Friday, May 30, 2014

memorial day

(photo borrowed from here)

A couple of days ago I found myself wandering through an antiques marketplace and came upon an old Smith-Corona portable typewriter from the early 1960s, the same model my dad had when I was a kid.  I've been thinking about Dad and that typewriter ever since.

May 30th was the traditional date for Memorial Day, back before an Act of Congress decided that federal employees needed more 3-day weekends. It's also my Dad's birthday, as well as the anniversary of my very first blog post, which fittingly, was all about Dad.

So as I sit here effortlessly typing my 384th post on a sleek, modern keyboard that goes, "clickety-click", instead of the "clackety-clack" of the old Smith-Corona, I'm thinking about my father who, though he would have marveled at how efficient the new world of communication has become, he surely would have hated it.

Dad was a journalist who worked in the now almost obsolete world of print. A newspaperman to his core, he loved the smell of ink on paper, devouring the news of the world page by page every morning and evening. When I was growing up in Queens, Dad worked as a copy editor at The New York Times. Our local paper (The Long Island Star Journal, and later the Long Island Press) was morning reading. The Times came home with Dad after the swing shift.  On Sundays, we'd get The Times, The Press and the Daily News. It's safe to say there was a LOT of reading going on in the Russell house on Sundays.

Back before Facebook, Instagram, text messaging and Twitter, people wrote letters - most of which were not limited to 140 characters. My dad was one of those letter writers. He corresponded with friends around the world just about every day, and almost always they were pounded out on that trusty Smith-Corona.

While Twitter and text messaging allows us to do all that, I can't help but prefer opening a real paper envelope, addressed in a friend's familiar hand, and reading a message that comes imbued with their very spirit.
some of Dad's letters

In honor of what would have been Dad's 99th birthday, I plan on writing a few letters to friends this weekend, and I hope to pass on the spirit of his wit and humor.

And one last thing: If he were still around today, I'm pretty sure Dad would be writing some great tweets.