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My dearest YouPlayers...

30
May
2013
 

By Jessie

A charming story emerged in the news this week about a lost love letter penned by a former Australian Prime Minister.

Ros Mills, a 74 year old Tasmanian woman was renovating a cottage that was once the residence of Joseph Lyons and his wife Dame Enid during the early years of their marriage. While having a wood heater installed, Ms Mills found the letter, dated 1918, which had fallen behind the mantelpiece. The handwritten document expressed Mr Lyons’ love for his wife while she was pregnant with their second child:

My girl, I love you with all my heart and soul and I hate to be away… if possible I’ll ring you after tea tonight. Excuse me now love, kisses to Desmond, from Dad.

Joseph Lyons love letter

Image: The lost love letter (www.abc.net.au)

Lyons was the widely respected 10th serving Prime Minister of Australia (1932-1939). His relationship with Enid is documented as being a real life love story; the couple had 12 children and were devoted to each other and their family.

The article triggered fond memories for me about other ‘Great Moments in Letter Writing’ that I’ve encountered over the years. I remember the electric frisson I felt the first time I read Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of those sentiments or renewal of those offers which were last night so disgusting to you. I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling myself, by dwelling on wishes which, for the happiness of both, cannot be too soon forgotten: and the effort which the formation and the perusal of this letter must occasion, should have been spared had not my character required it to be written and read. You must, therefore, pardon the freedom with which I demand your attention; your feelings, I know, will bestow it unwillingly, but I demand it of your justice.

Can you imagine receiving a letter like that? Such passion! Such fury! (In fact I’ve decided to go back and re-read Pride ASAP; I’ve forgotten just how good it is…)

There’s something about the handwritten process and tactile medium of pen, ink and paper that lends a letter so much more weight and gravitas than its modern counterpart, the email (or worse, the text message!) It makes me yearn for times passed, and I think it’s quite shocking how quickly we have discarded the practice in favour of new technologies. Perhaps a letter writing renaissance is in order? 

Fascinating to me is reading advice given by parents to their children. In 1933, author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the following to his 11 year old daughter Scottie while she was away at camp:

Fitzgerald & Scottie

IMAGE: F.Scott Fitzgerald & daughter, Scottie (www.listsofnote.com)

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about. . .

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

As someone who spends an unhealthy amount of time worrying about bugs, I can take a lot from that.

And on that note, I should mention that this will be my last blog for a little while as I head off on Maternity leave and await the birth of my second child. I’ll make sure to stick my head in now and then though! Best wishes to you all.

Do you write letters? Or have a favourite excerpt to share?

Jessie x

27 Responses to

My dearest YouPlayers...

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May 30, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Hi, Jessie, Wishing you all the best as you await the arrival of your new baby. Get lots of rest if you can. Regarding letters, I lived interstate from my Mum, who was in her 70s when I was married. She missed me a lot, and demanded frequent letters. I'd run out of things to write about, and developed a correspondence between our budgie, Fred, and his Nanna! It became quite a feature of family life, quite hilarious, as of course, budgies don't spell very well, but he told her everything that went on. Especially when we "larft" at Fred, he'd say "You woodern't larf at me, wood you, Nanna?" and sent her an occasional feather. Sigh - anything to amuse my Mum!

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whimsey9 said:
May 30, 2013 at 1:28 PM

No comment about the letters, but I hope your children give you the pleasure my six have given me.

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tiggercat said:
May 30, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Hi Jessie - best wishes for the imminent arrival, such an exciting time for your family. My mother and I have written regularly for the last 35 years since I moved from Scotland to Australia. It's still such a good feeling to find her letter in the mailbox and my letters to her are passed around the entire family. She's very suspicious about Facebook and my knowing what's happening before she tells me in her letters so I have to be very careful to wait for the 'official' news! We share photos, newspaper clippings etc and it's a real joy to receive them. Other family members use Facebook or email which is good, but not the same as the snail-mail.

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said:
May 30, 2013 at 7:23 PM

all the best jess sending hugs to you and your family and the new one to come as a brother said jess thats progress and i said yeah for the worse

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said:
May 31, 2013 at 5:45 AM

There's an enduring nostalia that old letters retain. When my nan died, all the letters I had been told to write to her, from a very young age, were returned to me. They brought huge emotion and insight into my forgotten childhood. Old photos endure as well. We lost 8 years of digital family photos when a computer crashed, but retain all the photos (including bad shots) from years before computers. Makes you think... Best Wishes with No. 2 babe, Jessie! I'll miss your clever words. When are you due?

