At one time I had thought about making a category here called “Letters.” My intention was the sort of free-writing that comes from penning those cathartic letters that you never actually send to anyone, but that are great therapy to write. I also thought I might write some “open letters” to whomever out there, the kind of thing that expresses one’s opinion on a timely topic, perhaps to a famous person, the sort of epistle or rant that one hopes would go viral.
But when it came to sitting down to write, well, I just ended up writing poems, and posts about poems instead. I used to write letters to my sons when they were quite small, some even before they were born. I thought I could include some of them. I still might, but I never used the “Letters” category, and eventually deleted it from the blog.
Then my brother Jeff sent a pair of letters to a private forum of family and friends. Jeff lives six states away to the south and has friends on both the east and west coasts. So the forum is a way of keeping in contact with a large group of people privately, using a of bit music, along with stories of shared and revealed history as the basis for discussion.
It’s amazing the memories that an old song brings back, isn’t it? Not unlike the way the scent of sugar cookies can evoke recollections of your grandmother’s kitchen, the softness of her apron, that sense of being loved, just impressions maybe sometimes, but at others, quite vivid, detailed memories.
The song involved had nothing really to do with the letters I am about to share, except that the song was about a letter. And I can barely recall the letter I wrote at 9 years old, though I do remember the Star Trek toys I got that Christmas. It’s a wonder, given my spelling errors. that I grew up to love writing so much, or that I became any good at it at all.
But with his permission, I’m going to let Jeff tell you the tale of the letters in his line-by-line story-teller style as he presented it to us. His daily songs and stories are among the first things I read each morning over coffee, and I thought you might enjoy a peek into my past as a “writer.”
He suggested that I drop the last lines because they hint at a future post of his that I won’t be sharing here on the blog, but I will leave it there as it is, partly because the happy stuff is always only part of the story, partly because it shows my brother’s tenderness, and finally because it gives you a taste of the sort of thing that Jeff inspires me with each morning. That positivism tempered with a realism that honestly helps a little bit more than he realizes, and gives me some perspective, and sometimes a bit of strength as I climb out from the safety of my covers each morning. There is always another day.
Unfortunately, his typos at age ten are few. Not so my own. For my part, I laughed hysterically when I read it. “I’m crasy.”
I’ve been cleaning the pool table room, hope to shoot pool soon.
At the point where I’m making room in the file cabinet for papers scattered about.
I came across a bunch of letters.
Most are from me written to Mom and Dad when I was in the Army.
Mom kept those kind of things, and gave them to me before she passed.
There are a few from ex-girlfriends.
And a few written to me, one from Brenda, a few from Dennis, and one from David.
I’d like to share two of those letters.
The first is from me to Mom, from Camp Pamadeva when I was 10, dated Aug. 17, 1967.
I’m not going to correct the spelling in these, but transcribe them as written.
I’m having fun here at Camp Pamadeva.
My Councilor is called Paster Bob.
We go swimming every day.
I’ve spent a dollor on candy, pingpong balls, and shooting with a B.B. rifle.
I put a key holder in the envelope for the kids.
Don’t have the baby before I come home.
The kids would be the next two Baumans down, Steve and Crystal, who I’m sure needed a key holder.
And the baby, well that would be the baby of the family, David.
He was born a little over 3 weeks later on Sep. 10, 1967.
The second letter is dated Feb. 17, 1977, over 9 years later.
From David, when he was 9, to me, now 20 in the Army in Germany.
I am wrighting this letter case ther is nothing els to do.
And I am home with a sor throt.
You may know what I got for Crismas but i’ll tell you eny way.
You know that star trek set. Well I got that.
And the kapten and spok.
I think I’v become a star trek freek.
Iv ben baging my Mom for a cleingon. And Mikoy. And skotty.
I got Superman to.
And I asch her for a Capten Amarika and Akwaman and Shazam.
from David with love”
I don’t care who you are, that’s funny.
Maybe the craziest thing is that David is now an accomplished poet.
Or maybe that automatic spell fix was so confused it didn’t fix any of that.
Truth is, I needed those laughs.
Because yesterday I read three letters that made me cry, as old letters can do.
But that’s a story for another day.