Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A letter from 54 years ago

When I was a kid, I had a pen pal in Australia whose name was Winston Sleaford. He lived in a village called Kabra, just inland from Rockhampton on the Queensland (west) coast of Australia. Rockhampton is situated on the Tropic of Capricorn.

We exchanged letters, starting around my sixth grade year, in a correspondence that lasted a year or so before our lives took us to more urgent interests.

Winston and I reconnected a couple of years ago on Facebook. He’s retired from a railroad job and recently posted about a local basketball game in which the Crocs beat the Snakes in double overtime.

I checked Facebook as I was going to bed last night and was stunned to find a scan of a letter I sent Winston about a month before my 13th birthday back in 1958.

He wondered if I remembered sending it. I don’t, but then you could show me a lot of stories I wrote in my newspaper career that I don’t remember writing either.

Aside from some mildly embarrassing details (“Esq.”), I think it’s a pretty well written letter from a 12-year-old kid. And, it’s typewritten. It was done before I took a typing class in summer school because I had not yet learned to double-space after a period. That’s something a lot of folks never un-learn when they transitioned to a computer where that’s no longer the style.

I suspect the jokes came from “Esar’s Joke Dictionary,” a book published in 1945 that my dad bought, probably around the time he took the Dale Carnegie public speaking course.

winston letter

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