Tag Archives: history

Sunday Notes & Letters for Week 26



My beautiful niece Jacqueline rode a Ferris wheel for the first time this last week. Ironically it was on this date in 1893 that the first Ferris wheel premiered at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. I found this out as I came across a letter that was sent from the Exposition.

Designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., the wheel measured 264 feet in height and featured 36 cars. Each car accommodated up to 60 people giving it a total capacity of 2,160 people! That’s almost three times the amount of people who can ride the London Eye.

After the Exposition ended, the wheel was transported to St. Louis for the 1904 World’s Fair. And then for reasons unbeknownst to me, they blew the thing up two years later. Weird.


Letter sent from Chicago on Sep. 22, 1893 featuring the Ferris wheel from the Columbian Exposition in blue at top left. stampauctionnetwork.com


The letter was written on official World’s Columbian Exposition stationery. stampauctionnetwork.com


Day 166: Dad

Dad and me doing renovations at the cabin on New Year's Eve 2014.

Dad and me doing renovations at the cabin on New Year’s Eve 2014.

June 15th is the Worldwide Day of Giving! It’s a day that I helped start 5 years ago after embarking on a year-long journey of micro-philanthropy. Hopefully you will consider some form of altruistic giving today.

Today, my letter is to my father. As much as I tease him about his quirkiness (he tethers his phone and wallet to his clothes so he doesn’t loose them), he’s a amazing man and incredible Dad. He’s supported me, listened to me, believed in me and loved me unconditionally for 41 years. I’m thankful for him every day, but Father’s Day is a special time to recognize everything he has done and continues to do for our family.

Thank you Dad. I love you very much.

Day 166

Dear Dad,

If you take route 7 west past Reedsville (I like that town) to Morgantown and then pick up I-79 south for about 20 miles you’ll discover the small city of Fairmont, WV along the banks of the Monongahela River. It was there in July of 1908 that the first Father’s Day was celebrated. It was held in honor of the more than 200 fathers who lost their lives in the Monogah Mining disaster of 1907.

Day 166-2I’ve got tickets to see the Pirates farm team, the West Virginia Black Bears, take on the Cleveland Indians’ Mahoning Valley Scrappers Sunday afternoon. I thought we could have lunch in Fairmont and then catch the game. How does that sound?

Happy Father’s Day! I love you very much.

Day 96: Lianne

Photo: featurefrederick.blogspot.com/

Photo: featurefrederick.blogspot.com/

Another note to one of the companies I got to work with recently on social media narrative. Lianne is the GM and Owner of Nido’s Ristorante in Frederick, MD. I think I ate there many years ago and it’s possible too because it’s been around for almost 30 years – longer than any other downtown restaurant in this charming business district.

Lianne took over the restaurant last year. Like any new owner, she has creative ideas but is very sensitive to the fact that this trattoria has been a long history. This is a place where the chef has been there since it opened and two of the servers have nearly 20 years under their aprons – very impressive.

My only disappointment is that I visited Nido’s while it was closed. The next time, I’ll make sure to be there for dinner!


Another handcrafted liner I put into this envelope.

Another handcrafted liner I put into this envelope.


It was great to meet you last month, learn about Nido’s, and discuss your narrative for social media. I hope our meeting was helpful. I thought I would check in and see how things were going. If I can ever be of any assistance, please let me know.


P.S. I look forward to dining at Nido’s next time I am in Frederick!

Sunday Notes and Letters for Week 13

I’m now into the 13th week of my year-long journey of letter-writing. I am enjoying it immensely – and I’m surprised by how many people have told me that they have written someone a handwritten letter because of my efforts. Maybe we’ll start a mini writing revolution.

I’ve been thinking about throwing a party at the end of the year and inviting everyone who has been following along as well as those who I’ve written to during the year – and of course anyone who has written me a handwritten letter! I did that with they Year of Giving and it was a lot of fun. Stay tuned for details and if you have any ideas or suggestions on how to make the party unique, please drop me a note.

The letter from Mr. and Mrs. Bresnan

The thoughtful letter from Mr. and Mrs. Bresnan

I recently received a very nice handwritten letter from Mr. and Mrs. Bresnan who I wrote on Day 45. It was a thoughtful note on nice monogramed stationery. I had asked them for advice on writing good letters – they said, “I don’t think you need any tips on what makes a great letter. You certainly have that down pat.” That was very kind of them to say.

I’ll share one last item with you. Last Monday Bernhard “Buddy” Elias, a cousin of Anne Frank, died at the age of 89. He was the teenage Holocaust diarist’s last close relative. Anne Frank started a diary on her 13th birthday and kept it until she and her family were discovered and arrested. She later died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp 70 years ago this March.

Berhnard “Buddy” Elias Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

She wrote regularly to Kitty – the name she gave to her diary. Through her diaries we get to know her and discover what it was like to be jewish during Nazi controlled Europe during WWII. Her father Otto, the only member of her immediate family to survive the concentration camps, later said of her diaries, “There, was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost. I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings.”

Buddy Elias was the president of the Anne Frank Fond which has the original diaries. When you look at how she filled the pages, the steady strokes of broad ink that she used, the way it was organized, you learn more about her than just the words. She even made an entry talking about her fountain pen – a prized possession of hers that she received as a gift from her grandmother when she was nine.

frankdiaryThinking about the this part of history makes my stomach curl. I find it unbelievable that something so horrible could have happened so recently. And while my heart aches when I read through her diaries, I’m thankful for them. Because of her determination to document her story, generations to come will never forget the Franks and know that for every Anne Frank there were millions of others whose story we sadly may never know.

RIP Mr. Elias.

Sunday Notes & Letters

Wow, this project takes a lot more time than I thought! Don’t let that discourage you from writing your letters though. If it was just writing a letter now and then that would be fine. But writing the letter, photographing it, creating the social media posts for it – all that takes time! That being said, I’m enjoying this adventure very much.

Today, as I do on Sundays, I take a break from sharing my daily letter with you and share with you a story about handwritten letters. Today’s story comes from BBC News Europe.



It’s about a handwritten letter by Michelangelo that was stolen from the Vatican. Yep, a former Vatican employee pilfered several 500-year-old letters and is now demanding money, lots of money, for the safe return. A ransom note, made to the cardinal in charge of St. Peter’s Basilica, asked for €100,000 – or about $105,000.

The odd thing is these letters went missing nearly 20 years ago and the Vatican never reported them stolen. Either they didn’t know they were missing, which doesn’t bode well for their tidiness and security, or they kept it a secret which begs further questioning.


This is reportedly Michelangelo’s handwriting. Not the letter in question here – there does not seem to be a copy of that, but this seems to be a grocery list. Still very cool to see someone’s writing from 500 years ago. Credit: openculture.com

In any event, this is particularly interesting because there are very few letters in existence penned from the hand of the great renaissance artist. According to Il Messaggero newspaper in Italy he typically only signed his name and had one of his many assistants do the laborious tasks of putting words on paper.

Whoever you are, you are a thief. Just put the letters in an envelope and mail them back to the Vatican and be done with this.