Roots

Taking stock of one’s roots can be much more than a hobby or pastime. Thanks to multiple resources for genealogical research, it is possible today to trace ancestry, connect with distant relations, and explore your own identity. For decades, I have been the owner of boxes and drawers full of family photos. They range from formal portraits of elders and ancestors, taken from the late 1800s to the turn of the century, to mid-century snapshots of my early nuclear family, circa 1940s through 1960s. Due to faulty color film and sticky photo albums of the 1970s…

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Diaries: Letters to Ourselves by Kay Roberts

A few months ago, I rediscovered a diary I kept when I was thirteen years old.  This find made me think that diaries might make good Christmas presents for my grandchildren, ages ten and thirteen. I cautioned them to avoid dumb entries such as my own: “Washed my hair, went to the show.”  I do like my entry about liking Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, except for being "stuck beside somebody who smelled like barn" (I grew up in a little farm community in Wisconsin).  I had hoped my old diary would give me a glimpse of who…

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The Epistolary Novel

Epistolary adj epis·to·lary \i-ˈpi-stə-ˌler-ē, ˌe-pi-ˈstȯ-lə-rē\  1 :  of, relating to, or suitable to a letter 2 :  contained in or carried on by letters 3 :  written in the form of a series of letters an epistolary novel – Merriam-Webster Dictionary What exactly is an epistolary novel? As Jenny Baum of the New York Public Library notes in a blog post, the word epistolary “is one of those words that are just fun to say or think about.” But not everyone knows what the term means. Readers, however, are familiar with the epistolary novel, even if…

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Endings: Finding a New Future
Dandelion, 55 Potrero Ave. closed Fall 2016

Endings: Finding a New Future

2016 was a year of endings. Mostly, we think of beginnings as we approach a new year, but it is equally important to examine those things that now lie only in the past. Often, they reflect our values, contribute to our history, and reflect our sense of personal self. Some endings are self-evident. Farewell to the integrity and quiet dignity of President Obama and his beautiful family. Farewell to the talented, too numerous to name, musicians, actors, artists, journalists, intellectuals and loved ones lost in 2016, who, through their extraordinary contributions, made our lives richer and…

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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…

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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…

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Postcards: Notes from Notables
Port Authority Bus Terminal, New York City Harvey Milk Letters to Susan Davis Alch

Postcards: Notes from Notables

By Tim Wilson With summer upon us, our thoughts turn to vacations. Beaches, perhaps. Points of interest. Ports of call. And where there's travel, there are often postcards--short notes to let our friends at home know that they are in our thoughts while we're having a fabulous time. Postcards fall under the general category of correspondence but they are their own enigmatic form of communication. Concise. Often fragmented. Occasionally cryptic. They are scattered throughout the Hormel Center's archival collections. Here we've selected some examples that offer glimpses into the activities of Alice B. Toklas, Harvey Milk,…

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Letters to Myself: Alan Blackman

Alan Blackman has had a long and storied career, as an artist, calligrapher, typeface designer for Adobe, lettering arts instructor, and three years working for the U.S. Post Office at San Francisco’s Rincon Annex. By his own account, however, his most significant work is Letters to Myself. Letters to Myself was a personal project first undertaken by Blackman in 1968. His then 11-year old son Stephen lived across the bay in Berkeley, east of San Francisco. Through his work in the postal service, Blackman became familiar with “first day covers,” letters affixed with a stamp on…

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Early Letters of Harvey Milk

San Francisco celebrated Pride in big style this past weekend, a fitting time to pay tribute to the late gay activist and internationally famous icon, Harvey Milk, with a look at letters from his early, pre-political life. Harvey Milk was born in New York in 1930, nearly 40 years before Stonewall and 42 years before his move to San Francisco that changed the course of history. Through his letters, written 1956–1962 to his good friend, Susan Davis Alch, a picture emerges of a young man preoccupied with universal concerns: love, work, money (mostly, lack of), where…

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