one hundred and forty-two: a letter to James + Jacob

Postcard: Bryant Park Corporation / 34th Street Partnership

A big anniversary celebration is taking place on Fifth Avenue right now: The New York Public Library turns one hundred today. Guarded by two gargantuan lions (Patience and Fortitude), the majestic building at 42nd Street has been spruced up for the occasion. In honor of this milestone, I decided to write to James Lenox and Jacob Astor. These two gentlemen smartly merged their libraries in 1911 to create a truly impressive collection of knowledge.

May 23, 2011

Dear Mr. Lenox and Mr. Astor,

I know it was a tough decision to merge your respective libraries in the midst of financial difficulties, but I think you made the right decision. Today the library you helped create is celebrating one hundred years of service. One hundred years gentlemen! If you were still around such an occasion would surely call for a top hat and tails.

Your generous philanthropy has benefitted so many New Yorkers, and thanks to this newish thing called the Internet, people all over the world. Yes, the world!  The Library has become part of the fabric of this city—both its historic location on Fifth Avenue and the eighty-nine locations spread throughout the five boroughs. Your impressive collection of one million books has grown to total more than fifty million items, including materials for the visually impaired. And those lions out front, well, let’s just say they’ve had their photograph taken a few times.

Thank you for making such a forward-thinking decision. You’ll be pleased to know the current leadership of the library is following in your footsteps. And yet, the historic charm remains—especially in the research facilities, which I have benefited from on more than one occasion. I wish you could be here to see this, but I trust you’re toasting with a glass of scotch somewhere…

All the best to you both,


one-hundred and forty: a letter for Amelia Earhart

Seventy-nine years ago today, Amelia Earhart completed a two thousand mile transatlantic flight. Sure, Charles Lindbergh made the journey five years earlier (to the day in fact). But Ms Earhart was determined. And she succeeded. Don’t you just love that?!

Five years later she would embark on a trip around the world to never be heard from again. We lost a passionate and driven lady much too soon; thankfully her memory lives on.

May 21, 2011


I’m having a cupcake at lunch today in your honor. Truly. Sure your transatlantic flight was impressive and deserves recognition. And your many aviation awards and honors are noteworthy. But I’ve always been more enchanted with your spirit.

You had such fierce determination and a fearlessness most men can’t muster. You flew to faraway places, wrote best-selling books, and you supported the Equal Rights Amendment when it was less than fashionable. And you were a sought after lady too—letting some man propose six times is cruel (and also a little bit awesome).

And even though your world flight didn’t go as planned, your memory continues to captivate. You are an inspiration to so many women (we did eventually get those equal rights) and a legend in your own right. Aviator caps off to you, wherever you’ve landed.



ninety-two: a letter to the pony express

On this day, in 1860, the Pony Express debuted. Traveling by horse, the first mail carriers left Missouri and California, simultaneously. Ten days later the westbound letters arrived in Sacramento (two days before the eastbound pony), setting a new standard of mail delivery. Sadly, this system of letter swapping was short-lived. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody was one of the famous riders. Oh, how I wish he was still delivering my mail on horseback!

April 3, 2o11

To The Pony Express Company:

(William H. Russell, William Bradford Waddell and Alexander Majors)

I am delighted you gentlemen came up with this ingenious idea of delivering letters. It’s hard for me to imagine a time before radios and telephones, but I can bet your services were much appreciated. I’m guessing people were thrilled to see your riders (maybe mini-celebrities), galloping into town with news from afar. And hats off to them—I can’t imagine carrying twenty pounds of letters, or navigating the treacherous wild west!

I’m sorry the telegraph pushed you out of business after only a year. I really wish the postal office would have kept the name “Pony Express”—it has such a nice ring to it. And the logo is so nifty…

Thanks for your contribution to letters!



eighty-six: letters to two fellow riders

The expression “jaded New Yorker” exists with good reason. We city dwellers see outrageous things on a daily basis—some too cringe-worthy to mention here (I mean you could be just sitting down to breakfast for all I know). Most days, the ridiculous behavior doesn’t faze me, but today’s antics were just too much! Oh how I wish I had some civilettes for these offenders…

March 28, 2011

To the Gentlemen Clipping His Nails on the 6 Train,

I think you’ll agree with me here, riding the six train during rush hour isn’t the most pleasant way to start your morning. We’re crammed-to-capacity in a mobile petri dish of germs. So I have to ask, why would you ever trim your fingernails here? You didn’t even make an effort to collect the clippings, but let them careen across the train.

