Long before the computer age, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, people would communicate with each other by writing letters and sending them through the U.S. Mail. Often a person you corresponded with on a regular basis was called a "pen pal."
When I was in third grade, my teacher was Miss Kuter. (Yes, it was pronounced "cuter" but she was such a beloved teacher that I don't remember anyone ever making fun of her name.)
Miss Kuter, bless her heart, was my very first pen pal, the first person I ever corresponded with via posted mail.
She was a wonderful, dedicated, long-time teacher, warm and loving toward her students, and on the last day of third grade, I remember telling her I wished she could be my teacher "forever" and that I would miss her as summer vacation began.
Our family lived in a residential part of our town in Illinois and Miss Kuter lived with her parents in a farming community about seven miles outside of our town. In that day and age, I suppose she could have been labeled a "spinster" or even "old maid" as she was well into her forties (or perhaps even fifties) and had never been married.
She told me that if I had time during the summer (what did I have but time?), I could write to her and tell her what I was doing. She gave me her mailing address, we said good-bye and I went home wondering how long I should wait to send her a letter.
I don't remember specifically how long I did wait to write to her, but I can't imagine it was long or that my letter was full of stimulating information. I'm sure my correspondence must have been fairly hum-drum and boring.
But write to her I did and almost immediately received a reply from her. I was thrilled. Her letters were full of things happening on her parents' farm and I remember folded inside her first return letter was a small sample of the wallpaper she was putting up in her bedroom.
I eagerly looked forward to her letters which always were so interesting (to me) and usually contained some little trinket that made me think her life was extremely interesting. Once I even received a black and white glossy print of a picture of her father's herd of milk cows grazing in a pasture.
We wrote letters back and forth all that summer. What a considerate, sweet person she was to take the time to correspond with a nine-year old girl.
Near the end of that summer, I was looking forward to seeing her in person when school started up again.
Then one evening as my mother was reading the local paper, she commented that there was a marriage announcement for Miss Kuter!
Unfortunately for me, this turned out to mean she didn't return to my elementary school as a teacher that fall, and I never saw her again. It was also the end of our correspondence.
But I still will never forget how kind she was to take the time to be my "pen pal" for that summer of 1952. I do believe that started me on the track of becoming a frequent letter writer, and probably prompted me to eventually become a blogger when the age of computers came on the scene.
So thanks, Miss Kuter, for introducing me to the art of writing letters and being my pen pal.
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