HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?

I love getting letters, even though emails and texting seems to be the 21st Century mode of written communication. Of course, the letters I’m referring to are the  slow-as-molasses-snail-mail means of keeping in touch by actually applying pen to paper.

My Mom was a great letter-writer. My Mom’s sister and my maternal grandmother also wrote newsy, folksy letters. Back in those days, long-distance phone calls were considered a luxury. When an out-of-town family member called, it was usually with sad news that someone had died. There was no email back then.

Today we seem to phone whenever we wanted to share any news or to merely keep in touch—no one had to die first. The other alternative is texting or email—quick, fast written words that we can read instantly. Hardly anyone likes to take the time to sit down and write a newsy letter to be savoured again and again.

I like to think written letters can be a piece of history—not only is family news documented but events happening at the time is also recorded, especially if it affects the family in some way. The politics of the times, events that made headlines, the unusual weather, newly implemented government policies and so much more—how can a person not comment and confide how it affected us?

A century and more ago, letters had a long, perilous journey to get to its final destination. It’s probably why the women of those times saved every precious letter they received. When I was doing some research on Victoria’s early start as Fort Victoria, the period I was interested in produced a box of historical treasures. The first movers and shakers, the political leaders, had a vison on building a great city. These men and their wives were also prolific letter writers, recording not only family news but also the political atmosphere, strict social life and local gossip of their times.

No matter how deeply in the past one searches, men and women had the same concerns;  the health of their men-folk/women-folk; education, safety and acceptable behaviour of their children; the high cost of living; the need for more culture in such a wilderness; rough, wild fur-trappers in drunken brawls who set bad examples for impressionable young boys; the lack of decent marriageable partners for their off-springs. Packets of written letters with its beautiful penmanship, revealed so much about the past.  History books can teach about events but old letters tells how people truly coped.

Emails and texting are not permanent records of life today—a written letter, filled with our thoughts and immediate impressions are still the best. The slow-as-molasses-snail-mail is well worth waiting for and fast becoming a lost art.  Oops, gotta go—here comes my mailman. . . . .

8 thoughts on “HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?

  1. Dear Judee, What a lovely post – and so true! My Mother kept all of the letters written by my Father when he was overseas for 6 years during WW II and she wrote her family in Winnipeg almost daily after we moved to Victoria – I found many of them, particularly those to my uncle, bound together with ribbon, in a wooden box in his home after he passed. It is certainly a wonderful way to get to know what their life experiences were and really conveys their feelings which is lost on e-mail. As you said, telephone calls were rare and expensive, usually bringing sad news. I think that the next generation(s) will lose out on learning to express themselves and to converse with all of the new technology. Oh well, I am just an old fogey! xo Diane

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    1. Old letters can tell us so much and we are fast becoming a lost generation of letter-writers. Thank you for your wonderful comments, Diane. And no, you’re not an “old fogey.” If all that new technology makes it so, then you certainly have a lot of company! 🙂

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  2. Great post. I had two pen pals as a kid- my cousin and my best friend, both who moved to Florida within a few years of each other. We exchanged letters for years. Unfortunately, they all got lost when I was in college. I’d love to read some of those letters again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Annette. I’m so glad this resonated with you. Your old letters from your cousin and best friend would have been fun to re-read after all these years. The expectations and goals would have been fascinating. . . .

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  3. Love your post. I agree with you, and I love snail mail…sending and receiving. I probably send out several pieces of mail (not counting bills) every week. I agree with you…that it is lasting.

    One of my good friends from college, a roommate actually, writes the best letters in the world. Her letters are like talking to her. I only wish I could write letters as well. Alas…but to receive one is truly divine. ~nan

    Liked by 1 person

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