Sunday, July 08, 2018

A Vacation Letter from Tom (& Samwise & Emily)

(Dreaming of our upcoming travels this week.)
Years ago, when I was still small and splashing around in the streams and rivers of the White Mountains with my older brothers and sisters, my father would sit at a picnic table half watching us, half putting pen to a yellow pad of paper. Too young to care and too intoxicated by the cooling water and the river play, none of us ever
asked him what he was writing. 

Jack Ryan was of the generation that still penned letters. He was prolific, and each dispatch Contained several pages, filled with his distinctive leaning script of ink on paper. It took decades to realize that is what he was doing on those lazy summer afternoons along various White Mountain waterways.
I did not appreciate the art of correspondence until a few years ago. 

These days, after an early morning walk with Samwise and Emily, I begin the rest of my day by writing letters to friends and occasionally family—mostly my brother Eddie, now that Marijane is gone.

Letters are to me similar to the gifts of books. If I am close to someone, if I care about them, I write to them. But much like books—which I love giving as presents—the moment they stop being appreciated, I move on. No hard feelings. The friendship typically survives, but letters and books stop arriving in mailboxes. 

My letters are a part of myself, given to someone who matters. There is an intimacy to them.

 Genuine affection.

The moment letters, cards or notes (or books) are taken for granted, is the moment I stop. Fortunately, I am close to many who never fail to appreciate them. And I do not expect all of them to mail things back to me. Letter writing is my thing, after all. Some respond with a text or email or phone call. 

It has become essential for me. Not only as a distinctive way to reach out but plenty of what went into my book “Will’s Red Coat” came from something I’d written to a friend. My letters are seeds planted at this old wooden desk that lead to grander things.

I know many people who miss receiving mail. Some of my friends can’t remember the last time they opened a letter other than those from me. They wax nostalgic about the days when the mailman/mailwoman arrived carrying greetings from kindred souls, news from home or from the front, or feverish professions of love. 

With this in mind we’re doing something different for the next several days at Atticus & Will’s Emporium.
(One of the best parts of summer in the Mount Washington Valley is a visit with
Betsi Edge at Weston's Farm Stand. Here's Betsi with her new Will Wisdom shirt.)
Samwise, Emily, and I are headed off on a mini adventure. Three days and two nights out of town. I’ll return to Jackson to type up our trip and anyone who orders anything from Atticus & Will’s Emporium online between now until Thursday at midnight will receive a typed letter about our summer retreat. I’m not sure of the length, but it will be more than two or three pages.

It’s a fun little promotion; one we thought some of you might appreciate, especially if you were already planning to buy a mug, cap or shirt. And wait until you see the stamps that adorn the envelope!

Anyone spending more than $80.00 on an order also receives a personalized handwritten letter from me along with the typed letter. (No guarantee on the length of the handwritten letter, but it will be an actual letter not a postcard.)

*This promotion runs on all orders between July 8, 2018, and midnight July 12, 2018.

To place your order at  Atticus & Will's Emporium click here.
(Samwise and Emily visiting with my brother Eddie,
who is wearing his new Atticus three-toed paw print hat.)


  1. Anonymous11:42 AM EDT

    A cool promotion---love it!

  2. YAY!! I was going to place an order this week. Perfect timing!

  3. Have fun on your getaway!

  4. Bless you, Tom, for sharing your life and wisdom with us. And for sharing the love you have for your 4 legged companions. They enrich our lives so very much. I recently lost my older dog to cancer but my 6 year old Briard is living up to his name: he is my Hero. I am so blessed.

  5. Awesome as I am going to get a L/T for my dear friends up coming Birthday as she love the two I got! My also get myself the pink cap!

  6. Wishing you, Samwise and Emily a wonderful time wherever Bill is taking you. Receiving things in the mail anymore...all you very true. People seem to think texting or emailing is personal...but receiving something in the mail is truly special. I send lots of mail, it's something I've done throughout my life and I will continue doing it. P.S. I placed an order immediately after the link went live; however, I will be placing another order today.

  7. Kay Giblin Schraff1:33 PM EDT

    Enjoy your time away with Samwise, Emily & Bill. The promotion is truly a special way to connect and say thank you. Really cool!!

