How many letters have you written to someone this year so far? (Confession is good for the soul!) Not emails or texts, but REAL letters written on paper with a pen or pencil, put into an envelope, addressed and stamped, and mailed via the Postal Service.
These next few day’s posts are inspired by an article in the Orange County Register’s Parade magazine (March 15, 2015), titled Letters That Changed Our World by Liz Welch.
“Oh, the power of letters,” Welch begins. “They’ve fueled love affairs and severed friendships, ignited wars and settled them. They can carry thanks, apology or regret.”
Welch mentions a letter from Albert Einstein to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 urging him to start a nuclear program. His warning that the Germans might develop atomic bombs led to the Manhattan Project.
In Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving a Wider Audience (Chronicle, 2014), editor Shaun Usher curates more than 125 letters, including one from a 14-year-old Fidel Castro to President Roosevelt asking for $10 and Groucho Marx’s advice letter to Woody Allen.
Another book Welch talks about (and if fact co-authored) is I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives (Little Brown, 2015). It tells how two young people, Caitlin Alifirenka, a 12 year old girl in Pennsylvania, and Martin Ganda, a 14 year old boy in Zimbabwe met through a pen pal exchange and became best friends.
Now at 30 and 32, they are happy to share their writing experiences. Alifiernka urged Ganda (a stellar student) to apply to American Colleges. He applied and was accepted to Villanova University. Last year Ganda finished his MBA at Duke.
This reminds me of a pen pal I had at about their same ages. Tony Foli lived in Lagos, Nigeria and we wrote and sent photos often. After war broke out in his country his letters suddenly stopped. I often wonder what happened to him and to his dreams.
Have you ever found a packet of old letters and spent a few hours laughing or crying while you re-read them?
Have you written a letter you never had the nerve to mail…but kept it anyway?
Have you had the fun of being a pen pal with someone nearby or in a distant land?
I’d love to hear about YOUR letter writing experiences!
Email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will include them in a post at the end of this series.