Wartime Letters

High on a shelf in the closet of my parents’ bedroom there was a box full of letters, written from 1942–1944. It was wartime, and my father, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, was stationed in Tiburon, but spent his days on a World War I era minesweeper, the U.S.S. Eider. He was 21 years old in 1942, and my mother was 19. As a teenager, I very much wanted to read the letters, but because I was told not to, I didn’t. There are two kinds of children, it seems: those who won’t take no…

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Mailbox Magic
Mailboxes, Sausalito, CA Photo by Tibby Storey

Mailbox Magic

The magic of a mailbox is not necessarily what it looks like, but what it contains. That special envelope, perhaps a baby announcement, a love letter, an official job offer, or even a much-needed tax refund check, are all pieces of mail that can brighten one’s day. When I left home for the first (and last) time at the age of 17 to attend the University of California, Berkeley, a mere ten miles from my home town of Lafayette, California, it was a given that surprise in-person visits from family were not allowed. This was my…

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Readers Corner – Wedding Etiquette

Dear Readers, As always, I enjoy and appreciate receiving your comments and letters. The following are excerpts from letters received about the post "Wedding Etiquette," See also comments posted on the site. "Happy mother of the bride!" LETTERS Just read your posting and enjoyed very much!  As for timelines, I'm happy to receive a thank you anytime!  I know manners have changed dramatically in the past decade or so, and I'll accept any form of thank you!  Although with my limited experience, because my kids or their friends don't tend to get married, it seems when…

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Wedding Etiquette

I have a new best friend. Her name is Emily – Emily Post, that is. Emily has been guiding me through the intricacies of wedding etiquette, especially with regard to written correspondence. As my own wedding took place nearly four and a half decades ago, I am a bit rusty on protocol. But while serving as first lieutenant for planning my daughter’s Valentine’s Day weekend wedding, I learned many valuable tips from Emily. Of course, the one and only Emily Post no longer is with us, but her sage and gracious advice has been updated by…

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Readers Corner: Letters

Dear Readers: It is a new year and while snail mail is being delivered a little more slowly than in the previous year, my mailbox nonetheless has been filled with cards and notes over the past month (more on that in the next post). Please check out some past posts to see recently updated reader's reactions and comments, including "How the MTST Changed My Life," "Letters in the New Year" and "Winter Mailbox." The following email was sent in response to the post "Winter Mailbox." It addresses the deluge of mail we receive throughout the fall, including…

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Letters in the New Year

Welcome to 2015. Holiday cards and letters have been filed away, wrong sizes or colors have been exchanged, and now we must play catch up - pay bills, mind our New Year’s resolutions, and most likely, watch our waistlines, after some good holiday eating. Each new year, I vow to be more on top of things, but somehow, the late year holiday frenzy always gets in the way. But I am happy to report that I hand wrote, stamped and mailed all of my year-end greetings this year, even though Social Correspondence suffered. After all, the…

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Winter Mailbox

It’s that time of year again. As fall moves into winter, the days grow shorter, darkness comes early, the weather turns gloomy and our mailboxes are filled to capacity, thanks to a series of cyclical events. First, election season mail begins as early as August and generally ends the first week of November. Campaign flyers and brochures, endorsement cards and newsletters pile up quickly. Smiling candidates, often posed with adorable children, become familiar faces. The closer and more heated the race, the more likely it is that the direct mail pieces will multiply and take on…

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Mail Privacy

Americans value their privacy, and the privacy of the U.S. mail is, for the most part, not only guaranteed, but also taken for granted. It is spelled out in the privacy policy of the U.S. Postal Service, and is codified through various federal laws and regulations. Recently, however, new information has emerged about the mail cover program, through which the postal service makes copies of the exterior of every piece of mail processed in the United States. First noted by The New York Times in 2013, this practice apparently dates back more than a century. Letter…

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War Letters: Kayla Williams

Letters written and received far from home during wartime have special meaning for people who serve in the armed forces. From the letters on display at the Smithsonian’s Post Office Museum in Washington, D.C., dating from the American Revolution to 2010, to the iconic Sullivan Ballou letter written during the Civil War, featured in the Ken Burns film, The Civil War, produced by PBS, the impact of such letters and their personal and historical significance cannot be overestimated. Kayla Williams is of a new generation of women soldiers, who now make up 15 percent of today’s…

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Stories of the Week

Letter writing may be on the wane, but each week, stories turn up from around the globe on letter writing, the postal service, handwriting and other related topics, both as features and as news stories. Here is a sampling of such stories published Aug. 24 - Sept. 6. Postal Service's big delivery edge: no parking tickets. SFGate.com, Sept. 6, 2014. FedEx and UPS are unhappy at the U.S. Postal Service plan to slash prices during the holidays. The postal service already has an advantage, say the competitors: they don’t have to pay parking tickets. Illegal parking…

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