I don’t like to pass judgement or make broad generalizations, but your navy blue suit and brown Ferragamo loafers suggest you must have some level of taste. And judging from your smug look, I think you know better. I also think you have it in you to be more courteous to the rest of us. No need to apologize this time, we’ll just chalk it up to a crazy week at the office with no time for a man-icure. But please, please, don’t let it happen again.

Your fellow rider,



To the Gentlemen Watching Porn on a Portable DVD Player,

I very much respect your desire to stay entertained during this forty-minute train ride from New York City to Westchester County. BUT, I find your viewing choice completely inappropriate. Pornography? On a commuter train? Without headphones? That goes against all spoken and non-spoken rider code. I am disgusted and offended. And only wish you weren’t seemingly smart enough to hit the pause button when the conductor came for your ticket. If you ever do this again (which I’m nearly sure you will) I hope you get caught. And punished in a big way.

Your fellow rider,


a love letter + more apologies

Oh my! Where has this week gone?! I am terribly sorry for the radio silence. That needy project came back for edits and my work schedule has been all over the map. My apologies to those of you who checked in wanting letters! I really wanted to give them to you. Really!

In an effort to assuage my gilt, I’m posting a bona-fide love letter from 1953. I found it today at the Brooklyn Flea, part of Dan’s Parent’s House collection. Ah, love letters are unparalleled, the champion of all written correspondence and by far the very best thing the postman delivers.

I wonder what Shirley and Terry were like. Did they have a big fight? Did he think Shirley was unfaithful? And why does Shirley need money? I hope she used it to buy a polka-dotted dress and some dainty white gloves. And I just love that this letter was mailed before the invention of zip codes!

Dearest Shirley,

Hello sweety. Honey I am very sorry about that letter I wrote Sunday. I didn’t know. When I am stuck out there I imagine all sorts of things. I hope you realize that honey. I know you love me and I love you more than anything. I am so sorry about the letter. That won’t happen again sweetheart. I just miss you so much and I worry about you so much that I imagine sorts of things. It will be tomorrow before I will be able to send you money because I have to go up in the morning and get a money order. Honey it was so nice to hear your voice. You really sounded wonderful. I will be sending you a box probably next week. I love you with all my heart. You are the most wonderful girl in the world and the only one for me. Tell your father hello for me sweety.

With all my love,



eighty-two: in memory of Elizabeth Taylor

On March 23, 2011 the world lost a legend. Elizabeth Taylor was more than a Hollywood starlit—she was a tireless advocate for AIDS research. I am a sucker for anyone with a cause (and an ah-mazing collection of jewels).

March 24, 2011

Dear Elizabeth,

I hope you’re resting in peace comfortably. I imagine you lounging on a red velvet chaise, looking gorgeous as always. Your family surrounded you in your final moments. And today they laid you to rest—fifteen minutes after schedule, just as you requested.

Your violet eyes captivated audiences and dozens of suitors—you are a film legend. Most impressively, you championed a noble cause: AIDS research. You helped raise more than $100 million dollars and boosted public awareness. I hear you really lived life to the fullest, which I greatly admire. I know your children couldn’t be more proud of you or the legacy you leave behind. And your fans, well, you will live forever in our hearts and on the silver screen. Rest in peace.



P.S. I’m so sorry all the newspaper headlines scream Liz—I know you really hated that moniker.

P.P.S. Who got all your fabulous jewels?

seventy-seven: sympathy for Japan

Heartfish Press: 100% of  the proceeds of this lovely letterpress print go to the earthquake and tsunami relief effort in Japan (purchase here).

I am just heartbroken over the recent events in Japan. It seems like the whole world is crumbling, bit-by-bit. I was particularly moved to hear the stories about people helping each other—no looting or chaos, but selflessness in the face of extreme adversity. I’m not sure I would behave so well.

March 19, 2011

To The People of Japan,

My thoughts and prayers are with your country at this difficult time. I cannot imagine your loss or the harrowing road ahead. I am so awed by your courtesy and willingness to help one another. It is admirable.

And to the courageous men and women involved in the nuclear crisis at Fukushima, I commend and thank you. Your commitment to Japan and your incredible determination are beyond words. You are true heroes.

