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Bobbie’s Beat

Modified: Friday, Feb 8th, 2013


Letters from home

This column has been running in the Newport News-Times, off and on, since 1985.  Never before have I featured an entire letter from a reader.  Before you call me lazy, read on, and you will understand why the letter made my heart sing and why it is appearing here today.  Here it is.

• • •

Hi Bobbie,

A quick note of introduction.  I was raised in Newport (since 1968), went away to college, married, and for seven years my family lived back in Newport from 1998-2005.  I remember when you and Burt first lived in Newport and have enjoyed hearing and reading of your reflections over the years.  Mom sends me clippings of some of your ‘Bobbie’s Beat’ columns in the weekly letters she writes, which brings me to the reason for my note to you. Some time back I remember you writing an article about the lost art of letter writing.  In our family, my Mom has kept this tradition alive with weekly letters to each of us three kids for over 30 years.  The letters began just after we left high school and started college.  Each week, we’d look forward to “Letters from Home” (she even had address labels saying this).  Never one to like talking on the phone, Mom has always said her letters made her feel as if she’d had a weekly conversation with each of us.  “You don’t have to read them,” she would say. “At least I know I’ve ‘talked’ to you.”

Her letters aren’t filled with deep, emotional prattle, but rather simple things like how far she and Dad walked along a certain beach, treasures found, life events of extended family, local people we know, and news of her beloved Newport.  In Mom’s handwriting, we learned about Safeway’s sinking floor, the building and later remodeling of Walmart and Fred Meyer, damage to businesses during various storms, Keiko’s arrival and departure from the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the ever-going saga of Hwy 20 construction, and other local events over the 36 years since we started leaving the nest.  Of course, she would comment about what was going on in our lives at the time, too.  If the letters had all been saved, we’d have a detailed biography of our lives.  Every now and then I stumble across one written some years back and realize what a heritage and legacy she has given us by writing these weekly chronicles.

I’ve tried to calculate, roughly, how many letters she’s written since my sister, Sara, left in 1976, brother, Dave, in 1980, and myself in 1982 – a minimum of 4,500.  And then there’s the postage!  First class stamps cost just 13 cents in 1976.  Even with the emergence of email, Mom has held pretty steadfastly to “snail mail” until the past year.  When she does utilize email, she still hand writes the note, and Dad types and sends via the computer.

Mom’s 80th birthday is this Valentine’s Day.  She does not want a party but would prefer a quiet celebration with us kids, and hopes to receive a fair amount of cards in the mail.  I am doing what I can to ensure she receives even a fraction of the greetings she has sent to us, and others, over the years.  I feel it is very well deserved.

I hope this note might possibly be mentioned in one of your upcoming columns.  Mom would be so honored – and a little embarrassed to see herself written about.  Her name is Carol Miller.  Many locals would recognize her as “Mrs. Miller” the kindergarten teacher from years’ past. She taught private kindergarten for 18 years in the basement of their church (First Baptist – Newport Christian Kindergarten) and is still a proud teacher when she reads or hears of her former student’s successes.  One set of parents, Paul and Nancy Oltman (nearby neighbors of yours in the past) have acknowledged Mom’s Valentine Birthday every year since their daughters were in kindergarten with a hand-printed card.  If you’ve ever seen Nancy’s work, you know these are amazing pieces of art.  Thank you very much for your consideration and keep up the great writings. 

Sincerely, Becky Pearson, The Dalles

• • •

Well, Becky Pearson, by now, thanks to the telephone and email, I feel as if we are old friends, although I have never met you, your siblings OR your Mom – a very special person who clearly loves her life in Newport, her husband, Eldon, and her children. 

Happy 80th Valentine’s Day Birthday, Mrs. Miller!

Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her husband, Burt, their dog, Charley, and a shelter cat named Lap Sitter. Bobbie can be contacted at bobbisbeat@aol.com

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