Dear Park Ranger
I actually can relate to this little girl! Evie, enjoy your journey! You are tops!
Sharing Mail Across the Globe…..
27 Feb 2013 Leave a comment
16 Oct 2012 Leave a comment
I am enchanted by Victoria Kirdiy’s cat paintings
and have received a few of her postcards!
This video is wonderful – Enjoy!
12 Mar 2012 Leave a comment
12 Oct 2011 Leave a comment
A seaside postcard by Donald McGill
Last week, in a charity shop, I made an intriguing find. It was a box of postcards. Not new postcards; used ones, written by a variety of holiday-makers, and postmarked as far back as the 1960s. None of the senders was a famous or important figure, and I doubt the postcards would be of value to a collector, if there is such a person as a postcard collector. And yet, flipping through them, I was fascinated.
Only the day before, I’d read that two in five British people no longer send postcards. The rest prefer texting or using Facebook. I think postcards are better, though. Sending one is a more thoughtful gesture, but it isn’t just that. Looked back on, years later, postcards represent a piece of social history, however tiny.
Take the ones I saw in the charity shop. They remind us, for example, how formally people used to address each other (“Dear Miss Fox, Lemon curd and jam superb”).
They chronicle our nation’s eternal dissatisfaction with the weather (“Fine but dull”, “[We] all have sunburn and wind chill at the same time”, “The sun has completely abdicated”). They record the places British people went on holiday before the advent of cheap flights: Hereford, Hastings, the Wirral.
And above all, they show what a wonderful ear Alan Bennett has – because, throughout my charity shop postcards, everyone writes as if they were a Bennett character, from vivid malapropisms (“I’m just sitting around, saturating the atmosphere”) to suburban bossiness (“Will you kindly take a brown loaf of bread & one pint of milk as arranged & leave them on the shelf in the porch” – I can’t read that without hearing the voice of Patricia Routledge).
The postcards were 50p each. I bought six, and wish I’d bought more. In their strangely heartwarming drabness, they made me nostalgic for a time I never knew.
As it happens, I went on holiday myself last week (and yes, I did send postcards, writing them with unusual care in case they end up being sniggered at by some impertinent young newspaper columnist in a charity shop 40 years from now).
For a second successive summer, my wife and I were in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. We loved it: the glittering sea, the palm trees, the lizards zipping across the pavement, the air as smooth as cream.
But mainly we were just grateful not to be driven off the island by a roaring mob, after a piece I wrote in this column last year. As part of a joke about how much more trusting the locals are than those of us from the mainland, I pretended I’d stolen an honesty box from a jam stall. To my dismay, several readers took the piece literally, thought I really had stolen the honesty box, and demanded that I be arrested. The outcry taught me an important lesson: take care with humour, because some people will believe every word they read in a newspaper, no matter how improbable the story.
So this time, in an act of deepest contrition, I went back to the jam stall and left a cheque for £2.5 million.
During our stay we went on a boat trip. Our guide told us the following legend, which I’ve decided to believe is true, on the grounds that I like it. About 150 years ago, after a shipwreck, a large, heavy barrel washed up at Luccombe, at the time a small fishing community.
Excited, the locals made a hole in the barrel, out of which spurted the most delicious brandy. There was enough to last for months. After a while, however, the locals grew puzzled: though they drank and drank, the barrel got no lighter. So they hacked it open.
Inside was the body of a pickled gorilla.
03 Oct 2011 Leave a comment
In this image provided by the Library of Congress, a portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Justus Chevillet (engraver) is seen, after a painting by Joseph-Siffrede Duplessis, 1778. When Benjamin Franklin was in charge of the mail, letters bound Americans together. For the typical household today, nearly two months can pass before a personal letter shows up. The avalanche of advertising still arrives, of course, along with magazines and catalogs. But the personal communication, as well as the majority of bill payments, has gone the way of the calling card, largely replaced by email, Twitter, Facebook and the like. (AP Photo/Library of Congress)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Mom might get a quick note in the mail. Sister might get a birthday card. But that’s about it. For the typical American household these days, nearly two months will pass before a personal letter shows up.
The avalanche of advertising still arrives, of course, along with magazines and catalogs. But personal letters — as well as the majority of bill payments — have largely been replaced by email, Twitter, Facebook and the like.
“In the future old `love letters’ may not be found in boxes in the attic but rather circulating through the Internet, if people care to look for them,” said Webster Newbold, a professor of English at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.
Last year the typical home received a personal letter about every seven weeks, according to the annual survey done by the post office. As recently as 1987 it was once every two weeks. That doesn’t include greeting cards or invitations.
It’s very different from the nation’s earlier days. When Benjamin Franklin was in charge of the mail, letters bound far-flung Americans together.
