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You may have seen or heard the word ephemera on PBS’s Antiques Road Show. Even if you don’t know exactly what it is, there’s a good chance you’re sitting within a few feet of it.

Most of us know it by its other name: “papers, letters, printed material (and other stuff) you threw away years ago because you can’t save every freakin’ piece of paper that might be valuable in fifty years.”

I’ve been digging through the yellowed newspaper clippings, personal letters (communication via the written word on paper, usually delivered in a stamped envelope), autographed books, commemorative magazines or “special” issues marking a momentous, tragic or weather-related event, and re-found some pretty neat stuff.

When I was 13, I read I Am the Cheese, a novel by Robert Cormier, (who also gave us The Chocolate War and other fine young-adult fiction.) I didn’t have any carbon paper handy (ask your mother what that is), so I can’t provide my original letter to him, but I do have his letter to me

I have to admit it’s a little embarrassing to me now, to even admit that I needed some help trying to figure out the plot of the book, but have learned since then that Cormier’s I Am the Cheese is notorious for its confusing time line and complicated narrative.

When was the last time a noted author apologized to you for taking so long to reply to your letter?  It seems that Cormier wasn’t just good at writing about young adults, he was actually interested in hearing from them, as well.


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Comment by vintagerecycling on March 22, 2011 at 6:19pm
so cool! what a sweet man, right?! thanks for sharing
Comment by Old Quincy Schoolhouse on March 7, 2011 at 10:13pm

That is awesome! I think it's wonderful that you even wrote to him, AND he wrote back, AND you still have the letter. I think somewhere I have some thankyou cards for singing for people's things, stuff like that. I have some of my birthday cards, not much else that I can remember.

I found a card that was given to my husband's great aunt's sister, in the 1930s, that said, "I, Helen, promise to buy a lingerie set in the amount not to exceed $10. if I am married within..." can't remember the time frame, but I laughed when I read it.

Loved your post! Karen

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