Dashes

When my Mother and my Aunt Jeannie used to write letters to each other (back in the days before the internet, way, way back when normal middle-class people only used LONG DISTANCE twice a year (Christmas and Birthdays) because it was perceived as SO EXPENSIVE) they used what I remember as a bizarre writing style, with virtually no punctuation at all, other than Dashes. (?) Now, my Aunt Jeannie was an english major who graduated from Boston University, she KNEW HOW to use punctuation. But a typical letter, written by either my Mom os my Aunt, would go like this:

“Nan-

The cats are all in, huddled around the fireplace- Mother can’t stop complaining about the cold-Don thinks he is going to make a million dollars with his new thing-do you have that recipe for pork roast-no one knows what to do about Aunt Helen-well I gotta go-

Love Jeannie”

Now, when I can no longer ask either of them (because they are dead), it all seems so mysterious somehow….why just dashes? I think because, written in that sort of stream of consciousness way, there was no pretense of even TRYING to write well, so it was IMPOSSIBLE to FAIL.

How deep are our fears, that so many of us don’t even TRY? To do a simple thing? Or, were they just SO RELAXED with one another, that there was no point in exerting themselves? Or, was in an epistolary style they developed when utterly sleep deprived as young mothers?

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