Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Penpals for 70+ Years Reunite in England

Three penpals who have been corresponding for 72 years met recently in Rotherham, England.

Dee Gray (83), of Wickersley, England; Charlotte Boyd (83), of Duluth, Minnesota; and Margaret Barker (82), of Killamarsh, England, met recently. Charlotte and Dee have met a couple of times before.

“It’s sad that people don’t write letters now,” Margaret said about the digital communication trends.

Read more about the story in the Rotherham Advertiser.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Columbus Day reminder

Remember...Monday, Oct. 10, is Columbus Day in the United States. It's an official postal holiday here, so there will be no regular mail delivery and the post offices will be closed.

If you have something that needs to get there early next week, you'd better mail it early!

Happy letter writing!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

USPS has holiday stamps galore!

This fall and winter, the U.S. Postal Service is offering a variety of holiday stamps for all sorts of celebrations! On Thursday, the new Holiday Windows stamps will be issued, and on Monday the new Kwanzaa stamp was released.

The Holiday Windows stamp booklet has four designs featuring a candle, a wreath, a star and a lighted tree. Two stamps show a scene looking out a window, and two show a scene looking in. They join the Songbirds in Snow, showing winter's beauty.

The Kwanzaa stamp  honors the 50th anniversary of the annual non-religious holiday, which takes
place over seven days from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, brings family, community, and culture together for many African Americans.

Next month, a new Hanukkah stamp will be issued on Nov. 1. The stamp features a menorah in the window of a home. This year, Hanukkah begins at at sundown on Dec. 24.

Tomorrow, Oct. 5, the U.S. Postal Service will commemorate the festival of Diwali, one of the most important annual Hindu events. The holiday celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Spanning five days each autumn, it is considered by some to be the start of the new year. According to the USPS website, on the Hindu calendar, Diwali falls on the eve of or on the new moon that occurs between mid-October and mid-November. This year, the main day of the festival will be celebrated on Oct. 29 (for South Indians) and Oct. 30 (for North Indians).

Another October holiday is being celebrated with a stamp for the first time this year: Halloween. The stamps feature photos of four different jack-o’-lanterns, symbols of Halloween in the United States since the late 19th century. Halloween is celebrated on Oct. 31. They are on sale now.

Also, for Christmas the Florentine Madonna and Child stamp will be released on Oct. 18. The stamp features a detail of Madonna and Child, a 15th-century tempera-on-panel painting.

Earlier this year, the USPS issued new Eid Greetings stamps in honor of  the two most important festivals — or eids — in the Islamic calendar: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Fitr was celebrated July 6 in North America and Eid al-Adha was celebrated Sept. 12. In 2017, Eid al-Fitr will be celebrated June 25 in North America and Eid al-Adha will be celebrated Sept. 1. These dates, which are based on geographical location and predicted sightings of the moon, are preliminary and may vary slightly as each festival approaches.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

US Letter Writing Contest Open to Kids in Grades 4-12

The U.S. Library of Congress and its Center for the Book are hosting the 24th annual Letters About Literature contest for kids in fourth through 12th grades.

To enter the contest, students must read a book, poem or speech and then write to the author (living or dead) about how the book affected them personally. The contest information lists the theme as "How did an author's work change your view of the world or yourself?"

 Letters are judged on state and national levels in each of three age group categories -- 4-6, 7-8 and 9-12. The state winners in each category are awarded $200 each, and their entries are forwarded to the national level. The national winner in each category will be awarded $1,000.

For more details on how to enter, the criteria, etc., visit the Letters About Literature website, . You'll especially want this PDF of entry guidelines and entry coupon .

If you are an adult, encourage the children in your life to enter this great contest! If you're a kid, find a great book to read and then write that letter! Good luck!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Great Air Mail Sticky Notes!

There’s a recognized phenomena that involves “coincidence.” And, it happens to me all of the time.