May you receive aid and assistance expeditiously. And may you be comforted knowing that people all over the world are wishing you well during this difficult time.

With Sympathy,


seventy: a letter for Ken

I grew up on Barbie. I had the pink convertible, the wardrobe and the entourage. I even had the original Barbie and Midge from the 1950’s, which my Mom so benevolently let me manhandle. And in full-disclosure, I was Barbie, (poufy pink dress, white heels and all) at the Times Square Toys R Us. It only took me a few hundred autographs to perfect her signature.

When Mattel launched their campaign to reunite America’s most favorite couple, I took notice. I didn’t even realize the duo broke up, did you? But I’m pleased to report, despite playing hard to get, and after many grand gestures, Barbie took Ken back!

Today Ken turns the ol’ nifty fifty. According to Barbie’s facebook page the two are celebrating with floor seats to the Lakers game… ah, yet another reason to envy that buxom blonde.

March 11, 2011


A very happy birthday to you! I know this is a big birthday, ahem, but I must say, you don’t look a day over twenty-one. What’s your secret? You’ve kept all your hair; even your washboard stomach has aged like a fine wine.

I hear Barbie has a very special evening planned for you two. I’m so happy you reunited. Thanks for being patient with her—she’s a complex character, what with over 125 careers and a trip to the moon under her belt. But you two were made for each other, literally. And I like to think true love conquers all.

Have a great day! I hope there’s cake and party hats and a little lovin’ from your main squeeze in the backseat of her convertible.



sixty-nine: a letter for Mr. Alexander Graham Bell

"Alexander Graham Bell at the opening of the long-distance line from New York to Chicago," 1892. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

On March 10th, 135 years ago, Mr. Bell placed the first telephone call. He rang his assistant and said: “Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you.” Not quite “One small step for man one giant leap for mankind,” but completely practical. What would you have said? I wonder what Mr. Bell would think of our iPhones and Blackberries, amazing or complete excess?

March 10, 2011

Dear Mr. Bell

If I had to list my most favorite inventions, the telephone would definitely be in the top ten. If my thirteen-year-old self was making the list, your genius would be number one.

I was a big phone talker as a teen, so much so that my parents gifted me my very own phone line. Phone lines have come a long way Mr. Bell. The line came with a snazzy portable phone (no cord!) with an accompanying answering machine in case I missed an important call. When you’re thirteen, every call is important. But, I had to wait for a phone number to free up. Turns out, when my Mom phoned the folks at AT&T they advised her the only number available was 876-6969. I’m not sure if that number had any significance back in your day, but lets just say my Dad was having none of that.

Your fantastic invention has come a long way. I no longer have a ‘land line’ but make all my calls on a mobile phone which fits in my pocket—can you believe it?! It does all sorts of other neat tricks too, like keeps an address book of numbers I can’t seem to remember. And it surfs the internet—but that’s a long story and another letter I’m afraid.

Thank you for inventing the telephone. And thanks for your other contributions to the vault. You had quite a lot of interests—you were granted 18 patents in your name alone. And I had no idea you tutored Helen Keller (I think they forgot to mention that in school). Hats off to you good sir! And many thanks!

Forever indebted,


sixty-one: a letter for Dr. Suess

March 2nd would have been the 107th birthday of the talented Dr. Suess. I’d be willing to bet I have the full collection of his forty-four children’s books in my parent’s attic. I couldn’t get enough of The Cat In The Hat as a kid. And to this day, I maintain The Cat In The Hat Comes Back is still the best sequel I know. Happy Birthday Theodor Suess Geisel!

March 2, 2011

Dear Dr. Suess,

I don’t know if I can give you all the credit for teaching me how to read (I think my kindergarten teacher and my parents would feel a bit slighted) but I must give you some. The Cat In The Hat was the first book I read cover to cover—no memorization like Goodnight Moon, the perennial favorite of my pre-school days. I thought you were so clever, rhyming all the time and thinking up these completely fantastic places like Who-ville. My imagination ran wild! And all the while I was learning these wonderful little lessons, like “Oh the things you can think up if only you try!”

I think its only right that your birthday is also the annual date for National Read Across America Day. Reading was one of my favorite pastimes as a child and now I wish I had more time to get lost between the pages of a good novel. Thanks for starting me off right. You played a big role in my love of reading and for that, I am forever indebted. Tall striped hats off to you!