At the end of last year the family were having a mass clear out in preparation for some renovations and I came across my ‘wafer tin’ which stores all the letters I’ve kept over the years. The letters mainly stem from the late 70’s and right through the 80’s. The day after my thirteenth birthday my family moved home and I started corresponding with my best friends. For some reason I’ve always kept the letters and it gave me such joy to sift through them. They smelled musty, probably from once being stored in the loft. Reading through them rekindled so many childhood memories, I was transported back in time to various events during my teen years and all of a sudden the old grey matter was remembering and reliving the moment – thank you brain!
And then it got me thinking just how much our youngsters might miss out on reliving those faded childhood memories. How many teenagers from today’s world of social media will be able to look back on their childhood and dig up old emails and Facebook posts from 36 years previously? Isn’t it a shame that they don’t have such special little memories that have been tucked away in little envelopes for all that time?
One of my friends sent me her news on Snoopy themed paper. Snoopy was dressed as the postman and he’s delivering a letter to Woodstock who is sitting on top of the post box with a big grin on his face.
My other friend often used little notelets and she sometimes sent two or three in the same envelope as there was never enough room for all she had to tell me on one; She’d fill up a notelet by writing useless information like “I’m sorry about the messy writing but I’m writing on my knee while laying on the sun lounger. It’s baking hot. I’ve just been to Sally’s house where we had a water fight.” I’m sure I would have sent her writing paper for her birthday!
I also retained letters from my late grand-mother; one particular one captured the essence of her morning trudge up to the shops in the snow and all of a sudden I was a little girl once again, holding her hand as we made our way to the shops.
My saddest collection of letters was during the Summer of 1985 when my brother was gravely ill with Leukaemia. He had persuaded me to continue with my Camp America trip but sadly nearing the end of my adventures, I was called home to see him before he passed away just a couple of days later. All the camp councillors and friends I had made on the trip sent me condolence letters and I’ve kept every one of them. I can’t remember who half of them are but to throw them away would be to throw away a connection to that time in my life.
Most of the letters had me laughing out loud as I recalled our antics, our boyfriends and our love of pop music. “My favourite groups are now Madness, The Specials, The Police, Blondi & Dexi’s Midnight Runners – I love their song ‘Geno”, from one friend; and another “Today I managed to out-stare Julia (old bag!) Katie’s mum told her she doesn’t speak good enough, so I’m giving her elecution lessons (ain’t I!)
I’m going to encourage my children to at least print something off to keep for ‘old times sake’ but I know they will just give me that ‘you poor love’ look and wonder if I’m ready to be sent to the old folk’s home yet (certainly not before my 50th birthday!) Sad isn’t it? Have you unearthed long forgotten childhood memories from kept letters or diaries?
(The names have been changed to protect the oblivious!)
5 replies on “Treasure Tin”
You have touched on one of my pet peeves and that is the reliance on email and not the hand written word. Wherever possible I correspond with paper and ink. Recently I visited Australia’s National Archives centre and one of the conservators was saying how the flow of ‘letters found under the bed’ when someone passed away had dried up. Emails will eventually overtake all correspondence. When that happens, historians, amongst families etc will have no chance of finding recorded history and we all know we can’t trust newspapers. You have spun a wonderful yarn. If only……..
Family history will dry up then – such a shame.
What a wonderful memory and oh! how today’s youth will miss out on their tomorrow’s. Well done for keeping that tin and sharing it with us.
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Lovely post Lucy. I too have some old treasured letters and it is great to re-live even the sad moments. All these things made us what we are today.
(I sometimes think I am forgetting how to actually write with pen and paper – so I make myself write in a journal from time to time! )
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Absolutely Mary Lou and that’s why it’s so hard to throw them away. I kept a diary when I was about 15 but it didn’t make for good reading so never kept it up – looking back I should have done but we are never too old to start are we?