Have you ever been thinking about someone and then they call or text? Have you ever seen something on Facebook and then the topic is everywhere, even in non-social media places?  It could be that the topic is just trending in the world, but it also could be synchronicity or “Baader-Meinhof phenomenon” or frequency illusion.

Whatever you call it, I find that once I focus on letter writing, I see related things everywhere. TV shows and songs mention letters; even my daughter’s high school recently had the kids write thank you letters to the community’s first responders. 

Last weekend, I was wandering around Walmart, waiting on the pharmacy to fill a prescription, when I came across these air mail-themed Sticky Notes. They start out opened up flat, but the directions show how to fold them into a mini-envelope, about 2x3.5 inches.
How could I resist? Check at your local store that carries Casemate products.

Happy letter writing!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

USPS launches Star Trek stamps

Last week, the U.S. Postal Service dedicated the Star Trek Forever stamps in New York City. The first-day-of-issue ceremony launched a three-day celebration that drew thousands of Star Trek fans.
“The Postal Service is proud to commemorate ‘Star Trek’ on the eve of its 50th anniversary,” said Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan in a USPS news release, referring to the iconic television program’s Sept. 8, 1966, debut. “Star Trek’s intricate futuristic setting, multicultural cast and story lines touched on social issues and pushed past the boundaries of popular science fiction becoming a worldwide phenomenon.”
Joining Brennan in dedicating the stamps were actor and humanitarian Walter Koenig, who portrayed U.S.S. Enterprise’s navigation officer Pavel Chekov in the series; NASA Deputy Director of Science for Communication Michelle Thaller; CBS Consumer Products Executive Vice President and General Manager Liz Kaloduer; and, U.S. Postal Service Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell.
“With the chaos in today’s world, hopefully the stamps and what they signify can inspire a better future for us all,” Koenig said, in the release.
“’Star Trek’ gave us a universe that we could explore in our imagination,” Thaller said. “In this universe we pioneered not only new technology and new worlds, but — more importantly — new social rules and new definitions of tolerance and diversity. In Star Trek’s universe, we found better ways to be human.”
The stamps, under license by CBS Consumer Products, showcase four digital illustrations inspired by classic elements of the television program:
  • The Starship Enterprise inside the outline of a Starfleet insignia against a gold background;
  • The silhouette of a crewman in a transporter against a red background;
  • The silhouette of the Enterprise from above against a green background; and,
  • The Enterprise inside the outline of the Vulcan salute (Spock’s iconic hand gesture) against a blue background.
The words “SPACE… THE FINAL FRONTIER,” from Captain Kirk’s famous voice-over appears beneath the stamps against a background of stars. The stamp images were created by the design firm Heads of State of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, under the art direction of Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, Virginia.
“Star Trek” celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016. Created by Gene Roddenberry, the original “Star Trek” series aired for three seasons. It spawned five more television series and 13 feature films spanning the course of half a century.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Great piece of letter-writing history going up for auction

A wonderful letter handwritten by Bonnie Parker for Clyde Barrow, who then signed it, is going up for auction in September at RR Auction, headquartered in Boston.

The letter from Barrow was sent to fellow gangster Raymond Hamilton, who was incarcerated at the Dallas (Texas) County Jail. According to RR Auction, the letter is not dated but is known to have arrived at the jail on April 30, 1934.

The auction house's website also shows a newspaper article from that time that explains how law enforcement confirmed the letter's authenticity. Some of Bonnie Parker's relatives identified her handwriting, and she was known to have written letters for Barrow.

The letter provides great detail about the lives of the gangsters. Hamilton had been a part of the Barrow Gang but had split with them a few weeks before the letter was written. In the letter, Barrow derides Hamilton's tendency to "live like a king" by sleeping in hotels and taking passenger trains. He also gets in a dig at Hamilton's girlfriend, referring to her as his "Prostitute Sweetheart."

You can read the entire text of the letter and see several pages of it at the auction company's website.
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