…pen-and-ink pen-pals..an endangered species… when was the last time you hand-wrote a real letter?… #TBSU…


…my good pal, Karen Soutar, remarked on my commentary feed the other day about the lamentable lack of proper pen-pal-ism… and it triggered a wee memory throwback for this ol’ Jurassic… I just wonder for how many more of yeez out there it would have the same reaction?… my guess is if yeez are under, let’s say 40 years old, the whole pen-pal with real paper and handwriting gig possibly passed yeez by… p’raps one of the downsides of the universal ease of access to computers and the internet… the same thing applies, I’m sure, to philately (postage-stamp collecting, Mabel)… I well recall, living as we did in Docklands Govan in Glasgow, the fascination and wonderment at being able to send letters squillions of miles away across the oceans to newly-found correspondents… for some of us, seldom if ever having travelled further than three streets away from where we lived, it was akin to communicating with another planet… I recollect at least a couple of pen-pals… the more prominent of these, for reasons which will become apparent as yeez read on, was a young lady in Filadelfya in ‘Merika, whose handwriting was the most wondrous art form I had seen up until then, with that peculiar (peculiar to we Scots, anyway) cursive penmanship, full of loops and whirly bits, and that funny way of joining up lettering for the letter ‘r’, with the front stem seemingly forgotten… she must have been all of nine years old, me the same (my, my, yeez do have a great memory Master Gallacher, going back that far)…


…the black and white photographs of herself were the surrogate for my first pin-ups (forerunner to ‘selfies’?)… and of course, because she was a GURL, the Celt in my young veins was immediately LUV-stricken… six weeks between postal exchanges was common, and only served to heighten the delicious anticipation of the next missive… it’s not recorded anywhere whether my puppy-ish adoration was reciprocated, but several of the envelopes were adorned with tiny wee hearts, and on one glorious occasion, I could smell some perfume… alas, this budding intercontinental romance faded as stuff took over… stuff like football, and stuff like school exams, and let’s face it, even back then, stuff like the prohibitive cost of postage stamps for a wee Govan boy… her name has long since faded from my wee grey cells, but this ol’ Romeo wonders what ever happened to that first long-distance Juliet?… ah well, back to the immediacy of the internet… but I do miss them days, don’t yeez sum’times feel the same way?… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!




Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

23 responses to “…pen-and-ink pen-pals..an endangered species… when was the last time you hand-wrote a real letter?… #TBSU…

  1. AH – the heady and hormone filled yonder years of teenage angst – aren’t ye glad they’re all over and done with?


  2. I love writing long letters to my dear aunts in other states, and little notes to friends across the miles. But, I must admit, Seumas, my penmanship has suffered greatly over the years. Sad…Great post of yours today!


  3. I used to love writing letters. It was the posting of them that was such a pain. Dunno why really, when I never found it any effort to go to the post office for a lemon sherbert.


  4. Karen Soutar

    Yay, glad my comment inspired this wonderful post! D’you know, I used to collect stamps, too? Ah, memories… 😉


  5. Pingback: Author Archives: Seumas Gallacher | theowlladyblog

  6. There was definitely something magical about having a pen pal and the squee moment of finding that letter in the mailbox. Maybe if people got more real hold in your hand while you read them lletters than advertisements, the world would be a happier place. Thanks for bringing back the memories….


  7. laurie27wsmith

    My penmanship leaves a lot to be desired Seumas, something a chemist would need to decipher. I remember at school in England we were given a name and address of someone in Australia to write to. Sadly it was up to the parents to supply the stamps, so any missives that would’ve dwelled in some museum of art and letters never saw the light of day. 😦


  8. Ah yes, the olden days of handwritten communiqués! Have you joined Postcrossing yet? That’ll get you your fix. And if you send me your return address, I will even send you a naughty story on a postcard! (It’s a project of mine that is in need of some early adopters.)


    • …hi, Laura… I remember your postcard thingy… I even sent you one a couple of years ago, m’Lady … I’m on the way to a work project in Bahrain today, so as yet have no forwarding address… however, I think naughty postcards in the Middle East may not get through and would perhaps put me in a spot, believe it or not! :):)


  9. What a delightful post, Seamus. I was thinking of my two pen-pals just the other day. One in England, one in France. they were a lifeline to other worlds (they and books).
    I was also thinking that in some ways, my blogging community has become a community of pen-pals. I love hearing their news and views and little bits of life.


  10. I had loads of pen pals in my younger days, and still remember the thrill of getting a letter from any one of them. Receiving a text or email can’t compare to the thrill of a handwritten letter landing on the doormat. I remember being introduced to a fabulous little thing called a ‘Friendship Book’. People would create a little book, eight or so pages long, and put their name, address and a little bit about themselves on the front, then send it off to a pen pal. The pal would add their details, then pass it on to one of their correspondents, and so on. Eventually the Friendship Book would return to its creator, full of exciting new contacts from all over the world. Ah, happy days 🙂


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