Tom Hanks Sent Me (A Second!) Letter

 
Tom Hanks holds up a typewriter from his collection.

Tom Hanks holds up a typewriter from his collection.

By Kate Teves

Last year, while working at the Delray Beach Historical Society, I put together the curriculum for our inaugural Snail Mail Summer Camp. This was a camp dedicated to the lost art of writing letters: designing stationery, collecting stamps, using wax seals, playing with quills, meeting the postman, and more.

If you think that all sounds frightfully boring, you are like most of the kids who arrived on Day 1. These poor children, slumped over with dread, had been marched to our doors by their totally-unfair, totally-uncool parents.

Well, we got these kids to fall in love with letter-writing within 15 minutes.

Do you think I’m making this up?

I’m not. It turns out that letter-writing is this weird and wonderful antidote to a digital childhood, and kids go absolutely bonkers for it. Once they realize what it is (private messages + art + friends = amazing), we quite literally can’t get them to stop.

In fact it was such a hit that we repeated the camp this year with many of last year’s kids returning.

THE TYPEWRITERS

What might surprise you even more is to learn that the crown jewel or our little camp was our typewriter room, from which a steady percussion tapped its way into our hearts. The kids were completely obsessed with these machines, constantly begging us to use them, to fix them, to change out their ribbons. (You can read more about our kids’ obsession with typewriters in my other post.)

TOM HANKS SENDS ME LETTER #1

We thought this was so intriguing that we ought to write to the most vocal champion of typewriters, Mr. Tom Hanks, and tell him about it. For those of you who don’t know, Tom Hanks is an avid typewriter collector and has found himself in the unusual position of being a 21st-century cheerleader for these little mechanical wonders.

All this has turned Hanks into the darling of the snail mail world. Letter writers around the globe feel “heard” for the first time in the same way D&D fans might feel if suddenly Brad Pitt announced he was a wizard.

And so it was only natural that I found myself sending Hanks a typewritten letter and telling him all about our camp:

And while most people were surprised that he wrote back, we weren’t in the least. After all, he’s Tom Hanks - the kindest man in Hollywood (in a close heat with Keanu).

And besides, he’s a snail mail geek, and snail mail geeks stick together.

Here is the first letter he wrote me:

Tom Hanks sent me a typed letter on his Playtone stationery.

SO I WROTE BACK TO TOM HANKS AND (NATURALLY) TOLD HIM ABOUT SALAMANDERS

It only seemed right. I sent him a perfectly ridiculous letter about salamanders and sealed it up in a popcorn bag. Specifically, about the reticulated siren salamander.

You might think I’m making this up.

So please take a look at my evidence:

TOM HANKS SENDS ME LETTER #2

If you made it through that letter (which was embarrassingly long), you will have read the part about me asking if Mr. Hanks knew how to get ahold of Ninja.

Half of you will know who Ninja is, but half of you will not. For those of you who do not, take solace in Mr. Hanks’ reply:

Tom Hanks sent me another letter and we talked about Ninja.

THE NEXT LETTER

When fall arrives, which is will in just a few days, I’ll pen a letter off to Mr. Hanks to take him up on his typewriter offer for the Delray Beach Historical Society. I’m no longer working there, but man, if they aren’t a great organization and one Mr. Hanks should heartily support.

Stay tuned to find out if I tell him about more salamanders!