Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Love of Handwritten Letters

I have been thinking about letter writing lately. I knew a doctor who had purchased a writing desk for the sole purpose of writing to his children and grandchildren. He had a sense of the importance of hand written letters. I was thinking about his desire to put his words to paper and wondered if the recipients of his letters would save them.

Handwritten letter collections are treasures. When I see someone’s handwriting, it is a bit like seeing the actual person for the handwriting is his or hers. I wonder if and how emails will be preserved. Emails just seem less personal for me.

I have two letter collections. One is a collection of letters written by my grandmother, Henrietta Danker Dollen Haskins. These childhood letters were written in the early 1900s to her Aunt Emma and Uncle Oscar Solum of Chicago. These adorable letters give an insight into young Henrietta’s life. The existence of her letters suggests that this only child was very cherished, as they have survived more than one hundred years.

The other letter collection was written my Henrietta’s son, Dick Dollen. These letters were and are cherished. Dick enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in California. His letters chronicle his naval days and give the picture of a young man asking for money, in trouble with his girlfriend and wishing to succeed. 

His last letter home was written on 1 October 1952. Plans were in the works for his trip home and his family waited with much anticipation. Life came crashing down for this young man and his family for Dick Dollen was killed the day after he posted his final letter.

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