Of Snail Mail, E-Mail, and the Conflicting Emotions They Create

12 04 2009

Trips—the return home from them, actually—set me to thinking. And the thinking sends me to my computer for a writing session. Typing out my experiences while the emotions they evoked are vibrant seems necessary, and urgent.

Travel and visiting with family and friends revives memories of former get togethers and also makes new ones for storing away in my memory bank. I visited family during my 3 March-7 April visit to the US. And I visited in the home of Howard and Sybil Burns. Howard is a Burns School (Mississippi) classmate that I had not seen since leaving school. Though I had not seen Howard for more than 50 years, he and Sybil welcomed my sister, Anne, and me into their home as if we were regular visitors.

Howard brought out a 1958 school annual, and then he and Sybil graciously sat with Anne and me as we looked at every photo on every page of that book. We reminisced and giggled as if we were kids back in school. And when I left Howard and sybil’s home, I carried with me two treasures: a copy Howard had so generously made of the 1958 Burns-O-Lite annual and a renewed sense of connection.

Connections, for me, hold my memories together like those old-fashioned corner brackets we used long ago held photos in place on the pages of our photo albums and scrapbooks. Today, we take digital photos and need no corner bracket to hold them inside our digitized memory books. And with a few key strokes, we can instantly share these wondrous books with family and friends via the World Wide Web.

I love the fact that we can do that. This electronic age allowed me to find Howard and his wife, Sybil, through a “people search.” It also allowed me to arrange to visit them in their home.During that visit, I asked if Howard had contact information for other members of our class.

He did. Including a telephone number of the classmate that I’d missed terrible after leaving school. The one I’d done dozens of people searches for only to find no useful information. As soon as I’d dropped off my sister at her home, I picked up my cell phone with the intention of placing a call to my friend from school. A flash of trepidation stopped me. I’d felt closer to my friend than to my own sister. But 51 years had passed during which we’d had no contact.

My stomach jittered as I punched up my courage and dialed the number Howard had given to me and my mouth went dry as I listened to the sound of ringing phone. What if my very best friend from school did not remember me? Or worse, had no interest in renewing our friendship? To my utter delight, she answered the third ring of her phone and when I identified myself, seemed as happy to hear my voice as I was to hear hers.

We spent quite a bit of time on the phone, catching up. Now, we exchange frequent e-mail messages. We are even working out plans to meet the next time I make a visit to the US. For me, the best part of re-establishing contact with this friend is that I feel as close to her now as I did when we saw each other at school every weekday.And I sit her in awe of the wonders this electronic age has brought.

In 1946, the year I began first grade at Burns School, it took the same number of days for me to receive a letter in Trenton, Mississippi, from a cousin in Trenton, New Jersey, as it now takes for me to receive a letter in Atenas, Costa Rica, from my sister in Mississippi. That is a definite, WOW! But an even bigger WOW is that I can now receive—almost instantly—a message from anyone anywhere in the world who has access to a computer that is connected to the World Wide Web.

My mother was postmaster at Trenton in 1946 and back then, I awaited the arrival of the mail carrier each day with the same great eagerness that I experience today when I click a button on my computer and check for new e-mail. And I was thinking of all that a few days ago as I dialed the telephone number of my best friend from school.

I was swamped with emotion when I heard her voice for the first time in more than 50 years and I am  swamped with emotion again each time I open an e-mail message from her. I wanted to kiss my cell phone as my friend and I talked a few days ago and I have fallen in love all over again with our electronic age during the days since. My friend and I have sent a steady stream of e-mail messages and photos via the Internet. She sent to me the photo of our First Grade class.

I had never seen the photo and each time I look at the group that I began school with, I experience a new surge of pleasure. Yet, sitting here at my computer and thinking about the snail mail of my school days and electornic mail of today brings this realization: I am conflicted.

I would not, for the world, give up my computer and connection to the Internet—which allows me to communicate with family and friends 24/7 despite the fact that I am in Central America and they are in the United States of America. But neither would I give up the joyful experience of sitting down with friends and family, opening up an old school annual or photo album, and whiling away time in reminiscing about days gone by.

