This morning I was reading a book review at Powells.com, taken from The Washington Post Book World
Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting
by Kitty Burns Florey
This might seem like a frivolous thing to younger people, but I think it’s a shame that the art of penmanship seems to be in it’s final death throes. As a child I had friends move away, and then my own family moved, and the only way we could keep in touch was by writing letters to eachother. Real letters, with pen and paper. And oh! those trips to the specialty stationery stores, endlessly searching for just the right paper style and design to reflect our personality. The choices seemed endless. I had all kinds: florals, embossed, plain, die-cuts, different shades of white and cream, pink, green, blue, yellow. I never wanted to buy too much of one kind, because I’d be stuck with it for awhile and would have no excuse to go find some new luscious paper.
And then the pens. I had to have the right pen. I’ve always liked a fine point, with ink that flowed smoothly. Fountain pens were a favorite, although I was restricted to the mass-produced Schaeffer pens available in any discount store. I’m still a nut for nice pens.
The letters themselves were treasures. I remember the thrill of seeing a familiar handwriting on the envelope delivered by the mailman. Sometimes they contained photos, or some small trinket that girls like to send eachother. I loved getting letters so much I signed up with an organization that linked children around the world as pen-pals. I had pen-pals in Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Germany. As soon as I’d finish reading a letter, I’d start writing a response. Since it typically took a couple weeks to receive a letter, it would be about a month between when I’d write, and a lot could happen in that time. My pen-pal in Ireland and I kept writing well into adulthood, as each of us got married, became parents, buried our own parents, nurtured careers.
I even took a calligraphy course, another excuse to buy fun pens, beautiful inks and troll art stores looking for just the right paper. I have a little plastic box that was bought in a sporting goods store, made for fishing tackle, that I keep all the pens and nibs and and little glass bottles of colorful inks in.
I still have some of that beautiful paper that I could never bring myself to use. I don’t know what I’ll do with it, maybe someday I’ll write a real letter again.