Pippin and The Professor gave us a book for Christmas, Letters of Note, a compilation by Shaun Usher, whom I might call Usher the Gusher, he is that enthusiastic a promoter of his book. I wish he would let the letters speak for themselves, but his glowing commentary doesn’t detract too much from the delightful pastime of reading the letters.
It’s the best kind of browsing book, and makes me want to dig up and display cherished letters I have been blessed to receive over the years from relatives and friends. It also makes me want to write more letters myself…I actually should be writing some Christmas thank-yous right now!
This evening I’m very tired in body and mind, and am so happy to have such reading material — it could only be improved by being in two volumes so that a weary woman could more comfortably hold one while sitting in a straight-backed chair by the fire. The wind is blowing icily here these days, and it seems that windy cold is better than still because it is chasing the pollutants away and making it o.k. for us to burn wood.
So far I have read at least a couple dozen letters including some from children to government leaders, e.g. Fidel Castro to FDR, and the one pictured above, in a very different spirit; letters from widows and widowers to their deceased spouses, e.g Richard Feynman and Katherine Hepburn; and a letter from Clementine Churchill to her husband advising him to rise above his stressful situation and be a nicer man (below).
Many of the letters are shown in a facsimile of their original typed or handwritten form, like this one from Ray Bradbury responding to a letter from someone who had concern about the effects of robots on society.
One of the most compelling so far is from Lucy Thurston, who endured a mastectomy without any anesthetic. In the 19th century she was a missionary from Massachusetts to Hawaii along with her husband. After the surgery in 1855 she lived another 21 years. This letter of which I show a small part is to her youngest daughter:
The book includes 125 letters, but when I run out I can go to Usher’s website, also called Letters of Note, where 900 missives await my discovery. Some of those no doubt are printed in the book, but that still leaves 775….
Going now to stoke the fire.