“If I write, it’s only to my mother and it’s a quick note,” said Andy Aldrich, an education program coordinator who lives in Vienna, Va. He said he sends his mother a hand-written letter about once every four months. Otherwise, Aldrich said he mostly communicates through emails, text messages and Skype with relatives.
Bob Cvetic, of Waldorf, Md., a health specialist with a federal law enforcement agency, said different forms of communication have different purposes.
“Emails are something quick,” he said. “Letters are letters. When I’m writing a letter to a friend, it’s a personal note. You can’t send an email saying `hey, sorry to hear you lost your father.'”
Mike Stanley of Silver Spring, Md., said he mostly uses the Postal Service to pay bills. He did send his sister a birthday card in August. “I don’t send letters. I use the cellphone or email,” he said. “It’s faster.”
Even Stanley’s mailing of bill payments is no longer the norm, with the post office reporting that, “for the first time, in 2010, fewer than 50 percent of all bills were paid by mail.”
The Postal Service says the decline in letter-writing is “primarily driven by the adoption of the Internet as a preferred method of communication.”
The loss of that lucrative first-class mail is just one part of the agency’s financial troubles, along with payment of bills via Internet and a decline in other mail. The Postal Service is facing losses of $8 billion or more this year.
The loss to what people in the future know about us today may be incalculable.
In earlier times the “art” of letter writing was formally taught, explained Newbold.
“Letters were the prime medium of communication among individuals and even important in communities as letters were shared, read aloud and published,” he said. “Letters did the cultural work that academic journals, book reviews, magazines, legal documents, business memos, diplomatic cables, etc. do now. They were also obviously important in more intimate senses, among family, close friends, lovers, and suitors in initiating and preserving personal relationships and holding things together when distance was a real and unsurmountable obstacle.”
“It’s too early to tell with any certainty whether people are using email, texting, Twitter tweets, Facebook status updates, and so on in the same ways that we earlier relied on the letter for; they are probably using each of these media in different ways, some of which allow people to get closer to each other and engage in friendly or intimate exchange. It seems that email is the most letter-like medium,” added Newbold.
But Aaron Sachs, a professor of American Studies and History at Cornell University, said, “One of the ironies for me is that everyone talks about electronic media bringing people closer together, and I think this is a way we wind up more separate. We don’t have the intimacy that we have when we go to the attic and read grandma’s letters.”
“Part of the reason I like being a historian is the sensory experience we have when dealing with old documents” and letters, he said. “Sometimes, when people ask me what I do, I say I read other people’s mail.”
“Handwriting is an aspect of people’s identity,” he added. “Back in the day, when you wrote a letter it was to that one person, so people said very intimate things.” Today with things like Facebook being more public people may not say as much, he said. And while some people are open in what they email, “it’s a very different kind of sharing.”
Said history professor Jeffrey Nathan Wasserstrom of the University of California, Irvine: “There are indeed many ways that a decline in letter-writing will affect future historians, as many people in my profession have certainly benefited from the insights that written missives provide into how people of the past thought and felt,”
“Personally, I don’t get or send many letters, at least not carefully composed ones,” he added.
Wasserstrom still turns to them as a source for his research. “I expect to make a lot of use of letters written by people held hostage in Beijing in the summer of 1900 in my upcoming book on the Boxer Crisis.”
Historian Kerby Miller of the University of Missouri-Columbia said friends “who have done research on immigrants of the last 10 to 20 years say that the letters were used as late as the 1950s and `60s, being replaced by long-distance phone calls and emails.”
Any subject that relies on correspondence — culture, manners, husbands and wives, lovers, friends, brothers, historical business, political history — could suffer a loss with the decline in letter-writing, Miller said.
Yet there could be some benefit, he said.
“Many of us used to always feel guilty because we never wrote enough — remember all those letters from Mom and Dad? Well, if Mom and Dad have a computer it’s much easier to dash off a note every day or so,” he said. “So maybe all the consequences aren’t going to be completely negative. Maybe a vast load of guilt will be lifted from the shoulders of the American people.”
James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, said future historians will be turning to email, as journalists already are doing.
“Email is different from letters, but it is comparable. It is more easily searchable,” he said. “But we will have to learn how to use it.”
So the loss of the personal letter may be a threat, but at least some of its functions will live digitally.
Still, it’s hard to imagine poet Robert Browning imploring Elizabeth Barrett to be his BFF.
Associated Press writer Stacy Anderson contributed to this report.