  8. Now I wish would have waited to order my two shirts! ;) However, now that I’m outside almost every day, I need a new hat, so will order one today! Have a grand mini vacation with Samwise and Emily!

  9. Here's wishing you Samwise and Emily a very pleasant short vacation

  10. Hope you guys have a great get-a-way!

  11. Pamela Melanie3:56 PM EDT

    Well darn! I just got my box from Stull’s yesterday
    and haven’t even opened it yet. But happy trails to you and
    And the pups!

  12. wishing safe travels to all of you. Its a family tradition to send cards and notes for holidays and bd. My mom did it and now I do it for all my nieces and nephews and their kids.

  13. Hope you all find joy in your little adventure! I can still remember the excitement I would feel when letters would arrive from my aunts and cousins. There was always that tiny moment before I ripped into that envelope that I knew I was about to learn new tidbits of their lives. Those lovely aunts are all gone now and it’s phone or texts with those cousins. Although I love hearing their voices I miss that tiny magic moment of opening those letters. Very cool, Tom, that you are still writing letters. Enjoy!

  14. Thank you for reminding us (me) of the lost beauty of the hand written letter...and now I am going shopping at Atticus & Will’s Emporium! Safe & joyous travels!

  15. I used to correspond quite a bit after high school. I'm old enough that we had penmanship in school. I always struggled with the cursive in 4th grade so when I learned touch typing in the 8th grade I pretty much typed everything I could. It also achieved higher grades in school since my handwriting has never been great. Society pretty much discouraged my handwriting and pushed new and new technologies on me.

    I did teach myself calligraphy just to slow me down and form better characters to avoid the constant complaints. When even the tellers at the bank complain they can't read my deposit slips, it's bad.

    I still have some stationary I bought in college. I love stationary. I would buy it just to write letters in my slow calligraphy. I have a stockpile of boxes in a desk with just one page and envelope used from each.

    Eventually I just didn't have that many people so far from home that I had a need to write to.

    Then the internet, e-mail, forums and blogs took the place of letters.

    Funny, James Corden said much the same thing a few months ago, how people never write letters any more.

    I tried this week. I really did. I was mailing a package to a friend in the UK and I wanted to enclose a letter. I actually typed it up so I wouldn't make any editing errors, got out a favorite fountain pen and really tried to write the entire letter. I got a third of the way through before I abandoned the attempt. I'm not sure even I can read it let alone a stranger unfamiliar with my "hand."

    People who can write amaze me. Those that do it in long hand on pads, in notebooks or journals even more so. The entire process. The subject, saying so much, the beautiful words that bring a description into my mind as a full picture in glorious color.

    Sometimes I read your words and I can smell the scent of pine or earth or feel a moist breeze. I am mystified as to how you can choose the words and put them together to put a picture into my head or a smell into my brain. Or do you choose or do they just come naturally? I can hear the sounds from just the way you put the words together. I look forward to your posts to see where you'll take me next.

    I wish you, Samwise and Emily a relaxing and safe trip. May your three days be long enough not too long.

  16. Happy Vacation!!! What a great promotional idea! A very dear friend I made more than 40 years ago and I exchanged actual hand-written letters for many, many years after she needed to move to Florida from Rhode Island for her health--terrible arthritis. I lost her to cancer six months after I lost my mom; I so miss those little packages of care and thoughtfulness. She was the last of my friends who were letter writers. Best wishes on the promo, and hope your vacation brings you all fair skies, laughter, and rejuvenation!


  17. The lost art of letter writing ... sounds like the title for a good book. (giggle and grin)

  18. If you make it to RI this trip, let us know. You have a place to stay if needed. Safe travels. ~Cherie and Dave~

  19. Anonymous3:46 PM EDT

    Ordered Sunday, arrived today! Shirts are great quality. Giving as gifts.

  20. My cap arrived last week and love it! I take great pleasure in writing and receiving letters, but no one I know in my generational cohort (GenX) seems to participate in letter writing. I still write letters to older relatives and friends and receive letters back from them, and find that some younger relatives and friends seem to enjoy sending short notes, usually on cute correspondence cards or post cards, sometimes just to say 'hi' or 'been thinking of you', usually with multiple exclamation marks, but still nice to receive.

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