Rick Houser:
Don’t forget to write the other way

Today I sent a message to my Editor at the newspaper and I did so by today’s technology. I sent it by e-mail of course. There is no argument that today’s way of communicating could be any easier or more economical by today’s standards. Yes it is today’s way to be in touch with the world. But it hasn’t been so long ago that the world stayed in touch in a traditional and elegant way to my way of thinking. The world sat down and wrote letters to each other.

In the not too far past we would walk out to our mailboxes anxious to see if there was a letter or post card in the box for us to read and learn about just what was happening in an individual’s life. Letters were written on fancy letterhead. The information contained in a letter had been composed with time and thought woven into each letter and upon arrival time was taken to sit down and study the contents.

Rick Houser

You see it hasn’t been that long ago that society considered letter writing nearly an art form. Families and friends wrote prolifically before today’s technology. Come Sunday evenings I have watched my mom write her sisters and parents along with my sister Peg. She did so faithfully and in as much detail as she could express in her letters and on about Tuesday she would receive return letters in our mail box. I know she waited for mail to arrive and not really too patiently. (Mom did very little patiently.) You see in each envelope there were more than likely great nuggets of news just waiting for her to read and learn something new. As exciting as seeing the mail carrier (uncle Charles in our case) pull up in front of the house and leave letters added much more to a day and I mean any day.

It used to be if you wanted to place a telephone call it was going to be a long distance call and three minutes ran .45. At this time a postage stamp ran approximately .03 cents. Please take a moment here and notice that there was a time when our world was much more in balance than possibly things are today. So it is somewhat safe to see our society priced itself out of the formal way to communicate. Along with the letters were the picture post cards that we would receive from family and friends sending us a photo of where they were on vacation at and the line that stated “wish you were here!” The truth more than likely was they just wanted to gloat to you that they were there and you weren’t. Regardless we would have had our nose out of joint if we hadn’t have received a post card.

My mom’s family being somewhat at a distance wrote each other and after reading your letter they would forward it along to another sister to read and catch up on the news while other letters were being sent elsewhere. I feel in no real exaggeration that the Benton family were strong supporters of the U.S Mail. When you put a strong family together with a strong desire to write mail will be created and I mean a lot of it.

My sister Peg moved near the Dayton area and mom wrote her every Sunday night and on Tuesday mom would read Pegs letter to her and she then presented it to us all to take a turn and read as learning is knowledge. I know Peg had come home for a long week s stay. These stays I loved as I got to have my sister near me for a brief while but at a most enjoyable time. On her last day before going back home she said to me “I don’t know what I’m going to write to mom.” Since I have been here over a week I really have nothing to write her and she is going to expect the letter anyway.” But come the following Tuesday mom got her letter. It was brief and mom still enjoyed just hearing from her daughter.

When I got into high school I decided I should try my hand at letter writing. So I wrote to my sister and my mom. Pegs’ were somewhat fun to write and moms were much more difficult as I was living at home and there was little if nothing at all that she didn’t already know. I failed to take into account that mom and Peg were both school teachers and loved the subject of English. In those days letters were written in long hand and I am left handed. Shortly after sending them a letter I got them returned to me. They had taken a red ink pen and corrected all my errors. Very honestly my letters looked as though they had been done in living color! I tried one more time to write them and got pretty much the same result. This is when I retired from letter writing and left it to the pros.

These days when the mail arrives and after the bills are removed I see I have been offered lots of life insurance. (Term) New credit cards. Special offers just for me to try, a new cable tv and even a shot at the grand prize from Publishers Clearinghouse and be wealthy forever.

One who still does pretty writing is my wife. She is still one to write a thank you note that is a compliment to receive. Her favorite thing is to be the first to send out her Christmas Cards and all our friends truthfully await her cards arrival. Just try to e mail a personalized Christmas Card It can’t be done.

Folks just stop and think how when you do receive a card or a letter that has been personally addressed to you and its contents hit you right in your feelings. You might never admit it but you don’t ever forget who wrote you that and how nice it felt to have received it. So if you happen to see some nice stationery in the store buy it and take a Sunday evening and get the feel for how it is to really have shared with another person. I’m putting my money on the fact you will enjoy it.

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.