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A letter to a friend


April 8, 2019

Dear friend,

I recently celebrated my 78th birthday. With this anniversary has come a decline in my mental faculties. I am suffering from dementia.

I think my decline started three years ago, in the winter and spring of 2016, when I went to New Hampshire to run in the Democratic presidential primary. The result of a month’s work was 19 votes. I was hospitalized for several days. In contrast, I ran in Louisiana’s Democratic presidential primary in 2004 without health problems and received 3,100 votes. Evidently, it’s time to call it quits, politically speaking.

I have one remaining ambition: to self-publish a 560-page book titled “History of the Triple Existence” through Thistlerose Publications. This is a work in the field of big history, a discipline pioneered by the Australian history professor David Christian. There is an International Big History Association whose conferences I have attended every two years. The term “triple existence” refers to the fact that our human world is comprised of three types of being: matter, life, and thought. My prospective 11-chapter book tells the story of this world from the big bang to the present and into the future.

Other than mental capacity, I have no immediate health problems. However, I have not driven an automobile in more than two years and so am dependent upon my wife Sheila when we need to travel beyond Milford. I walk my little fox-terrier dog, Do Do, around town twice a day. This gives me plenty of exercise.

Our house in Milford is one of the best in town. Built for my great-grandparents in 1881, it sits on the edge of town, one block from Milford’s only traffic light, with a clear view of a small mountain called the Knob. In back of our house is the Sawkill creek which empties into the Delaware river about a mile to the east. In the other direction, Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer prize-winning book, “Angela’s Ashes”, was written down the road about a half mile away up stream. I often walk by his old house near the Waterwheel Mill and cafe.

My daily routine begins with a walk to give Do Do exercise. I follow the same routine with clockwise precision every three days:

1. to the Waterwheel cafe,

2. to the Fauchere hotel, and

3. to the Mott Street bridge

The first route is down the hill and along the Sawkill creek toward the Waterwheel cafe and then up along Harford Street and the old school (across from the post office) and back home. The second route takes me up into Milford, past the Fauchere hotel, and back home along Broad Street. The third route goes in the opposite direction on Harford Street to the Mott Street bridge over the Sawkill which has been closed for a time and is now being repaired.

If I have made so much of this walking routine, you might guess that my life is boring. In a way it is, but I am not bored. I read lots of books and regularly watch television, especially MSNBC and the ABC Nightly News with David Muir. I work at a desk in a section of a downstairs living room facing Milford’s traffic light up the hill but do not have a direct view of it. I have plenty to do during the day between preparing the book for publication and other chores.

My office space is decorated by three small pictures and one large picture of floral arrangements done by a local artist, Madeline Tully, and two identical pictures of a bird perched on a log by another artist, one in grey and one in red. I also have on my desk twenty-seven stunningly beautiful rocks of various colors and shapes sold by Hadley’s Earth Crystals in the Artery, an artist’s shop which is located in Forest Hall, a block away from my house.

Again, my chief ambition these days is to publish the book, “History of the Triple Existence”. I am hiring an artist in Oregon, Deborah Perdue, to put the manuscript in a form to be published. She also created the book cover design. Hopefully, I can self-publish the book by this fall. We have money set aside for that enterprise, having recently sold the downstairs unit of our house at 1702 Glenwood Avenue in Minneapolis to nearby Redeemer Lutheran Church.

The other day, I visited Shakespeare & Associates book store in Milford and talked with Bob Keiber, its proprietor (and also the moving force behind Milford’s annual Artists’ and Writers’ festival). An upstairs room has a display relating to two motion pictures produced by D.W. Griffith in Milford in 1912. If I recall correctly, Keiber told me that one of them, the Informers, was the first full-length silent motion picture ever produced in the United States.

So you see that life brings surprises each day. I lack the ambition to do much beyond this. I want to get Deborah Purdue to finish her work on my book, pick a printer and a distributor, and hopefully produce and sell the book.

I pick up pine cones on my daily walks with Do Do. They adorn the ledges in a vestibule near the front door. The red Kia automobile which my wife’s daughter bought for us a year ago sits in a parking space up the road not far from our house. (We often drive to Walmart toward Port Jervis in this car; never toward Twin Lakes.) We have plastic garbage pails outside the door from our pantry that need to be emptied every week. We have clothes to change, beds to make.

In 2017, I spent much of my time working on personal websites. My specialty was, for the first two sites, to have parallel pages in English and ten other languages. The main site,, has more than 300 separate articles. It gets about 1,000 visits per day. Some of my other sites, in descending order of traffic, include:,,,,,,,, and I hope to keep these websites up indefinitely although some are relics of past political campaigns.

I rise from my chair in the office and go out to the back porch. The Sawkill creek is in front of me and a wooded area beyond. On the other side of the Sawkill is a stretch of land that used to be called “the Glen”. There was a small lake behind the house created by a log dam; it washed out in 1954. Now trees have grown up on the other side of the Sawkill. I see a blue object there on the ground. On a large rock on the other side of the Sawkill, I see a white object that might be someone’s discarded shirt or blouse. Looking up, I see the Knob.

With some sadness, I realize that all this land used to belong to my family but no more. My sister and I sold it to the National Park Service three years ago. Besides the land in back of the house, my wife and I continue to own about 100 yards of land on this side of the Sawkill from the Mott Street bridge. We are having it surveyed.

Anyhow, this was meant to be a letter which would convey recent news. It is turning out to be more an exercise in writing. But it has been so long since we have communicated that I wanted to send you something. I do not know how much longer I will be able to communicate intelligibly.


William McGaughey

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