The Morning Mail

Apr 28, 2012 | 3 comments

     The morning mail in this household was always a big event in my childhood.  My grandfather would go to the post office sometime in mid-morning and he and my grandmother (and any of the other family members who happened to be here) would gather around the woodstove to hear ‘the news.’
     My grandmother had lost her sight by then, so Papa always read the correspondence aloud.  It was the highlight of the day and usually provided conversation topics right through the dinner hour.  Family members were scattered all over the United States and there always seemed to be a letter or two that was just plain-old friendly correspondence – not business related, not advertising  The term “junk mail” hadn’t been invented yet.  Neither had “spam – at least not to do with the mail.
     Of course, there was usually some mail other than letters from friends and family.  I remember that my grandfather opened and read all the advertisements, too – and he and my grandmother actually talked about them and thought them over.  It was one more way of keeping apprised of the greater world here in isolated Oysterville.  But there weren’t so many of them as now.  And, as I remember, they were targeted more specifically at my grandfather’s business interests – not just a generic information blitz.
     We still get morning mail but it has changed character considerably.  Friendly correspondence is frequent but comes in the form of emails or as facebook messages.  Unfortunately, so do advertisements.  Most of those I just delete without even opening them. I mentally file them under the heading, Information Overload.  Of course, we go to the post office each day, as well, but if there is ‘friendly correspondence’ in our mailbox, we consider it a Red Letter Day.  It just doesn’t happen very often.
     At some point during the day, we do get together to open (or simply toss) the snailmail.  Mostly what we get are bills. and they are seldom topics for pleasant dinnertime conversation.  If we can remember our email or other online messages, we talk about those, too.  I guess the operable words here are “if we remember.”  In some ways, communication (at least within the household) was simpler in the days of my grandparents.  A letter in hand was certainly more likely to be discussed and remembered than is a message from cyberspace.  Or, at least that is my current excuse…


  1. Mark

    Hi Sydney,
    Get yourself an iPad and then you will more likely to share incoming email and other objects of curiosity at the dinner table. It’s happening that way at our place. We will pull out the e-tablet to share something or check a reference while sitting with a cup at the end of the meal. Very much like the old days…again!

  2. Jean stamper

    Mark is right! Wayne and I are sitting over lunch reading your blog as we do each day when I check my Facebook on my I Pad. Thanks for your “letters” each day.

  3. Kathleen Shaw

    What a fascinating notion, Mark and Jean! I’ve read that we should expect customer service to improve because of the nature of “social media” and the ability to communicate dissatisfaction almost instantly with thousands of people. Perhaps we’re coming full circle, and maybe iPads and the like will bring back that communication you remember so well, Sydney.


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