Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Fan Letter


Wolfey retaught me the value of using the correct words to communicate your meaning. I try my best to live up to the truth of it, yet often fail. Not because I don't know better, but simply because I am lazy on occasion. And, although I might skate the bill, I end up paying double with pokes from my conscience. So, I cringe at my usage of the word "fan" in this post's title. I am not a fan from the Latin, in any fashion. Being fanatical requires too much energy, and my supply is being held in reserve of late. I will use the word "fan" as a substitute for great admirer. Should I retype my title so that it reads "A Great Admirer Letter?" Nah. It wouldn't be the same, right Wolfey? Or would it?
Moving right along . . . 

I recently sent a Postcrosser a lovely postcard of one of my favorite native son authors of all times: Mr. Mark Twain aka Samuel Clemens, simply because she quoted him in her bio. She scored major points with me for that. She's not an American. 
Well, two days later, nephew and I were in B&N. Guess who winked at me from a 'zine cover the second I walked in. Yep, "America's Wit" himself. It's supposed to be a "Special Collector's Edition * From The Editor's Of American History Magazine." I could have bought his bios and read more than they offered for the great price of $9.99. The price is printed in such small fonts for a reason.
I'm not sure if I learned any more about my writing hero than I knew before; the fonts in the articles are large; the paragraphs are skimpy, and just pitiful, but there you have it. You don't always get what you pay for. Now. Having said all that, I want to share with you a letter to Buffalo Bill Cody, dated September 10, 1884. MT is the author:
"Dear Mr. Cody,
  I have seen your Wild West show two days in succession, and have enjoyed it thoroughly. It brought vividly back the breezy wild life of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, and stirred me like a war-song. Down to the smallest details, the show is genuine--cowboys, vaqueros, Indians, stage coach, costumes and all; it is wholly free from sham and insincerity, and the effects produced upon me by it spectacles were identical with those wrought upon me long ago by the same spectacles on the frontier. Your pony expressman was as tremendous an interest to me yesterday as he was 23 years ago, when he used to whizzing by from over the desert with the war news; and your bucking horses even painfully real to me, as I rode one of those outrages once for nearly a quarter of a minute. It is often said on the other side of the water that none of the exhibitions which we send to England are purely and distinctly American. If you take the Wild West show over there, you can remove that reproach."
There is no signature--meaning what? The letter continues? The cover of "Mark Twain In His Own Words" boasts: 60 of his most revealing letters, diary entries, speeches, articles & essays. I greatly admire his signature. I take the little squiggle underneath it to represent the Mississippi or the Missouri River. Or both. Either way, it looks like a water sign.
Do you ever wonder if someone in the future will publish one of your letters? Will it be worth reading? I reckon it would depend on the reader, huh? I wonder how much it cost Mr. Twain/Clemens to mail his letter? I liked the bit about the Pony Express. The rider "whizzed by." 
Google "pony express" and be amazed. First check out the badge and image of an express rider I borrowed:

A Badge of Honor

Postage!

Pony Express Route
Now I want to read about the Pony Express, but there's no time. The Pony Express gave way to Express Mail. Hmm. Sometimes it feels like it comes via Pony E. Overall, I believe the US Mail does a great job. Don't you?

(Last 3 images from Wikipedia.)

6 comments:

  1. I live near Sacramento, which was one end of the Pony Express. I was surprised to learn that it operated for only 18 months, after which the railroad was completed and took over carrying the mail. They only hired young men without any families, because they knew many of them would die trying to deliver the mail.

    There is a nice Pony Express statue on display in Old Sacramento.

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  2. Wow. How neat that you know that. I was surprised to learn that the Express was short lived. Wasn't there a movie about the Pony Express? And, I wondered how they could afford to pay the riders such a hefty sum of $25 when postage was a mere 25 cents.

    I remember the bit about the riders having to be young and single. Those poor horses. The more I write the more I remember the movie.

    Thanks for your comments. :) I learn something new every day.

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  3. Oh my dear Limner how I love your post and to know that you are also a fan of Mark Twain as well . I do so love the story of calabas county and the frog competition . I think that is one of my favorite storys . Oh well have a wonderful day ladies .

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  4. How funny! On quite literally the first day in *weeks* that I go check my blogs, there I am! I was quite certain you had forgotten me, since I have been a miserable correspondent this summer. I am sorry. Did you ever get my last letter? I believe it was dated from the end of May, though it was sent considerably after that. I will have to write you again to catch up. I think I see that you have been having an up and down summer, which is a little how I feel too. Take care, Limner! Take care of yourself.

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  5. LOL Cathy. I loved that story. I read it the summer before we had to read it in Lit class. It was just as much fun the second and third time around. It's right up there with "The Ransom of Red Chief." O Henry could tell a great tale, too.

    Sometimes I feel old enough to have been a Pony Express rider. :)

    Be well! Summer is almost over.

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  6. How funny indeed. I just lost a reply I'd begun, can't seem to find it. I have GOT to learn this new OS. Sorry.

    I wrote a partial letter in response to your great letter with such interesting pages and parts. I think I mailed it on Saturday or today. Other parts will follow. I've been hanging on a nail by the neck of my blouse. :) Both feet are on the ground, but I'm still feeling my way. :)

    Hope your new job is cutting you some slack. I promise to finish my letter to you. Thanks for the postcards! I could live on Alcatraz. Well, as long as I didn't have to live in one of the buildings. :D

    Good seeing you again. I was beginning to despair: No new posts on Wolfey's blog? Why?

    Be well.

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