Monday, August 31, 2009

Another letter in the news

If you've paid any attention to any news in the past few days, you've probably heard/read about Sen. Edward (Ted) Kennedy's letter to the Pope. The text of the letter was read aloud at Kennedy's funeral Saturday.

According to the news reports, Kennedy wrote the letter and asked President Obama to hand-deliver the letter to Pope Benedict XVI in July. When it came down to one of the most important messages in his life, Ted Kennedy wrote a letter, not an e-mail or a phone call, but a letter.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Interesting Perspective on Letter Writing

Author Elizabeth A. Drew (1887-1965), not to be confused with the modern-day journalist and author Elizabeth Drew (born in 1935), wrote about letter writing in at least two books, "The Enjoyment of Literature," published in 1935, and "The Literature of Gossip," published in 1964.

Here's a quote from "The Enjoyment of Literature":

It is the directness and immediacy of the appeal of letters and journals which make them so dear to the reader. Perhaps it is because letters, above all forms of writing, spring from the affections. Their writers are, in general, single-minded, disinterested folk who pursue their occupation partly from the simple wish to give pleasure to others, partly from their sheer love of what they are doing. They have no thought of fame or futurity, and none of the conscious, unswerving quest of the artist for perfection of form. They write at a particular day and hour for the eyes of a particular reader, and their creations are the literature of leisure, of love and of friendship, the literature of intimacy and of inessentials.

There is, moreover, a feeling of fragility and destructibility about letters which belongs to no other form of writing, and which gives them a value of their own. Books are sturdy things, which soon change the impermanence of manuscript for the persistence of print, and remain thenceforth invulnerable. But letters can be hidden for years, for centuries even, at the mercy of a chance accident, and survive or are destroyed by the operations of fortune.

She goes on to describe in detail a variety of letters, some dating back to the 1600s. "The Enjoyment of Literature" can be downloaded from the "Internet Archive" at no charge, if you're interested in reading more.

Note: It looks like several Internet sources attribute a quote from "The Literature of Gossip" to the current-day Elizabeth Drew, but I'm not sure that's correct.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Collecting Postmarks

As a kid, I collected stamps. If I remember correctly, I ordered one or more of those packages of international stamps and sorted through many of the standard stamps that come in such collections, many of the same stamps over and over again. But, it was fun.

However, I must admit, I never gave much thought to postmarks until last week when I came across the Web site for the Postmark Museum, also known as the Margie Pfund Memorial Postmark Museum, located near Bellevue, Ohio.

The museum is affiliated with the Post Mark Collectors Club, which I also did not know existed.

But, when I discovered the hobby of postmark collecting, I started wondering what kind of special postmarks had been coming in the mail. I picked up a collection of old envelopes that I had stored for several years and started paying attention to the postmarks. These particular envelopes were from the late 1980s, early 1990s.

Right away, I noticed that several envelopes that had more than the traditional postmark. My favorite is one that says "Journey to a New Frontier...Collect Stamps." In the scan to the right, I've darkened it up a little so that you can see the postmark better. If you look closely, you can see a picture of the USS Enterprise from the TV show "Star Trek."

In looking around on the Post Mark Collectors Club Web site, I found a list that describes the different kinds of postmarks that people collect. These are called "Slogans," and the few I found in this one stack of envelopes also promote Goodwill, children's dental health and the 1992 Olympics, as well as stamp collecting. One from New York, N.Y., encourages citizens to "Include Your Apt. # for Better Service."

I did a quick check of the new mail I've been getting...not very many slogans. One from January says "Happy Holidays," and another has a quote by John Adams:
"Let us dare to read, think, speak and write"

The newer postmarks look like they were applied digitally and are more difficult to read, in my opinion.

Now that I know about postmark collecting, I'll have to take a look and see what all I have.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Saving the Art of Letter Writing

I, for one, won’t let letter-writing become a lost art. After all, there is nothing better than getting a letter from someone in the mailbox instead of the bills and flyers one normally receives.