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lucilleaa said:
May 31, 2013 at 10:58 AM

It is considered a very treasured event when my nieces and nephews (now ages 3 to 7) receive a letter in the mail. Great way to make their birthdays extra special is to pop the card in the mail, even though I am attending their party....great fun

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mommyscat said:
May 31, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Wishing you the best Jessie, and a safe arrival of your bub.

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Robymac said:
May 31, 2013 at 12:35 PM

I love to receive and write letters but very few bother to answer these days. a quick email suffices is seems. I have all the letter I wrote to my late husband and all the letters he wrote to me going back to when we were first engaged. I have also the last 3 or 4 letters written by my late parents. They are all treasured and I love to go back and read them as they hold a wealth of history in them, especially those I wrote to my husband whenever he was away about our children and pets. Letters are a treasure very few of today's generation will have to cherish in years to come and it is a shame.

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May 31, 2013 at 4:03 PM

Best wishes Jess for the new baby, I know he/she?? will bring you as much pleasure as your first. Great minds....whilst reading Darcy's letter to Elizabeth I was thinking to myself "I haven't read it for so long, I'll go and dig it out and read for possibly the twentieth time". I still have a hard copy that my dear Mum gave me over 0 years ago, I treasure it. I too have cards, postcards and letters from my Mum and Dad that will never fall victim to my attempts of decluttering

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gracie10 said:
June 01, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Jess, I miss the art of writing letters. My parents separated when I was 9 years old and my father (now deceased) spent most of his working life overseas. I kept in touch with him throughout by mail. During the final two years of his life I also spoke to him regularly over the phone. I really enjoyed writing letters to him, and receiving them. It was so important to me. Best wishes for you and your new little one. Please check in to let us know the relevant details. Try to get as much rest as you can, and do your best to enjoy the early days - they pass way too quickly.

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Krasher said:
June 01, 2013 at 11:14 PM

Wishing you all the happiness your new arrival will bring.

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3femmes said:
June 03, 2013 at 7:38 PM

I wonder what perspective your new little one will bring to the art of correspondence in the fullness of time? Very best wishes to you and your family.

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kragzy said:
June 03, 2013 at 8:14 PM

I still write cards to my wife and she to me. It's just nice to do. Best wishes for the you and Little Jess, Jessie, Jessette, Jess Junior....

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said:
June 05, 2013 at 7:54 AM

Cards also convey a snapshot of the thoughts and feelings at the time of the writing. It's bitter-sweet to read old cards that trace the evolution and dissolution of the love-story turned tragedy that was my marriage.

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falcon8 said:
June 05, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Jafa, I too try to keep the cards I have received over the years as each brings back the memories of events both happy and sad - even more detail than photographs do - because of the short messages they contain. I can't get my wife to understand this - she is a tidy freak - so I have taken to hiding them in the shed so she doesn't toss them out.

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June 05, 2013 at 7:04 PM

I fully understand ur wife falcon my hubby also a collecter of things and I must be very tidy , he also hides things , congrats to jess

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said:
June 06, 2013 at 8:47 AM

A man's castle... I must admit that I'm not usually much of a 'keeper' but my ex used to wax lyrical on every inch of space. Seemed a bit harsh to toss them. I'm sure my daughters will one day be amazed to see their gruff dad as 'the poet'.

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Mojito said:
June 09, 2013 at 2:36 PM

H​ope it all goes well for you Jess and you get some nice handwritten notes to keep as a memento.​ Ned Kelly's, The Jerilderie Letter, though not written by him, is a great Australian document and gives insight to the man behind the bushranger legend. ​At approximately 8000 word long, the dictation by Ned Kelly in February 1​8​79 ​ is his plea of innocence and desire for justice for his family​. Kelly intended the letter to be published and when he couldnt find the newspaperman, the letter was given to a bank teller (of a bank he was robbing) with orders that it was to be published. ​ ​Im not sure if it ever was but I think the letter was kept in the bankers family until it was donated to the State Library in 2000. ​

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Mojito said:
June 09, 2013 at 2:40 PM

ps I just watched the Great Gatsby yesterday. So sad that F.Scott Fitzgerald died not knowing what a great classic his book was to become.

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said:
June 09, 2013 at 4:51 PM

Mojito...re Kelly, that's really interesting..never knew that. Thanks.

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Mojito said:
June 10, 2013 at 2:51 PM

you're welcome Stjohn :) Im guessing you followed up on the story and saw the handwritten pages. The www is great for that.

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said:
June 13, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Mojito, haven't done that yet but will get to it soon. Cheers.

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Xrosie said:
June 17, 2013 at 7:59 AM

I reiterate, I have always received by books, what I asked for, and fairly quickly, but will miss them

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said:
June 17, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Kikimimi...what is this gibberish? Spam??

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deedledoo said:
January 03, 2015 at 1:00 AM

all the best jess love diana