Monday, November 30, 2009

Letters Never Sent

Verbatim recently discussed the proper forms of address for letters and it reminded me of the days, long ago, when I used to write letters. When writing to friends, I didn't worry too much about the forms of address or the correct format of a letter. But writing to my grandmother was a different story. She was very conscious of social norms and so my mother made sure my brother and I knew how to write a proper letter. We also learned about the art of letter writing in school. The salutation (Dear ), the body (blah, blah, blah) and the the closing (Love, Me). 

All of my letters tended to look like this:

Dear Someone,

How are you? I am fine.
School is fun. I got an A in math.
We went to Disneyland.
I had a cold but now I am better.


Up until I was in high school, most of my letters were sent to my grandmother. During my teen years I sent a lot of letters to my BFD (best friend Debbie) because she was always going off to visit people in the summer. When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend who went to college near me but spent his summers at home hundreds of miles away. We wrote each other almost every day. Our envelopes had little poems on the back. Here's one:

Mailman, Mailman
Will you take this to Sue maybe?
Tell her when the Giants come to town
It's Bye Bye Baby.

In college, I wrote a lot to BFD again because she was far away attending UCSB. And I wrote my grandmother - partly because every time I wrote she wrote me back and included a $25 check with her letter. That was A LOT of money in the early 70s. That's certainly something we have better than today's Internet generation. You can't send a check in your email. Ah, the thrill of having a check fall out of the envelop!

When I got married and moved away from home, I wrote to friends and family. My grandmother and I were still writing and she was still including checks in some of her letters. She wasn't thrilled with my choice of a husband (long story) and he worried that she didn't like him. I would point out to him that she always signed her letters to me, "I hope you are both well and fine". He claimed she was just wishing two states of being on me and I claimed she was including him in her good wishes. We'll never know.

I don't write letters anymore and, in some ways, I miss it. I liked nice stationary and pretty ink. I even had sealing wax! I loved opening the mailbox and finding an envelope addressed to me. I'd open it and settle back to enjoy news from a close friend or relative. I like email for the immediacy but there's just something special about a handwritten letter.

P.S. Letters Never Sent is one of my all time favorite albums.


JohnnyB said...

"I would point out to him that she always signed her letters to me, "I hope you are both well and fine". He claimed she was just wishing two states of being on me ..." Had she known that he got that, she probably would have liked him - well, at least Grandfather would have.

Karen said...

That's one of the perks of having my oldest daughter go to overnight camp every summer -- I get to write to her every day! It really is a pleasure.

Anonymous said...

I love letters ! I bought a beautiful box of stationery lasyt spring and have yet to use it.