Wednesday, April 04, 2012

From the Letter Box

Have you ever had a piece of mail change your life? I'm sure it happens to many. Love letters, exam results, university offers often come to the letter box and set people on a new course.

On Monday I chatted with Penny Zeller, whose book idea came from something she received in the mail. That got me thinking about the goodies that have made their way to my letter box over the years.

My dear friend Jalana from Tennessee once sent me a parcel with two postcards she found in a thrift store. She knows how much I love all things old. Even better if they hint at a story idea.

See that viola postcard? A young girl named Nellie Miller scribbled on the back. I hope you will keep well is all she wrote. I've wondered if the recipients were the Wisconsin family in mourning, who received the second postcard underneath the violas.

We read a card from the folks yesterday telling us of the sad death of your son, Dear Boy, and your friend Eli. We feel so sorry for you and you have our heartfelt sympathy. Oct 4, 1910

Whoever they were, these people and their circle of friends had their world turned upside down with the arrival of bad news in the form of a letter or card.

So what does an inquisitive soul like me, do with something like that?

Google Oct 1910, for starters. A quick scan of worldwide events shows me there was a terrorist bombing at the Los Angeles Times which killed twenty one people on October 1.

Also on that sad day, twenty three American sailors from the battleship USS New Hampshire drowned when their launch capsized.

Enough bones for a story idea? More than enough. I have a location, an incident or two, and a community of people. Plenty of threads to pull together a full blown romance. I wonder if there were any sweethearts who grieved the loss of these boys. If Nellie Miller's card was for one of these girls and if they discovered the sad news through a letter or telegram themselves.

I may leave this one for my writing buddy Jalana to pick up. I have my own shelf of threads and bones, most of them Colonial Australian. They all need flesh, breath and a few fancy ribbons but when the time is right, I may send a copy of my own book to dear Penny, and she can pull one more story from the mail box. While it may not change her life, I'm guessing she will enjoy a few hours of historical romance, Aussie style.

How about you? Has your life been impacted by a piece of mail?