Letters Home

Posted: 31st December 2012 by ToadHollowPhoto in Olde School, Photography
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

There is just something special about receiving an envelope, especially when it comes from friends or family.  Whether the words were handwritten or carefully clicked out on a typewriter these notes were always a highlight, an extraordinary treasure to cherish.  Today’s modern age finds us sending notes like this digitally, and as a result something is lost in the translation.  We’re heading back to the Metchosin Schoolhouse where we’re continuing our latest photoblog series “Olde School” that features a collection of images we captured one afternoon.

Metchosin Schoolhouse - Metchosin, BC, Canada

Metchosin Schoolhouse – Metchosin, BC, Canada

My whole life I’ve been enamored by these old antique typewriters.  Today they make for great items to display, as well as terrific boat anchors.  But 100 years ago they were the cornerstone of our society’s communication.

This particular unit is heavy.  So much so, it could be registered as a weapon in many places.  Today’s smart phones weigh ounces and easily fit in our pockets; you would need a pretty significantly reinforced pocket setup to carry this around with you.

I remember as a little tadpole having an old typewriter like this in the house.  My mom used to be a diligent collector of recipes, and many times she transcribed handwritten notes into typewritten recipe cards to make it easy to find and follow at a later time.  My mom was always very organized, and I think she really just liked having everything just so, including her recipe collection.

There were many times where my sister and I used to haul it out of the closet and use it as a prop to play with.  Needless to say, many days this resulted in jet black fingers that were not allowed to touch ANYTHING in the house, lest the full fury of my mother was to come bear upon us all.  I avoided this at all costs.

You know it’s funny, these memories are as fresh as if they were made yesterday.  I’ll never forget how hard it was to press the keys and the sound they made, as well as the sound of the bell from using the carriage return.  Some things never leave you in life, I guess.

Metchosin Schoolhouse - Metchosin, BC, Canada

Metchosin Schoolhouse – Metchosin, BC, Canada

And life before the typewriter?  You probably wouldn’t give it a second thought today under normal circumstances, but in truth trying to write with a fountain pen fed from an inkwell brings its own set of challenges.  Just recently, Mrs. Toad and I found ourselves with an old pen and an inkwell very similar to the ones in this picture.  You’d be amazed at how long it takes to write anything using these old methods, the ink doesn’t flow consistently, the tip sometimes picks up flotsam and jetsam that interferes with crisp, clean strokes and by the end of your first paragraph your hand is sore and your patience thin.

I suppose all these years ago time wasn’t quite so precious and many people enjoyed spending the time it would take to create correspondence.  In today’s fast-paced world it’s just so much easier to reach for a ballpoint pen, or even better yet, your PC…  but in doing so it seems we have all lost a direct connection with the care and effort that goes into the creation process.  And with that we’ve lost some of the character and personality that the old ways fostered.

Times change, my friends.  And as 2012 wraps up and gives way to the New Year it’s time to reflect back on what has passed, and to plan for what’s yet to come.  Progress is inevitable, and I think it’s good to look back upon the history that brought us here.  Without appreciating our past, we don’t know what to look forward to in the future.

Happy New Year, our good friends!  Thank you for all your support and encouragement this year, we’ve really enjoyed sharing our adventures with you all.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have!




  1. Love these old artifacts Toad my friend. As for writing, mine was always a mess no matter how hard I tried, so for me typing especially on the PC is a godsend but it would have been nice to have been able to write something in proper copperplate script with a fountain pen.

    Hope you Toads have a great New Year and a spiffing 2013

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much there, Chris, we sure do appreciate your support my friend! We truly wish the best of the new year to you as well, and thank you for everything in 2012!

  2. avatar Jim Denham says:

    Those are wonderful artifacts and great images of them! Hard to understand how we’d get along without email, cellphones, etc., but in some ways and in certain aspects of our lives, we’d likely be better off. Happy New Year Toads – may it be a blessing to you!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks so much, Jim, your ongoing friendship and support means so much to us! We truly hope you had a terrific New Year and that 2013 brings you all the happiness and success you so deserve!

  3. The displays in both photos are beautifully set up Mr toad. I had forgotten all about the bell that rings when going to the next line. Like your parents my father used one of those old typewriters when I was very young, and for a short time I used it regularly as well for my earliest writings. These machines were impressive.

  4. happy new year to my friends north of the border!!

    And oh yes… love all the old stuff! 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Mr. Birdsall, sir, thank you so much for both your kind visit and most wonderful comments, good sir! Comin’ back acha from your friends north of the 49th!! 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks for your visit! I checked out your blog and am now signed up to get a RSS notification with new posts you make! Thanks for popping by, we really appreciate it!

  5. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Great shots Toad. I love that first one. Old typewriters are so beautiful. I’ve just gotten back from vacation and trying to catch up. I hope you and Mrs. Toad and your family had a wonderful holiday. Wishing you all the best in 2013.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Sure it great to see you here, Edith, thank you so much for your visit and your most wonderful comments, my dear friend! We really hope that 2013 brings you all that you hope and dream for! Best wishes to you from Mrs. Toad and I!

  6. avatar Jim Nix says:

    love that typewriter!!!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks, Jim, so do I!! I would actually love to have one in the house as an ornament of sorts. They are just that cool. 🙂 Thanks so much for your visit today, kind sir!