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Norah Ephron wrote the screenplay for You’ve Got Mail in 1998. Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, the film features two business rivals who can’t stand each other in real life but begin falling in love via online mail boxes.


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Cliff Writes Letters to Me

Internet messaging was unheard of in the sixties of course. No one had cellphones either. Phone calls were very expensive for courtship on a teacher’s salary or college stipend. So our only options for staying in touch were letters written in cursive handwriting or sometimes typed.

The photos of love letters below have survived a garage flood in our first house in Sans Souci, storage on shelves in our Killarney house, “seasoning” in soaring and sinking temperatures in a work van, and now at rest in our art studio on Spindletree Way awaiting digital scans. Some of the stamps have become un-glued. A few of the letters are unreadable because of water damage. Still . . .

The letters have remained virtually untouched for fifty-two years. I’m curious about what lies within.

So, stay tuned . . .


* * *

After we married, my young husband wrote a poem to my Grandma Longenecker, whom he “adopted” as his own. The verse was written on tissue-like onionskin, lighter than 10# paper and cheaper to mail because it may have been sent via “air” mail instead of by US Postal Service truck. The envelope is dated December 26, 1967, nearly five months after our early August wedding. We spent Christmas with the Longeneckers that year, beginning the tradition of our biannual trips from Florida to the Pennsylvania home place, summer and winter.

I discovered this letter in Grandma’s attic in May 2017. She kept every piece of mail from family, a fact both maddening and endearing. Maddening because we had to sift through boxes filled with piles of paper – but also endearing because we found treasures to cherish.

Here is the evidence:

Cliff writes a Letter to Grandma Fannie (His own Grandma lived farther away in Washington state.)



Everyone needs a Grandma,

How would this poor world survive?

Or how would the milkin’ get done

And the vit’als cooked before the settin’ sun?

Why everyone needs a Grandma.

Everyone needs a Grandma.

Who would start the Christmas Feast

And work and bake with quick-rising yeast?

Or who would darn a hundred socks

And clean out cupboards on a box?

Why, didn’t you know? Everyone needs a Grandma.

Everyone needs a Grandma.

Who would clean out the garbage pails?

Better watch out! She’s tough as nails.

And who would watch your p’s and q’s

And get you out of all your stews?

Why, I think everyone needs a Grandma.

Everyone needs a Grandma.

Who would sit in a rocking chair

And read stories beside the fire’s glare?

And who would chase with sweet, chubby fingers

That one last tear that too long lingers?

Why, everyone needs a Grandma – even if she’s not your own!


Cliff, December 26, 1967




Do you have a precious letter (or two) you have held on to?

How have you stored them?  

Your story fits here!

I will return in 2018. Until then, Happy New Year!
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