Can you remember when people wrote letters and notes to each other? Last night I dreamed that I had finished a wood working project that was a special letter writing desk. My intent would place it in my sleeping room in a secretive corner. Why in a secretive place? So I could express myself without distractions from Lovely, phones, and messy desk stuff. This of course is all fantasy, because it would only be a couple of days before my pristine letter writing desk will also become littered with messy desk stuff, Lovely would find my hideout, and the smartphone would locate me.

One of my to do projects is to burn a stack of letters that I wrote to my first wife while we were courting. Amazingly, she saved them all, and I like a doofus have saved them as though they were something sacred and holy. The problem I have with disposing them is that they are sacred and holy and represent a life that I wish still existed. The words on those pages were from my heart written in ink with a fountain pen (before the infamous BIC changed the writing world). They expressed emotions and feelings that I couldn’t verbalize for too many reasons which have stunted my public speaking ability for years.

I noted with great pleasure that early English noblemen and women used letter writing to communicate to friends. This became obvious to me during my viewing of Downton Abbey a serialized story about a English nobleman and his family who reside in a massive fifty room house on a property exceeding most National Parks. It was common for the family members to write notes and letters which they sent to friends by way of a servant, thus getting feedback on their return. This was the eighteenth century version of texting and email. Alas, I said e-mail, a technology of the past which has been out dated by texting. I read somewhere that three percent of e-mails are read. However, eighty percent of texts are read within three minutes of their arrival. When I served as president of the Frankfort Lions Club I had lousy response to emails. When I heard of the response time for a text, I signed up for a texting service and started a new trend within the club. I digress.

In this dream I sit at my letter writing desk daily for a set time, and write letters to my grand children imparting my wisdom, and regaling them with tales about their parents growing up. The instrument in my hand is a Mont Blanc fountain pen, although in the interest of time I will defer to a ball point which I find writes much smoother. The troublesome problem I have with the fountain pen is that it dries up, and I am forced to disassemble it to clear it’s plumbing before it is usable. Even so, the modern pen is much more efficient than the eighteenth century quill. It just occurred to me that the quill didn’t require blowing out, all it took to get started writing was to dip the point into the ink.

A huge problem that I have discovered is that modern children are not always able to read script. The age of printers and word processors have moved the teaching world away from penmanship and into the world of type. My grandson, a graduate engineer often drops me a note which I have trouble deciphering. It seems he is printing so fast that the letters often become illegible. In my day we had trouble reading one another’s hand writing and today we have trouble reading one’s printing. So we solve the problem by using the very legible keyboard with digital output usually in the form of a digital format like text messaging, e-mail, and very rarely the postal service.

What I see happening here is that my fountain pen is being relegated to a place in a museum having been replaced by the highly impersonal digital means of communication. Nevertheless, I still feel that a hand written note is special. It imparts the feeling that the sender is giving of himself by spending the time to manually write. He is sending you a sample of his personality and skill, but most importantly he is expressing himself to you.

Amaze your loved ones, write them notes in your best script.

One Response

  1. I still have a box or two of personalized embossed stationary and envelopes and stamps but prefer a fine roller ball pen over a fountain pen. They make perfect note cards for so many occasions.

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