Please, Mr. Postman. A letter for me.

In response to my previous blog, about my technology woes, a longtime friend mailed me a magazine article about turntables.

Mailed!

Not scanned and attached to an email. Mailed. In an envelope. With a handwritten address and a stamp. Delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

What a thrill for me to spy her familiar cursive—that we learned together in second grade—as I pulled her letter from my mailbox!

“Just read this in my ‘Bon Appetit’ magazine and thought of you and your recent blog,” she wrote. The column titled Spin Class by James Murphy expounds on the benefits of playing LPs on a turntable during dinner parties. The accompanying black and white photo shows actress Audrey Hepburn surrounded by LP records. The caption reads: “Circa 1953, making a playlist the old-school way.”

So I have the actual magazine page, courtesy of a thoughtful friend. Who takes the time to do that anymore?

Coincidentally, this is the same friend I scheduled an appointment with to talk on the phone two weeks ago. With her in New England and me in the South, our connection has remained strong but our correspondence, sorry. Through emails we determined that we craved a gab session. Our travel and other obligations necessitated the planned call, which started something like, “Remember back when we would just pick up the phone and call each other any old time?”

Warmly welcomed as it was, her mailing poked at my sore spot about the loss of letters, notes, and, in many cases, handwriting itself over the past decade or so.

Besides an occasional thank-you note, my mail mainly consists of bills, magazines and junk—rarely anything handwritten by an actual person. Of course, I’m all in with today’s immediate communication. Yet I harbor fond memories of watching for the “mailman” (always, back then) to round the corner onto my street in anticipation of “a letter for me.” Please, Mr. Postman, once a hit song, is now a history lesson.

Kids growing up today won’t have treasures like these, which are among my most precious:
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I recall the long missives I laboriously wrote in my teens to a girlfriend whose family had moved to Panama and, later, when we were both mothers of toddlers, to another friend who moved to the Carolinas. They truly were labors of love, packed with details, feelings and all The Latest. Incredible now to recall that it would take days for my news to arrive and at least a week to receive a prompt reply.

Enter email, the beginning of the end of the handwritten letter. Sure, I gradually stopped writing them, too. Next to zipper bags, email is my favorite invention.

Same for texting. Admittedly, it took awhile to resist using proper capitalization, punctuation, abbreviation and spelling. Now, keying such messages as “r u OK? c u tonite. b late. luv u” are second nature. If I really need to talk to my sons, a “call ur mom” text usually does the trick.

Yes, I save, and sometimes print, heartfelt emails. But there is something about electronics that zaps sentimentality.

Speaking of sentimental, here is a gem my brothers and I discovered among our mothers’ memorabilia following her death last year.
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An ancient precursor to Facebook, this approximately 6- by 5-inch 1936 memory book was passed around Hallahan Catholic Girls High School in Philadelphia for classmates to post messages with fountain pens instead of keyboards. As an aside, the discovery reminded me of the slang books we used to pass around our high school in Chambersburg, PA, in the 1960s. Remember them? Each page had a name at the top and people wrote comments about that person on the page. A teacher confiscated mine. Would love to have that book back.

So long, cursive

Sadly, the flow of handwriting is ebbing altogether.

An article by Bobby George and June George, co-founders of a Montessori school in South Dakota, that was posted yesterday on theatlantic.com is titled Don’t Write Off Cursive:
Teaching kids how to write in script is no longer a priority in American schools, but it should be
.

They wrote: “Cursive is an art. It’s woven into the very fabric of the United States constitution. Yet, everywhere we look, it’s literally being written out of existence. Like a sandcastle built at the edge of the sea, with each crashing wave, the strokes of cursive are slowly fading away. Once at the very heart of public school education, cursive is aggressively being replaced by computer classes. As of today, 45 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards for English, which omits cursive from required curricula in schools today.”

That news would have been unthinkable to the person who penned this postcard 105 years ago to someone 200 miles away in the same state. Nor could the writer have fathomed an electronic response within seconds.
old post card Oct 2013
Amazing how a century later we have come from relying on penny postcards for our most personal correspondence to instantly posting a blog on the internet by pressing one button.
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About Lorrie DeFrank

Retired and relishing the time to write about anything concerning people 65 and older, which is everything.
This entry was posted in 65 plus and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Please, Mr. Postman. A letter for me.

