I am grateful to Jim Eyres, husband of Tresa Eyres, my Love Letters Live partner of yesteryear, whose spirit is always with me here, for recently sending me a fabulous article that he found in the Daily Oregonian. This article is about a sailor’s wife who wrote her husband a thirty-six-foot-long letter. Yes, thirty-six feet long.
World War II, like all wars, tore families apart, with luck temporarily. When the men were away it was, of course, up to the women to keep the home fires burning, the rent paid and the children fed and clothed. Carrying the whole burden was not an easy task.
Madeline missed Clarence something awful and found a way to keep them together in a one-sided conversation if not in the flesh. On a lonely day in 1945, she took a thirty-six foot roll of shelf paper, stuck it into the typewriter, and day after day she chatted with him, chipping away at that roll until the whole thing was filled with news from home, filled with her loneliness, and filled with her longing for him.
It was all typed. No handwriting, but still it bore the mark of her heart and soul. And, although I still say that handwriting is one of the most important gifts that a love letter contains, sometimes originality is signature enough. And, truth be told, I think of the old typewriters as a personal imprint, whose very sound was made famous by Leroy Anderson.
Even today people refer to their typewriters of old in such a personal way that it bears the mark of the owner. Recently, as a matter of fact, I was talking to write/ comedian ex-con Jerry Gillies who was talking about his love letters being typed. I smiled and said, ‘oh, yes, those old Royals feel like handwriting today.” Without missing a beat he corrected me rather briskly, “Underwood. Mine was an Underwood.” That was his handwriting, an Underwood. And, of course, he signed the letters in his own hand.
Anyhoo… point is that once in a while a typewritten letter is so personal and the writing instrument ditto that I can’t see what difference it makes. And, typewritten letters always had an actual handwritten signature, which means that the letter typed felt the touch of the writer’s hand. Sometimes, this was as close to holding hands as a couple separated by war, oceans and continents could get.
And, now a whole other topic comes to mind, another fundamental importance of love letters. Stay tuned. From me to you with love in the air, Janet
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