November 29, 1989
Dear Mr. Trebach,
I received your book today and would like to thank you for sending it so quickly and for the inscription. I don't know what I could add or if I would change anything. I think that you were very honest in your portrayal of my Dad. It was painful to read but overall I'd say my father's life was redeemed in this writing.
I have been trying to write a book myself but it's about my mother and my father. I don't know what will ever come of my writings, but I did contact the director of the film Tin Men because you see, my father brought the aluminum siding busi-ness to Baltimore. "Breeze," my name for my Dad, is a larger-than-life character. When I was four or five years old my father was married to his third wife, not my mother. She was a drug addict and so was he. They smoked pot by putting tin foil on a glass to make a pipe. One of the earliest pictures I have was that "the silver foil on the glass is evil" I didn't know what pot was and I didn't know what heroin was but I have a repulsion and aversion to needles. Even today, at the age of 36, I am petrified of having a blood test. I would say that nevertheless I adored, practically worshipped my father, and he worshipped and adored me.
I went through many changes over his drug addictions. When I was about seven or eight I would throw a temper tantrum and storm out of the room if I happened in on my Dad while he was smoking, but by the age of 13, the Beatles were singing ev-erybody smokes pot, and we became partners in the habit. As a child of the 60s I have tried every drug there is but I have never used a needle. I have been drug-free except for caffeine for the past two years. So over the years I have shared certain drug experiences, but have always been horrified at the sight of my father shooting up. My Dad always told us he was a "medical addict." He has not only been sick, but dying since I was born. The fact that he has real medical problems mixed with the fact that he has been a serious drug addict for years has caused great pain, embarrassment mixed with tenderness and love. It is difficult to explain.
Everyone eventually rejected my father. In 1984 he had a heart attack due to the fact that he had tried to get off drugs for his grandchildren. I flew in from Santa Cruz, Ca., to see my father. The first night he looked horrible and near death, very old. The next day he jumped up out of bed proclaiming that I was to drive him back to Baltimore. You see my father had miraculous regenerative powers. I can flash back on literally dozens of scenes in my life when my father was "dying" but then he'd be up and out the door before you could blink an eye. It was perplexing. Well, I drove him back to Baltimore. First we stopped at a hospital in York, Pa., if I remember correctly. My father was carrying on trying to get a prescription filled. I could never tell when he was serious. You see he was the most incredible salesman/conartist that ever lived, or you could say he was very charming.... Anyway when we got to Baltimore he checked in to a hotel. I was in an adjoining room, and there he set up a shooting gallery. All the guys came around and hung out with my Dad because he was the one who had the supply and, yes, he made a fortune supposedly in the sale of drugs. I stayed for another couple of weeks and then flew home sick and devastated.
On Easter Sunday 1984 my mother died. After the funeral I went to Baltimore and spent what was to be the last summer with my precious father. I tried to take care of him. I thought, "oh, I'll cook and clean for him; I'll try to stabilize his life...."
Yeah I would cook meals but all that man ever craved was sweets. His diabetes was completely out of control and he spent many hours hunched over his arms at the kitchen table, trying in vain to find a vein but he was shooting all kinds of drugs, co-caine and heroin. I was in a state of shock from having just buried my mother. She was only 55 years old. I was going through my own traumas. I began to put on weight. I had always been slender, a perfect dancer body, and suddenly I was 20 pounds heavier. I have since gained an additional 40 pounds.
So many things happened in 1985. I left my father in August. I vaguely recall a Doctor coming to see him, I think it was Dr. Rubin. I returned home from my mother's funeral, and the summer with my Dad with an addiction of my own: Alcohol!
I spent the next six months drinking and going crazy in Santa Cruz. I am a jazz pianist. And I used the inheritance from my mother's estate to live on for a year. I was studying music and I was also drinking and carrying on. In March of 1985, I called my Dad. I was very thrilled to have joined a health club. I was starting to get my life together. He was happy for me. But he also told me that the doctors wanted to remove his legs. I have always felt guilty for not flying back to be with him. He died about a week after our conversation.
His death was very peculiar. Or at least I should say the events that led to his death were very strange. My father was in the hospital for his legs that were gangrened. Supposedly he got into an argument with a nurse. He called some friends to come pick him up but when they arrived he had already left in a cab. Typical! On Friday the week before he died he renewed his lease for his apart-ment. I have no idea how he was getting around in his condition. My aunt claims that she came to his apartment on Monday the following week. She claims Milton was not there but describes an eerie feeling and that there were newspapers piled in front of his bedroom door. My aunt is very ill and suffering with diabetes and depression so I have always wondered if she looked in the bedroom but I've never been able to ask. Supposedly she called a cousin of mine who lives in Westminster to look in on my Dad. He didn't get into the city until Friday when he called me and told me the news of my father's death. I spoke to the police and fire-men who claimed the building was about to ex-plode with heat. My father had the burners on the stove turned up. He was in the bedroom, partially dressed laying behind a dresser that was pulled away from the wall. I don't know what was going on in my father's apartment but thousands of dollars that he showed me six months earlier were nowhere to be found. I have turned this scene over and over in my mind. I have some suspicions about what really happened but no proof.
I returned to California where I have lived for the past 20 years. I did not become destructive after my father's death. In fact, except for a few minor problems, my life just keeps getting better. This year I tried once again to probe the finding and details surrounding my father's death. I have a pretty good idea about what happened to all the money, but there is nothing I can do.
You asked if I would change anything in your book. The only thing I wonder is "Would my father sti// be alive if he had more help from his doctors?" I doubt it. But if he had more support and understanding from his doctors and from society perhaps his life and mine would have been different, and perhaps in living differently he would still be alive today. Does that make any sense?
You should understand my father was smoking pot at age 13. That was 1931! I heard that he had a kidney removed while he was in the service and this is what caused his addiction originally to morphine. Yes, he had tried to withdraw many times and I believe it just made him sicker. Yes, he had many other illnesses: high blood pressure, diabetes, one kidney, cardiovascular problems, the list goes on... but he also had a decadent lifestyle....
It is impossible. There are a lot of men in Baltimore who are addicted. I've known them for many, many years, but in all of my life I have never met a junkie except for in Baltimore. They scare me, they disgust me, and on the other hand I have a deep feeling of wanting to help.
I was always thinking I could save my father. Did he tell you I had a step-brother who died of a drug overdose at the tender age of 20? Drugs have been the root of all the evil and sadness of my life. I don't have any answers. I hope this letter helps; actually it was just a great catharsis for me. In the last year I rejected my father because of all the scenes I witnessed in his apartment. I usually acted with great compassion but that was with three thousand miles in between. He was a genius; some say he was a legend in Baltimore for good things and for bad things. He was humanitarian in his beliefs. A brilliant mind and ability to achieve whatever he set out to do. He has had successful businesses all over this country but he has walked away from everything. He has made fortunes in the stock market, but just as quickly gambled it away or bought drugs with it....
I don't know what else to say but I thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing such an inspirational story about "The Breeze." You know this all came to me the week of his birthday. For me it was a magical message from him to me. The man of my soull It cannot be denied, my father was an inspiration and I appreciate and will always cherish what you wrote about him. I think it was positive!
With love and appreciation from,