One of the best mornings I had in college was when I got up at 7 a.m. on a Sunday. I happened to wake up and I wasn’t tired, and the air was cool because it was autumn. So I figured I would take a walk outside.
I lived on the 18th floor of one of three very undistinctive gray high rises for upperclassmen, an area known as “Superblock.” When I looked down from my window, I could see a few things: Locust Walk, the long brick walkway that ran all the way through campus; the other two high rises across the Walk; and a metallic sculpture of two red cylinders, which were derisively called “The Dueling Tampons.”
But I also saw something else: Several skeletal trees whose pointy red and yellow leaves were tumbling to the ground, covering the Walk. No one was outside, as they were probably still hung over. My two roommates had taken me to a few fraternity parties, and I never felt like I belonged (which was no surprise). I didn’t want to drink the beer, which one roommate of mine had said “tastes like warm piss” before she drank three cups.
By the time I got downstairs, the little pointy community church across the street, which was somewhat out of place on our campus, was having an outdoor rummage sale. I looked through the boxes on one particular desk and noticed something alluring: A cache of quaint old post cards.
I bought several of them and headed along Locust Walk toward the center of campus – the College Green, with its lush grass and Gothic buildings. It was such a beautiful day, and I didn’t want to go back inside too soon. Once there, I sank under a tree and began to read these quaint genuine letters from the 1940s. Spade-shaped leaves darted off the trees and landed all around me.
Dear Mrs. Riley,
Yesterday I joined the 2nd sportsmans Batt. Royal and go down to camp tomorrow. I will let you know how things go later. Sincerely, R.J. Pearce.
It was written in spiky black ink, to Mrs. H.J. Riley of 127th St. in New York, on a colorful postcard showing Hungerford Bridge in London.
Will you please get in touch with me at MA4-6143. Call any morning after 10. I want to talk to you re: A matter Sy Travers asked me to look after. Ask for Millicent.
The nuns were baking bread. Are the nuns still baking bread. O where are the purest of loaves. Go to Atlanta. Don’t come here. It is quite fruitless here. But please write. And 1943 will be better than 1942 if you still like apples. The best of my love. Nat.
Lost your address for quite a spell but today found it – wish you were here to have a shot of soup with me…
Envelopes bore stickers saying OPENED BY EXAMINER 5872 and BUY WAR BONDS AND STAMPS.
As I read these, I felt relaxed and at peace. I enjoyed the quaintness of the missives, as well as the overall simplicity of the morning. The only thing that bothered me was that I imagined that if I went back to my dorm room and told my roommates how much I’d enjoyed it all, they’d just say “Whatever” and think I was weird.
So now I’m telling you instead. Hope it's okay.
How bizarre, how bizarre
Someone wrote a comic strip that talks about This Is Chick Lit controversy and skewers the literary scene in general. You have to keep clicking the arrow at bottom right to get the whole thing. There are a lot of pages of this, so only read if you have a few minutes and your boss isn't watching. There are a coupla swear words too.