The Olympics are in the rearview mirror now, with four more years until the next summer Games in Rio. But the London games will stay on the radar as breakout stars like Gabby Douglas and others become household names. While those stories continue, so it seems does the pursuit of Olympic paraphernalia.
I recently received a postcard of all things (have received a lot of letters to the editor in my time but never a postcard) requesting "two or three" of the Daily Post Olympic pins that Scott Reed (our "Local in London" blogger) had made and then traded during this year's games. In addition to the postcard being a surprise, the fact that it came from a 12-year-old in Oklahoma was as well.
Who knew kids even wrote to people anymore, let alone know what a postcard is? The short note from a girl named Jane (including the line: "Please use a padded envelope for protection of the pins. Thank you.") reminded me of myself.
Back in middle school, way before the Internet, we were given the assignment of writing a business letter and mailing it to a company. It was a homework assignment, but a pretty fun endeavor that ended up paying off big time. Being a huge sports fan, I wrote my letter to the Dallas Cowboys, my favorite team at the time. Much to my surprise, I got a return letter that included a pocket schedule and a sticker. That was all I needed to turn a homework assignment into an obsession.
I quickly found that while pro sports teams were receptive, the mother lode was college sports information departments. Later, when I worked part time for one in college, I found out why. The SID department is stocked with schedules, posters, stickers and PR things touting the latest Heisman Trophy candidate. So it was easy to stick something in the mail and maybe turn a young kid into a big fan.
That's how I came to like Auburn football even though I lived in central Illinois. Auburn sent me a huge package that included a Bo Jackson for Heisman poster. I took advantage of the schools that were the most generous, going back to Auburn for Charles Barkley posters as well. I wouldn't say I got as much mail as our local high school football stars are receiving from recruiters these days, but I'm sure my mailman was curious about the endless stream of envelopes big and small coming from such diverse places as Clemson, Boston College, BYU and the University of Houston (circa Phi Slama Jama and Akeem Olajuwon).
The posters were great, but as the media guides started coming my addiction increased. To have all that information and all of those pictures of the players I had read and heard about was a dream come true for a young sports fan. And all that fun came from one little classroom project. Who knew school could be so productive?
I still have a box of some of my favorite stuff I collected from those letter writing campaigns. It's a nice reminder of some good childhood memories,
Which is why 12-year-old Jane from Oklahoma should be pleasantly surprised one day soon when she goes to her mail box and finds a package from Lawrenceville, Ga. In a padded envelope, of course.
Emai Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Wednesdays.