Letter is ‘awesome’ reminder of slower pace

Day by Day:
Letter is ‘awesome’ reminder of slower pace

By LIZ THOMPSON

Mar 22, 2020
This Week News

My old printer finally spit out its last sheet of paper, just as I was attempting to print something to mail to my mother.

Yes, good old U.S. mail.

The printer’s demise was an inconvenience, but I reasoned it was about 10 years old. For electronics these days, that’s a good life.

I’m thankful it won’t end up in a landfill for another 50 years because there are ways to recycle almost anything – including old printers.

Just as my printer died, I was about to type a letter to my youngest grandson, who is deployed with the U.S. Armed Forces. He had just texted his new address. I replied that I would answer with a handwritten letter.

His response: “Awesome! Those are special!”

Being a grandmother who grew up writing everything by hand, this made me smile. In 2020, a young man thinks handwritten notes are awesome.

I told him, “You are special.”

In the early 1990s, I had a severe attack of multiple sclerosis that left my right arm and hand numb. Holding a pen or writing was nearly impossible. Fortunately, I was a typist.

It took years to regain normal use of that hand, and the numbness finally abated. I struggled to make my handwriting readable.

Then, in 2006, I broke my right wrist. After surgery, again, I had to teach myself to write legibly.

I have to concentrate to write anything of length these days, but it’s doable.

I have a letter my grandfather had typed to my brother and me around 1955. Typewritten to us then might have been special instead of the usual handwritten note.

A recent daily devotion stated, in part:

“We live in a world of instant gratification. We want what we want – and we want it now! Whether it’s faster internet speeds, ‘on-demand’ movies and music or same-day delivery for our online purchases, we live in a culture that expects things to happen immediately.

“Of course, there’s nothing wrong with fast internet connections, downloading a new release to your tablet or enjoying the convenience of same-day delivery.”

When I read this and then my grandson’s text – yet another instant-gratification tool – I realized writing a note by hand takes longer. I give it more thought because I can’t backspace or delete to fix an error or reword a sentence. Giving more thought about what we want to say is important.

My dad used to chastise us if we said something inappropriate in content or tone. He would remind us to think before we spoke.

How easy it is to spout off something in anger or even excitement and realize too late how we sounded.

It’s just as easy to shoot a text, email or tweet in a way we later regret. They’re not just words in the air but words that can be saved for a long time.

Are we that impatient to learn the latest tidbit of news that we can’t wait to talk with someone?

When we have celebratory news, we do want to shout it out. Besides, buying, writing and mailing announcements can take time, and we want to send the news now. Yet it might be made more precious sharing in a more personal way.

Many remember catalogs clogging the mailbox. We’d flip through them to see what clothes, toys or gadgets were offered.

I used to place orders by telephone. When I paid via check, the company would process the order once the check was received and cleared.

Sometimes, orders for home or business took four to six weeks.

We had to plan ahead and seldom made purchases on a whim. And yes, we used it up and wore it out.

Catalogs still exist, but brick-and-mortar stores are disappearing faster than I would like.

Now many stores don’t want checks, and some don’t even accept cash. Credit and debit cards often are the only game in town.

In these days of instant gratification, we can get used to and appreciate the convenience.

But I often yearn for a slower pace.

 

Storytellers’ tales deserve our attention

Day by Day
Storytellers’ tales deserve our attention

By LIZ THOMPSON

August 2017

ThisWeekNews

My late father-in-law loved to tell stories of the “old days” — coal mining in southeastern Ohio, life during the Depression and more.

He would be well over 100 years old if he were still alive.

When we learned of his cancer, one of his granddaughters gave him a cassette recorder and blank tapes so he could record his stories.

My husband, Bob, grew up listening to stories not only from his parents, aunts and uncles, but from others who lived near their farm and had emigrated from eastern Europe.

Recently, Bob was telling some of the stories to our grandchildren. They laughed and asked questions and were amazed at how different things were for their Pappy and his family than they are today.

Our granddaughter, Elizabeth, said she wanted to write down the stories, and that she did. With pencil and pad of paper in hand, she wrote the stories passed down from her great-great-grandparents and great-grandparents.

Intertwined were stories of her Pappy’s childhood and his experiences with all the former storytellers. It was a joy to listen.

Since Elizabeth is a writer in her own right, I have a feeling a version of these characters will show up in a novel or two in her lifetime. At least, she will carry the history on to the next generation.

I grew up listening to stories, as well. I never knew either grandfather, so my grandmothers, aunts, uncles and parents provided tales of life in the same old days. That might be where I learned to love weaving words into stories.

We moved to Grove City in 2005, when we came back from the West Coast. This town was my first beat as a reporter in 2000. I loved the feel of the town. The people were amiable and seemed to work hard for a living.

I had heard history revealed in personal experiences of the early days in Grove City from people like Pudge — that’s the only name I knew him by. I could listen to people like him for hours and never glance at my watch.

Our neighbors are friendly, much like those in the Westerville neighborhood in which I was raised.

In 2007, one neighbor, Ann, hosted a get-together. We were in for a real treat when Ruth Sawyer Jividen, who lived around the corner, was a guest.

Turns out she was the last direct descendent to the first settler in Grove City. She started talking, and I started writing. She was a female version of my father-in-law.

Ruth and I enjoyed our time together writing the “Ruth Remembers” columns, which were published for a few years in a local newspaper, now gone. I was fascinated with her experiences growing up in Grove City, and so were the readers.

Around the same time, Janet Shailer and Laura Lanese published “Images of America: Grove City,” and Ruth’s family homestead history is included.

Ruth is now with her maker, in whom she firmly believed. Her home has been refurbished, but it’s just a house. I’m blessed with my memories of my time with Ruth.

As a reporter in Upper Arlington, I met Pete and Marjorie Sayers, lifetime residents and true storytellers. Marjorie was the driving force for the book, “The History of Upper Arlington,” published in 1988.

A new edition, in honor of the town’s centennial next year, will be available in the fall. The authors interviewed Marjorie and others to give it a conversational tone, along with the historical facts.

Soon after I wrote a story about Pete and Marjorie, the editor of the newspaper asked them to write a column about Upper Arlington history.

The late Patricia Orndorff Ernsberger wrote “Bicentennial Journal” and later added an updated version, including “Uptown: People, Places and Events” about Westerville history.

Most towns have their own local historians, and families have their own storytellers. People of this generation are all but gone. Their stories remind us of different times — not easier, but simpler.

All we need to do is listen.

Ruth Sawyer Jividen

Bob and me with our granddaughter Elizabeth. Our dog Toby joined in.