Penny postcards and Three Cent Stamps: The Lost Art of Letter Writing

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Flora McKee
Mattie Saunders
Delores Wilsie

Penny postcards and Three Cent Stamps: The Lost Art of Letter Writing

By Mindy Ragan Wood

In the age of hyper-communication via text messages and emails, handwritten sentiments and long, cozy letters are almost non-existent. According to the United States Postal Service, first-class mailings have dropped 50 percent in the last decade.

Maybe the scarcity of these documents makes the occasional letter that much more special to those who are lucky enough to receive one in the mail. met with a group of women who cherish letters they say still brings them joy today.

March is National Card and Letter Writing Month.

Mattie Morgan Saunders, Flora McKee, and Delores Wilsie shared their stories regarding their special memories penned thoughtfully by friends and loved ones.

Saunders was Prague’s first female mayor between 1960 and 1964 and an advocate for women’s rights. Her letters were from several dignitaries including two Oklahoma governors, David Boren and Henry Bellmon, former First Lady Betty Ford, and even a letter from the White House in 1975. Among her treasured letters are also those from her daughters-in-law.

“In the 50s, 60s, and 70s hand writing letters was the thing. We had typewriters but I loved letters and I loved writing long letters. My daughters-in-law would send me a letter when they had their babies and they wrote them because they knew I appreciated them. I recently found them and sent the letters to them. They told me they were really glad to get them because they remembered this or that, something they’d mentioned and forgotten,” said Saunders.

Letters from the war are especially treasured. Sandra Wilkins, a historical fiction author in Meeker, said she cherishes a love letter her grandfather had written her grandmother. He was stationed “somewhere in England” at the time of its writing. Dated May 19, 1944, its time-worn pages and faded ink recite to a girl back home how much she is loved and missed.

“As I sit here now looking at your picture while I write this letter, I can’t see how I was ever lucky enough to get a sweet girl like you. Sweetheart, I love you so much. You get more beautiful every day. Darling I can’t hardly wait to be together again. Pictures make me homesick but I love to get them. I wish we had a baby…but with this war on, one can’t tell what will happen. I guess we will have to wait until this war is over,” the grandfather wrote.

Wilkins said, “The letter is special to me because although he could joke around, he was a fairly quiet person. It was amazing to see him express his feelings for her in the letters–and to know they had an enduring love. I do like writing handwritten notes and cards. I might not do it as much as I’d like, but I enjoy doing it. It seems like a more personal way to express yourself.”

Letters during World War II were the only way to communicate with “the boys” overseas. Saunders remembered just how important they were as she had brothers in the service. “My mother would just pace the floor and the first thing you knew, she was gone. She would walk five miles to town to the post office. She thought she could get the letters faster if she went to the post office before they were delivered to the mailbox. We received a telegram once, and the family’s faces just fell. Usually that meant someone died, but it was a Merry Christmas message.”

Saunders, Wilsie and McKee all remembered in those days the post office delivered on Sundays and holidays because they knew how important it was to hear from loved ones in the fight for freedom.
McKee, age 98, had two brothers in the service during WWII.

“I came from an era where we did a lot of letter writing, especially during the war. Some of the letters had black places marked out, censored what they had written. I still have some of them. I can remember penny postcards and three cent stamps,” she smiled.

Saunders remembered a letter her grandfather received with black pencil marks on it, resembling a smoke screen all around the letter. “He knew when he saw it that his sister had died before he opened it. Back then if you got a letter with black on it, it meant bad news.”

Rarely do they receive letters now, but when they do it’s a treat. Wilsie received a letter from a former student, an all grown second-grader who appeared with his son in a band. She wrote him when she saw the picture in the paper telling him how proud she was of him. “He wrote me back the sweetest letter, how much it meant to him and the difference our family made on his life,” she said.

If the thought of expressing an entire page of words seems daunting, there are articles online and even a book, “How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure” is available on

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