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.