Airmail: The allure for the long-distance air letter

Airmail: The allure for the long-distance air letter

The young woman behind the desk inside my local post office looked bewildered. “I think we’ve got some somewhere”, she mumbled before returning with a pile of dusty envelopes. “Nobody really asks for these any longer,” she admitted.

A hundred years ago this month the world’s very first air mail service began

Passed beneath the counter and into my hand was a good example of a mode of communication who has all but vanished. Thanks to Skype, texts and e-mails, there’s little need anymore for the small pale blue envelopes because of the diagonal red and blue stripes all over border, extra thin blue writing paper and multitude of stamps and post marks that constitutes an air mail letter. Dr. Richard Saundry, editor associated with the British Air Mail Society Journal, believes that we’re in danger of losing something both romantic and powerful.

“I think it is very regrettable that nobody appears to use air mail any more”, he tells me. “We live in a really age that is lazy plus one has been lost. There’s a thrill that is huge excitement, and a type of romance in receiving an air mail letter from the other side of the world on your door mat. The world-wide-web just can’t replace that.”

A century ago this month the world’s very first air mail service began. Flying from Allahabad, near Delhi, only seven years after the Wright brothers made their first forays to the air, the plane, flown by a French pilot called Henri Pequet, travelled 15 miles to Naini. Up to speed were six . 5 thousand letters including one published by Motilal Nehru, father regarding the first president of independent India.

The united kingdom wasn’t far behind with all the air that is first flight lifting removed from Hendon to Windsor later that year. Today the speed that these pioneers succeeded in reaching to get letters around the world is seldom beaten. Richard at the fresh air Mail Society told me of a letter he possesses which was sent from Buenos Aires to China in 1938. The letter arrived in 13 days- a feat that might be hard to match now without paying reasonably limited to a courier company that is private.

As a young child I thought there clearly was nothing more exciting than getting letters that are occasional my aunt in South Africa. Covered in strange stamps and smudged post marks, the creased letter would contain pages of dense hand writing describing life in Cape Town within the latter several years of apartheid. It seemed just like getting a letter that is personal an esteemed foreign correspondent and the gravitas of receiving these letters was so great that, 20 years on, I still possess them. I still receive news it’s by e-mail, the tone is scrappy and, in my hastily returned missives, a huge degree of effort and attempt at phrasing and sentence structure is missing from her, but these days.

“Getting an air mail letter was a great deal much better than a phone call”, admits Kate Hunter, a retired ward sister in Nottingham, whose husband had a long career in the oil industry.

“He was away for months at a stretch during the 1970’s and I always found the rushed phone calls he could occasionally make to me really unsatisfying”, she recalled to me.

“What i must say i loved were the occasions when an air mail letter from Kuwait or Dubai would slide through the letter box. It had been only written down that my hubby was really able to express his feelings, tell me exactly how much he was missing me and provide me a ukrainian wife much truer idea of what he was going through. There’s an honesty to a tactile hand written letter which you can’t be in a phone call or an e-mail. I would love to have the letter, flake out regarding the sofa with a cup of tea and just lose myself in the handwriting for a time. Even though the letters might take ages to reach, I somehow felt nearer to him whilst holding an air mail letter we spoke on the phone. than I ever did when”

With my personal air mail envelopes at your fingertips, i got home to realise I’d made a serious error. I desired to write, but to whom? I experienced e-mail addresses for my buddies based everywhere from Montevideo to Monaco but i discovered i did son’t have a single postal address for any of them anymore. What exactly did I do? No choice was had by me aside from to e-mail my buddies asking because of their address.

Five days later, and I also still haven’t got around to writing anything- preferring to have a ‘Skype’ chat instead. Maybe Richard was right about us living in a age that is lazy. A hundred years from now, will our descendents have any basic idea about the allure of a letter of love, heartache or politics which has travelled all over the world by plane?

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