That comes from Tara Seel, city editor of the Daily Graphic newspaper in Portage la Prairie in the Central Plains region of Manitoba, Canada.

She wrote a column this week called "Lost Art of Letter Writing," in which she details a lovely conversation she had with her Aunt Jean. Tara vows to write more letters to Aunt Jean, and she invites her readers to write letters, too. In fact, she says she's more than happy to get some letters at the newspaper office.

I clicked on over to the "Contact Us" tab on the Web site, and here's her address:

Tara Seel
The Daily Graphic/Central Plains Herald-Leader
P.O. Box 130, 1941 Saskatchewan Ave. West
Portage la Prairie, Manitoba
R1N 3B4

If you have some time and are looking for someone to write to, send Tara a cheery note. She sounds like she'll appreciate it! You might even let her know that there are many of us letter writing fans out here!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Roosevelt's Stamp Collection

U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt started collecting stamps as a child and continued with the hobby throughout his life.

During his years in the White House (1933-1945), he was greatly involved in the design of about 200 stamps that were issued, according to the Smithsonian Institution.

There's a great video, The Stamp Collector in Chief, that you can watch online. It's an interesting story.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What are letters to you?

According to the online world of quotes, American journalist Shana Alexander (1925-2005) once said:

Letters are expectation packaged in an envelope.

What do letters mean to you? Share a thought or two, and then go write a letter!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When you focus on letter writing... seems there is letter writing everywhere!

For lunch today, I tried something new, a frozen Marie Callender's Al Dente meal, "Tortellini Romano." As I sat waiting for the 3 to 4 minutes of microwave time to pass, I noticed the package is decorated with handwriting. I looked closer and saw that it said, "My Dear Amy," so I examined the package more.

On the front is a "postmark," and in several places on the package are portions of the letter. Part of the design on the back looks like an envelope, with the same "Italy" postmark. Portions of the letter to Amy are scattered across the box, with the letter writer praising the food of Tuscany.

(By the way, the Tortellini Romano was great!)

...and in other news, in a story out of Vienna, Austrian authorities have been sent twice this week to rescue boys who got stuck in mail boxes. I'm curious to see these Austrian mail boxes!

Keep on writing!

Monday, August 17, 2009

What a delight!

This weekend, I received a letter from a friend I've known for quite a few years. It was a surprise and a delight...I'm sure I owe her a letter, so I wasn't expecting anything in the mail from her.

But, here it was...just a letter letting me know that she was thinking about me. She mentioned a movie that she knew I'd like and a writer she's recently discovered.

That makes at least two "old" friends I've reconnected with through this letter-writing projects. In both situations, we still kept in touch intermittently, but we're now writing quite regularly. I've also made a lot of new penpal friends, and a few friends are now e-mailing more often!

What fun!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Women on Stamps: Part 2

There's a new online exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum: Women on Stamps: Part 2.

From nurses and educators to aviators and Girl Scouts, the exhibit features dozens of stamps and the history of the women pictured on them. This is the second part of a series of four exhibits on Women on Stamps.

Currently, Anna Julia Cooper is on a First Class stamp. She was an educator, scholar, feminist, and activist who gave voice to the African–American community during the 19th and 20th centuries, from the end of slavery to the beginning of the Civil Rights movement.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Letter-writing Sites

I've recently found a couple of new letter-writing Web sites/blogs that you might find interesting.

We Love Snail Mail offers a chance for fellow letter writers to connect with each other. Once you join (no charge), you can post your mailing address in the Forum section, as well as see the addresses of the other members. Then, you can start sending and, hopefully, receiving mail.

Over at the blog Save Our USPS, Linda is offering up suggestions for helping the U.S. Postal Service stay in business. After yesterday and today's news about the Post Office (closings, dramatic financial losses), it seems the USPS might, indeed, need saving. I'm sure Linda will appreciate it if you visit her site and leave a comment or two with some more suggestions for helping out the Post Office.

If you like sending and receiving "real" mail, these two sites are worth your time!
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