On a road trip to the Rocky Mountains last summer, my husband and I visited the historic site of Boggsville, located near the confluence of the Arkansas and Purgatoire Rivers in what would become southeastern Colorado. There’s not much there now, but at the time of its founding in 1866, the hard-working people of Boggsville pioneered irrigation, large-scale farming and ranching in the Arkansas Valley.
My husband and I arrived at the remote site on a hot, dusty day in June. No one else was about as we drove into the small, graveled parking lot. When we walked up the path toward the two homes that have been restored, we could hear the sound of our footsteps in the peaceful quiet.
A pleasant young woman greeted us at the reception desk. “Would you like a tour guide or a self-guided tour? No one else is here, so I can give you a tour now if you like.”
We happily accepted her guideship.
She was a local girl, a student in her first year of college, I believe, and well-versed in the story of Boggsville. When we entered the dining room of a large house, I noticed a framed document on the wall. I drew closer to read the handwriting—original or copy?—before asking some small question about a certain word, a name perhaps?
“I don’t know,” the guide said, “I can’t read cursive.”
“They didn’t teach it at school,” she said. “But now I’m teaching myself.”
While growing up, my tour guide probably would have enjoyed an American version of the Australian Richard Simpkin to visit her classroom to teach letter writing.
The value of letter writing impressed Mr. Simpkin so much in his work as an author and photographer that on September 1, 2014, he launched World Letter Writing Day at Waverly College in Sydney, New South Wales.
His goal was simple: encourage people around the world to pick up a pen or pencil and write a letter—and not just on September 1.
Mr. Simpkin and his colleagues at https://worldletterwritingday.com aren’t against electronic communications. Indeed, they use emails, texts, voice mail, etc. What they don't want us to forget is that the personal touch of a handwritten letter is only one of the many benefits of handwriting. Other rewards are:
No matter what your age, handwriting enhances learning.
Here in the USA, penmanship inspired the creation of the unofficial holiday known as National Handwriting Day. The commemoration began in the late 1970s and occurs annually on January 23, the birthday of John Hancock (1737-1793), the first signer of the Declaration of Independence.
To learn more about the benefits of pensmanship, visit my January 20, 2020, blog post national-handwriting-day-just-pretty-writing.html.
And on September 1, join Richard Simpkin, me, and other people around the world who, like you, are picking up a pen or pencil to write a letter!
Lynne Schall is the author of three novels: Women's Company - The Minerva Girls (2016), Cloud County Persuasion (2018), and Cloud County Harvest (November 2022). She and her family live in Kansas, USA, where she is writing her fourth novel, Book 3 in the Cloud County trilogy.