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Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017

Letters, a lost art

Posted Tuesday, January 11, 2011, at 11:28 AM

These are the wintry days to wrap up in a warm afghan, read a book your haven't had time to read, or to write a personal letter.

Write a letter? Yes, remember those days when you took pen and paper and wrote a handwritten letter, mailed in a stamped envelope.

Has it been months or years since you wrote a letter to a friend or loved one?

Letter writing seems to be a lost art as more and more people communicate by way of the cell phone, email, or texting. It's instant communication, versus a letter in hand.

I remember as a teenager how I loved to receive a box of pretty stationery for my letter writing. Do they sell stationery anymore? Or has it been replaced by Post It notes?

I remember writing letters as a new bride after I left home and traveled hundreds of miles from my hometown. At least once a week, I wrote long detailed letters to my mother and mother-in-law. I looked forward to their return letters and watched anxiously for the postman to deliver them.

Those to and fro letters served a purpose. They kept me in touch with family who gave me advice and encouragement during lonely times away from home. A letter was something tangible I could hold and read over and over again.

After my daughter was born, I wrote long letters detailing her daily activities, her growth, her first taste of baby food, her first "patty cake", her attempts to crawl, then her first unsteady steps.

When my husband was sent to an overseas assignment, I saved each one of his airmail letters and stored them in my Lane cedar chest for safekeeping. Occasionally I would take them out and reread them.

Sometimes there would be lapses, and I would go for two weeks without receiving one of his letters, then two or three would arrive on the same day.

His letters were so welcome, so needed as I waited for his return.

Somewhere along the way, I, too, have stopped writing letters. Yes, at Christmastime I write a brief note to out of state friends, but not a real letter. Just a few catch up words.

When my daughter lived in England, she often wrote seven and eight page letters telling me about my two grandchildren, about the English cottage they lived in, and about her village neighbors, who farmed nearby. She told how fresh bottled milk was delivered to her doorstep and how the eggs she bought were brown, not white. From her letters, I learned a lot about the British way of life.

I still have most of those keepsake letters.

History has been recorded from letters written in the past.

If George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ernest Hemingway had not written letters, we would not have the same record of them that we possess through those letters and journals.

Yes, you can correspond by emailing, and you can print out the responses. But it isn't the same as holding a personal letter in your hand and seeing the penmanship of someone you know.

'Tis a shame, letter writing is passe.

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From these hills
By Peggy Johnson
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