A letter with some history in it   2 comments

Imagine such faces on a keychain.

I have been blessed with many incredible friends in my lifetime.  As I straightened up my apartment this afternoon, I found the following letter, and some of the keychains mentioned in it.  The paper is folded and warped by time, but I still have 2 of the 4 keychains mentioned, and I am currently using another that she sent me at a later time.  Reading this letter made me smile and recall what a wonderful friend M has been to me, although we have never met in person.

In previous ages of the world, it was customary to keep copies of the correspondences sent by noteworthy people—or maybe everybody did it.  While I certainly haven’t kept any copies of letters that I’ve written to other people, I have kept a few that people wrote to me.  Back in the days before email, people often exchanged good wishes and news by means of written words carried by the post office to distant places, and I both loved to get mail and to send it.  I still enjoy getting mail from people, as opposed to corporations, and I still sometimes write to others.  Yeah, I know, I’m hopelessly old-fashioned.

The physical copy of M’s letter won’t survive much longer—after 11 years of being crumpled in a box with much other ephemera, it is in pretty bad shape.  But, by posting it here online, it is my hope that it will survive much longer than it would have if it just remained in a box.  And I hope this token of friendship will brighten the days of those who read it—just to know that such friends exist in this world should gladden you.

Ken St. Andre

April 2, 2012


December 12, 2000

Dear Ken,

As tradition would hold it against you if you disobeyed, you cannot open your present until December 25th.  But forseeing what some might call desperation, I have included in the package a couple of souvenirs I had picked up for you during several of my trips.  Somehow plain postcards don’t cut it for me.

The souvenirs are numbered.  And they each have a specific meaning as I explain as follows.  I don’t know if you like keychains or not, but they are also a practical gift and so I’m inclined to give those instead of other souvenirs that just sit in a shelf and gather dust.  The following are from the Dominican Republic (Caribbean, below Cuba and next to Haiti).  I’m still looking for the ones from Greece, but since that’s another suitcase it’s also a whole different story.  I’ll send them as soon as I find them.

No. 1 Are a Tambor (Drums) and a Guira (Sorry, no translation for that one).  They are the basic instruments for playing Merengue music.  The Tambor is played with bare hands.  The Guira is supposed to have holes made with an ice pick where you can see little bumps, is played by scratching an old comb sideways against the perforated surface.  The sounds are really strong and grave, and they work just fine for that kind of tropical music.  Want me to teach you how to dance Merengue or do you already know?

No. 2 Represent the symbols of the country (Dominican Republic).  On the white side you can see the flag—four quadrants with blue and red interchanged and separated by a white cross—the blue represents liberty, the red the blood shed for freedom of the country and the white signifies unity with God and country.  On the black side is the coat of arms—it’s usually placed in the center of the white cross on the flag—and the book opned in the middle of it is the Catholic Bible.  The blue ribbon on the top reads “Dios Patria Libertad” which means “God Country Liberty”.  The red ribbon on the bottom reads “Republica Dominicana” which means “Dominican Republic”.  On the right side of the Bible you can see some branches of palm tree and on the left laurel branches.  Both trees are the official trees of the D R.   Laurel represent royalty (i.e. the Romans) and the Palm tree represents tradition.

No. 3 and No. 4 Represent traditional masks of the Carnival of La Vega.  The tradition is that in all the towns there is a week of celebration before February 27th, the date that marks the independence of the Dominican Republic from Haitian dictatorship.  The patrons that wear the masks are called “Diablos Cojuelos” (Cojuelos Devils) and sprung from the belief of letting out the bad spirits before Holy Week.  They are worn along with the most elaborate costumes you can imagine.  The decorations on the costumes include little mirrors, jungle bells, and almost anything that can be pinned to clothing.  The ones I sent you are from the town of La Vega, they are the most respected costume makers for the event, and so their costumes and masks are the prettiest and most bizarre.

I also included some stamps that I thought you might like.

I hope you enjoy the Christmas gift, it’s not much but it definitely reminded me of you.

I also hope you can remember me always.  One of the best things that happened to me this year was meeting and getting to know you a bit.

                                                                                    Merry Christmas!

                                                                                    Love always,

(signed with a red wax stamp bearing the letter M)

Posted April 5, 2012 by atroll in Uncategorized

2 responses to “A letter with some history in it

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  1. Too bad you’ve chosen to keep the identity of “M” secret — you’ve sorely piqued my curiosity! 😦 😦 😦

    –“Glarrrn” from Trollhalla.

  2. I’m fairly certain that I know who M is – it’s not me, by the way – but since Ken does not say the name here, I will not either. That said, if I am correct, then I very much understand why Ken values this person’s friendship.

    – Mahrundl

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