I was delighted to find Poe stamps today at the post office. They used a very distinguished and pre-madness portrait for the stamp, and I look forward to putting it on the one or two actual mailed correspondence I might produce this month.
With everything online, emailed, and internet-based the art of letter writing has just about disappeared. Our grandchildren won’t be able to discover our loves, sorrows, and relationships pressed in the pages of old books and lining old shoe boxes, because we handle all of that business over email, text messages, and occasionally, phone conversations. I have printed out an email or two, but it’s just not the same. It holds none of the romance of old-fashioned script on yellowed paper in dusty closets.
While going through old boxes at my in-laws house, we found a letter from my husband’s uncle to my father-in-law about Vietnam. It was a sad and beautiful thing to read. One letter revealed so much about a relationship, a war, and a time. The young tend to view older generations like out of date clothing–amusing, old-fashioned, and what we’d never wear. But letters written when those grandparents or aunts or uncles were in their “prime”–drinking, dancing, fighting in wars, getting married, having children, getting divorced–are the things that humanize our older relatives and give us a healthy respect for the people they are and once were.
Some of my favorite book blogs have been writing about a recently released book called The Red Leather Diary. A young writer in New York, Lily Koppel, found the diary from the 20s-30s in an old trunk that was about to be thrown away. She hired a private investigator to track down the diary’s author, Florence Wolfson, found the old woman, and brought her the diary. I went out to buy the book yesterday, and I can barely put it down.
I remember throwing away my old diaries from junior high and high school when I moved out of my parents’ house because I was embarrassed about what I had written in them. My mother used to always tell me to never put anything in writing so it wouldn’t come back to haunt me.
It’s funny to think of that now that I am a writer.
Of course, now we have video and digital photography, so maybe all of that will give our children an even clearer view of and appreciation for us. I just hope they don’t find my Facebook page. 😉