I find so many goodies in my mailbox, both physical and virtual, that I wanted to share some of them with you. For safekeeping, I place all my cards, letters, and emails in this bulging binder.
In My Mailbox: Books
I have received enough books over the past eight years of writing my newsletter to fill a long shelf. Here are just a few.
Children’s Books, by James W. Watson
Grandson of the acclaimed illustrator Emmett Watson, who created many beautiful wartime covers for the Toronto Star Weekly, James W. Watson wrote six children’s books – one named for each of his grandchildren – and illustrated them with Emmett’s images. After I wrote about Emmett Watson, Jim mailed me copies of the children’s books, beautifully printed, and available for purchase on Amazon.
Read more here: Emmett Watson.
From Sea to Sky: Joseph’s Tale of War
Thankfully George Halpern wrote this biography of his father Joseph Halpern so that we could read about this man’s incredible wartime experiences. Born in Poland, he was conscripted into the Russian air force, became a pilot, was shot down four times and survived.
George asked me to “blurb” his book – that’s when another author writes a brief recommendation – and I was happy to do so. George sent me a copy of the book in appreciation. The book is available from Amazon here: From School to Sky: Joseph’s Tale of War.
The Air Combat Paintings of Robert Taylor
When her father passed away a few years ago, a former neighbour and friend named Kimberley McGilvray of Red Deer, Alberta packed up her father’s possessions and thought I might appreciate this lovely book. Thank you so much, Kim!
This wartime book arrived out of the blue (joke intended) from Dennis Connolly, a math professor at the University of Lethbridge, who ordered a copy sent to me all the way from the United Kingdom. (I particularly like the way he addressed the book to “The Lovely Elinor Florence.”) Thank you for the book and the compliment, Dennis.
Speaking of names, I ordered two copies of this children’s book about a female aviator – one for myself, and one for Elinor Warkentin of Vancouver, British Columbia. There’s a funny story behind this one: our first names are spelled the same unusual way, and our email addresses are so similar that she kept getting emails meant for me. Rather than deleting them, she kindly forwarded them to me, and replied to the sender as well.
When we visited Vancouver, I met her for coffee to thank her in person. It turned out that she was a farm girl from Manitoba. She has since become a friend and supporter of my books.
(The flying goggles belonged to my uncle Alan Light, who died in a Royal Canadian Air Force training accident.)
In My Mailbox: Magazines
Although I did not set out to collect Star Weekly magazines, people send them to me from time to time and I’m always grateful. Caroline Soles sent me these beauties and I read them from cover to cover.
Her mother Louise Soles served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and Caroline telephoned me after finding a photograph of her mother on my website.
Read about my passion for Star Weeklies here: Star Weekly at War.
This one arrived recently from Ron Goodall of Wordsley in the West Midlands of England, a long-time subscriber who also ordered a copy of my book My Favourite Veterans: True Stories From World War Two’s Hometown Heroes. Ron raises homing pigeons and is interested in wartime history. This annual publication contains many fascinating articles about the history of the county where he lives.
In My Mailbox: Letters
I receive so many physical letters and cards that I decided to keep them all in a binder. I also receive many, many emails and I faithfully print out each one and place it in the binder because I’m so afraid they might get lost otherwise.
I think my favourite email of all times arrived from a complete stranger, who wrote: “Dear Elinor, I am now three-quarters of the way through Bird’s Eye View and if you kill off Charlie, I will never speak to you again!”
Here’s one lovely letter from a woman in Medicine Hat, Alberta, who begins: “A million thanks from me to you for your well-written, spine-tingling at times, books.”
I speak frequently with book clubs, either in person or on Zoom, and they send me thank you cards and letters. This photograph arrived from Cora Doucette, member of a book club in Spruce Grove, Alberta, who included a photo of her latest quilt.
Contact me if you would like me to visit your book club!
I love living in a small town, and here’s one of the reasons. A letter from John Cashman in San Jose, California arrived addressed only to “Elinor Florence, The Author Lady.”
My local newspaper, the Columbia Valley Pioneer, took a photograph of me with my local postmistress and published it on the front page!
In My Mailbox: Photographs
This photograph arrived in an envelope from historian Lee Anning in Creemore, Ontario. Although we haven’t met in person, we have corresponded and talked on the telephone. Lee has been so helpful in mailing me Star Weekly covers and other interesting items.
Lee is a proud Canadian veteran who served 17 years at various bases in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Germany. Here he is wearing his poppy jacket in honour of Remembrance Day.
Irene Parkes of Langley, British Columbia, who served post-war in the Royal Canadian Air Force, owned this collection of wartime photos showing airwomen at work from the Department of National Defence and she mailed them to me.
I published all of these on my website, and you can examine them more closely here: What Did You Do in the RCAF, Grandma?
In My Mailbox: Gifts
Rosalie Belsher of Calgary, Alberta read my books and invited me to speak at her book club, then crocheted me this lovely shawl as a thank you gift. Not long afterward, Rosalie passed away suddenly, so the shawl is a very treasured memento of her.
Knowing my passion for the royal family, local historian Peter McIsaac passed along this collection of badges commemorating various coronation anniversaries. You can read more about my passion here: The Royal Family and Me.
This unexpected Valentine arrived in the mail from Brenda Blair in Calgary, Alberta. It’s a heart-shaped dish scrubber that she made herself!
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Thank you to all the other lovely people who have emailed or telephoned me, plus sent me letters and cards through Canada Post! You have brought so much joy into my life. You can find my contact info here: Contact Elinor.
Friends, I firmly believe we are looking at a brighter future in the months ahead. This, too, shall pass.