Send me a postcard, drop me a line, stating point of view, Indicate precisely what you mean to say, Yours sincerely wasting away…
Even before I fell in love with the Beatles and their incredible lyrics, I wrote letters. I wrote letters because I received letters. It was the only way to communicate other than telephone and telegram. My Grandmother and her twin sister sent me letters on a regular basis. They were handwritten on pastel colored stationery with matching envelopes. Grandma and Aunt Martha’s handwriting styles were surprisingly similar as were their messages. They would tell me what they had done that day; things like picking flowers, what they cooked for lunch, what funny antics their kittens were up to. Sometimes they would tell me about something that happened to the neighbors or they would talk about the weather. Sometimes I would open the envelope and a four-leaf clover would spill out or maybe a small pressed flower. Sometimes a stick of gum would be carefully folded into the letter.
Grandma and Aunt Martha would always ask me questions. What have you been doing? What are you learning about in school? What new song have you learned at your piano lesson? When do you think you will come for a visit? Really important questions that required an answer. It would have been impolite to not acknowledge and respond to a letter. So I learned to be a letter writer as well.
I wrote letters to my cousin, who lived a couple of hours away. She always answered me. In junior high school, several close girlfriends and I would write long letters to each other in study hall and pass them down the row to each other. One friend and I created alter-egos and wrote letters to each other as Herman and Gretel. It was fun, we were being creative, and it was more enjoyable than memorizing the Presidents of the United States and the years they were in office. In high school, I wrote to a friend who had moved to Chicago to live with her sister while finishing high school. For awhile, I had a pen pal from the Virgin Islands that I had signed up for in an English class. In college, my fiance (now my husband) and I wrote letters to each other, especially when he was in basic training far away. I once wrote him a letter on a roll of toilet paper. I didn’t use the entire roll, but it was pretty lengthy. As I recall I recruited my roommate and other hallmates to add a few lines to make it longer. If I had known how much my future husband hated to write, I would have known a lot sooner that it was true love. Most of my college-years letters were written by hand, but a few were typed. On a typewriter. Yeah. And during the 60’s sealing wax became popular again. We all carefully sealed our letters with wax and a small metal seal with our initial.
I continued to write letters to people who were important to me. As a second grade teacher, I signed up for classroom pen pals through a Weekly Reader pen pal program. We met a great class from California and shared stories about our lives at school and at home. I hope some of those students remember their pen pals and continue to write letters as well.
And then came the arrival of email. It has certainly changed the way we communicate. And led to even faster ways of communicating. I can remember as a student, hearing a teacher tell us that someday we would be able to call each other on the telephone and see each other as well. We were amazed and often dreamed of the futuristic ideas.
I still have a pen pal. We have written to each other for over ten years. She and her family came to visit me a few years ago and this summer we met at the Grand Canyon. She has several pen pals from various countries. We still write real letters but for the most part, we email each other. I must admit, I am thankful for email in communicating with my youngest child who is thousands of miles away. And even though I once said “I will never text message anyone, ” I finally broke down. It was the best way to communicate with my granddaughter and now my grandson.
I still try to write letters to far away friends. I use a word processor to create my letters now since my arthritis makes my handwriting difficult to read and painful as well. Email is wonderful. I would hate to live without it. But there is something special about a handwritten or even typed letter. You know the person who sent you the letter really cares about you because they took the time to write their thoughts for you. I felt my grandmother and my aunt’s love those many years ago, from the letters they sent me.