But for Hannah Peters, I would not exist. Nor would my sister. That is what my mother told me.
The Peters were family friends. Apparently, my father’s artistic abilities and talents and politics somehow connected him with Walter K. Bacrach. And, somehow the Peters and Wally were talked about fondly by both my Mother and Father when reminescing about coming to Oakland, living in “the Projects” on Center Street, union organizing, communism, socialism, capitalism, civil rights, picnicks, camping, race, superstition, literacy, books, Berkely, union organizing, and the FBI.
Big Charlie (as others called my Dad) told me that Bernard was a genius, who learned to speak English in six weeks after coming to the United States. He told me Bernard was involved with the A-Bomb, but Bernard didn’t really approve or accept what was done with scientific knowledge. It messed up Bernard’s mind, he said, when the Bomb was dropped in Japan.
My father said Bernard was a man who actually recognized him and befriended him and taught him how to read and think. He told me that Bernard and he would talk about everything. And, he said that although he was involved in teaching and research at Berkely (U.C. Berkeley), he made time to teach in the evenings and be with him.
I recall my father saying, “We would talk for hours in the evenings.” Also, he said that he and Bernard read the encylopedia with him, all the books. I distinctly recall Big C saying, “Sometimes, after we had dinner, he would leave to go back to the university to do research work and he would leave me with alone his wife.” He explained that was not something a White man would ever do and very unusual. And, conversations with Hannah would continue after Bernard left to do more work.
My path in life caused me to eneviably meet Bernard and Hanna Peters, personally. I had been drafted and jointed the U.S.N. And, I maintained contact with them until Bernard passed. I need and want to explain what, apparently, is the truth about my existence, my path. I also actually met Wally and Rachel in the woods of Santa Cruz around 1971. It’s all truth, that’s all I can say.
Hannah Peters: My mother told me she was not supposed to have children and was unable to carry or bear. “Sweet” (that was what Louise was called by everyone who knew her) she said she had been injured as a child, falling off of a fence she was climbing over and damaging her body falling on barbed wire. She never named the part of her body what was injured, but said it messed her up down there. She told me she had a gynocologist (woman doctor) who helped her. And that because of that she was able to have me and my sister. The doctor’s name was Hanna Peters. She bore us by “C” section.
My Sex Education: My father had told me, ‘A woman can do anything a man can do.’ He’d name Madam Marie Currie talking about science, as an example. He told me that in Russia, there were women who worked as ship captains. Moreover, I was taught to always respect a woman, to never ever raise a hand, pressure or coerce a female (unless absolutely necessary to save my own life). I’ll add that I miss my father very much, as he died at a very early age. He was a person I was able to talk to and learn from like no other who I’ve had the fortune or honor to be with. That is why I’ve never, and will never, change my name that was given me by him and my mother. Now, at this point, (if you realize that I’m simply writing my history and eulogy using this server) I’ll explain how it came to be I personally met Barnard and Hanna Peters.
How I met thePeters: When I was drafted in 1964, I had to make a decision. I do not believe in carnal warfare. I am a pacifist. I believe that killing is morally justified to save one’s own life. But, I do not believe in martardom. I do not believe it is moral to kill another person, just because someone told me to do it. I especially did not want to be sent to Viet Nam.
My father was precient in 1963. He had told me, ‘this country is going to war in Viet Nam.’ He explained: That’s what capitalist do. He said that the French had gotten their asses kicked. Colonialism and Capitalism are cousins in the tribe of exploitation of the masses. They send poor people to die to exploit the wealth of others, whenever and wherever they can.
I have already explained about my uncle who served as a machine gunner in Korea and meeting him. And, what he told me (its here somehwere) was “If you have to go, never be on the ground. There’s no place to run, nothing to get behind.” So, when I got drafted I read the letter and contained words, to the effect, that I could appeal the notice of being drafted, which I did in writing in a timely manner.
The JW’s had come around and my father, being conversant with people, would love discussing the Bible with them. But, due to the hypocracy he found in religion, generally, and the Baptist Church specifically, led by men who are untruthful and maniupulative. He had sworn he’d never go into a church again. He was a man who said, ‘think before you speak and do what you say.’ He meant that. Although the Jehovah’s Witnesses were consciencious objectors, I wasn’t about to get baptized because I didn’t really believe “in God.” In my mind, I couldn’t believe a diety existed because of the experiences I had with racism as a young maturing man. Likewise the inhumanity others received just didn’t square with the existence of a sentient loving deity. So, I wrote the letter and sent it to the Draft Board in a timely manner.
The Draft Board denide my objections based on my beliefs and I was given a firm date to report or be arrested and imprisoned.
From the time I could understand anything, my Mom had warned me, ‘Don’t do anything that will get you in the pen.’ I didn’t know what a “pen” was. I knew what a pencil was, and I knew what a pin was. It was confusing and asked her about it. She explained that stealing and stuff like that caused White men to put Negros in a cage. Nothing to eat. Bad things happened there. We were very poor at that time, living in the “projects” and often there was nothing or very little to eat.
When I got the draft notice, no thought of running anywhere crossed my mind. I often didn’t have $0.29 (that had be $0.19/ gallon when we first moved to Venice, CA around 1952) to pay for a gallon of gas. So, I did what my uncle advised me to do: I stayed away from being on the ground. That led me to volunteer to be in the U.S.N.
In the U.S.N., I was a Communications Technician — adept in electronic warfare. I was really good at it (at the time). And, because I was at the top of my class, I got to choose my orders. I decided my best chance of survival was to get as far away from Viet Nam as possible. I chose Germany!
I was stationed in Bremerhaven, Germany. Bernard Peters was the head of the Physics Department at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. And, thus, I had the opportunity to actually meet the Peters. I wrote the Peters and one day called and let them know I’d like to actually meet them.
Hannah was estatic and while on leave, I toured Europe and ended my vacation in Denmark. I stayed with them about a week in their home, met their daughter, her husband. I was able to ask Barnard and Hanna many questions. They verified all that I had been told as a young child.
A question Bernard answered how, in detail, he survided and he escaped from concentration camp. HISTORICAL NOTE: HE WAS NOT “RELEASED.”1 At the end of our meeting, he said I should get out of the U.S.A. It’s not a good place for a human being to live. The sin of science unleashing the A-bomb on the Japanese people was but one deal breaker for him. The political realities was another.
A question Hannah answered is how she figured out how to help my mother have a child and women as a gynocologist (i.e., how she figured out what was wrong and what do do about it).
Bernard Peters is my personal connection to science, nuclear war and politics (along with Big Charlie). Hannah Peters is my connection to my life and existence, women’s rights and achievement.
1. While sitting beside Bernard sharing a glass of wine, when asked about Consentration Camp and being there, he said he saw many men die. One actually died in his arms. He escaped by finding a place in where the electrified barbed wire had been shodily installed. The space between the barbed wire and the ground was a little higher than his body, he calculated. But, there was no margin for error in his calculation. He said that while in camp and isolated, he started to maintain his sanity by counting numbers, adding, subtracting, multiplying, etc. He figured out a lot about numbers. He said that there was no margin for error. But, he figured he had a chance. One day he had an opporunity, when a guard was distracted, during change of shift. He crawled under the installed barbed wire. Others had been electrocuted, sometime committing suicide. ‘It was the hardest thing I ever did or could try,’ he told me. He made is without being electrocuted. He ran. He was shot at by the guards as he ran to the woods and through trees. He eventually came to a house where there was a bicycle laying against a wall. He took it and began peddling, running away and never looking back. He didn’t go into any other details.