A Summer Of Letters


By: Kate Teves, Delray Beach Historical Society archivist Special to the Delray Newspaper

Delray, it turns out, has a long postal history. There is, of course, the Barefoot Mailman who dutifully traipsed along our beaches from Palm Beach to Miami when there was no other means of delivering mail. The lesser-known story of the Hofman Letters is perhaps even more inspiring. The Hofmans were German immigrants who, in the late 19th century, risked it all for a life in Delray. Their descendant, Charles Hofman, gathered the letters they wrote home to the old country and published them in Letters from Linton (available in our gift shop). The letters are one of the richest written records of life in early Delray.

Just about everybody you speak to in Delray has a story about letters—a story that is usually followed by a welling in the eyes. For some, it’s a story about a love letter that changed the course of a life. For others, it’s the words of wisdom that a parent put down on paper all those many years ago. For still others, it’s the letter they wished they had sent or the letter they are so glad they did.

The world is changing, with writing becoming a lost art. But somehow letters—like fireworks, newborn babies, and the coo of mourning doves—still stop us and remind us of something eternal.

This summer the Delray Beach Historical Society will host multiple events dedicated to letter-writing. Our children’s summer camp, dubbed Snail Mail Revolution (July 10-13 and 24-27), will blend history and creativity to ignite a new generation of letter writers. Children will learn to use fountain pens, play with typewriters, create their own stationery, and connect with pen pals. We will also host two Real Mail Potlucks (details to follow) and other letter-themed events. If you are interested in the summer camp, call 561-274-9578.

Stay tuned, and, more importantly, write to someone you love.