I was trying to figure out when I started writing letters. My earliest recollection was the time our class went on a field trip to New York City Hall. When we returned, we were given an assignment to write a thank you note to the mayor. I am fairly certain our teacher, the evil Mrs. Darbin who tried to turn Aunt Ellen into a lefty (Third Grade Stunk), wrote the letter on the blackboard, and the class was instructed to copy it. The letter with the best handwriting was sent to the mayor’s office. So Mayor Robert Wagner was possibly the first recipient of one of my letters who was neither a friend nor a relative. But that hardly counts because they were not my thoughts.
My first major letter was to the priest at St. Pius who baptized Casey. Did I ever tell you the story? He knew Dad was not Catholic, so his behavior to him was downright rude. He addressed all his comments about raising Casey to me, as if I were a single mom. He did not look at Dad at all, and his obnoxious behavior was not at all subtle. I was furious, thus my letter to the pastor of the church outlining my outrage and disappointment with the priest.
I not only received an apology from Father Murray, but with that letter was a promise to pray for us every day for one year. Rather than being a year of prosperity and good fortune, Dad lost his job, oil prices increased, and a short eight-month recession ensued. I suppose the lesson is to be careful who you criticize. Father Murray is still around and has been elevated to a pastor of two churches today. I suppose he was young and inexperienced at the time, but I cannot help always remembering that day as one that brought us distress rather than joy.