Letters 2

I have more to say on this topic which is not surprising. I have written hundreds if not thousand of letters so far. The good habit developed in boarding school continued as I moved to university, into married life and then to another country.

At school, girls may not have liked to write letters twice a week but everyone liked to receive them. Mail call was every weekday morning at recess. A prefect would call out the names of the lucky ones who collected them from the pile in her hands. Usually it was mothers who wrote but my dad was an exception. He produced a single neat page each Sunday night. The content was often the weather or fishing. One of his favourite lines was this one: the nights are drawing in or the nights are drawing out depending on the season. Other girls were impressed by the fact that he wrote at all and so regularly.

At university, I didn’t write twice a week or even once at times but I did keep in contact. Wen I married, I kept in touch by mail and phone calls while I was teaching and after my two kids arrived. When we went to Canada we still wrote back and forth. My sister who’d moved to Peru also corresponded with us. Her letters sounded just like her, a little nutty.

My letters were handwritten until I was given an electric typewriter as a gift. It weighed a ton but was officially portable. At least my letters were easier to read. Many people including university professors complained about deciphering my writing. It looked neat but was tricky to understand. Mum also upgrading her technology and bought a regular typewriter. Her handwriting was also tricky to read. I can remember as a kid coming home from school to find a note from her in the kitchen and puzzling over the words. After Dad died in 1982, my mother continued to write.

My sister moved from Peru to Canada. Mum wrote to each of us on alternate weeks and our practice was to read the letter each had received over the phone to the letterless one. This weekend task often took a long time because we commented on Mum’s activities and wondered how on earth she managed to do so much in one week. She included newspaper cuttings and we sometimes had trouble deciding why she\d chosen them.

I upgraded to a computer and for several years kept copies of the letters I wrote to New Zealand. I had realized the importance of keeping family letters after inheriting 1800’s correspondence written by my ancestors. This gave me fascinating glimpses of life in those days. I had the idea that a great-grandchild or even later descendant might be interested in my life. Last year, I compiled two booklets of these letters. I didn’t include many of Mum’s because the words became very faint as she ran out of ribbon for her typewriter. I gave copies of the booklets to my kids but have not received any feedback.

I tend to write emails now and a few letters of sympathy so have succumbed to modern practice. I may write a third post on letters. You will have to wait and see what happens next week.