Crazy as this sounds, long before the world wide web was invented, people sometimes actually met through the U.S. Mail. I promised I’d tell you more about Wayne’s and my introduction to one another through letter-writing. Here’s the second installment in “Rewind,” my series of short stories originally posted 10 years ago on Facebook.
It would be five months before the two letter writers would have the opportunity to meet in person. In those long months they would learn quite a bit about one another in their rambling letters. Even in the early 1970’s, letter writing was a bit of a lost art; it was (and still is) so much easier to let Hallmark do the talking and just sign your name. For them, the letters would serve as a solid foundation for the unique friendship that was in the making.
She, in her very first letter shared that she was in high school (but didn’t tell him how old she was), that she loved the Lord and enjoyed sharing the gospel with her friends, and that she was taking voice lessons from their music pastor on Saturday mornings.
He was amused by something in her first letter. She naively asked how he liked San Francisco (his envelope was addressed “FPO San Francisco”). He set her straight by gently informing her that the mail for all naval personnel in the Pacific area went through a fleet post office (FPO) in San Francisco. Then he proceeded to tell her how he liked being in Oahu and a little bit about how he spent his time while stationed on that Hawaiian island.
She loved writing letters to him and eagerly anticipated receiving his letters in the mail. Now, almost 40 years later, when she re-reads her own letters she laughs (and is embarrassed) at her obvious attempts to impress someone she didn’t know and the not-so-subtle way she stretched the truth about quite a number of things. In her letters she was on the church volleyball team (she did play volleyball almost every Monday night at youth group, but it was hardly a team…if it were a team, they certainly would not have picked her to be on it!). She was honest about her Algebra grade though…it wasn’t worth mentioning!
He shared quite a bit of introductory information about himself in his first reply letter too. He told her he was 21, had blonde hair and green eyes, wore a mustache, was 6’0″, drove a ’71 Gremlin, and that he attended Lanakila Baptist Church in Oahu.
She made it very clear in her first letter that she didn’t think much of her own physical appearance and was reluctant to send a picture because she thought she was ugly.
He thoughtfully countered by replying,
“You don’t do yourself justice by calling yourself “ugly” even if you meant it in a humorous way. First of all, anyone who writes me I consider beautiful. Number 2 is that beauty is in the “eye of the beholder” and 3 is that, whether or not a person is “beautiful” on the outside, he or she may still be ‘beautiful’ where it counts on the inside. How’s that for a 3-point sermon?”
She read that page so many times that the page itself is smudged with dirt, a muddy footprint on the page, a reminder of the time she dropped the letter while reading it for the hundredth time on the crowded city bus ride home from school.
He listed his hobbies as being numerous: stamp and coin collecting, swimming, fishing, body surfing, snorkeling, matchbook collecting, music, books, poetry, math, ping pong, pool, Milwaukee Bucks, etc.
She read the list over and over again desperately looking for something they had in common. Nothing! Unless…of course, she could mention that she had gone fishing on two or three occasions with her dad and she did like it. Exaggerating the truth once again, she wrote, “I always loved going fishing with my dad when I was a little girl. I’d love to try it again. I had fun until it came to cleaning them.”
Little did she know that she would have to eat those exaggerated words (and the fish) once she finally did meet him in person.
Next Up: “Her Crazy Little Letters”