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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Week Twenty-Six: John Westervelt

Only A Letter Writer

“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”
------2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NAS)

Those were simpler days. The year was 1954. Nelda and I, newlyweds from Oklahoma, set up housekeeping in New Jersey where I would work for Bell Telephone Laboratories.  Long distance telephoning was only for funerals, so I wrote my mother one week and Nelda’s the next. Nelda wrote the other mother. The weekly letters continued after moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Nelda’s mother has sent me a letter each week for fifty years.

Let me share a part of my June 26, 1994 letter to my daughter, sister, and mother-in-law.
Sunday June 19, 1994--

Dear Mary Kim, Harriette, and Mom,

On Tuesday I attended the Tulsa Christian Writers’ Club. First time guests are asked to tell something about themselves and what they write. On my first visit last fall I said, “I write a weekly letter.” At the spring Writers’ Conference my answer to similar questions was, “I am a student of writing.”
Regularly the club has a writing contest for members present at the meeting. The contest theme handed out at this meeting is “That’s What Friends Are For.” This week I wrote about Nelda’s untimely death. To meet the 600 word limit, I cut fat, followed by muscle, and finally I scraped bones. Should I win or place then I could be a real writer.

My condition of “only a letter-writer” prompts a story.
The year was 50 AD. Two mothers from Tarsus met for the first time in many years.

“Abigail, so good to see you. It has been a long time and we
were such good friends when our boys were students together at the synagogue. Tell me about your family. I remember your son always won the school’s writing contests. He seemed so gifted. Has he used his gift professionally?”

“Hannah, you know he was a good boy and a natural leader. However, I have been disappointed on two counts. One, he never married so I have no grandson. And secondly, he has written nothing noteworthy. Oh, Paul has written some letters which he tells me are read by the churches he has started.”

Love, Dad, John.

My story, “My Best Friend,” won first place in the contest, so I became a writer. This story is on “My Best Friend” can be found under Heartwarming Stories, year 1995.

John C. Westervelt of Tulsa, Oklahoma has published a book about his boyhood in the 1930s. He is a volunteer at his churchs weekday preschool.

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