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Old-fashioned letters are becoming a lost art

Does anyone write letters anymore? In this age of instant gratification, where the food is fast and the DSL connections faster, it's a legitimate question - one I often wonder when sending notes to my grandmothers, who are hardly of the dot-com era.

E-mail is quick and easy, but it doesn't do much good if there isn't a computer on the other end. I'm sure there are plenty of grandmothers (and grandfathers, for that matter) who surf the Internet with aplomb, but probably not many the age of my grandmothers.

My grandmas enjoy their cable television - one likes watching the NBA and University of Illinois basketball, the other prefers CNN - but otherwise their homes are not wired. You won't find beulah@grandma.com or elsie@grandmother.net here.

So cards and letters it is, with a few clipped articles thrown in for good measure. No e-mails, no links, no e-vites, no e-cards or the like. Just good, old, prehistoric snail mail.

It's not an instant process by any means, but the information eventually gets there - uninterrupted by spam or the dreaded joke e-mail that has been forwarded through several hundred people so you will know the blonde stared at the orange juice container because it said concentrate.

My grandmas don't have TiVo either, which I guess gives them more time to read the letters that arrive in their mailboxes instead of their inboxes. They read and respond, sending volleys that eventually return to Lawrenceville.

It's hardly an exact science. Any telephone contact thwarts the whole process. The conversations usually lead to what everyone ate at the birthday dinner, how hot (or cold) it is in central Illinois and how my aunt or cousins are doing. It effectively exhausts the information that will be delivered a day or two later by the postman.

But that's the price you pay for not using instant messaging. However, as anyone who has ever encountered instant coffee will attest, immediate isn't always better. Sometimes it's acceptable to wait.

Waiting is especially OK if the letter is well written or the card well shaped, i.e. a margarita glass, a beer mug or a sumo wrestler. There is probably no better way to bring a smile to someone's face than to send them a card with a grinning monkey on it.

If you don't believe me, just ask my grandmas. Or better yet, let me.

Anyone got a stamp?

Todd Cline can be reached via e-mail at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Tuesdays.

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