Get yourself a bowl of cold cereal and check the mail

Burt's Eye View

It was so odd that my wife called me at work: “You got a letter in the mail.”

“You rang me up to tell me about yet another credit card offer?”

“No,” she said. “Your cousin Cindy. She sent you a letter. An actual letter with an envelope, a stamp and everything.”

“Weird,” I said. “Hang on. I’m going to Google ‘letters in the mail’ to see what I’m supposed to do next.”

Remember letters? Handwritten with a Bic on notebook paper — or with a fountain pen on stationery if you wanted to be uppity. They were sealed in envelopes and sent through the U.S. Postal Service.

Texts, emails, instant messaging and like have pretty much dried up the ink. These days, the only pieces of mail that show up in the big box on a post by the road in front of my house are offers to buy the timeshare that I don’t own, offers to loan me money to buy things I can’t afford, boasts and bragging by political candidates, and bills.

But most of my bills now arrive electronically, so my mailbox soon may go the way of my telephone landline — a relic of a forgotten era. Even some of our Christmas cards are showing up by email.

The crazy thing is this was the second letter I’d received this year. A couple months earlier, cousin Lynda wrote, “I thought you should see where your creativity came from.”

I unfolded the pages to find behind her letter another missive that the family dog had written to Lynda decades ago. The dog’s paw-writing looked exactly like my mother’s handwriting. If I’d realized our puppy was that good at forgery, I would have traded belly rubs for notes to get me out of my third-grade social studies tests.

Lynda had saved the letter all those years. You used to do that with letters. I have files and files of saved emails. It’s not the same.

When I tore into Cindy’s letter, I found written in blue ink on lined, yellow paper, “I was reading about cereal in my Food Network Magazine when suddenly I thought of you!”

Cindy and I had grown up in a time when Saturday morning cartoons and Cap’n Crunch, the Trix Rabbit and Tony the Tiger were an important part of every kid’s week.

Besides Cindy’s letter, the envelope contained pages torn from her magazine declaring, “A new cereal boom has begun.”

Among the features was a cereal IQ quiz. How did I do? I didn’t end up with a Silly Rabbit rating, that’s for sure.

The multiple choice questions included such crispy golden nuggets as what is Cap’n Crunch’s full name (duh! Everyone knows it’s Horatio Magellan Crunch); true or false, the three Rice Krispies mascots wear chef’s hats (false, of course. Snap wears the chef’s top, Crackle dresses in a sleeping cap and Pop wears a drum-major’s lid), and Froot Loops came in which colors when they were introduced in 1963 (red, orange and yellow. Green, blue and purple were added to the mix in 1991).

We need to talk more about cold cereal in an upcoming column. First, I need to search for the box of stationery I bought in 1983. I’ve got a sudden urge to write a letter.

— Correspond with Cole in nonletter form at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.


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