I Take Pen in Hand
Rarely Cursive is becoming a lost art
by Vicki Marsh
Am I one of another dying breed?
That’s what I thought as I hunted for those small stationery cards that had come in the mail a while back. Freebies from the American Vets or Elks; I can’t remember which.
On a day with nothing to do, I decided to reply to two notes that I had received. I couldn’t just zip off a quick email, because these folks don’t have computers. I had to handwrite a reply.
Finally, tucked away in the bottom desk drawer, I uncovered the cards. Retrieving the box, I drew two out of the deck, sorting through titles such as Sympathy, Get Well Soon and Birth Greetings, before I found what I was looking for: Just a Note to Say Hi.
Such small cards are meant for smaller and faster reply. Sitting down with pen in hand, I couldn’t remember the last time I wrote a note or letter. Now, if I wanted to get a reply, I had to answer the questions I’d been asked.
I’d write the first note to my cousin in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, my hometown. I knew what I had to say to her: Could I spend the night at her home for our 50th high school reunion? She and I were in the same class.
The second reply was to friends in Ontario, Canada, whose acquaintance I made last year when wintering in Florida. They are lovers of birds listed on the Florida endangered bird list, especially wood storks, and they wanted to know how Rosie, their favorite, was doing. I told them I’d learned to recognize Rosie and her pink legs. Before I came home midwinter, she showed up with a daughter with pink legs just like her own.
I formed my thoughts and began to write. It felt good to take pen in hand and put my feelings and thoughts on paper. I had a warm feeling as the ink flowed. Finishing my task, I felt nostalgic and happy. Is this how Emily Dickinson felt as she finished each poem?
A few days later, I told a girl friend about my letter writing. She said she had received a letter from an old co-worker who was computer savvy and thought the handwritten letter weird.
Another friend hates to write except by email.
These days, it seems like written correspondence is as endangered as those wood storks. As if the effort of putting pen to paper and stamp to envelope takes too long. I, too, find it easier to type easier on the hand as well as faster than to write.
As a girl, I had pen pals. We’d exchange pages of monthly updates detailing our summer vacations and school life. Are cursive pals not email pals still out there?
Maybe I am part of a dying breed.
At the local pharmacy, my eye was drawn to a large selection of stationery. How could I resist the beautifully packaged sets? Cards and notepaper brightly packaged in yellow daffodils, pink and blue bunnies, gardens of flowers, some scented, others not. Quaint Victorian laced packages. All called out to me. Wistfully, I knew that I would never use all the paper in those delightful bundles because I have carpal tunnel, limiting my writing to short notes. Long letters I’ll email, or I’ll make a long-distance call.
I felt a touch of sadness as I left the store empty handed.
Vicki Marsh reflects from Deale Beach. Her last story for Bay Weekly was The Jailer Doesn’t Work Here Anymore (Vol. xv, No. 20: May 17).