Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Unearthing Some Ancient Letters

Yesterday, while sorting through the drawers of the nightstand next to my bed, I came across a packet of old letters way in the back corner of the bottom drawer.

These letters were written by me and sent home to my family throughout my years away at college.  My mother saved them all and returned them to me years later.  At the time I laughed and apparently stuffed them in the drawer to examine when I had more time.

I went to college in 1974 and graduated in 1978.  Next year will be my 40th class reunion.

It is now 2013, and looking at this pile of letters I find it ironic that my college mailbox number was C2013.  Perhaps this is the year I was meant to reopen these letters.

It is even a weird feeling for me to look at my handwriting there, and see my maiden name written by myself when I will still unmarried.

So much has happened in my life since then.

Approximately once each week I would laboriously write a long letter to my family, keeping them updated on all my news (including test scores) from the campus.  After reading my letter, my mother would make notes on it of things she wanted to remember to tell me the next time we talked.

Mom's notes for our next phone conversation.
Throughout that week I would be saving my pocket change, for every Wednesday night at 7:00 I'd make my weekly phone call home, and she'd catch me up on happenings back there.  The telephones in our dorm rooms were only for campus calls.  For long distance calls, I went to a coin phone elsewhere on campus.

At the other end, my mother would write her weekly letter to me each Friday afternoon, while sitting under the hair dryer at her weekly hair appointment.  I looked forward to receiving this mail from home either Saturday or Monday of each week.

When I started college in the Fall of 1974, stamps were 10 cents.  Here are a few of the ones on my letters then:

Sorting through the letters, I noticed that the price of a stamp jumped a hefty 3 cents to 13 cents in January of 1976.

During my sophomore year, I took an extended trip to Europe.  Here are some stamps on a postcard I sent home from Italy:

Looking at these old letters really takes me back to a simpler time.  Who could've imagined then that in just forty years everyone would have phones in their purses and pockets enabling them to talk to and even see and hear their loved ones?

Maybe a future post of mine will have to talk about the fancy schmancy calculator I took to college.  

Oh, and the typewriter, too.  Now that was a beaut.


  1. Very fun! When I was away at college, the most exciting days were when somebody got a package from home -- my Mom and sisters were great about sending things to me. I was fairly close to home (only about an hour away) so I went home for a lot of weekends, and didn't write too many letters, but there was a guy in my classes from out of state and we all loved hearing the letters he got from his Mom, detailing all the goings-on from thier little town. Letter-writing is a lost art . . . I need to make my boys do more of it.

    1. Even though I just found the letters again, I haven't yet read any of them. That'll be the fun part!

  2. Dang, you make me feel old. I started to Penn State back in the fall of 1961.

    1. Well that just means you probably had a typewriter too, right?

  3. I have a few of my old college letters home (49 years ago). They mostly seemed to be suggesting I could use some money:)

  4. This was a really cool blog post, Mom! I wish that we would have that kind of documentation from all of our conversations... That would probably be really fun to look back through.