Snail Mail, Love Code, and Vigilance

Not that I’d ever give up email, chat, or text (difficult as the latter two are, with my lupus slo-mo fingers), but I think the world lost something goofy and charming–and touching–when we lost snail mail. No more margin notes. No more silly drawings. No longer a cache of mom’s old love letters left behind for the children to discover that there was more to mom than they ever knew.


Shocked Teen Boy

And I Thought  I Was Having Fun!

Here are traces an old boyfriend left behind in hardcopy. Perhaps, were we dating today at the same ages we were then, our e-communications would be even richer. I doubt it.
(On the night of his birthday:)

I am still awake and I am 18 and you are only 17. Nyeah Nyeah. I can see dirty movies and drink in bars—what can YOU do?


Snail Mail Who Is The Real Norman Normal

Can YOU Tell Who the Real Norman Normal Is?

(Before his driving test:)

I never used hand signals—what if he makes me? I’ll say the window is broken, or my hand is dirty. Should I bring a gift for him? Oh dear.


Snail Mail Stroot Madroople Love Code

Stroot Madroople Love Code–If You Click to Enlarge, Return With Your Back Arrow 🙂

(After landing his first job:)

How rich I’ll be in twenty or thirty years! You are probably wonderin’ what it is that I do. I help big, important people make big, important decisions. How do I do this, you ask? Well, you see, when big, important decision-makers have to make big, important decisions, they like to be alone without distractions. Sometimes, they find the most conducive place is the employee washroom. This is where I come in.



Enough of this foolish charade, I can’t bear to go on dissembling, I must let the truth be known!

I am but a humble janitor boy junior assistant trainee.


Snail Mail Whats John A-Writin

“What’s John a-Writin’?” “’bout the Revelator!” I Can Still Hear It Being Sung. So Can You 🙂


I once received a charming envelope from this creative boy. He had sewn it out of blue-and-white ticking on his mom’s antique Singer treadle machine.

Cloth Envelope Button

The Flap Was Held Closed By Only a Button

In those days, the U.S.P.S. would deliver differently-crafted items like that.

Cancellation Stamp on Cloth Envelope

Here’s the Cancellation Stamp

Sewn Letter B on Cloth Envelope

Even My Name Was Treadle-Sewn!

The outside of the envelope held a puzzle: A tiny sticker cut out from the Dick Tracy comic strip:

No Substitute For Vigilance

“There Is No Substitute for Vigilance”? Why Was THAT Pasted On?

After I finished reading the letter inside and reached the definition below, the crude but amusing intent of the envelope’s outside sticker become clear:


Vigilance Definition

VIGILANCE: The Readiness of Any Organ…For Its Highest Type of Activity, Physiological Vitality, and Efficiency…

In a sad case of foreshadowing, this is the boy who later raped me. But aside from his behavior that day, he was a sweet, witty, creative, and fun boyfriend, and I thought it fair to show you that side of him.
This post was a result of my continuing attempt to reduce, reuse, and recycle–my LIFE! Out with those old papers! On the blog, out the door 🙂
Earlier posts that issued from the murky depths of those dusty boxes:
The Summer of the Naked Bear and
I Once Knew a Girl Named Maria.

Leave a comment


  1. Paul

     /  2014/08/16

    Jesus, that last paragraph blew me away. That must have been a real head-twister.


  2. RR

     /  2014/08/16

    I agree with Paul – “head twister” indeed.
    I mourn the disappearance of snail mail. Some of my most treasured keepsakes are old letters and things. Here where I reside they are phasing out door-to-door mail service. 😕 Something is lost in text and email. We not only lose connotation and context but also a sense of the sender. We all “type-speak” with the same font. Perhaps more than just ink flows from the pen when we sit and compose by hand.


    • You are so right, Rebecca. Each of my students, for instance, had her/his own personality show through in their cursive. I loved that 🙂

      It is now proven that writing by the hand uses the brain differently than writing by the keyboard, and, it appears, more creatively. (Oh, please don’t make me google the research–I’m too busy today…) And so MUCH personality is lost. It’s not just long letters that aren’t being written, too: Even silly little notes aren’t being thought of, ’cause people text or post to FB instead. Think I’ll post (eventually) a couple of these to show what people used to do–with drawings,and junk, to friends.

      Think something more is being lost, too. I never needed to study. My note-taking in class would serve to connect the material to my brain. I have learned that keying does NOT do this. Could be because my keying is slowpokey now (REALLY slow on a phone), but I don’t think that’s all that’s going on. There’s some kind of encoding and hit to the memory storage that’s happening with handwriting that isn’t with typing.

      ‘Course, the storage device passed its warranty period some time back.


      • RR

         /  2014/08/17

        I too have heard the shortcomings od all this typing and texting. Pity how little we humans use our brains. And now we have made the leap backwards (why not use even less?!).

        My hubby and I write wee notes to each other. They often pop up in drawers and lunch boxes. Before my grandmother lost her ability to write (and later pass – this was a few years ago) we would pen-pal. She sent the greatest birthday cards. Adorned with stickers (relevant and not!). Everyone in the family poked fun at her for it but I loved them. So much work and thought and love went in to those cards. She had no money and would often cut pictures out of newspapers and magazines. Then paste them on either the card or envelope. I used to send her post equally embellished and often included packages of stickers.

        I will never surrender (completely). My quill/pen will always reign supreme (unless the old carpal tunnel is acting up). Every post, story, poem and ditty of mine originates on paper. I like proof of the creative process.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Me three – wow, I was all Hollywooded and ready to ask, so, did you keep in touch?


    • That ex-boyfriend and the also-recently-left ex-boyfriend of my best girlfriend from fifth grade through highschool–I heard they got together and consoled each other. Biblically. This made me feel ookey.

      I did later get in touch with her ex, with whom I was friends, and SHE later got together with him, too–biblically.

      Do I earn any telenovela street cred for this stuff? (You couldn’t make this sh#t up.)


    • Ooh–I forgot to mention: JUST re-established contact with the first guy, and we picked up almost right where we left off, friendship-wise. We always did have an easy time talking together. So, it was great to hear from him, and I’m glad we’re chatting again after all this time. 🙂



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