Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Deliver De Letter

There are times when it's fun to sneak a peek into others' lives, isn't it?  I suppose that's why some people watch "reality" TV (I used quotes because, let's face it - that TV is just as fake as a sitcom).   For me, that peek manifests itself in a couple of ways - quick glances into people's homes when their lights are on and we're driving past (solely for interior design comparisons!); accidentally catching a phone conversation in a public place (that's what happens, loud-talkers!); and letters.

Because I amass large quantities of ephemera - sometimes over a pound at a time - I occasionally get old letters.  They're so fun to read!  I like to pretend that I'm a detective, searching for clues to unknown mysteries.  Who are Joan and Charley?  What is the "Whelch Bible", and why did Aunt Sally give it to Hilda?  It's like a trip to Non-Sequitirville!

 What surprises me the most, especially in this age where e-mail is considered the old fashioned way of communicating (!), is the length of some of these letters and how mundane a lot of the content is.  Which makes me wonder - when Joan and Charley received this letter and read it, did they chide Aunt Sally for being long-winded?  Did they read it aloud and mock her?  Or did they treasure this letter because she's a favorite aunt? 

I love that this letter is 101 years old!  :D

Here in Wisconsin there is currently a debate over whether cursive writing should still be taught in school.  Personally, I am shocked that this is even being discussed; how could we NOT have cursive?  What about a little thing called a signature?!?  But as my brother in-law pointed out, a retinal or fingerprint scan is far more difficult to forge than someone's handwriting.  Egads.  If we forego cursive, experts say, in as little as 50 years reading cursive may be an arcane talent, much like shorthand.  Wouldn't that be a shame?  Who amongst us hasn't seen a deceased relative's handwriting and felt an instant connection to that person?  My dad had a wonderful, majestic flow to his writing and I treasure every scrap of it that I own.  You just can't get that from printing (as much, anyway) and certainly not from anything electronic!  What, are we going to be rummaging through people's old phones or Facebook accounts in the future?  What about love letters?

I have used letters in my work before, but not often.  I know I don't know any of these people but someone did, and I have to be in a special mood to be able to cut them up.  THAT'S the power of handwriting.  :D

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