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Handwritten notes, cards still make my day

By DONNA CRONK - dcronk@thecouriertimes.com

In fifth-grade, my best friends and I passed notes that contained top-secret information. We would ask each other important questions such as: “Do you like Ricky? Check yes or no.” Part of thrill of note passing was perhaps taking the chance that if the teacher caught us, the danger was real that she would say, “Would you like to share that with the class?” Or, just as bad, she might unfold it and read it for all to hear.

Back then, I kept these notes in my own private location: under one of my dresser drawers in the rafter-like space that required removing the whole drawer to get to the paperwork.

It’s been a long time since I was a fifth-grader but with a little effort, I could probably locate those notes, along with most pieces of personal correspondence, notes, letters and cards received during the past half-century of my note-writing and receiving life.

It’s all stowed away in our attic where one day, I say I’ll go through it all and purge much of it. But what’s more likely is that one day, after I’m gone, the kids will rent a dumpster, position it directly under our attic door, and there all these plastic tubs of my life’s paper trail will be tossed.

I’m still adding to the paper trail. But it turns out that I’m not the only one. Just last week I received an unexpected letter in the mail from a reader named June. June had been saving my articles for a long time, sharing them with her friend Linda in my hometown of Liberty.

Many months ago, June asked if I would write to Linda to surprise her. I was happy to do that, and didn’t have to look far for my stash of note cards and greetings. But last week, June’s letter, complete with a lovely popup card, brought sad tidings: Linda had passed on. I so appreciate her telling me though.

With email, social media and cell phones, there is no doubt fewer handwritten cards and letters that land in our mailboxes. But when they do, the correspondence is usually something to keep. What’s uncommon is what is remembered and cherished. I tell them at work that whenever I see a handwritten envelope addressed to me at the paper, complete with pretty stickers in the corners or on the back, I know that the writer comes in peace.

It’s still a sweet surprise to get a card or letter, a thank-you from grateful newlyweds, an invite to a shower or wedding, or a surprise letter from a friend.

I know that times and traditions change. But some things are simply nice when they don’t.

Donna Cronk is Neighbors editor at The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. The spring issue comes out in the Sunday, May 6 edition.