Are Letters Becoming a Lost Art?

Letters – Scribble Picnic

There are so many stories about letters that I couldn’t decide at first. After mulling this around I decided on the emotional ones.


My Dad and Mom met in 1945 on a blind date in November. By the end of December they were engaged and married in April 1946. My Dad, born in 1910 and my Mom, born in 1917 were the perfect match. I never saw a real argument between them all the time I grew up. My Mom might have what we called “snits” but no cross words were ever heard. It was idyllic.

When they had been married less than two years my Dad had to go away on a business trip. This wasn’t any business trip. He had to fly to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Back then flying that far took quite awhile. No cell phones. He couldn’t even make a phone call from New York.

All communication was by mail. Airmail. Thin letters so it wouldn’t cost too much. On one of the envelopes I saw CR $3.80. (no idea how much that was but I bet it was expensive). He was away for 3 months, from February 29, until May 30, 1948 (that was his last letter and I think it took him almost a week to get home).

lettersI have read through all the letters and made copies for my sister and my 3 kids.

I saw a different side of my Dad while reading these letters.

You could really tell he loved my Mom. I wish I had her letters to him as he answers some of her questions but it is hard to tell exactly what she was asking.

Two months after returning home I was conceived (from counting back from my birth) and when my Mom was 5 months pregnant both Mom and Dad went off to Brazil together. I am sure she enjoyed this a lot more than waiting for my Dad to come home.

Mom would never show us the letters while she was alive.

I knew where they were but I respected her privacy. I do wish she had let us read them so we could have asked all those questions.

My Dad died in 1993 and my Mom lived as a widow for 19 years saying that he was the only man for her. She died in 2012. My sister and I miss them both.

I am so grateful to have these letters and other correspondence as it seems to bring me closer to them, remembering how sweet they were to each other. Okay so this got my tearing up. Time to wrap up so I can finish this post.

You have seen the first sketch. This is the watercolour pencil final.


Here is the sketch with pencil crayons and the original letters so you can see the size of paper I am using . It is in a 9 x 6 Sketch Diary with weight of 94g/m2. It’s fine for watercolour pencils but not for watercolour paints.


Don’t you love the ribbon around them. That’s about 1/2 the letters. And I can tell they have been read many times over the years.

I might now start back into reading the correspondence that my Dad had with his Mom during the war years. My father was a captain in the Canadian artillery. He also wrote some stories of what happened during that time. Thank goodness I can read his writing.

Because yesterday was D-Day and my Dad landed on Juno Beach in the First Wave in 1945, I am finding these memories powerful and emotional. Every year, he always went to Guelph, Ontario, to meet up with his buddies from that time.

Is letter writing becoming a lost art? (tweet this)

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  1. What a wonderful treasure you have, and you did a great job illustrating it!
    I don’t think we found any letters from my parents to each other. My mom was such a private person, that I can imagine at some point she read them one last time then burned them. 🙁
    But I do have the memory of their strong love for each other over their 53 years of marriage!

  2. Reading what you wrote and then Wanda’s note above, it goes to show what a legacy having parents like this is and what a difference it makes to the kids when they gorw up like you and Wanda are. Truly, I doubt you can fully appreciate the advantages you had with such an in-tact loving family structure all those years–so different to mine or Alex’s parents stories. My parents have between them (not to each other, mind you, only once there), 12 marriages (if you include my Dad’s annulment on his first one)!!

    Anyway, this is such a beautifully done illustration — a true testament to the lilting, uplifting story of your parents. how incredible that they were a blind date too!

    Everything about this post makes my heart warmed. Thank you for adding this to our scribble picnic this week, Janis. I loved seeing your various photos along the way too. I really like the black and white one as well as the final version.

    1. Michael,
      My mouth dropped open when you named the number of marriages in your family – yikes. It’s too bad because that must have been from divorces or death. So happy you came through it all so terrifically amazing. And you and Alexandra seem perfectly suited to one another.
      Hubby and I are into number 47 this year and it really seems like yesterday but then so much has happened too. Our parents (hubby’s too) showed us perseverance, respect and love is so important in developing a solid relationship.
      Thanks again for doing this great linkup.

  3. I loved reading about your parents and their letters. What a strong bond they must have had. You are so lucky to have those letters – they’re priceless. And you’ve paid tribute with a beautiful work of art.

    1. Lorraine,
      I feel very blessed to have this correspondence and my dad’s letters to his mom as well (during the war). Now I am very interested in reading more.

  4. What a beautiful post, Janis, and a lovely testament to the love your parents had for each other. You have illustrated the letters perfectly. I remember those AirMail self-folding letters…our ones were pale blue with Royal Blue and Red diagonal stripes around the edges. Do they even use them anymore? Probably not.

    Your post makes me think of my own parents and how they pretty much courted each other via letters due to being long distance. They had met in Malaya as Mum’s Dad and my Dad served in the British Army.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your week. 🙂

    1. Serena,
      Thank you. I loved doing the sketch. I seem to be seeing details better than I ever have. It’s exciting. And Michael answered you and said yes airmail letters are still available.
      I would love to hear your story of your parents courting and letters. That would be interesting.
      Blessings to you,

  5. Yes we did have similar thoughts today about our parents letters etc. How lucky we are to have some of them – your book to come will be awesome I’m sure Janis.
    Love your art here – had no idea Brazil’s Air Mail envelopes were yellow and green – wonder if they still are. Come to think of it, doubt there are any ‘airmail envelopes’ around anymore as apparently all international mail goes by air these days!

    1. Mary,
      Thank you. I actually started the first chapter – and it intrigued me. lol 🙂 So many projects and need to sit and think where to go next. And I guess Michael answered our question on whether there were still airmail paper letters. Drop back and check out his answer.

  6. letter writing is such a wonderful thing, it’s shame that we’re not writing more letters, I think we all too much into our phones to notice. beautiful drawing to celebrate two very important lives – very nicely done and the ribbon is perfect for tying them together.

    have a lovely day.

    1. Lissa,
      Since I wrote this post I have seriously considered writing some letters. I do make cards – using my artwork so have lots of cards to use. I am reading a wonderful book called The Joy of Missing Out – and we are becoming a society that is turning inward because of the Internet and phones in particular. Maybe we both can make a promise to write one letter to someone this week. What do you say?

  7. Janis….we could have had the same parents…haha…when you read my post, you will see just how closely we share love letter stories. This was priceless. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Wanda,
      I did read your wonderful post. Isn’t it wonderful to have such memories of such happy times. Our family is the same way – we all get along and enjoy one another.
      Blessings my friend,

    1. Christine,
      Thank you so much. My Mom’s replies were never saved by my Dad. Mom was the saver. Dad was the pitcher. So I have no way of know what she wrote to him. 🙁

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