Looking Back at an Early Slice – Another Spin-off

There were at least two inspirations for this slice.  I’ve linked to both of them. One came from  an Amanda Potts Persistence and Pedagogy’s post on Sunday in which she unearthed a piece of prose from her past.  Please pardon the plethora of Ps.  The second was from KimHaynesJohnson’s Common Threads blog where she wrote these words:  “I go back to that moment again and again in my mind still today, ever assured that this was the first time I identified as a writer – and more specifically, a writer who wanted to see the world.”

Amanda’s post made me remember some letters I had written as a child, and Kim’s post made me wonder about when I had started to think of myself as a writer.  I discovered an interesting convergence.

About 20 years ago, when I was finally clearing out the closet in my childhood home, after about 20 years of pleading from my mom, I found a crate full of letters.  I come from a family of savers.  My father saved wine bottle corks, rubber bands, twist ties, and rusty nails.  He came by it honestly.  His father not only saved bent nails, but he melted down the metal sleeves of wine bottles and created uniform weights out of them.  So, I guess it was natural that I had saved every letter I’d received.  In Kim’s post, she mentioned that she still sends actual mail from her travels, saying, “How else will my grandchildren know the joy of getting mail if I don’t send them postcards?”  She’s right.

As I was rifling through all the letters I’d received, my mom mentioned that she still had a bunch of the letters that I’d sent home from camp.   I knew she had saved my letters, but on this day, I was excited to hear that. Back then, my fourth grade students had a regular assignment on Fridays to write a letter home to their parents.  I was sure that my own vintage letters were going to be great exemples to share with my class.  Then I started reading.  

I was underwhelmed.

I kept the letters (of course), and even shared some with my class, but not as examples of great writing.  Instead they were more for comedic effect.  Mine were written when I had finished 6th grade.  “You see,” I’d say, “that’s what we call progress.  You all are writing much better letters in fourth grade than I wrote in 6th grade.”

I dug out some of those letters and revisited them yesterday.  Maybe I’m getting less judgemental or a bit more forgiving in my old age, but this time I felt like I was seeing them through a different lens.  Here’s the one that caught my eye:

Looking at these words today, I have these wonderings and observations:

It’s been almost 50 years since I hiked it, but I can still clearly see that mossy carpet that led us up Mt. Herbert.  Was it that brook or the writing about it that burned the scene into my memory bank?

Even though my writing didn’t quite do justice to that scene, I think this may have been the first time in my life that I desperately wanted my words to make someone see what I saw that day.  I didn’t carry a camera with me on hiking trips. Words were my only tool.

The fact that my mom saved my letters does not surprise me now that I’ve been a parent and have an attic full of art and writing projects created by my daughters.  But as a kid, knowing that she read my letters, responded to them, and saved them made me feel like my words had value. 

Maybe it was in these letters that I found the need to write, the challenge of writing and the satisfaction of creating something that someone else appreciated.

Finally, I still love a lemon meringue pie, but if I tried to eat three-fourths in one sitting, I do not think that I would be “feeling fine.”

8 thoughts on “Looking Back at an Early Slice – Another Spin-off

  1. I am so glad we posted our slices near each other so I would click on it and read. What a gift. You share your inspiration first with hyperlinks. Then I started connecting with you because I also come from a “family of savers”. Then to read your actual letter in your cursive handwriting. Then to read your reflection of what this letter meant to you. ALL so interesting. I especially like your pondering here: Was it that brook or the writing about it that burned the scene into my memory bank? Writing is powerful! Thanks for sharing so I could enjoy your written reflection today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I so enjoyed seeing life through the eyes of your letter and the former you. Thank you for sharing that perspective with us – it is so refreshing! I love the way you masterfully wove the present you into the past, and how you carry with you habits from your family members. This was a real treat!

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  3. This is not just a beautiful tribute to writing but also to your mom who honored your words. I read both Kim’s and Amanda’s posts and have reflected both on letters Ive written, most long gone as I did not have the foresight to keep them, and the moment I saw myself as a writer. I wish the moment would reveal itself because it’s truly magical for those it does.

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  4. Oh, how this post reaches right in and grabs my heart. Those moments of unearthing childhood letters and memories are so powerful and take us right back to the images and places of long ago. I’ve often thought of taking old photo albums and memorabilia and taking a couple of months to simply reminisce and reflect on times past to preserve the stories for future generations. In fact, I have recently asked my father to be a guest blogger on my site and he shared some poignant memories of baseball and his father’s interactions with Shoeless Joe Jackson in Waycross Georgia. These are times that we realize the impact that our writing may have on the future long after we are gone. This is so beautiful what you have written here today! Keep climbing mountains and eating pie!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow. I’ll look for the Shoeless Joe entry. I tried getting my father to do this kind of work too. I wish I had done it with a photo album for prompting. He wrote but it was hard to get him to actually capture a moment. He was a summarizer!

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  5. What great reflections. As I read your letter, I thought that you were already seeing the world like a writer. Now I also wonder if that memory comes from the experience or writing it down. My guess would be the writing. I love that your mom has these letters and that you now appreciate what that means-as a writer. Your writing is always a joy to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love how we can find pieces of our past in small things like letters. I also love that your mom kept them. This inspires me to write more letters and keep the letters that I receive. They can be an indicator of our past and tell people a lot about our history. I sure hope your still hiking mountains today but maybe just keeping it to one piece of pie. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. What a great letter. I can feel your desire to communicate – this is no mere “what I did at camp today”; you clearly wanted to share these moments. I’m pretty impressed. Of course, I’m also impressed that you at 3/4 of a lemon meringue pie & still felt fine.

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