The Meaning Of Letters

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

At the Delray Beach Historical Society, we are deep in the thick of our “Summer of Letters,” and every day brings new surprises. Our snail mail camp is working to create a new generation of letter writers, and our workshops are introducing us to seasoned letter writers, authors and fellow Snailmail enthusiasts.

Much to our delight, our mailbox overfloweth. Every day Nica, our postwoman, brings us more letters and post cards than we ever could have imagined.

Much of this mail is for our campers, but we receive mail too. The public writes to tell us that they heard about our Summer of Letters, and they want to tell somebody, anybody, about the (sometimes life-changing) role that letters have played in their lives.

This afternoon, for example, we received a letter from Marion K. who wrote us a card just to say:

When I was nine years old, my parents took me and my brother and sister to vacation to Traverse City, Michigan.

I had a favorite “Uncle Mickey” who was handsome, funny and “adorable” in my nine-year-old mind.

While on vacation, I sent him a funny post card and wrote on the back: “You are my favorite uncle and I love and miss you.”

When my Uncle Mickey passed away a few years ago, my aunt sent me the post card I had sent him over 60 years ago. He kept that post card all those years, and it means so much to me now. I still have that nine-year-old handwriting and nine-year-old love for that precious man. A good example of why written words can last a lifetime!”

Sometimes people write us their stories with tremendous urgency, as if they have been waiting decades for somebody to ask them about the frayed post card in the mirror or the love letter in the shoebox under the bed.

At our Snail Mail Camp, we are introducing children to the art and history of writing letters and the ways in which writing, art, paper, and pen all intersect to create a meaningful reflection of the soul. Some people told us we would never succeed at reaching this generation. But as it turns out, we can’t get our kids to stop writing letters. Once they discover how creative and eccentric they can be on paper, how independent and free, they just can’t get enough.

What role have letters played in your life? Write us at:

Delray Beach Historical Society

3 NE 1st Street

Delray Beach, FL 33444