Olema letter-writing social

Teresa Mathew
Seven-year-old Clio Escalante writes to her granny and grandpa during a letter-writing social at Sea to See in Olema last Saturday afternoon. Read about the event, held in celebration of National Card and Letter Writing Month, on page 6.  

Sending a letter in the mail requires paper, postage, ink and time. That last factor might be why receiving a letter feels like receiving a gift in an age when missives by text or email prevail. For the attendees of a letter writing social held at Sea to See in Olema last Saturday, it may also be why sending letters feels like a special act. The social was held in honor of National Card and Letter Writing Month, a title the United States Postal Service gave April in 2001. Mike Parkinson, who organized the event, said he likes “sending mail and receiving mail, and I wanted to spread that to others. People like getting mail—and it’s not a bill!” Maggie Wolfe, the store’s owner, agreed. “It’s such a fun community-building activity,” she said. “Writing letters is rad.” At the large, circular table in the shop’s front room, a handful of children carefully wrote out lines to relatives, friends and even the President (the sentiments inside varied). Lenni Marshall was writing to her aunt and uncle, in part to wish them a happy Easter. Adults got in on the fun as well. For many, the act was driven less by novelty than by nostalgia. “I’m writing letters to my best friend, who I’ve been writing to for 33 years,” said Heather Oakley, who lives in Olema. Although letters between the two friends are less frequent than in the past—years ago they wrote up to three times a week—Ms. Oakley said they try to correspond once a month. “I want to be writing to her more,” she said. “I used to be able to write when I was on the subway, but now it’s difficult to carve out the time.” When Alex Porrata saw a card on the shelves illustrated with a camping chair, she knew she had to send one to her friend and fellow Inverness resident Dakota Whitney. “She plans a camping trip for many of us, and I wanted to thank her for the opportunity for so many memories—and tell her she can always sit in my camping chair,” Ms. Porrata explained. “There’s nothing that compares to a handwritten card. It’s like 100 times more special, the fact that someone took the time to put pen to paper.” Once the letter writers had signed and sealed their epistles, it was time to deliver. In addition to paper, envelopes and writing implements, Mr. Parkinson had also brought vintage stamps—some themed after circuses, famous artists or religious liberty. They were largely for decoration, as most did not carry enough currency to actually mail the letters, so Ms. Wolfe handed out new stamps to make sure the cards would reach their recipients.