Saturday, February 6, 2016
"Letters, we get letters ..."
My dad liked singer Perry Como and often watched The Perry Como Show (1948-1963), which, most of its run, was on NBC. Later, it appeared on Saturday nights (8-9) and then Wed. (9-10). I'm not sure why he liked Como, though he was genial, unpretentious (like my dad). Maybe--just maybe?--it was the pretty dancing girls who appeared each week? Nah, not my dad.
Anyway, one of the regular features on the show came near the end when those Pretty Dancing Girls would sing a little ditty:
Letters, we get letters,
We get stacks and stacks of letters.
"Dear Perry, would you be so kind
To fill a request
And sing the song I like best?"
And the Pretty Dancing Girls would bring to him a handful of letters. He was invariably seated on a stool (he liked to sit, did Perry), and he would open one and then perform the song some fan had requested. (Link to some video of this routine.)
Dad loved the mail, by the way. When we lived in Hiram, he was always the one to go to the Post Office to check Box 206 (ours) to see what had arrived--and in those days, the mail came twice a day. Later, when they were retired out in Cannon Beach, Ore., he would be the one to drive to the Post Office, pick up the mail, drive home (after a lengthy stop at the Lemon Tree, the little restaurant/coffee shop where he hung out), and hand each of Mom's letters to her, one by one, announcing what it was. (I think that would have annoyed me, had I been the recipient.)
I confess that I'm (pretty much) the One Who Checks the Mail--though I am not so foolish as to hand individual pieces to Joyce, one by one. There would be Dyer Consequences.
We get very little first-class mail these days. About the only personal letters are Christmas cards. The rest is junk, pretty much. Texting and email have replaced the USPS in many ways.
There are two people to whom I write old-fashioned letters every week: my mom and my dear former teaching colleague Andy Kmetz. Mom is no longer capable of using her computer (though she was quite adept for a long time), and Andy refuses to learn how to use a smart phone or a computer. He was always intransigent about technology during the years I taught and directed plays with him. He liked a record player, accepted the necessity of (but did not love) the tape recorder. That was it.
And so I write letters ... well, I type letters on the word-processor.
Neither one of them ever replies. My mom, 96, just can't. And I generally see Andy each week when we go over to his assisted living place in Kent. I used to write my dad a card a couple of times a week before he died in November 1999. I would buy ridiculous cards for him--congratulating him on a new baby, etc. I figured he'd get a kick out of them. But by then, he was incapable of response, as well. So I just had to imagine ...
I know that if I outlive Mom and Andy, I will probably write no more letters. Most every other intimate of mine is wired (and/or wireless). So ... that will be the end of it.
I can't really say that I look forward to writing letters each week, but I do know this: I will miss it horribly, when it's over.