I recently received a very nice letter from a very old friend of mine.
His name is William K. Davis. Long before Bill became one of the icons of the automobile industry in our region, he was just a friendly guy on my paper route when I was a kid. Bill and Alma Davis went to school with my parents in the 1940s, so I guess I've known him almost my whole life.
His letter was a cheerful welcome that day. But the contents of the letter, while fond and witty, were not the reason I was so taken to find it in my mailbox. It dawned on me.
I don't think I have received a handwritten letter in the mail in years.
Bill's letter was a classic from the "old school" mode of communication. His stationery letterhead was stylish and understated, much like the man himself. His handwriting was the florid kind, like you would find in a note from your grandfather. The salutations were in the proper place; the date was written out, not abbreviated; and his spelling and punctuation was precise.
It's too bad more people don't write letters like that anymore. Perhaps it's just too easy, what with e-mail, Skype, Twitter and all the other nonsensically named means of talking to each other.
I, for one, still think mailing a letter is one of the best deals around.
I probably wrote and mailed my first letter in 1967, from college. It was probably to my parents, and it was probably asking for money. The stamp cost me 6 cents. I knew it got there because a money order arrived at my college residence a week later. Not a bad turnaround for a total of 12 cents, especially to an eager college freshman desperate for a couple of bucks to go out to happy hour with his buddies.
In 1982, I sent out birth announcements sharing the arrival of my first child, Frances. The stamp then cost 20 cents. Katie, four years later, set me back 22 cents. But with the return of baby clothes, car seats and U.S. Savings bonds, well, the 20- and 22-cent investments were well worth it.
Today, my daughters live in California and South Carolina. Although they use the more "techie" means of contacting the Old Man (usually asking for money, as I did in 1967), I still rely on the mail to get the resources to them. Call me an anomaly, but I have never had a single piece of mail go wandering off on its own never to be seen again. And all of this for 44 cents. And the mail usually gets to the West Coast and to the South in three days. Amazing.
I realize that we always hear stories about the post office operating in a hole so deep (millions? trillions? gazillions in debt?) that service curtailments are imminent. But for me to send an envelope from Oneonta to Los Angeles and have it arrive safe and sound (as it always does) in three days still leaves me in awe.
I probably go to the post office more than the average person. In fact, I go daily. Always with books to mail, bills to pay and letters to send. And sure, it can be a daunting task. I go to the main office in Oneonta. Traffic around it is as tricky as trying to navigate the unlined road lanes around the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The wait can be maddening, especially around this time of the year. We stoically endure the ritualistic questioning ("Would you like post box information? Anything deadly in your package?"). Still, that is how a bureaucracy works -- a massive labyrinthine government bureaucracy, which the post office epitomizes.
I must say, I am totally impressed with the care and professionalism of the folks on the front line, however. They withstand our queries about packaging materials, flower stamps and "can I borrow your tape" with nary a grudge.
For me, seeing Colleen, Sandy, Tyler, Laura or Ed every day is as comfortable as seeing my neighbors or my radio listeners. I give them my letters, they smile, and then whatever happens magically behind that big gray wall begins to come to life. And somehow, usually within three days, I get a call from one of my daughters saying: "Thanks, Dad. The money came today."
And they do it all for just 44 cents!
Well, for right now, anyway.
I'll catch you in two. …
'Big Chuck' D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at email@example.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.
I recently received a very nice letter from a very old friend of mine.
- Big Chuck
Baseball cards: Different spokes for different folks
Baseball cards as an investment? Fugetaboutit!
It's just a short drive down my memory lane
Oh, if my old man's car could talk.
Sept. 11 Museum is sobering, inspiring
I visited the September 11, 2001 Memorial Museum in New York City last weekend.
Remembering the singing cowboy
There were not a lot of job openings for a kid of 8 back in 1957. Some of my friends wanted to be firemen and a couple wanted to be professional baseball players. Maybe a cop, a teacher or a soldier or two. And the weird kid up on the corner wanted to be president of the United States some day. Dreamers, all. Thinking way above their heads. Me, I was a realist. I wanted to be a singing cowboy.
The plain plane truth ruins CNN
Bye-bye CNN. It's been nice to know you.
- Monday, May 5, 2014
Laurens mall was no mere child's play
Shop local. And shop often.
- Monday, April 21, 2014
Woodstock continues to provide memories
I went to Woodstock last weekend. No, not the concert site. The village.
- Monday, April 7, 2014
Let's put a check on 'check engine' light
The absolute worst thing that can befall a driver happened to me on the way to work this morning. The one singular auto event that can send shivers of fear and panic up the spine of even the most seasoned road warrior.
- Monday, March 24, 2014
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks
It has been a while since we opened up the readers' mailbag, so let's see what is in there.
- Monday, March 10, 2014
1965 Oscars? Thanks for the memories
Well, the 86th Academy Awards are over. And for the record, I did a pretty good job in my Daily Star Oscar picks. I got them all right except one. Cate Blanchett was the spoiler in my clean sweep. Not bad, if I do say so myself.
- Monday, February 24, 2014
There was just no telling about snow days
Winters get harder as we get older. Things change. It snows more. It snows less. It gets colder. It's a lot milder. It all changes as our knees start to creak and the thought of shoveling a foot of snow seems positively daunting.
- Monday, February 10, 2014
And the music goes round and round
The day has finally arrived.
- Monday, January 27, 2014
When did pranks turn into vandalism?
I was a teenage vandal.
- Monday, January 13, 2014
Happy and sad memories of Jan. 7, 1966
Jan. 7 is always a big celebration day in the D'Imperio family. My twin sisters, Teri and Mary, plus my youngest daughter, Katie, all share it as a birthday. The date, however, is not without a dark significance.
- Monday, December 30, 2013
Lesser known greats that passed away in 2013
The year 2013 is drawing to a close and as it does I would like to give a tip of the hat and a fond goodbye to a group of famous people who left the world stage. Their departures will be noted here in this column although they may have missed a final adios in the major media outlets. Letâ€™s give them their moment in the sun.
- Monday, December 16, 2013
Reunions all the sweeter amid WWII
There is nothing like running into old friends in the most unexpected places. Like on a vacation, or in a mall or even in the supermarket. It is always a time for a â€œHail and how are you?â€� moment.
- Monday, December 2, 2013
There's no tough sledding when you're a youngster|
Winter weather is here. And so are outdoor winter activities.
- Monday, November 18, 2013
Vroman's Nose hike is no walk in the park
I haven't gone on a hike since 1961 when President Kennedy asked all Americans to take a 50-mile hike for physical fitness. I did it then. With a large group of my schoolmates and friends. We walked from Sidney to Oneonta and back.
- Monday, November 4, 2013
Being a grandpa will be better than just OK
I am going to be a grandfather.
- Monday, October 21, 2013
Some hits from the soundtrack of my life
As most people know, I wear two hats at my radio station.
- Baseball cards: Different spokes for different folks