The Caddo Herald, March 17, 1916 (Ad) “She who selects not her stationery with care detracts much from the effectiveness of her message. You are judged not only by your thoughts expressed in writing, but also by the care evidenced in the selection of the sheet of paper upon which you write. “Sympathy Lawn” watermarked into the sheet conveying your message will silence all doubts as to your fine sense of discrimination and establish you as a person of excellent good taste. We are proud of our stationery. We have everything in stationery and we sell at prices for your satisfaction and economy. Sold only by Wm. Malone”
There are things I miss from time to time and letters are near the top of the list. I love the immediacy of FB and email, but I miss the beauty and permanence of letters. I still have most of the letters my mother wrote to me for the twenty years I was in California. I have letters and cards written by grandparents and aunts and other relatives and friends long dead.
Two of the things that make letters special are stationery and handwriting. Mother loved pretty stationery and often bought far too much of it. There were catalogs that offered matching sets of beautiful papers and envelopes and cards and gave quantity discounts. She had the appropriate stationery for any holiday and every occasion. Of course I followed family tradition and did the same when I became an adult. I wrote dozens of letters each week to family and friends since I lived away from almost everyone I’d known throughout my childhood. I even wrote to strangers: pen pals made through hobbies, church work, and other friends. As a result, my mailbox was always filled with envelopes I couldn’t wait to tear open…carefully of course.
Handwriting conveys so much about a person’s character and condition that there are all sorts of studies devoted to it. For a while there was a lot of interest in handwriting analysis and I had several friends who paid to have their own handwriting examined. I guess there is still some curiosity about it because I found this excellent post at Real Simple. When I look at the letters in my collection I find myself remembering far more about each person because of their handwriting. Each is distinct. One of my nieces has the most beautiful, elaborate handwriting I’ve ever seen. My great-grandmother’s handwriting is almost unreadable because of her hand tremors. A cousin not only had very small handwriting, but always wrote with a pencil.
Which brings me to another wonderful detail of letters: writing instruments. For years and years I wrote letters and school notes with a real ink pen- the kind with nibs and a replaceable cartridge. I even bought different colors of ink. Several of my friends did the same, but they used ballpoint pens. Colored ink was a wonderful way to add cheer to a letter. Perhaps that’s why we still have color options with email.
Of course the best thing about letters is that they can be saved and you can put them in boxes and your son can make fun of you for saving so much “useless stuff”. But I am who I am and I love pretty pieces of paper!