19 September 2013

Real Mail Week, Part 3: Aerogram Awesomeness

I know I'm far from the only person who loves aerograms, those wonderful sheets of paper that combine correspondence with (super easy) origami--"the height of epistolary convenience," as Don George put it on Gadling a while back. (See also Evan Rail's essay "An Aerogram From Berlin" for World Hum.) 

And judging from the fact that my aerogram template has been downloaded some 9,000 times, it's clear that there are more than a few people looking for ways to continue sending aerograms, even if they're no longer available at any given post office or stationery store. (I did recently discover a form of aerograms, called Mailblok, hidden under a table at my favorite stationery store. Don't let the packaging fool you, though--it may say "Blue Airmail Paper" but the paper itself is that shade of blue known as "actually just plain ol' white.")

Anyway. I get excited anytime anyone sends me anything, but I do a special little Mail Nerd Dance when an aerogram shows up in my mailbox. Sometimes they use my own template. Sometimes it's one of the ones from Mailblok. Sometimes it's just a standard piece of paper that's been folded in on itself carefully. And sometimes it's a work of art. The master of the artistic aerogram--and postcards, for that matter--is Jeff in Aurora, Colorado, who gets points not just for creativity but also for diligence--he persists in writing even when the other correspondent (me) doesn't hold up his end of the bargain.

Here are some of Jeff's masterpieces:

In the photo above, the two items on the left are both handmade postcards. The top one appears to be from the cover of an old book; the bottom one is a collage made from a vintage car ad (Lincoln Continental, since you asked). And on the right: epic aerograms. The Huck Finn-like kid on the top one is saying, "Carefully open on all 4 sides on dotted line. It's what Mike Love would want you to do!"

Who's Mike Love, you ask? One of the Beach Boys, obviously. Also the cover star of the same aerogram.

Jeff doesn't stop with exterior intrigue. You really do have to open these aerograms carefully, because inside ...

Stories! I love stories.

Jeff in Aurora, my hat's off to you. My intricately-folded paper hat covered with vintage magazine clippings and inscribed with tales of travels near and far.


I also owe a shout-out to a correspondent whose parcel was notable not for its paper (per se) but for its pens.

Michelle Dwyer runs Lemon Meringue Thrift & Gift Finds in Baltimore. You can read all about the story-rich, offbeat people and items she encounters over on her blog or in her book or in her zine. All good stuff, I can vouch for it, because she generously sent me copies--pictured above.

If I'm being honest, though, what caught my eye right away were the pens. Upper left of the photo. These are the pens that Lee used to arm himself for battle in the noisy, chaotic streets of Brussels. The note on the package quotes the scene:
"You might not want to go out there unarmed," I said.
Lee pulled out a ballpoint pen from his pocket. The side of it read, "Bad Boy Bail Bonds, Baltimore."
"I'm good," he said, and disappeared into the night. 
Lee survived, I'm happy to report. (You'll have to read the book for the full story.) And after that, honestly, I kinda wanted my own pens. Now, thanks to Michelle, I have a whole package. (Also, it turns out that I recalled the name of the bail bonds place incorrectly--it's "Big Boy" not "Bad Boy." Oops. That's one my editor, fact-checker--and, ahem, LEE--all missed. Please get out a pen and correct it in your copy of the book. I regret the error, etc.)

So, thanks, Michelle in Baltimore. That made my day.

And if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go write an aerogram with a BIG Boy Bail Bonds pen.


Tomorrow: One last EXTRA-awesome aerogram. Stay tuned.

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