While we all blog away with links to useless info, the lost art of letter writing is a sad reminder of another time. My friend called me earlier today and read back letters that I sent her over forty years ago. They were long, descriptive letters, full of true emotion and full length words.
My father used to write me about three letters a week on an old electric (not electronic) typewriter in his office. He’d shuffle one off, stick it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and made his daily journey to the neighborhood post office. I tried to save all of them no matter how much they began to pile up. I knew that one day they would become precious memories and not the inconvenience of wondering where to store them.
After he died, I found that he had collected all of his writings into binders on a daily basis. He had not only written to me, he had written to all of the family, friends, associates and news agencies (letters to the editor). He had actually become penpals with San Francico Chronicle legendary columnists such as Herb Caen and Art Hoppe. They’d publish his letters and send back thanks yous to boot.
His letters to friends and family were deeply personal and could be a single-spaced letter of 2-3 pages. His letters to the editor were amazingly concise responses to the daily news
This is a letter (signed, sealed and delivered, mind you) that he received from Arthur Hoppe:
May 31, 1983
Thanks so much for writing. I haven’t seen the New Republic, but I certainly will now. I’m sure Will puts out some great arguments. He always does. I wish McCabe could read the piece, too.
Art (handwritten signature)
The reference to McCabe is Charles McCabe, another legendary SF Chronicle columnist that many considered one of the best in the business. I’m not one of those whiners touting the good old days, but I do occasionally like to send or receive a letter. Try it.