Family Stories: Snail Mail Letters

Snail Mail Letters


When was the last time you received a handwritten letter in your mailbox? And I’m not talking about your email mailbox!

Did you know that January 17th is National Letter Writing Day? Well neither did I until I17 began my research.  It seems that this day was chosen because it’s Benjamin Franklin’s birthday – he was the first Postmaster General of the United States, and it seems that the 17th of  every month is included as part of the  National Letter Writing day. So you still have time, pick someone special to write to, start that letter, get it in the mail by April 17th! Do your part in saving the dying art of letter writing. I’d love to hear in my comments as to who you are going to write and why – make the commitment today! And if you can find one mailboxof the few mailboxes still remaining – post your letter there. Have you noticed that they are not on every street corner like years ago? Maybe you haven’t noticed, but they are dwindling away – the children today probably won’t even know what they are.

I have always been a letter writer from as early as when I first learned to write. Before I even hit my teen years, I was already writing to several pen pals. In fact, I had seven girl pen pals in Hawaii, and two boys in England and Canada. Several of their letters are still glued in the pages of my scrapbooks. I reread some of their letters just recently – what fun it seems I had in writing to my pen pals. It also taught me about their country and customs as they often included many things in those envelopes besides a letter. I had several origami designs sent to me from Hawaii and the girls wrote about the flowers of their country and sent me photos. The boy pen pal in Canada sent me several newspaper clippings on their Quebec Carnival.

A few years ago after signing up with Facebook, I decided to see if I could track down a couple of the girls, and after much searching I received a message back from one. She remembered me and we have now become friends on Facebook; I shared her letters back to her, but unfortunately her mom cleaned out her closet years ago.


My Scrapbooks!

During the Vietnam War I became pen pals with an Army guy;  he wrote quite differently in his letters as he was lonely and looking for a girlfriend. He even came to visit when he returned back to the states.


Letters written during the Vietnam War!

My largest stash of saved letters is when after my husband was sent to Thailand after we married! I saved all his letters he wrote me – and what came home in his duffle bag? Yep – all my letters to him! I’ve saved together… maybe one day my children and grandchildren will consider them a found treasure! I know if I had found my parents letters they wrote to each other while daddy was in the Navy, well I would have probably done that happy genealogy dance! You know the one! Woot! Woot! But I sadly don’t have them. My mother said that she wrote him many letters and he wrote her, but who thought to save them!

As I began my family research, I wrote a constant trail of letters to family and others asking for information and pictures – and patiently waited for their responses. It was always so exciting to find a letter waiting in the mailbox; the wait is something no one knows today as most exchange info by email. Letter writing is sadly becoming a lost art, extinct, a dinosaur – very sad! The children today will never know the excitement of discovering mail in the family mailbox – addressed just to them!

I even have a few letters saved from my parents and grandparents. Good thing they wrote to me in my early days of when I began my family research; I am truly a pack rat! Today I treasure those letters!

One of the most interesting letters I ever received was when I was contacted by a 90-plus age woman who wrote me about my Civil War grandfather. I was blown away, knowing that there was someone living that actually knew a Civil War Veteran. She wrote very descriptive letters about his death, funeral and even down to who built his coffin and who dug his grave – yes the grave was dug by hand.  She, at a very young age, had helped to drape the black satin cloth inside on top of piled high cotton – to pad the inside. This was the type of letter you wanted to share with someone – right away!  But often there’s no one in the house that’s ever as excited as you.

The last letter written to me recently was from a women in Greene County, Ga. who wrote me after reading an editorial I’d written in the local paper. She wrote several letters detailing life in her early years and on the area of Bowden Pond, of which I had asked about in my editorial.

I truly treasure those letters written to me and have saved many of them. Now I ask you, when did you last write a letter to someone? Sit down and surprise someone with that letter. Letter writing is truly a lost art due to our computer era of “You’ve Got Mail.”


© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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4 Responses to Family Stories: Snail Mail Letters

  1. Eva says:

    As a frequent letter writer, I’ve enjoyed your post. Now I feel curious: when did you last write a letter to someone? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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