This, That and Other Stuff

Bob Neuman

Piano player Fats Waller is known for the silly song, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.” I doubt anyone would, but if so, would he mail it?

Do you even remember the last time you picked up your pen and wrote a letter? This seems to be a lost art because of the computer and other electronic gadgets. Remember how we learned spelling, grammar and usage? Now, word processors correct misspelled words. The typewriter has gone the way of the model A Ford and crank phones.

And the Palmer method where students would scroll circles and up and down marks across the page to learn penmanship? In my case, it failed.

There was a pointed pen that one dipped into an ink bottle to scratch out the letters. The pen was more suitable for jabbing the unfortunate person in front of us.

None of this could occur today with the over-protection of children. Some kid might drink the ink or stab his own eye with the archaic pen.

English teachers taught letter writing by stressing the salutation, body and closing. Typing a personal letter was a breach of social grace. Only business letters were to be typed.

Letters from early settlers still exist. To send a note then, one must find a person going that direction. Often, incorrect words and spelling were present, as shown by an Indiana letter of 1809.

“Dear Maude and William,

Do you still here from grandma Miller? I reckon she is still living up by Gettysburg. Heard that grandpa got bilious and died. Maybe we can scrape enough together to come east next year. Tagert folks was flung from their wagon. All eight youngens was throwed out and nearly mashed. I declare I don’t know how they will get threw the winter with ma Taggert delivering another soon.

Well Maud I close and lay down this pen. I wish youens a good Christmas. Pray that all will be better next year. We are worn out and weary of living in this wild and inhospitable land.

Your loving sister Matilda”

or this one…

“Coons Paw, Indiana Territory

Dear brother Rufus,

The reason to commence this letter is not of my liking. Do you recolect a short time back befor we’un come here, from the goodness of my hart lent you 9 dollars and seventy cents to buy corn for your hogs. You’n told me they was starving and was bound to dy. I never give you that money but lent it. Many months have past and you hav not seen fit to sent me wat is due. So I am bound to say you’n is a dirty rotten pole cant and a terrible lire. If I was there I would giv you a thrashen of which you ain’t never saw. We’uns have need of that money for grub. You being my brother makes itg mighty nere insufferable. If I ever come back there I be duty bound to take a bord and commence to bash you on yer head, you scoundrel you.

Please say howdy to yore misses and the youens I remain yore loving brother.

With afekshun, Caleb Marlow”

So, get paper and pen ready and write someone.