Old Mail Returned to Sender

Last month I wrote about hearing from my old friend Dave Kulka. He was Dave Kulka, now he’s David. That happens when you grow up I suppose.

I wonder why I haven’t become Geoffrey?

Dave and I have spoken on the phone a few times since then. Recently, he came across some letters I sent to him from the late sixties to the mid seventies. Now, he’s sent them back to me.

They came yesterday before work, but I have been scared to read them. Isn’t that weird? I wasn’t sure what I would find – what I had said – what I was like. I’ve always been good at avoidance in situations like this. A few minutes ago, I finally picked them up and began to read.

Assuredly, I am not the same as I was then. That is not good nor bad, just fact.

Now that I’ve peeked, here’s what I know. I was very free in what I said. I talked politics, social issues, personal stuff. Then, as now, I wasn’t scared to show myself warts and all. These letters talk about success and failure.

It’s a shame there were no spell checkers or grammar checkers back then because I was in desperate need of both! Most letters were punched out on an old Royal manual typewriter. Once you typed a letter, it was stuck on the page, difficult to remove.

Was there Correctype in 1968? Not in my house.

I’m going to upload a small piece of one of the letters just for a little feel of the times. It was sent two days before my 18th birthday. The header said what was foremost in my mind: In two days I’d be registering for the draft! In 1968, the prospect of Vietnam petrified me. Getting a draft card was the first step in the process. It didn’t mean I’d get drafted – only that I could.

It is interesting to see me refer to my mother from a teenager’s perspective. I hope she can see it in her heart to forgive me for the kind of kid I was… though the letter implies she read this as it was being written. It is also interesting to look at how I was nonchalantly making plans to fly across country, my first time away from home, to meet someone I didn’t know in a city I’d never been to!

Over the next few days I’ll look for a few more snippets to post. However, I’m not sure that there is a letter that doesn’t have at least one embarrassing passage I won’t put on the web. There are warts and then there are warts. I’m no longer 18.

2 thoughts on “Old Mail Returned to Sender”

  1. Thanks for sharing. I remember often writing letters and saying things like, “It’s time for dinner” and then coming back to the letter days later and picking up where I left off. I guess nowadays kids just leave their IM in the middle of a thought and pick up where they left off 😉

  2. Good nostalgia. Wish I could see one of my handwritten letters from 1981, when I was 17 and nonchalantly flew out West to stay a month, part of the time with people I’d never met. And how refreshing it is when people are free with what they say at that age~ and when that willingness to show the warts extends into other decades. You seem to pretty much still do that….

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