Daily Camera (Boulder)

Let­ters should go to the archive, not the shred­der

- AMY DICKINSON Family · Smithsonian Institution · Philco · Andrew Carroll · Chapman University

Dear Amy: My mother is 90 years old and is now con­sid­er­ing shred­ding let­ters from our dad that he wrote to her be­fore they were mar­ried. Dad was in the Navy.

My sis­ters and I would like to keep them when she is gone.

She reread all 174 let­ters re­cently and said there was noth­ing racy in them, so why not keep them for us?

What is your opin­ion on this?

Dear Daugh­ter: My opin­ion is that these let­ters — and any let­ters from any­one of this era — would be won­der­ful to have and to read.

Be­cause of her own per­spec­tive, your mother might not quite grasp that even quo­tid­ian ac­counts of life from 70 years ago would be of in­ter­est to peo­ple to­day.

Nat­u­rally, you and your sis­ters would be in­ter­ested in ac­counts of your own early lives and the com­ings and go­ings of long-gone rel­a­tives, but it would also be cool to read about some­thing as or­di­nary as, “I’ve been think­ing about get­ting one of those Philco tele­vi­sion sets,” or, “I can’t be­lieve gaso­line costs 30 cents a gal­lon!”

Ac­counts of peo­ple serv­ing in the mil­i­tary add an­other di­men­sion to the im­por­tance of these let­ters.

Re­search­ing your ques­tion, I read a story in Smith­so­nian Mag­a­zine about a re­mark­able man named An­drew Carroll and his heroic ef­fort to found the “Mil­lion Let­ters Cam­paign,” with the goal to col­lect one mil­lion let­ters from mil­i­tary mem­bers for the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can War Let­ters at Chap­man Univer­sity (search for the cen­ter at chap­man.edu).

Helped along through ad­vo­cacy from my es­teemed and leg­endary fel­low ad­vice-giver “Dear Abby,” this cen­ter has col­lected thou­sands of first­per­son mil­i­tary ac­counts of war and peace­time. Each let­ter is read and archived by staff mem­bers.

Per­haps in cel­e­bra­tion of Vet­er­ans Day this year, peo­ple will be in­spired to open that suit­case, shoe­box, or plas­tic bin — and read, re-read, scan, and do­nate these im­por­tant slices of his­tory.

I hope your mother will re­spond to your de­sire to share this his­tory with her.

Dear Amy: “Fre­quent Flier” wrote a very self­serv­ing ac­count of what it feels like to be an adult child liv­ing at home with par­ents. Flier com­pared the ex­pe­ri­ence of liv­ing at home to be­ing room­mates with par­ents. Thank you for point­ing out that if you don’t pay rent, you are not a room­mate.

I take is­sue with your char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of fam­i­lies who have adult chil­dren liv­ing at home, how­ever. I don’t know who you know, but ev­ery­one I know in this sit­u­a­tion charges their kids rent.

Dear Dis­ap­pointed: The pan­demic caused many young adults to sud­denly flock back home

(I’ve had two liv­ing at home for sev­eral months). Be­cause of un­em­ploy­ment, dis­lo­ca­tion, and fi­nan­cial in­sta­bil­ity, charg­ing (and pay­ing) rent is not al­ways pos­si­ble. I do agree that this ar­range­ment works best when both par­ties state — and meet — rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tions.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA