Social Correspondence: 2015 in Review

As 2015 draws to conclusion, it is notable that the most read post of the year in Social Correspondence was Letters to Myself, the story of the amazing Alan Blackman and his exquisitely designed calligraphic envelopes featuring stamps from around the world. On Gratitude, published for Thanksgiving, attracted hundreds of readers, as did Letters from France 1917–1919; Office Supplies; Postcards from Notables; and Letters from Wisconsin. The commonality among these posts was that they focused, for the most part, on stories about people, as reflected in their letters. Many people write letters and/or send cards to…

0 Comments

Letters from Wisconsin

Kay Christensen Roberts and her sister Jane grew up in Cumberland, Wisconsin, a rural town with a population of slightly over 2,000, then and now. Growing up in Cumberland in the 1950s, Kay became a devotee of the public library and especially of the town librarian, Katherine Robinson, who may have been her namesake. Katherine the librarian and Kay’s mother Aleda Christensen were good friends. The Christensens lived fairly near to Katherine’s mother and, as Kay recalls, “when I was very little I would toddle up to Engesether’s, where I think I spent as much time as…

3 Comments

Pen Pals

From time to time, a sweet story about pen pals crosses through my news feed. These stories, which originate from all over the world, often involve long-time pen pals who meet after many decades of knowing one another only through letters. I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda, with Liz Welch (Little Brown and Company 2015) is a different kind of story. It tells of two young pen pals who, through their six-year correspondence, bridged politics, perspectives, miles and cultures in ways that changed not just their lives, but many others. In…

4 Comments

On Gratitude

Gratitude is a word that has come back in vogue with a roar, and what could be more appropriate for Thanksgiving than gratitude? Gratitude comes in many forms.  It can be demonstrated by being a good listener and an empathetic friend, by caring about others.  We also demonstrate gratitude to society and life in general by doing volunteer work and/or giving to charity.  We show our gratitude by respecting others.  And although we are primarily a secular society, gratitude also may be expressed through contemplation or prayer. There are many things in life for which I…

0 Comments

Election Mail

Once again our mailboxes have been filled to overflowing with election mail, despite it being a non-presidential election year. In San Francisco, the local ballot measures address such issues as housing affordability and population growth, construction and height limits, stricter regulation of short-term housing rentals, and more. A few of these measures have been highly contentious and caused deep acrimony within the city. This year’s election mail was especially overwhelming in District 3, in the northeast corner of the city, where a hotly contested race for district supervisor took place. In social media postings by my…

1 Comment

Handwriting Matters

In my ‘tween years, living in what then was a small Midwestern town, conformity was an important thing, especially for a “westerner” like myself. And all of the girls (or so it seemed) defied convention when it came to handwriting. It was absolutely de rigueur to slant one’s letters to the left rather than to the right, in a style mysteriously known only to young women as “backhand.” As an outsider bitten by the conformity bug, it never crossed my mind to develop a handwriting style that was different from that of my peers. Flash forward…

3 Comments

The Missing Postmarks

When did the postmark on our letters go missing? By postmark, I refer to the round circle that once included the date, time of receipt and location of the post office. Generally, the circle was stamped to the left of the cancellation, those wavy or straight lines that partially cover the stamp(s) to indicate that the stamp has been used. I was reminded of this absence recently by the marketing efforts of a certain coffee company promoting a new first edition blend, using a version of the classic circle. Although our first class, stamped mail still…

1 Comment

Addenda

Addenda is an occasional Social Correspondence post that features updates to previous posts, adds brief comments, and makes note of related items. Addenda: Stamps A ceremony was held in Cleveland, Ohio, Paul Newman’s hometown, on September 18 to celebrate the first day of issue of the new Paul Newman stamp.  Those in attendance included Clea Newman Soderlund, senior director of special initiatives, SeriousFun Children’s Network and Paul Newman’s daughter; Robert Forrester, president and CEO, Newman’s Own Foundation; and other charities supported by the late actor and philanthropist. Paul Newman founded both SeriousFun Network and Newman’s Own…

0 Comments
Email Letters
Works Progress Administration poster, 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress

Email Letters

The use of first class mail has been declining for two decades or longer. As both business and personal transactions increasingly take place on the Internet, including bill paying, marketing, retail sales, appointment bookings and more, the way we correspond with one another has changed accordingly. Have email letters replaced the personal letters we once wrote by hand or typed and sent through the mail? According to Teddy Wayne, writing for the New York Times, the answer is “no.” Long email letters, apparently, are now also a thing of the past. Wayne reports “business users now…

0 Comments
The Post Office and the PPIE
Abundance Night.

The Post Office and the PPIE

Post offices and exhibitions go hand in hand. Imagine a World’s Fair and Exposition that covered 635 acres, much of it sitting on land that once was covered with water. That is what happened 100 years ago in San Francisco, when the city built the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE). This event took place in what is now San Francisco’s Marina District, a stately neighborhood with elegant homes and thriving businesses, popular with singles, young families and seniors, to celebrate both the completion of the Panama Canal and the city’s recovery from the great earthquake and fire…

1 Comment
Close Menu