The Letters You Keep 2008

Today kicks off National Card and Letter Writing Month, and for the second consecutive year, Crane & Co. is hosting The Letters You Keep contest. I would venture to guess that all of us have at least one letter we’ve saved – for a year, a lifetime or generations – a letter that has special meaning that transcends the passing of time. So dust off that family album or untie the ribbon on that shoebox where your most treasured written mementos are stored, and tell us about that one very special letter.

If you’re judged to be the winner, you’ll receive $500 worth of Crane stationery. You can get all the details here.

I am honored to be one of the judges again this year, and will be joined by Samara O’Shea, author of For the Love of Letters, a modern guide to letter-writing. A third judge will be announced very shortly and I can’t wait (but I must) to tell you about her.

I remember vividly reading hundreds of letters last year, tackling them by the dozen or so in the evening. Reading these wonderful letters, written from the heart, from all over the country, spanning centuries of time, proved to be an intensely moving experience for me.

Out of all those letters, one jumped off the page. It came from Elizabeth Donohoe of Newburyport, Mass.

Elizabeth’s letter was penned by her great-grandmother more than 120 years ago when she was a young child who dearly missed her father, Captain J. R. Bryan.
Captain Bryan, posted in Alabama far from a young daughter and loving wife in Virginia, received his daughter’s note while serving in the United States Army. As Elizabeth recounts, Captain Bryan treasured the letter and brought it with him when he returned home, making it a family heirloom for years and generations to come.
The letter itself is beautiful in its simplicity and candor. On a small piece of paper, now faded to an antique yellow, the little girl wrote in careful cursive,

 

 

My Dear Father:

 

When Mother was taking her bath this morning I slid in behind her and cut this beautiful curl. I send it to you because it’s a part of Mother I want to keep so dreadfully bad myself. But all the same, I send it to my dear Father. 
 
Mother is better this morning, breakfast is ready.
Your loving child,
Mattie

 

 

I can’t wait to read your letters.

 

 
 

 

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