s many clauses. In speaking with an internal investigator who is looking into systemic problems for the IRS, I found out that if I filed my taxes and did not fully pay them I would not be subject to this penalty. However if along with the form I filed correctly I insert a letter explaining my reasons, my thinking, my conscience I am then subject to a frivolous filing penalty. In other words if I am simply not paying based on greed, there is no problem. That is not considered frivolous. If I do not pay and politely explain my reasons, then my actions are considered frivolous.

A second rule of the frivolous filing penalty that intrigues me is the one that says ‘if you are making an argument that someone has argued before and lost’ then you are considered frivolous. It is nice to think about this today. How many times did black citizens in this country have to ask for equality? How many times did women have to ask for the vote, or gay activists have to ask for fair treatment? This country is where we are today because people have kept coming back to ask again and again. To knock on the door until it is opened. I believe that war and the war machine has dominated this country and that one day we will choose to take off the chains that bind us to the war machine and that one of the ways we will do this is through war tax resistance.

I am asking that you look into this situation with the possibility of passing new legislation that will change or eliminate this penalty so it does not work to penalize people of conscience.