Back before the internet, email or cell phones, when long distance calls were expensive, people stayed in touch through the mail. And those in love sent each other love letters. Some families treasure old love letters that were saved and tucked away only to resurface after a death. Unfortunately, my mother destroyed my father’s love letters to her, so I never got to read about the beginnings of their relationship. But I have words of love about my grandfather from my grandmother.
In general, I think, love letters went back and forth when couples were separated by distance. During the wars letters, heavily censored, kept couples connected. When I was in Oregon and the logger was in Alaska, we wrote letters. When I was in Massachusetts for a month, a romantic interest and I kept up a steady stream of letters. Most of those were about ideas, books and music, not what one typically imagines when thinking of “love letters.” But the “I miss you” and “I really miss you” can only fill so much paper!
I can’t imagine that people today are sending many love letters. Even our local card store has replaced its abundance of cards for a small corner offering. The rest of the place was turned over to gifts and clothing. And here postage has now gone to 55cents, a pretty strong disincentive to write when email is free.
Still there is nothing like the physicality of a hand written letter. There is the particular handwriting of the other. Sometimes there is even a little token enclosed, a sticker or a clipping, or a photo. I can’t imagine people hanging onto emails in the same way that we hung onto letters. And while I used to read and reread letters, I never do that with email and certainly not with texts, no matter how filled with kiss emojis.