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Friday, July 10, 2009

LETTER WRITING

WHITNEY AND ELIZABETH AT PLEASANT HILL MUSEUM, SHAKERTOWN, KY

Recently my daughter Elizabeth and granddaughter Whitney were visiting me all the way from Salt Lake City, Utah. Above, they are standing among the limestone fences at Pleasant Hill, a Shaker Village in Kentucky that was founded in the 1800s and now is a museum. A museum in financial trouble, such as many of our wonderful museums across the country are, due to our declining economy.

But today I am thinking of Whitney. Her mother called excitedly to tell me she just received two letters from her. Whitney sent them from the tennis camp she is at for two weeks learning new techniques of tennis -- she is an avid tennis player at the age of twelve.

A PART OF THE LANGUAGE OF A LETTER --DATE, WRITING STYLE, STAMP, COUNTRY, TOWN, PEN USED, THE ENVELOPE ITSELF

Personal letters are an old tradition in our culture that secure connections between folks. . But like the museums -- they are in a steep decline. Not because of the economy but because of technology.

In the past (and some even now) people wrote letters, people received them, people saved them, people reread letters often, and sometimes even framed a particularly special one. Many of today's original research is based on the information they contain. Letters play a part in both the research of folks as well as family histories.

Letters are the silent language of the person that writes them. The language is reflected by differing writing styles, sometimes doodles or sketches, sometimes enclosed articles, envelope styles, paper styles, stamp designs, writing objects with ink pens of all colors as also with pencil, sometimes old type from extinct typewriters, containing somtimes enclosed photos and more. And most of all -- the lines of voice touching you with their feelings.

Elizabeth's husband, Bill, mentioned to Elizabeth that those two letters will probably be the only ones she will ever receive from her daughter. Taken aback, she asked what he meant by that statement. Well, he said -- its a different world and from now on it will probably be all emails.

Gives one pause to think. What can one say about the silent language of an email?

Post Photos: Folkways Notebook

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