Wednesday, August 20, 2008

When blogging goes offline

Last week I came home to something very different: fan mail - delivered by Canada Post.

The handwritten envelope was addressed to "Occupant". The only thing that comes handwritten by mail these days are greeting cards, but this was a standard size envelope. Plus, whenever I get a card, the sender usually knows my name! I hesitantly opened the letter, wondering what it could be.

The typed two page letter started out with the words, "you don't know me, but I believe that we have something in common". This heightened my concern, so I quickly scanned the pages, trying to find out what this person wanted. It is terrible that I assume that somebody wants something, but in our accelerated society, people rarely use snail mail for personal greetings (except for my friend Chris, who lives on my street, yet regularly sends me post cards by mail, just to say hi.)

Scanning the letter, I couldn't find the pitch, so I re-read it slowly, enjoying the fact that it was simply a letter full of nostalgia for my neighbourhood. This man had lived on my street in the 50's and his friend lived in my house. He went on to tell me about the way things were back then: collecting green stamps at the mom and pop grocery stores, the listening booths at the original Sam the Record Man location on College Street at Crawford, his friend doing bike deliveries for the old Capp's Pharmacy, going to the Italian barber shops, etc. He fondly remembers the people, the sights and the reassuring sound of the College Street car rounding the curve at Grace Street.

He asked if I had checked out the Toronto Archives website, telling me that there are lots of great resources online. I had already heard that there was a bridge spanning a ravine just south of us, on the north edge of Trinity Bellwoods Park. The bridge is still there, but the ravine was filled in, bringing the street level up to the bridge. It is close to the location of the Trinity Bellwoods farmer's market on Tuesdays. My new pen pal confirmed that this bridge does indeed exist and that there are photos of it online. He also reminded me that Montrose was formerly called Sully Crescent. One of these days, I need to visit the archives.

I'm always surprised when I have comments on my blog from people that I don't know, but I guess that when you put your stories out there, it can happen. I just never expected that I would get snail mail from my blog, but I'm happy that I did. It gives me a whole new perspective on my home and neighbourhood.

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