Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Of Letters and Blogging

My father was a great letter writer. He was an insurance agent and often found himself with free time while he was waiting to meet with a customer at their home or workplace. To fill the time, and also because he loved correspondence, he would whip out some of his business stationery and write letters to family and friends.

When I was in college I would get several letters from him each week. In those days long-distance phone calls were expensive and reserved for special occasions or a weekly call from college to check in with home. So I loved getting his letters because he had the gift of writing just like he talked.

El Jefe's mother was also a great correspondent with the gift of sending herself along with her letters. She saved in a scrapbook all of the letters and cards he sent her from England the year he spent at Cambridge.

We treasure the relatively few letters we saved from each of them, particularly since they both passed away when Babs and Portia were preschoolers so they don't remember them very well.

Last night it occurred to me that blogging has taken the place of correspondence for many of us. Like my father, I enjoy writing about what is going on around me but I post it on a blog rather than in the mailbox. Since a blog is way more public than a letter, I reserve the more personal information and reflections for phone calls and face-to-face conversations.

Letter writing has become a lost art. Historians have always found old letters a treasure-trove of information for research. Will historians of the future use blogs in the same way?


Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

That is a very good question. I am in a 3 month swap right now. One of the conditions of the swap is to send out a handwritten letter to your partner once a month. I thought that was a neat condition.

One of my prized posessions is a letter my daddy sent to my great aunt when I was born. She gave it back to my grandmother who kept it for years and gave it to me when I was in my 20's. It means the world to me.

Kathryn said...

The scary thing is that not only am I losing the art of letter writing (actually, that's less of an issue) but WRITING at all...I do nearly everthing on the computer now...even credit card sales now ask for a PIN rather than a signature, and I'm shocked when I do write something by hand at how uncertain and exposed it both looks and feels.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I am an ardent fan of letter writing and I am trying to teach my son the value of this. Because when you write a letter, you just might get a response, as in:

I wrote to Queen Elizabeth after the death of Princess Diana. And got an answer from her secretary with the sentence, "I am to tell you that The Queen was interested to hear your views and to thank you, once again, for t aking the time to write."

And I wrote to Steven Spielberg after he made "The Saving of Private Ryan" to thank him because of the impact it had on my father. And got an answer from his Public Relations person with the sentence: "...please know your words were received and apreciated."

And there is this great novel written entirely in letters.

reverendmother said...

Thanks for this. It's a very positive spin on blogging, which often gets painted as self-indulgent tripe.

Which it sometimes is... but so can letters be!

Jan said...

I loved hearing about the letter-writers in your past. I have always loved writing letters. I am known for writing cards to people now, because I write letters less and less. Blogging is filling that need for me to write and share.

But it's sad that we're losing handwriting. I see my mother's handwriting on an old scrap of paper and immediately am brought into her presence even though she died 15 years ago. Such memories are being lost.

Cathy said...

Not only is letter writing going by the way side, but beautiful penmanship. I see the little hands of children learning the beauty of cursive, and then I look at adult handwriting -- not pretty!

Very interesting post to ponder.

Reformed Catholic said...

However, in my case using a computer rather then a pen is a good thing. Even as a child, I had very bad handwriting. When I finally had access to a typewriter, I typed my letters, often apologizing for not using a pen.

The dawn of the computer has allowed me to stop apologizing ;)