First Words — 30 September 2016
You’ve got to write a letter to get a letter

By Mark Gauert

City & Shore Magazine

Most of my mail does not look like the mail you see on this page.

Most of my mail begins something like this:

“Dear YY” (Public relations firm, forgot to fill in my name.)

“Dear Mary” (Public relations firm, filled in a “y” instead of a “k.”)

“Hi, dear” (Public relations firm, forgot we’d just met. This is all so … sudden!)

These are all actual, unretouched salutations from my actual, unretouched mail.

So when I get mail that looks like the mail you see on this page, I pay attention.

“I take pen in hand to thank you for your kind invitation to Discover ADAC at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, ‘the Southeast’s premier design center,’” I write back on my nicest stationery. “I regret that I will be unable to attend, but your beautiful, handwritten invitation stopped this editor of 30-some years dead in his delete-key/wastebasket/moving-on default-mode tracks for a good two minutes. (A geological age for editors.)

“Indeed, your invitation has not yet left my desk, even though the annual ADAC conference ended Sept. 29. I just wanted to let you know that it’s a wonder to look at. It brings joy to my heart. It stuffs my envelope with hope.

“Most sincerely yours, Mary. I mean Mark.”

I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I got a handwritten letter like this.

My friend and fellow editor Dave Wieczorek wrote a fine essay once lamenting the end of the art of letter writing, quoting author Reynolds Price.

“By not writing letters anymore, we’ve lost a wonderful stage of communication which is not available to us in any other form,” Price wrote. “It was a very delicate and extremely important form of communication that has basically been canceled, it seems to me, in contemporary American life.”

I was about to agree with him. I was ready to lament the loss of this wonderful stage of communication, too. Put a period at the end of that “Sincerely,” Mary. (I mean Mark). Let it dry up, and blow away.

Yet, the tears would not come.

Reading between the lines, it’s clear new forms of communication are filling the spaces we once filled with handwritten communication.

One example: When we posted a story last September by Eric Barton on health and wellness expert Pam Butler – who hopes to bring teachings she learned from Deepak Chopra to her neighbors next year at the new Auberge on Fort Lauderdale Beach – I was amazed at the response. No handwritten letters – but, within hours of the post, thousands of people – fully 12 percent of our 46,000 circulation! – had reacted in the 21st century equivalent of an epistle.

“What a great article!” Gale Butler wrote on our Facebook page about Eric’s story on Pam.

“You’re such an amazing inspiration, xo,” Melanie Projansky Stevens added.

“Awesome article. Can I be a customer?” Denise Reilly Wittich asked.

No, these were not handwritten responses. They did not arrive by the U.S. mail.

Still, a wonderful stage of communication.

You’ll find all the ways to communicate with us below. I hope you’ll keep posting, or emailing, or tweeting – or even dabble in the lost art of letter writing – to us. About the stories we put into the magazine, about the stories you’d like to see us put into the magazine.

And if you do, I promise, I’ll post or email or tweet or, yes, maybe even write back.

Just remember not to address your correspondence to “YY,” “Mary” or – at least not until our third, or possibly fourth, mailing – “Hi, dear.”, or 333 SW 12th Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33442; or Facebook; or Twitter @CityAndShore; or instagram @cityandshore_magazine … or give me a call at 954-356-4686.



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