Article by Wendy McCance
It’s 12:11am and I can’t sleep. I was laying in bed thinking about the most off the wall memories from my childhood. I finally got out of bed when I realized sleep just wasn’t going to occur anytime soon. I went downstairs, made some toast with blackberry jam and turned on my computer. After surfing the web for a bit, I figured I’d write a blog about the memories that had been flooding my mind when I was trying to sleep.
I was remembering how much I used to enjoy getting mail as a kid. Strange thing to think about, but that’s honestly what was on my mind. I had a friend whose family travelled all around the world because of her father’s job in the air force. This family had travelled to exotic places like Morocco and lived in the most ordinary places like Kansas.
I met my friend when I lived in Kansas and was in nursery school. My family became close friends with her family and we stayed in touch for years. Whenever my friend’s family moved, I was excited because we had become great pen pals. Letters were always written on the most unusual stationery we could get our hands on. Back when I was a kid, my friends and I actually collected and traded stationery (it was a big deal back then).
Well, every time I wrote to my friend or vice versa, we would put a little gift into the envelope. We sent each other scratch and sniff stickers, gum, candy, erasers and tiny gumball machine type toys. The best gift I ever received was sent in a thick envelope. My friend had sent me a handmade leather wallet from Morocco. I cherish those memories.
Along the way, I got hooked on receiving mail and found all sorts of ways to receive letters and packages. I sent letters to favorite celebrities from my Tiger Beat Magazines and got a few autographed photos back. I joined the Columbia House Record Club and got something like seven records or tapes (my choice) for a penny. I then needed to buy just three more records or tapes over the course of a few years to complete the subscription. I remember when I received that big package of music, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had all this great new music and the dilemma of what to listen to first.
My introduction with the Columbia House Record Club made way for the various book clubs. These clubs were based on the same principles as the record club. I remember choosing risqué books most often. It was great. There was no embarrassment buying the books in person at a book store and the package came in a plain box. I was in my late teens at the time. My mom never knew and I was a curious teen who wanted more information on boys, love, dating and sex.
Of course I received magazine subscriptions from Teen and Seventeen Magazine. I got letters from friends at camp or on vacation and I wrote to and received letters from my grandparents.
In some of the magazines, there were offers for free samples of lotion, perfume (my favorite), make-up and hair products. I was a pro at sending in the offers for the freebies. Sometimes there would be offers of a package of 3-5 samples from different companies. As a teenager who was interested in all things girly, but short on cash, these freebies were a ton of fun to receive.
After all of these years, I still get that excited feeling just thinking about all the cool things I got through the mail. I wish my kids had grown up with that same experience. Things have gotten so techy these days that I have had days where there is no mail in the mailbox. Yeah, it’s great when there aren’t bills in the mailbox, but I miss my Hang Ten, Roots and Winkleman’s clothing catalogs.
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