Bringing Back the Lost Art of Writing Letters

Recently I found a box of old letters from my Dad and Mom written while I was in college at Iowa State and during my first foray to Minnesota. I shared them with my mother and they triggered long forgotten memories. We laughed at how ornery one of my four brother’s was. He frequently skipped most his high school classes except for auto mechanics and shop until his counselor told him to shape up if he expected to graduate. She lamented he probably wouldn’t want to attend college. There were memories of my brothers playing football, sweet missives from my Dad saying how much he missed me being away at Iowa State, parental advice about roommates, and so much more. 

But there is history in those missives. First-class stamps cost 15 cents in 1978, 18 cents in 1981. All of mother’s correspondence was typed. Dad sent his earliest correspondence on two pages typed by his secretary with a piece of carbon in between pages. Carbon! He sent political cartoons of the day, often mentioning current issues. The art of letter writing is vanishing and can’t be replaced with texting and e-mails.

Last year my twenty-year-old niece, Lauren, who is also away at college, asked that her grandmother and aunt be pen pals with her. We also agreed there was no typing on the computer allowed. Each of our letters and cards are handwritten, another dying art form. The three of us love it. One hundred years from now most of our endless texts, snapchats, tweets, e-mails, on so forth will have disappeared into cyberspace. One can argue that technology will provide a historical glimpse into our past but without paper. That may be true to a point, but there is something about holding history in your hands. Letter writing and sending cards is definitely something we don’t want to lose.

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