I used to imagine myself as a mailman. I guess the proper term today is a mail carrier. I just thought it would be a cool job to deliver parcels and letters from across the country or world to the doorstep of the recipient awaiting its arrival. I still write personal checks to pay our bills. I know I could do all of this over the internet and probably it is much faster, but the simple fact is that I enjoy mailing letters. I enjoy going to the post office thinking about the fact that for a price of a postage stamp, (46 cents today), someone is actually going to physically carry and deliver my envelope across the country. I also love looking out on my front porch to see if there are any packages that day and then the related walk to the mailbox. Oh I know, most of my mail today is junk, but I still enjoy retrieving the junk mail, even if it’s to carry it immediately to the recycle bin.
My love of the whole ‘postal experience’ began in third grade. My third grade teacher, Mrs Wright, was a most awesome educator. I wrote about her in detail in this story (read me). Mrs. Wright took a vacation tour of South America when she was my teacher and took the time to mail each of us kids a postcard from various countries. Each of us received one. It was so special to me that I kept it. Mine came from Peru, 1966.
Along this same timing when I began learning how to write and to address letters, I began corresponding with my Grandma Wyatt. Part of the reason likely is because she promised to give me a dollar with every ‘A’ I got on my report card. Likely this was a way for her to guarantee that she’d get 2-3 letters a year from me. Those dollars were pretty important to me. My grandma was very special to me as a child so writing letters was a way to stay close to her. Likely they all sounded alike – ‘how are you, I am fine. Yesterday I got runned over by a bus’ that sort of thing, (yes I did), but I do have a memory of her letters sometimes having real content, things that were going on which she thought I would understand (like possibly that Granddad fell asleep in the truck again).
I used to have every single letter she wrote me but at some point in my life, (perhaps when I left the house when I got married), I lost them. As far as I know, the picture below is the only letter of hers that I have left. I got to see my grandma maybe 2 or 3 times per year. When I received a letter in the mail, I felt special. She had responded to the one I had sent her not long ago – what news would she have and would it also contain a dollar?
I have saved a couple of letters over the years. This next picture is a note I received from my sister Toni before we became siblings – I saved it because I thought it was cute.
Here’s a recent letter from my kindergarten teacher, Mrs Prentice. She is still alive and doing well, still volunteers her time at a local hospital with my wife’s mom Gerri who is also a volunteer. I sent her a picture of me through Gerri from the time I was in her class as a 5 year old in 1963 and she returned this letter. I had forgotten she was Hawaiian but her signature ‘Aloha’ brought back that memory.
The greatest aspect of hanging onto old letters is their ability to bring back fond memories. The letter below reminded me of Granddad’s love for teasing my younger brother Steve about girls. Steve was a pretty little boy with curly hair and dimples. When we were young, my granddad would ask us – what do you want to be when you grow up? Once Steve replied, “working in a body shop”. Steve loved to take things apart and then put them back together. Granddad took that response though as an opportunity to tease. Steve had to be only 10 years old and Granddad raised his eyebrows and said, “oh Steve, you’re too pretty to do that, why would you want to work in a massage parlor?” And of course at this point, we all erupted in laughter and began egging on the teasing from Dad and Granddad. Steve had no problems ever with teasing – he always rolled well with the punches, and a great memory was made about the time Granddad thought Steve wanted to work in a massage parlor (at the age of 10, no less).
Today I try to send a postcard to each of my boys once every 1-2 weeks. It’s just my way of sending an extra little message of love; a way of letting them know that I care enough to physically find postcards and then write them a short message. Ok, so I once got hold of a stack of post cards from a bank and annoyed the heck out of my boys with them one year…but it was done out of love – cut me some slack. The postcard is also a symbol for me. Writing out a postcard today never fails to take me back to 1966 when I received my very first one. I am linking my childhood past to the young adult phase of my boys. If successful, I will leave behind a brief message of my love for them and possibly a fond memory. Because it is only love and memories which we are allowed to take with us in the end, what better gift could I possibly provide?
Click on the blue frog link here to read the Mail posts this week
- Postcards and Handwritten Letters (thosesmallmoments.wordpress.com)