Letters Between Lovers

I was tag surfing and discovered a blog entry on Nicole Shannon’s Making Waves around the Reservoir about a joint venture between the U.S. Postal Service and HBO to promote letter writing. HBO is showing (or about to show – I don’t know ’cause I don’t watch TV) a mini-series on John Adams. The series is based on the book by David McCullough – who is a fabulous historian by the way and I love, love, loved him best of all the narrators involved in Ken Burn’s Civil War extravaganza (I could, and have, watched that series for hours at a time). The only other person who comes close is Shelby Foote (I love the stories he told about Nathan Bedford Forrest – a pretty heinous person overall but a great horse soldier), he has southern drawl that just melts your earlobes. Anyway, the John Adams biography by McCullough was based largely on the letters that John and his wife Abigail wrote to each other over the course of their courtship and marriage. One letter I remember has Abigail reminding her husband to press harder for women’s rights during the spring of 1776.

“…remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.” 

 Something I didn’t know until recently was that women in Colonial times possessed the right to vote in most colonies so long as they were property owners. Voting was a privilege reserved to those holding property and gender didn’t matter. It wasn’t until after the Revolution that women were specifically stripped of this right by the new states as they crafted their individual constitutions. The oppression of women is never an accident. HBO is just looking for publicity but the Postal Service is hoping to revive the lost art of letter writing, which has been lost to the phone – land and cell, texting and email/messaging. John and Abigail wrote 1,100 letters back and forth over 56 years. Wow. She called him “dearest friend” and he addressed her as “Miss Adorable”. Do you suppose Bill and Hillary send each other missives with their special pet names for each other? Okay, maybe not. But Rob and I did have quite the exchange of emails going on during the long distance phase of our romance. That and IM sessions that stretched into the wee hours and phone conversations that surpassed even them. But, I have written about this before and I bring it up now only because I am moving my archived posts from my .mac blog to this one and was rereading entries from last spring and up almost up to our wedding last June. I have forgotten many of those pieces. It’s like reading someone else but it’s me. 

I told Rob about my topic for tonight after he wondered why I needed to know the name of a famous Southern Civil War Calvary general (and I asked him because I knew he would know or probably know. It’s nice to be able to ask obscure and out of the blue American history questions of one’s life mate and be assured they will have little trouble catching your train of thought). He rolled his eyes a bit. I think he gets a bit embarrassed about the way I gush about him. A lot. What’s the point of keeping his wonderfulness a secret though, I ask you? Even as I type this, he is rubbing my foot and reading me snippets of the latest Johnny Virgil. What an awesome man. My husband that is though I am sure JV is a nice guy too.

It’s been almost a year since our trip to Arkansas and our engagement. I was telling the story to Kathy and Susan at writing group Wednesday night and instead of being shocked at the brief span of our courtship; they both agreed that when you know, you just know. And we knew. Still do. We don’t write those long letters anymore. Hardly email at all, but so many other things have replaced those early expressions of love. Like foot rubs and reading to each other from the newspaper and blogs and books we are currently reading. 

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