The Haywards’ social circle began to shrink considerably, and by 1973 they decided to sell their house and leave the Pasadena area. They purchased a house in Merced, California, a quiet community nearly three hundred miles north of Los Angeles. The new house was about as large as their previous one, but with a much smaller yard. Betty still gardened, and much discussion was still given to various plants and harvests, as well as an extremely detailed recounting of the new house’s layout. In time Roger joined the Merced Art League and gave his lecture on styles in art to members in his living room.
As the decade wore on, Roger’s health continued to deteriorate. Much of his correspondence to old friends was spent discussing his various health problems, but always in a jovial or matter-of-fact manner. In 1974 Roger experienced abdominal pain and eventually had surgery on his prostate. After waiting long enough, he also had an operation on his cataracts, which improved his vision considerably and allowed him to read once again (though at a much slower pace) and to draw.
Roger shared his opinions even more frequently on a great deal of matters, but also began to share more intimate details of his past with great clarity. He recounted his experiences at MIT and Caltech with gusto, and though he never claimed much emotional connection to Keene, he relayed many details from his childhood which appear nowhere else in his correspondence. In terms of politics at the time, he was sorry to see Nixon pardoned by Ford and made a little rhyme that he shared with nearly all of his friends and acquaintances:
“In spite of what you’ve been taught
A president’s word may be bought
He can cheat, steal and lie
Stonewall and defy
And only be wrong when he’s caught”