02 Aug 2011 Leave a comment
Here it is already August and I have received only one postcard this summer. It was sent to me by a European friend who was traveling in Mongolia (as far as I could deduce from the postage stamp) and who simply sent me his greetings and signed his name. The picture in color on the other side was of a desert broken up by some parched hills without any hint of vegetation or sign of life, the name of the place in characters I could not read. Even receiving such an enigmatic card pleased me immensely. This piece of snail mail, I thought, left at the reception desk of a hotel, dropped in a mailbox, or taken to the local post office, made its unknown and most likely arduous journey by truck, train, camel, donkey—or whatever it was— and finally by plane to where I live.
Until a few years ago, hardly a day would go by in the summer without the mailman bringing a postcard from a vacationing friend or acquaintance. Nowadays, you’re bound to get an email enclosing a photograph, or, if your grandchildren are the ones doing the traveling, a brief message telling you that their flight has been delayed or that they have arrived. The terrific thing about postcards was their immense variety. It wasn’t just the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal, or some other famous tourist attraction you were likely to receive in the mail, but also a card with a picture of a roadside diner in Iowa, the biggest hog at some state fair in the South, and even a funeral parlor touting the professional excellence that their customers have come to expect over a hundred years. Almost every business in this country, from a dog photographer to a fancy resort and spa, had a card. In my experience, people in the habit of sending cards could be divided into those who go for the conventional images of famous places and those who delight in sending images whose bad taste guarantees a shock or a laugh.
I understand that impulse. When you’re in Rome, everyone back home expects a postcard of the Coliseum or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: send them instead one of a neighborhood pizzeria with five small tables, three potted plants and the elderly owner and his wife wiping their hands on their aprons and smiling broadly. Fans of quaint and kitschy postcards spend their entire vacations on the lookout for some especially outrageous example to amuse their friends back home, while their spouses consult serious guide books and stroll for hours with moist eyes past great paintings and sculptures in some museum.
Once they find the right card, they are faced with the problem of what to write on the other side. A conventional greeting won’t do. A few details about the trip and an opinion or two about the country they are visiting are okay, but even better is to come up with something clever, since every postcard is written with a particular person in mind. No doubt, one writes differently to one’s friends then to one’s parents, who always fear the worst when one is away. Thus, it’s tempting, when one sits down to send news home, to do the unconventional and use the small space allotted for writing to have a little fun:
Dear Mom and Dad,
We lost our last penny and maxed our credit cards in Las Vegas and have been hitchhiking ever since, spending a night in jail at times so we could avail ourselves of whatever local cuisine the law enforcement provides in Texas. A priest arrested for drunken driving who shared our cell recently told us that we look like a couple of early Christian martyrs, you’ll be happy to hear.
Unlike letter writing, there never has been, and there never could be, an anthology of the best of postcard writing, because when people collect postcards, it’s usually for reasons other than their literary qualities. If there was such a book, I’m sure it would contain hundreds of anonymous masterpieces of this minimalist art, since unlike letters, cards require a verbal concision that can rise to high level of eloquence: brief and heart-breaking glimpses into someone’s existence, in addition to countless amusing and well-told anecdotes. Now and then one encounters in antique shops and used book stores boxes full of old postcards valued for their antiquity, their images and their stamps. The writing found on them most often tends to be in faded ink and hard to read. To anyone with plenty of time on their hands, I recommend reading a bunch of them. Postcards continued to be used by people of modest means to convey important family news long after telephones ceased to be a novelty. I once came across one that said:
Francis Brown died last night, funeral on Tuesday.
That was all there was. The image on the other side of the card was of a famous race horse from 1920s, so I immediately pictured Mr. Brown with a straw hat, a cane in his gloved hand and carnation in his lapel, stopping for a beer in a saloon before catching the streetcar to go to the track in Boston or San Francisco.
So, dear reader, if you happen, on your daily rounds, to come across in a coffee shop or a restaurant some poor soul sitting alone over a postcard and visibly struggling with what to write, take pity on him or her. They are the last of a species, and are almost certainly middle aged or elderly, already nervous and worried about all the problems older people face in this country. But this may be a moment of respite for them, as they sit there, happily licking a twenty-nine cent stamp and looking out to see if they can spot a mailbox in the street, to send what may turn out be the last card they will ever write, this one with a picture of your beautiful town or city, with a message that might be interesting or downright embarrassing to read, but most assuredly will be welcomed by its unknown recipient, either in the next state or across many time zones on some other continent and place you and I can’t even begin to imagine.
August 2, 2011 12:22 p.m.
26 Jul 2011 Leave a comment
I recently was introduced to a site called Postcrossing — http://postcrossing.com
This is an international group which is sending postcards around the world.
I miss mail – real letters and postcards that people have to think about.
I don’t miss mail costs – 98 cents for a postcard or letter to most of the world!
For people who miss mail, this may be for you, too!