The lost art of correspondence

Published 4:04 pm Sunday, November 28, 2010

Letter-writing is a lost pastime. The art of writing is just as important as the artist painting, the singer singing or the dancer dancing. A good writer is a joy to read. The eloquence of words put together to form a living picture is an art form.

In the writings of long ago,the beauty of the everyday language is very evident. The Edwardsburg Area Historical Collection has several letters written in the late 1800s. The eloquence of the words, the expressive thoughts and the use of the language is beautiful. 

In 1868 Mrs. George Redfield received a letter from her brother who was living in Tennessee. The beauty of the handwriting and the language is an example of the everyday language of the past. The letter is on display at the museum. There are numerous letters in the museum collection that illustrate the beauty of the American language. A beauty that is lost in today’s instant messages, a kind of shorthand that is used by the computer generation. 

Not only is there beauty in the language, but also in the handwriting. Letters were written without the benefit of the typewriter, the ball-point pen or pencil. With only quill pens and a bottle of ink, the letters appear to be works of art. The swirls and loops of the letters paint a picture across the page. Many of these letters can be viewed at the museum.

Letter-writing has become a lost art. With the advent of the typewriter, the word processor, the computer and texting, the art of letter writing is losing ground.  

Many of those in my generation have saved letters we have received from loved ones over the years. Those letters are packed away to be enjoyed at a time of nostalgic recollection. Unfortunately, the generations of today and the future will not have the luxury to recall those e-mails they received. They can’t be packed away for future reading.

Many of the sentiments that we all would like to express have been taken over by the greeting card industry. Greeting cards have grown to cover every topic imaginable with humor and sentiment that expresses our most dearest thoughts. Expressing our thoughts is just as important today as they were in years past. Greeting cards help us to find the words to convey our most personal thoughts.

The letters I have cherished are the letters written by an airman stationed in Germany, a letter my father wrote to me while I was at camp and a letter from my mother telling me as a teenager what a slob I was. I have saved many notes from dear friends far away, even letters from my former college roommate who writes to me every year on the event of my wedding anniversary.  

Letters and notes my husband has written to me over the last 54 years are very dear. Those are packed away and will always be treasured by me. 

As a young girl, pen pals were very important just as Facebook friends are today. Unfortunately, those communications can ‘t be packed away in a box to be treasured at another time.