Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Looking through the Letter Box

I have two boxes of treasure.    
The brown box is mostly filled with letters written by my late mother.    
The blue box is filled with letters written by my grandparents, my father, and one or two others who I'll tell you about later.

I had a bit of a rummage and a read this afternoon and I learnt some things I hadn't known before.    For example, I discovered my maternal grandfather was 5' 7" tall, which is also my height.  Trivial, I know, but I quite like knowing it.

I also learned that he was one of ten children, which presumably means that there are a whole host of relatives out there, of whom I had no knowledge.   Why, I wonder?

Some of the loveliest things I read this afternoon were letters written by my paternal grandparents.   I grew up living right next door to them until I was seven years old which was when we moved to Hong Kong for three years.    

As I read the letters I could hear my grandparents voices, their beautiful Norfolk accents.   I could see my Nanna's decidedly roly-poly shape encased in her pinafore, and the light glinting off her spectacles, just as I could see Grandad's hand holding the pen.   His hand which was lacking a finger (due to an accident), the big leather belt around his waist,  which he used to pretend would be used on us if we didn't behave ourselves.

My grandmother was kicked in the head by a horse, when she was a child.   She made a 'full' recovery but was left profoundly deaf, so Grandpa had to write notes to her and their house always had plenty of scrap paper and pencils lying around for this purpose.

I smiled at one letter where my grandmother was chiding my father for having put a 5p stamp on his letter, she told him that he should only have used a 4p one.   Typical Gran!

My mother was an extremely good correspondent, she wrote long and interesting letters to all the family and it was lovely to see how much they appreciated them, even though the responses were rather stilted as they struggled to find something newsworthy to write.

I took a trip back in time and it was a very enjoyable experience.

I was quite surprised to find that my mother had kept letters from some of the young men I had been out with before I fell instantly in love with my handsome husband!   

Those letters went into the bin,  just as it began to get a bit noisy out on the patio.

Two of my grandchildren had decided to call in for a visit - they live right next door, so it gets busy over here during half-terms and holidays.

Today they wanted to visit the hens, walk the dog, and bake some cakes.

No more time for looking through letter boxes and walking down memory lane today!

It is time to build some happy memories for my own grandchildren.


  1. Now those are two treasure chests! What fond memories for you to rediscover today!
    I'm sure your grandchildren will make full use of your company!
    Have fun!

    1. Hello Christine, The rest of the afternoon was very lively! When they are older I'll introduce them to the two boxes and show them some of the letters which I wrote as a child.

  2. I'm wondering with all the technology of todays' text messages, tweets, and e-mails, will there be no future letter boxes of memories to be had.

    1. Hello Meggie, I agree, I think that it is the fact that they were handwritten. Well done my mother, and her sister, for hanging on to them for so long!

  3. I feel it is a shame people seemed to have lost the art of writing a letter, texts and emails don't really replace it. I only have some old photos my parents took and one treasure a poem my Father wrote on his Honeymoon to mum on some hotel writing paper.

    1. Hello Bill, That is treasure indeed! What a wonderful, deeply personal memento. Did your father write more poetry or was that a one-off?

  4. What wonderful memories! I don't have any letters from my mother to her parents, but I do have some from my father to my Uncle Arthur (his brother in law) and my grandfather (his father in law) when we moved from Lancashire to Devon and they opened a business in Torquay, and it's all about the early days of getting a bit more trade each day. I also have letters from my mother's youngest brother to his family in the 1930s when he decided to seek his fortune in South America and came home one day and said he was off to Venezuela. He never returned home and they only saw him once after that when he was in the Royal Canadian Air Force in WW2 and 'dropped in' on them on a leave between flying sorties. Old family letters are wonderful. What a shame we tend to email and text these days. Nothing for the historians of tomorrow.
    I actually have some letters I wrote when I was about 14 to my Uncle who was then on holiday in Canada. My mother gave them to me after he died, he had kept them all. The funny thing is, my girly letters, written in green ink on onion-skin air mail paper are very much as I would write today, the only difference is content - about what happened at school, school dinners, At Home days (our headmistress did away with speech days and had At Homes instead) and so forth. I can now read them and they bring back instant memories of my grammar school in the late 1950s.
    Margaret P

  5. Hello Margaret, I cannot remember the last time I received a handwritten letter through the post, probably back in the late 1980's. My parents continued to write and receive vast numbers of letters right up until the end of their lives. They enjoyed the process of writing and they certainly enjoyed receiving the replies and watching the postman walk up the garden path each day.
    Your collection of family letters sound very interesting, plenty of varied content there. An uncle who set off to seek his fortune in Venezuela, goodness but that sounds thrilling. How lovely that he kept your letters and that they found their way back to you.
    Grammar school days - those words bring back memories of heavy felt hats for the winter and straw boaters in the summer, blazers and Mackintosh raincoats, regulation stockings and shoes. A penny bun to eat nibble on while we drank our disgustingly warm milk at first break. Happy days - well, not for me, but that is another story. I hope your school days were happy ones.

    1. It was my Lancastrian Uncle Arthur who kept my schoolgirl letters, not his and my mother's younger brother who set off for S American in the 1930s. I never had any letters from him, but his letters to his family are very interesting.
      One of these days I will tell the tale of going for my grammar school uniform, it's a day etched in my brain! I wasn't particularly keen on school, either. I quite liked it to start with, it was all new, but I fond much of it boring, especially games and gym which I did my best to get out of. I think I had the longest menstrual period in history as each week I would say, "Please Miss, I have my period, may I be excuse hockey/gym/netball?" and of course I would be excused. Naughty, but essential if you didn't wish to have your shins barked by a hard ball, or do ridiculous gate vaults in the gym which I couldn't do anyway!
      Margaret P

    2. You could almost be my twin sister, except that I loved netball! I detested hockey, it was far too brutal; I didn't like swimming in the unheated pool either, so I trotted out the same excuse as you.


Lovely to hear from you!