How lucky I am in that I do not have to give up either!

I close this entry with a request: if anyone who ever attended Burns School in Mississippi reads this, please contact me. I would love to reminisce, swap e-mail messages, and share photos.

Betty Traxler Eppes

11 April 2009 Acropoita, Atenas, Costa Rica, Central America

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20 responses

12 04 2009
William E. Schulenberg

Betty-
This is a very touching peak intoi your life and state of mind. I left Kentucky in 1951 and never returned. I have looked at letters from my schoolmates and realize they may not be on the planet now. I am happy that you reconnected with your friend of long ago.
BILL

13 04 2009
Betty Eppes

Bill– This is a duplicate, but I appreciate it just the same.

12 04 2009
William E. Schulenberg

Betty-
This is a very touching peak into your life and state of mind. I left Kentucky in 1951 and never returned. I have looked at letters from my schoolmates and realize they may not be on the planet now. I am happy that you reconnected with your friend of long ago.
BILL

12 04 2009
bettytraxlereppes

Bill–
Thank you for taking time to comment. The experience of re-connecting with a friend held so dear brought an emotional storm. I am coping but must admit, I often find myself simply staring into space and remembering the times I shared with my dear friend throughout my school years. I am very eager, and very reluctant to see her again. My reluctance is due to our having led very different lives since our school days. If we discover that school experience is the only common ground that we share, then I worry that our friendship will die. But, drawing on memories of times we did share, I cling to my belief that both she and I are blessed with a depth of caring that will prevent that horror! If you have not tried to re-connect with your friends from school, why not try? You might find that many still are on this planet.
Have a blessed Easter Sunday,
Betty

13 04 2009
Edward Traxler

Betty-
As bill said, that was touching. After reading that I find myself somewhat amused since it was through a computer and the internet and a common interest in genealogy that I made contact with YOU. (Betty is my third cousin).

I can remember when I was a kid and pen pals were a ‘big thing’. You now, can communicate with people instantly from anywhere in the world. I think though, we have lost something in that those letters from ‘far off and exotic’ places had unusual stamps and stampings on the envelope that is missing with email.

Still, I wouldn’t ‘go back’. Witness THIS .. this reply I am posting. As soon as I click the ‘Submit Comment’ button it will post up. That I think, is worth a few missing stamps, a few missing ink stampings with names and places in distant lands.

Ed

13 04 2009
bettytraxlereppes

Ed– Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you appreciate the fact that we, close cousins, connected not through family but through our common interest in family research. I had pen pals as a kid, too, and I loved the stamps and stampings on the envelopes. It saddens me a bit that I lost contact with those pen pals. I think of them sometimes, and wonder where they are. I really like communicating by computer because contact info for family and friends is always just a click of a button away. Thank you again for taking time to comment on my post. You are a great cousin. –Betty

14 04 2009
Robin Lewis

Dear Mama (Betty is my dear sweet, wonderful mother, and the best friend I have ever had in my whole life), I too am conflicted with the emotions that the computer brings into my life. Knowing I can communicate with you, even though you are in Costa Rica, is a wonderful feeling, but it is also a little reminder to realize how far away you are in actual distance, especially on days like today….your birthday. Happy Birthday to you, I love you very much.

Thankfully though you and I are great admirers of the written word and open communication. It brings me great pleasure to write to you, write about you, and read anything you have written, whether it is a touching letter, a news story, an article, an e-mail, or a blog. You are a true talent and I look forward to seeing what lies ahead for you….GO FOR THE GUSTO, MAMA, YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY!!!

Your school picture is beautiful. I knew you immediately, even before I could scroll down to find the identifiers. Maybe I knew you because I could see me. We share many things, especially the connections to family and friends that are so precious. How amazing it is that you connected with former classmates, neighbors, and friends.

