Old Post Office Tower and Complex

Along Pennsylvania Avenue, not far from the White House, there is a landmark, a federally protected building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Old Post Office Tower and complex, constructed between 1892 and 1899, boasts unparalleled, panoramic views of the nation’s capital. According to the National Park Service (NPS) on a clear day, visibility may exceed 12 miles. This magnificent structure, owned and managed by the General Services Administration (GSA) in cooperation with the National Park Service, most recently was home to an eclectic assortment of government offices, including the National Endowment for…

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How the MTST Changed My Life

Before computers, there were word processors, and before that, electric typewriters. These machines did not come with apps or software, and the functionality was limited, but they opened up whole new worlds of efficiency beyond handwriting or typing on a manual typewriter. In the late 60s, early 70s, I worked as a secretary, which required typing, filing, and simple accounting skills. While typing for a living was not a glamorous career, the ability to type provided jobs for many women, both young and old, at a time when women’s career options were limited. The company I…

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The Fountain Pen

For many years, I wrote with a fountain pen. Unlike some of my friends, who have used the same pen for 20 – 30 years, none that I have owned was special or memorable enough to be deemed irreplaceable. Eventually, the last of my fountain pens began to leak, hastening its reunion with its brethren in the landfill. I turned to what soon became my new favorite, a disposable pen that I first discovered in Paris, made by an American company, which I now buy by the dozen. That is, until recently. My friend Deborah and…

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Sometimes It Is Difficult to Love the Post Office

  Last week was a great week for personal mail. Each day my mailbox revealed a new treasure, including an oversized post card from Sandra, two beautiful Mother’s Day cards (Happy belated Mother’s Day, everyone!) with handwritten notes from our daughters – thank you, ladies, for those amazing messages! – two additional personal notes from Nancy and Jane, and an article about social calling cards from Joan. Postmarks on the letters included Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, New York, Honolulu, Hawaii, and my home city, San Francisco. How much better can things get than receiving six letters and…

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Your Handwriting/Your Signature – Do They Matter?

In Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 gothic novel, Rebecca, memorialized by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film of the same title, the shy young bride of Maxim de Winter finds herself out of her depth in her new husband’s ancestral home, Manderly, overseen by the creepy Mrs. Danvers. The lingering presence of Maxim’s dead first wife not only intimidates her, but reminds her of her own seeming inferiority. First, it is an inscription in a book, “written in a curious, slanting hand…the tall and sloping R dwarfing the other letters.” Mrs. de Winter responds, “I noticed for the first…

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Letters

From Rob, New York City - Marcia, two aspects related to your blog come to mind: one is the issue of technology transforming necessities to luxuries, sometimes for the better. A poor example might be horses changing from messy requirements for transportation to luxuries for recreation. A current example is the book, morphing from the only way for substantial bodies of content to be stored, transported, and retrieved, to a bulky, unsearchable, environmentally wasteful luxury item for those who prefer the heft and balance of a physical book (the issue of whether the book--print or digital--is an…

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Stamps: What’s Not to Like?

The price of stamps went up by three cents on January 26, from 46 cents to 49 cents. That’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that those Forever stamps you purchased last year or before are still good – and they should be good, in fact, “forever.” But, before you use up all of those old stamps, consider this. If you hold on to them, they will become – no, not more valuable, but - vintage! That flower or landscape or lighthouse you bought last year because you liked the design will one day…

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Letters 4.23 – 4.28.14

Dear Correspondents, It has been incredibly satisfying to receive such a strong response to last week’s launch of socialcorrespondence.com. It seems that many of us are nostalgic for the mail of the old days, but still prefer to conduct our social correspondence by e-mail or social media, and limit our snail mail offerings to thank you, sympathy and sometimes birthday notes. Perhaps if we all committed ourselves to writing one short letter a week, hand written and sent through the mail, we would regain that sense of satisfaction upon hearing the arrival of the postal carrier…

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Letters in the Mail

“Everyone likes getting real letters in the mail.” These words, written on a simple but elegant postcard featuring a classic mailbox, promote the Letters in the Mail service offered by the online magazine The Rumpus. The postcard was offered this past summer at DigiLit, a digital publishing conference sponsored by Litquake. Here is how it works. Paid subscribers, currently thousands, receive three or four letters a month, penned by well-known writers, through the U.S. Postal Service. According to a CBS news interview posted on the Rumpus site, over 200 subscribers signed up for the service in…

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Typewriter Musings
In store display: Papel New York, Brooklyn

Typewriter Musings

Manson Whitlock, often described as America’s oldest typewriter repairman, passed away in Bethany, Connecticut in August 2013 at the age of 96.  He began repairing typewriters in 1930 in his father’s New Haven bookstore and continued in this profession until a few months before his death.  His obituary in the Washington Post notes several of his prominent clients, including authors William Manchester, Robert Penn Warren, and Archibald MacLeish. For decades, Manson Whitlock repaired typewriters for students and professors from nearby Yale University. The New York Times Magazine noted that he "fixed more than 300,000 of them…

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