  1. Susan says:

    My favorite blog yet!!!!! Nice job. I pay a lot of money in school taxes to “educate” children. Children that do not live in my home with me. But as a homeowner, and 200 years of history, I am expected to “contribute to their intelligence.” What a joke!!! As I wander through retirement and exposed to local teens, all I hear is ……you was, we is, I seen, or one of my favorites…..I ain’t got to go to no school as he or she grabs their pants before they fall on the ground. If you try to help them by correcting their English, you get a very blank stare. I hate paying for something I’m not getting!!!!!!

  2. karen okie says:

    Love this one, Lorrie. You touch on so many pressure points having to do with our paper-to-electronic world. BTW, I’ve been planning on writing my Aunt Caroline in Dallas a handwritten note since I got a card from her on CHRISTMAS 2012! It still hasn’t happened. Sigh.

  3. Mary says:

    You echo my thoughts, exactly. HOW I miss the plump envelope with my name on the front—could tell who it was from without a glance at the return address. We KNEW each other’s paw print, distinguished one from another, almost like a face does. I’d even try to imitate a particular letter’s formation if it appealed to me—-never though, was it perfect as the original—and it amazed me how her pen swung precisely the same with each swirl.
    Guess a “plus” will be when my writing hand cripples with arthritis, via memory, (and far less effort), emailing can replace what my fingers will no longer be able to do. ‘Til then, though, I am guilty of hope. Hope that there’s a letter in Old Man Mailbox.

  4. Chris S says:

    Well done, my friend! And you have beautiful handwriting, by the way…. not sure the nuns back in second grade would have appreciated all the curly-cues but it is visually pleasing and so distinctively you. One of my most prized possessions is a letter that my father had written to his mother many years ago; not just the content but his unique cursive style. I plan to write a letter to each of my daughters so that when I am gone and they open my “locked box” they will find something that is from the hand and the heart as a keepsake. Until then I will hang on to some of
    the “good ol’ ways” of doing things as I slowly incorporate into the modern world. Keep the blogs
    going, Lorrie….you are a talented writer who makes us all ponder!!

  5. Midas's Master says:

    Lorrie, this may be your best blog, and ending it with a cursive, handwritten note of thanks is perfect. Very well done!
    I do not have a problem with the “death’ of cursive or the abbreviations. But, then what happens, as Susan mentions above, our language skills decline, self esteem falls, employees do not hire, an so forth in a vicious cycle. Speaking the English language correctly should be taught at home, and school, and be mandatory to pass a school grade.
    You are right, Lorrie. Receiving, opening and reading a handwritten letter in the past was the days highlight. Still is, if it is from someone who loves you.

  6. Oh, Chris. Thanks for that. Yep, Sister Joseph Winifred in second grade would have drawn red circles around those curly-cues. I have taken some liberties with our Palmer method through the years! Your letters to your girls will be priceless.

  7. narife@cfl.rr.com says:

    Great job Lorrie –still send letters but write them on the computer.

  8. Walt Zelwak says:

    Lorrie: Remember the nuns at Corpus Christi had us writing progressive circle on a piece of paper to improve our handwriting? I really had problems making perfect circles across the whole page, which is probably why my handwriting in so bad lol.

  9. Barb says:

    Love this!! I am glad to say that my best friend and I still send each other birthday cards with handwritten notes in them. I remember the days when we wrote long letters to each other when she was living in Germany (before email). I think my hand would get numb if I tried that now. Yeah for email!

  10. murpheyshaw says:

    Some of the best writing I have seen. And, as one respondent said, though provoking. You, of course know that you are one of my favorite people but, well . . . viva technology.

    We can still send letters and the emotion allegiance displayed when sending that letter/card is oh so much more. because we can also send an ecard, text a caring message, or doing a face time-telephone call.

    It was a sunny afternoon in September at 3:00 PM. I had just parked at the Wilson Cancer Center for my first treatment for prostate cancer. I had not idea what to expect, I was scared, or maybe just nervous. And I had no idea what my condition would lead too.

    Then I heard two dings from my phone, a tell-tale sign that I had a text message. I retrieved my phone from its holster and read at the text.

    it said, “I LOVE YOU DAD!”

    I simply cleared the tears from my eyes and, with a smile, checked in for my appointment.

    I love technology.

    PS. If I were to edit this response, I would, for sure, have to remove the face-time remark. I mean you would have to do your hair and make-up LOL :)) Love ya, girl

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