Enjoy your trip down memory lane and into the events of the past….I’ll be waiting in the present to listen to your stories that you can tell so well, and to read your accounts of your upcoming adventures. Who knows where each one might lead you! Love, hugs, and kisses, Robin

14 04 2009
bettytraxlereppes

Robin, thank you for your comment. You humble me with praise that is far too high. My next scheduled adventure is a return to the USA. I expect to see you in less than a week. You are a joy and I love you outrageously. –Mom

16 05 2009
Paty Westbrook Lembo

Good Saturday morning to you Betty. What a wonderful surprise to know that you have been in touch with some of your school friends. Growing up we had many good and bad times together. Would love to hear from you so that you and I can add some other news about Smith County. Waiting to hear from you.

With lots of love,

Pat

16 05 2009
bettytraxlereppes

Good Saturday morning to you, too, Pat. Yes, we have many shared experiences and I treasure each one. Early life events, especially the memories of them, are important links in our respective lives as well as to our school classmates and friends. My desire is to create a site on the www so that all with interest in Burns School will be able to contribute memories and photos. Re-establishing contact with you delights me. I would love to collaborate on adding news, remembrances, and/or photos relating to Smith County. We can continue a dialog here or If you prefer, or write to me at: bettytraxlereppes@yahoo.com –Love to you, Betty

22 10 2010
Pat Martin

Thank you again and thanks for sharing. Robin must be a lovely daughter. Good luck with your genealogy project. I live in Covington county, MS, if there is anything I can look up for you.

22 10 2010
bettytraxlereppes

Pat- I’ve sent the invitation to you, and you are welcome. Robin is an incredibly wonderful daughter. Thank you for your offer of help and be assured i will ask. Also, I would be interested in adding any data you have for Gladys/Gladdis. Best luck to you. -Betty

22 10 2010
Edward Traxler

Betty! Your Blog lives!!!!

23 10 2010
bettytraxlereppes

Good morning, cousin, and my hope that all is well with you and all of yours. A favor? Add a wee bit of context to your last comment, please?

23 10 2010
Edward Traxler

? It Lives? It’s not dead .. gone .. erased .. gone away .. deleted

23 10 2010
bettytraxlereppes

Cousin, you’re the best. Now, I have a question. A blog fan asked me to connect it to my facebook page. Did you connect your blog to your facebook page? If so, will you give me a how-to seminar?

23 10 2010
Edward Traxler

Betty. Goto Facebook. Make sure you are on your wall .. click your name so you see ..

Wall .. Info .. Photos .. Links .. Notes etc at the top of the page

Scroll the page down .. keep looking to the left .. to .. at the bottom you should see .. “Create a Profile Badge” .. click that

you should be taken to a page named ..

http://www.facebook.com/badges/profile.php

Click the “Other” tab

There will be some code turn up ..

Copy that code .. to Notepad for example. You can then save it.

You will need to copy that code to the appropriate place in your sidebar. My WordPress since it is hosted on my host is a little different from yours .. but they are similar. With mine I can insert a ‘text block’ into the ‘widget’ .. let me know if you can do this. If not I can take a look at it for ya. But basically .. you put a text block into the sidebar .. like above where it says “My Pages” .. and paste that code there.

23 10 2010
bettytraxlereppes

Edward- Wow! There is now sooooooooooooo much stuff on this blog that I do not know where to look. Also, will a link to this blog now show up on my facebook page of what? My social media illiteracy must drive you nuts! Thanks a bunch.

23 10 2010
Edward Traxler

Betty, nope that’s a hard link. Ummm. I know it can appear (if you put it in) under Contact Information under the Info tab.

If you click where it says .. Information … the pic of the pencil .. you can click a check-box that will add your website

23 10 2010
bettytraxlereppes

Edward- Thanks, I think I can do that. Now, when I’m on blog, the link to facebook shows up and all I have to do to go to that page is click my photo that is on my facebook page. Cool. I’m lucky to have your help. I appreciate your generosity. So, here’s a giant THANK YOU! -Betty

Betty Traxler Eppes https://bettytraxlereppes.wordpress.com Life is short…so forgive quickly, kiss slowly, and always love truly.

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