03 May 2011

Long live the handwritten letter: an aerogram template for you

1. Aerograms are awesome, if you still remember what they are. 
I love aerograms--or aérogrammes, if you want to sound sophisticated-slash-French. Alas, they're dying out. The United States Postal Service doesn't sell them anymore; neither do many other postal services around the world. Every time I type the word aerogram, my computer puts a little wavy red line below it. That's not a real word, dummy, it says. To which I reply, in my best just-turned-30-so-feeling-curmudgeonly voice, Add to dictionary, you ignorant youngster.

2. Maybe I should back up and explain.
In fact, I may already lost a few of you, as I would if I were talking about rotary phones or sextants. What's he talking about? Think of it as the stationery version of Ikea's flat-pack furniture: it looks like a standard sheet of paper, fold here, fold there, and now your letter is its own envelope. Correspondence meets origami--a neat trick, one that adds an extra layer of intimacy and interactivity that you'll never experience with e-mail or text messages. As Evan Rail put in an aerogram-appreciation essay on World Hum a while back:
Unlike an electronic message, writing an aerogram is an incredibly tactile way to communicate. In reading it, not only are you holding something that your correspondent also once held, but you are allowing your eyes to be guided by the curves and lines that person created—where the writer’s hand once dipped and swept, the reader’s eye then follows. 
3. They look like this (the top one is semi-unfolded):
My parents wrote a LOT of aerograms to each other during my mom's 1967 Grand Tour.
These are just a tiny fraction of the full stash.
4. Now go make your own.
But! Before we go getting all nostalgic and wistful--or start looking for an iPhone app that generates a holographic aerogram-opening effect whenever you receive a new e-mail message--allow me to intervene and offer you your very own easy-to-use aerogram template, set up to print on a standard (well, for Americans) letter-size sheet of paper. Unfolded, it looks like this:

Click on the image for the full-size PDF version.
Some assembly required, but that's the fun. Basically, you cut off those gray corners and then fold it up; instructions included in the upper right corner of the sheet.

Download the full-size (8.5" x 11"), high-resolution, ready-to-print PDF via Google Docs right over here. (UPDATE: If you have problems printing that version, try this this one instead, with an added bonus aerogram design on the second page.) For the full effect, print it on a flimsy blue paper.

5. Long live the aerogram! Long live the handwritten letter! Send lots! 
Send one to me, even! My address is over there in the sidebar to the left. If you do, I promise to write back.


  1. OK everyone. Start writing. Think how thrilled your Mom would be to get an aerogramme for Mothers Day. Cheap, even.

  2. I love you so much I could faint!

  3. so how many have YOU sent?

  4. Well, Anon, not as many as I should have sent! I'm slightly behind in my aerogram-mailing, although hoping to be all caught up by the end of the day. Check your mailbox soon!

  5. Seems to be a problem accessing that PDF file?
    I've tried both clicking on the image, and clicking on the link lower down.
    Would actually be useful if I could print it myself, as pre-manufactured, might be difficult to run through my printer, and I want the recipients able to read the message.

  6. John, here's an alternative link that should work: http://www.fivewrongturns.com/assets/aerogram.pdf

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Thanks, Doug! I will be sending a lot of these to my other half.


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