Next time you’re in an antique store, look for the box of old photos. Trust me, there is almost always a shoebox of photos sitting in some forgotten corner, filled with miniature black-and-white glossy prints stripped from the pages of a photo album.
One of the amazing people I’ve met along this journey is Louise Dillery. Readers of the book will get to know how amazing she is, too. She translated some of Marcel’s letters, and has turned into a dear friend. Louise is nearly 90 years old, but you would never know it — she’s sharp as a tack, and loves to talk about thoroughly modern things like eyebrow tattoos, Beyoncé and the allure of ‘bad boys.’
Something wonderful happened today: a thick stack of letters written by my grandfather, John Emery Porter (he went by Emery), were given to my dad. My dad had never seen these letters before; he didn’t even know they existed. The letters had been written between 1917 and 1919, and were written by Emery to his sister, Lois. Lois’ grandson gave them to my dad.
When I buy a piece of handwritten ephemera, it’s because something caught my eye: a decorative swirl, a unique number, an unusual color ink. Other times, it is because one individual letter is so spectacularly beautiful, buying it is like acquiring a work of art.
As you may know, I collect handwritten ephemera: letters, cards, invitations, etc. I bought this pocket-size diary from 1881, thinking the writing might be a good reference source for a font […someday!]. I looked to see what the entry was for the 4th of July, hoping it would mention a parade or fireworks or a summertime luxury such as a drink with ice. It turns out the entry from July 2 is more interesting because it captures the day’s disastrous news: “President Garfield shot by an assassin twice at Depot in Washington. He got very near death…”