Friday, July 24, 2009

Postcard Friendly Friday #3 – FREE Mail!


I started putting art work on envelopes when I was a kid. My folks took us to the opening of the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana, in 1953, and I saw what Charlie was doing with his letters and envelopes. I was a really great letter-writer, I tell ya! I mean, what young kid really likes to write letters, right? Charlie put art work both on the letters and oftentimes the envelopes, and my folks encouraged me to do the same. Sooooo – when Grandpa and Grandma were supposed to get a thank you for birthday or Christmas gifts, what they got from me was a very short-winded note with an appropriate illustration. I never stopped.

I spent a year in Southeast Asia, Vietnam specifically. Six months in the bushes with a Marine unit, and finally, three months at the Company Aid Station, and finally the last three months at a Battalion Aid Station. I took night duty by choice. Sleeping at night was next to impossible, so I spent my eight hours of duty ‘minding’ a surgical ward. Although I sent occasional letters in decorated envelopes to my fiancé while I was in the field, it became almost a necessity while I was at the Battalion Aid Station.

Oftentimes, I’d send only a short note, and the last 52 days I sent her a card from a miniature deck of playing cards. I tried to send her something, however – every day. Most of these envelopes I could finish in eight hours. I used a Rapidiograph pen and some of the ‘new’ (back then) felt-tipped pens that came in a variety of colors. I look at them now on their album pages, and the colors have faded. The ink was not lightfast, and they weren't always hidden away.

I received several interesting letters in return, one of them from the Military Mail Distribution Center in San Francisco, and to paraphrase: I didn’t really need to put much more than the Zip Code on my envelopes – they knew where they were going.

For the next few weeks, I'll post one of these envelopes with the word free in the upper right hand corner where the stamp belongs. Abe Lincoln, over at his Brookville Daily Photo blog and Pick a Peck of Pixels blog has been posting images of envelopes from a Canadian artist by the name of Howard Davis of late. Seeing them sort of nudged my brain a little.

I look back at them now (she’s my wife, and she’s kept them all), I’m thankful I did them, not so much for her, but for me. I’m selfish. I enjoyed doing them. I’m still a bit crazy, but HEY! That’s what friends are for.

17 comments:

  1. Not sure what I was to do so I just added a couple of envelopes to my post today. I like your post today also. Thank you for the links.

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  2. I am so pleased to hear that all of them have been kept safely! A wonderful way to preserve memories. I have my father's letters to my mother from when he was away during Word War II and it's great to have them.

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  3. How kewl is that. I love arting my evnies also.
    Great post.
    debby

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  4. amazing story, thanks for sharing!happy PFF

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  5. Dave--A great idea to let others see these labors of love. I only wish Grandpa and Grandma had kept your early works, and we could see those, too! Do you recall any specific illustrations? Did you have to draw a slinky at age 5???

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  6. There was no question in my mind that she was your wife! It certainly sounds like you swept her off her feet with you mail art! A letter every day.. that's pure postal romance. That is inspiring that even The Mail Distribution Center mwrote you!

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  7. I have always decorated my envelopes and packages as well. When i fail to do so, I hear back from those whom I've sent to. Even the workers at the post office will comment and ack dissapointed. I love mail art. I also love to send objects naked with writing and or art on them. :-)

    Have a beautiful weekend

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  8. Oh, you are so talented and romantic too! :)

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  9. I'm so glad you were given the talent to be able to pass the time there so productively. Despite your protestations, I think the colors have held up very well -- though no doubt they were much bolder during their pass through the mailstream.

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  10. NB:

    Just saw your comment. My response is: Actually, click the link at the end of the piece to see a bird bathing in the bird bath.

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  11. How unique and wonderful your art is - part history, part art and a big scoop of humour!

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  12. Dave, you old romantic! No wonder the missus kept these little treasures, they're beautiful even if they have faded with time. In a way that makes them even better.Look forward to seeing more of them.

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  13. I am excited to see your self made envelope. I love making envelopes too!

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  14. That is neat looking.

    Funny, artistic as I was as a kid, and with as much writing as I did (I had several penpals) I never decorated my envelopes.

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  15. I popped over to see your PFF entry and kept reading. Your artwork is fabulous! I'll be visiting you regularly.

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