Penning to Pals and Sticking Stamps

Since the announcement that the USPS is dropping Saturday delivery, I thought about the last time I mailed a letter or paid a bill.

**Edit: I meant to include the link to the announcement. Click here to read the new schedule that starts in August.**

Photo by Lynn Kelley via WANA Commons
Photo by Lynn Kelley via WANA Commons

Believe it or not, there are one or two bills that I don’t pay online. *shocked face*

I mail birthday cards to nieces and nephews that I don’t see often. I mailed Christmas cards.  That’s it. I know my correspondence behaviors haven’t helped our postal service.

Before email was common, I was a pen pal. I wrote letters, addressed them, licked stamps (before they became stickerlike), and sent them off. Then I checked the mailbox daily for replies. No hitting refresh.

My longest-running letter-writing streak was with my oldest friend from first grade. She moved to another state when we were in third grade. We kept in touch with each other with letters. Lots and lots of them. She taught me what “wicked” meant to kids in Massachussetts in the 1980s. We replied to each other usually within a day or two of receiving a letter all the way through college. I kept all her letters, too, until a demon cat sprayed my entire closet, and I had to throw out a ton of things. (She was an evil cat. I do believe she was possessed.) Now, we’re connected on Facebook and don’t correspond very often.

DC Super Hero stamps left over after a postage increase...
DC Super Hero stamps left over after a postage increase…

In high school, I had pen pals who lived in France as part of my French class. Those were short-lived, since the French students on the receiving end rarely wrote back more than once. In college, I wrote my high school boyfriend just about everyday (ahhh, dumb young love) until we broke up. I also wrote a high school friend of mine who was in the Army. The letters I looked forward to the most were from my high school besties. I recognized their handwriting and would open their letters before leaving the university mail room.

Now, a trip to the mailbox results in a few bills that aren’t e-bills, fliers for local businesses, catalogs, and other junk. The holiday season is the most exciting time of year because of the holiday cards.

While many people are sad to see the USPS closed on Saturday, the mail demand is not as great as it used to be.  Even though I miss the anticipation of opening my mailbox and finding a letter from a friend, I don’t write any myself. Email and text messaging technology have replaced letter writing.

Do you remember the eager excitement of opening your mailbox to see if you had letters to read? Who were your pen pals and how often did you write to each other? How do you feel about the USPS not delivering on Saturdays?

17 comments on… “Penning to Pals and Sticking Stamps”

  1. HI, Diana. I missed the official USPS announcement, but I’ve been hearing about it thru social channels! Oddly enough, what I miss is the anticipation of going to the mailbox hoping to hear back from a magazine editor that they wanted my story/article! I know email is easier, cheaper, and gets faster responses, but it really took all the fun out of getting the mail. And my penpal for French didn’t last very long, either!

    • Oh, I meant to link to the announcement. I’ll have to add that. Great point about waiting for responses in snail mail. It is a different feeling!

  2. It is kind of crazy how much and how fast the postal world has changed. They should have done this last year and they wouldn’t be even MORE in the hole, but it is govt. Govt types love to kick the dead horse and spend money on CPR for it. (wry grin)

  3. Diana, fellow WANA here…visiting your site is a real pleasure. My father retired from the Post Office so I have a soft spot for them, anyway…but, did you ever see the movie “Postman” with Kevin Costner? If our Democracy would be torn apart, or climate change increases, or if WWIII explodes, or plague breaks out…or any combination…we could be w/o the Net. I know the P.O. has to keep up with progress, however, the day we have no postman?? I really do not want to see that. (*lump in throat”). Again, congrats on a wonderful website. I love it! Good Job!

    • Thanks so much for the sweet compliment! I do remember that Kevin Costner movie. I’d forgotten about it. Do you know that the movie is set in 2013. Creepy! I couldn’t imagine not having a postal service either. I’m so glad you stopped by. 🙂

  4. I don’t even know how long it’s been since Canada had Saturday delivery. Most places don’t even deliver door to door anymore, as it’s all gone to superboxes at the end of the street. As much as I miss letters though, it’s hard to feel sorry for Canada Post. It costs me less money to mail a package to my grandma in Texas than it costs to mail the same package to friends one province over. I have a problem with that.

  5. My thoughts first turned to my grandparents. They were pen pals for years and only met once before they got engaged. My grandpa mailed my grandma the engagement ring. Such a sweet story of courtship, and it shows how much you can get to know someone just through the written word. I know teenagers believe that texting can replace that, but I’m not so sure. There is something about sitting down and contemplating what to put in a long letter that is ever so different from real-time communication with a few characters. I for one miss handwritten letters.

    But I agree that it’s time to let go of Saturday delivery.

  6. I’m terrible about mailing birthday cards out anymore, but I still pay my bills by mail! Haven’t had a pen pal in years, but I remember those days. That’s a shame that evil cat sprayed all those letters from your pen pal. They might have come in handy for some of your writing. How cool that you were able to use my photo. When I took it, I hadn’t even heard Saturday mail was being cancelled.

    • I think I cried a lot that day that I had to throw out everything–it wasn’t just the fumes from the…well, you know. 🙁 You always have great pictures in WANA Commons! Thank you for sharing them.


  7. jolenenavarro


    I still get a birthday card from my grandmother, but my birthday is a week after Christmas so it all hit the same time. I have a friend that prints all her personal emails and saves them like we use to do with letters. I think one of the thing that the next gens are going to miss out on is finding those old letters. I have several between my grandparents (WW2) and my parents when my dad was out of state at flight school. Me and my husband have some from college – but my kids have never written letters.

    • Printing special letters is a great idea. I do have friends who scrapbook some emails. You’re right, they are missing out on letter writing and going back to read old notes years later. They don’t know what they’re missing, do they?

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