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Stamped Mail

Stamped Mail
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A lot of letters come to me, all kinds of letters. I often read that the handwritten letter is dead. Everything happens now on e-mail. Probably that is our future but in the meantime, there are reasons why all people don’t use e-mail. Not so long ago, I received a letter. The back of the envelope was stamped with a message that said it was from a Massachusetts Correctional Institution. They included an 800 number I could call if I did not want to receive any further correspondence from this inmate. This sounded a bit ominous and I opened it with caution but the letter, written in ballpoint on paper from a yellow legal pad, was from a man who said he had been in prison for 19 years and had invested every cent he had toward his appeals. He hoped and prayed that one day he would be vindicated. In the meantime, he had saved up money intended to be spent on commissary purchases and bought my book, The View from Mary’s Farm. He wanted me to know that, in that dark place where he lives, my stories touched him and brought back beautiful memories. Read a letter like that and you feel it is worthwhile to do what you do.

Last week, I received another letter, from a very different correspondent. The handwriting was crimped and a little uneven, written on stationery with a colorful bouquet of flowers at the top, the bottom edged in plaid. “Dear Edie Clark,” it began. “At last Yankee has printed a picture of you so I can write to tell you how very much I enjoy your writing. First I must tell you who is writing to you. I am 100 plus 8 months old, am reasonably well for this age, have 9 teeth left, am nearly blind, wear hearing aids and walk with a walker. But I still have my mind, thankfully.” This lady, who lives in Maine, went on to tell me her life story, which spanned a century,including living near the Panama Canal zone as her husband helped in its construction, running a cake decorating school, raising four children and adopting a fifth, losing her beloved husband, and now living very contentedly in a nursing home near the sea. She had, she said, read me for years and years. Another friend I did not know I had.

I know that most who write for magazines do not receive letters like this. Neither of these people are the “ideal reader” in the demographics that magazine publishers and advertisers desire. Far from it. Unfortunately, magazines hunt for the readers they want, readers who can buy expensive things and live a high life. I am happy for whoever enjoys what I write, be they rich or poor, in the nursing home or in the slammer. And so, especially in this time of e-mail and instant communication, I’m grateful for those who sit for a moment at their table, put pen to paper to express their thoughts, fold the paper, slip the page into an envelope, and place a stamp in the upper right hand corner.

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8 Responses to Stamped Mail

  1. patricia zegarelli February 10, 2009 at 4:00 pm #

    I have also enjoyed your writing for years. Raised on a small family farm(dairy and vegetable) some of what you write brings things flooding back. And you are right in that there is defintely something in receiving snailmail as the kids call it. I’m not the high life reader more just the average joe type, but I know what I like and the first thing I look for when Yankee shows up in my mailbox is your essay. It never fails to inform me or delight me and almost always both. Thank you for the many moments of pleasure and moments of reflection that you have provided over the years.

  2. Betty Kibbe February 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm #

    When our Yankee magazine is delivered, I always read Edie Clark’s page first. My daughter gave me two of your books Christmas before last and I read and reread them. When I cook, I cook comfort food. When I read your books, this is comfort reading. My husband and I own 20 acres of land and have a small garden center where we sells plants that are raised in our greenhouses. We also do Farmer’s Markets. Living on spacious land is comfort living. Keep this wonderful writing coming!

  3. Nancy Doyle February 10, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    I have loved your articles during the past eight years that I have subscribed to Yankee Magazine.The articles you have written transport me to places I would undoubtedly enjoy but have not had the opportunity to experience firsthandedly. One of my favorites is the one in which you shared your favorite Baked Bean recipe. I bought a brown bean pot in VT and continue to make your delicious beans in it. Thank you for sharing the recipe with your readers. Perhaps you have other favorites you would like to share in future articles. Please continue your beautiful descriptive writings. It is my favorite page in each issue!

  4. Robin Archer February 10, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    I too am an avid reader of Yankee Magazine and have enjoyed your essays for years. I had the opportunity to meet you at a talk you did in New London N.H. It is nice to put a face to the name. I love reading about the simple country life , especially in the hurry up and go lives we all live today. I feel as if I know you after reading your essays for all these years. Thankyou!

  5. George McCall February 11, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

    Dear Edie, This is Carol, not George writing, but I have read him many of your articles. I have saved a lot of them! I especially appreciate that when I wrote you a real letter about the article on the months with your mother living with you, you wrote back, a real letter.

    Thank you. Once in a while I reread that story. It was very meaningful to me.

  6. Doris Matthews February 13, 2009 at 7:23 pm #

    Dear Edie, I’m not at all surprised that you have all these fans out there. We all love reading your stories and value your words beyond what we can express. Thank you Edie.

  7. Alice Wagner February 14, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    HI – Oh-so-glad to find an update on your blog. I have loved getting mail all of my life – from watching for the mailman to come down the road past our farm where I grew up, later having a box at the post office at our small town (my out-of-town husband to-be sent an envelope addressed to “Adorable Alice” and it got to my box) and for the last almost 40 years a mailbox on the porch. I dread the no-mail holidays but if we must go to five-day delivery, I hope Saturday is eliminated so our faithful carrier can have two days in a row off. My sister and I email daily but write a paper letter weekly. Your blog makes me wish I had sent a snailmail instead of the emails I have sent you. Mrs. Alice Wagner in Wisconsin

  8. Alice Kokoszyna February 17, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    Edie I love your essays and it is the first article I read when the Yankee arrives. Thank You for continuing to write your essays. Alice Kokoszyna

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