Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reach Out and Touch Someone

I have already told you about my letter from the Queen. I didn’t tell you about my letter from the President. In fact, I had forgotten all about it until I found an envelope while searching for a photo of Pat for yesterday’s post. The envelope was empty and it took a bit of head scratching before I came up with its provenance.

Sidebar: I have always loved “correspondence.” If I had my druthers, I’d like to be an Edwardian lady of means, the sort that appears in Masterpiece Theatre productions. After breakfast, wearing a rather flattering wrapper, she retires to the drawing room to attend to her correspondence, answering invitations, catching up on her social calendar, and writing notes and letters to friends and family. Moreover, I have always loved the accoutrements of correspondence: I collect regular stationery, air-mail stationery, note cards, sealing wax, stamps, stickers and labels. When we first moved into this house, my mother in law gave us impressive stationery with our new address embossed on the paper and envelopes and she accompanied the gift with the engraved metal die so we could continue to have paper and envelopes personalized as long as we lived here. I regret I never re-used the die: in this era of computers I can whip up my own letterhead, change the color and font of the type as I please, and I don’t think I even know where I would take the die to get paper embossed.

All this leads me to Christmas 1966. It was our first married Christmas and we looked forward to sending out cards to friends and family throughout the country and abroad. We spent hours selecting the perfect card and I really loved the one we selected. The cardstock was thick and cream and the bottom edge was an elegant deckle. The design in my favorite terra cotta colors was attractive and edged in gold. Somehow it looks a little “60’s “ now, but I was so proud of it. I kept back one in an album and vowed to select a perfect card each year and add one to the album as a memento of our Christmases. But . . . that was our only Christmas without children, and in subsequent years our attention turned to bikes and toys and chunks of plastic. In 1966, after we had addressed our cards, we decided it would be downright neighborly to send one to Lyndon Johnson.

And Lyndon Johnson was neighborly enough to write and thank us. I can’t remember the contents of the letter. Perhaps it will show up one day. I do remember being impressed that we received an acknowledgement. Now as I look at the envelope, I am somewhat disappointed. It’s a flimsy item and the return address is printed in rather crooked blue type: my embossed envelopes were so much nicer. Our address is written on a plain old typewriter and if you click on the image, you can see where the number was originally mistyped (remember whiteout?) And the street was spelled wrongly. Surely the pre-Lewinsky intern who got the job of sending out “thank you’s” should have been historically literate enough to get Marlborough right.

Nevertheless, I ‘m glad I came across the legacy of the only Christmas card we ever sent to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And no, your eyes do not deceive you. That’s a 5¢ stamp. First class.

1 comment:

Maggie May said...

Letter writing is a dying art. I used to love writing letters by hand& I still love receiving them. I feel that computers & especially email has killed that now.
I have never written to royalty, so have never received anything back!