Hobart Duffmann Prisoner #561213
Elderwood Farm Penitentiary
October 9, 1962
Dear Mr. Duffmann,
My name is Carol Simmons and I am 10 years old. For school our teacher told us to get the name of a pen pal who lives in a foreign country and learn about how kids live in other places, but I thought it would be nicer to be pen pals with someone who might be lonely and need someone to write them letters because kids in other countries have friends, so I got your name from a different place than what we were told.
I am in fifth grade. I like music and reading. When I grow up, I want to be a nurse.
How old are you? How long have you been in prison? What do you plan to do when you get out?
November 19, 1962
Dear Mr. Duffmann,
Yes, you do have the worst luck I ever heard about. It would be bad to be in jail for one thing you did not do, but to be in jail for killing seven people when you didn’t kill anybody must be terrible. Do you know how long it will take them to figure out you are innocent? I hope they can do it fast, and I bet you do too.
We are going to my Aunt Mary’s for Thanksgiving this year. Do they have turkey in prison?
July 4, 1963
Dear Mr. Duffmann,
Thank you for explaining to me what a shiv is. It was very interesting. I am very sorry you have to make your own weapons in order to defend yourself from all the criminals, and I understand it was not your fault you could not write me for a month.
My mother puts me in solitary sometimes too. I hate it. Sometimes when I want to be in solitary, I am very happy, but it’s different when someone else puts me there. When you aren’t where you want to be, it seems like everything you want to do is somewhere else. Do you know what I mean? I bet you do.
What do you like to do when you are in solitary? My favorite things are drawing and reading.
January 2, 1968
You know I already have a daddy, so it was really weird to pretend someone else was my daddy, but it was worth it to get to see you in person!
I know you said I would be surprised to see how old you look in person, but I don’t think you look old at all. I think you look young and handsome! And I noticed all your muscles too, so I see what you mean about how much time you must have to exercise.
To answer the question you asked right before we ran out of time, I think it would be very good for me to learn some exercises too. I agree that physical fitness is very important.
Your daughter (wink wink!),
February 4, 1968
They know, but I’m not sure what they know. When I told my mother I needed her to take me to Elderwood again to work at the college library, she said, “I know what you’re doing,” and she walked out of the room. When I tried to find out what she was talking about, she said she was too upset to talk to me.
That’s all I know,
February 14, 1968
As much as I’ve tried, I still don’t understand what’s going on. My mother keeps saying “How could you?,” and my father says I’m not his daughter anymore. I just sit in my room and cry.
I’m beginning to think you might be right. There’s nothing for me here. I don’t mean anything to my family (obviously!), and school is just a way to pass the time. I think every day about what you told me: People quit school when they’re finally ready to learn something! Well, I’m starting to think I might be ready.
I was very sorry to hear about your last appeal. As you’ve said, one man can endure only so much injustice, but at least now you know where you stand.
And I know that you know where you stand with me too.
February 29, 1968
I thought it was bad before, but I was wrong.
I’ve been writing so many letters lately that I got lazy and started leaving them in the mailbox by the street. My mother found one and opened it, and I have no idea which one it was. Actually, it might have been more than one.
I just don’t know.
They’re talking about sending me away, maybe to boarding school, maybe to live with my grandparents in Montana.
Remember how you used to say that nothing is worse than solitary? Well, you were wrong, weren’t you?
March 14, 1968
Thank you for telling me about the censorship of prison mail. Yes, I have received letters from you with parts blacked out, but I always thought you were the one who did that. Everyone makes mistakes, right?
I am trying to imagine what parts of my letters might have gotten censored. I always worry that I will say too much, and apparently I’ve done it, haven’t I? But what was it I shouldn’t have said? I wish that I knew so I could say it again, but then I would get censored again, wouldn’t I?
So you were right again, Hobart. We can’t let them keep us apart. When we’re together, no one can censor us. This is the part that I will cover in black, a dirty trick since it doesn’t actually say anything.
I will fuck you soon,