Sunday, March 14, 2010


There was a day when we would write to each other. Pen and paper, scratching out thoughts and wishes for another to view.

Students and proper families were taught the vocabulary and form of writing a letter for every occasion. Time was spent practicing penmanship or choosing the proper paper stock. Wax stamps were created to give a regal personal touch. The effort to write on paper, then put into an envelope, and walk to a mail box was the only way to communicate with someone far away.

Sometimes these letters were expressing well wishes to one who has been married, or given birth, or has had an illness.

Letters were written to keep in touch with family, often-describing children accomplishments, elder's health, and employment accolades.

Waiting a reply to a letter was ever so long for lovers, sending their deepest feelings on scented paper, many times writing wishes that were never expressed face-to-face.

Writing a letter was an art form, so quickly lost with the immediacy of technology.

But even today, who is not excited with getting a written letter? Someone took the time to sit down, put pen to paper and write down a communication to another. And without the immediate response, as in a conversation, the writer can only imagine how the reader will accept the message.

There was always reading "between-the-lines" of hidden meanings.

Burning letters was a way to break off relationships.

Through the years, the paper will yellow and the ink fade, but one of the most cherished findings are those rumpled papers stored in between the pages of a dusty book, tenderly placed there for safe keeping.

I just passed some of these to another family member to pass to his children. They are from my mother who was traveling as a singer in a big band. She was writing a reply, trying to comfort her mother over the news that her son, my mother's brother, was missing in action in World War II.

In my keepsake trunk, I have some letters wrapped in a young girl's hair ribbon. They have traveled with me over time and distance. There is nothing special about the words on the pages sent by a lady so far away and long ago, but at the time, those words were dipped in honey and each sentenced was savored.

So if you find them, you can read them, but you'll never know the letter I wrote that preceded it. Perhaps that is why I keep them.

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