My dad was always good about sending lots of letters when he knew I’d appreciate it. He kept a steady stream of one-way letter writing to me at summer camp that year. Most sounded a bit like this:
“Dear Mindy, Everything here is still the same as the last time I wrote to you. We notified our insurance company that you are going to submit a claim for a severe case of nonwriteitis. It seems that the post office is only on strike in Hendersonville, NC. and only the Mindy Silverboard mail is in dispute, they think that nonwriteitis is contagious. Well, I would suggest that you crank out the old pen and paper and send your brain into gear. Trouble brought some friends home to spend the night. Naturally they slept in your bed. Ryne came by for a visit but we told him to buzz off. Yonaton moved next door into the Downey’s old house. All the little Blackbarts smell like farts. Boy are they nasty. Marc is working hard at getting fired. All he knows how to do is bitch. His stupid friends are calling the house after 10:00 p.m. You know I love that. One more time and I go after them with the shotgun. Have you smelled the skunk yet? What kind of swimming program do they have you in? Have you changed your linen yet. How about your underwear? I bet you could out stink the skunk. I told you you would miss me I am never wrong.
So, for context, Trouble was our beagle. She would have been a couple of years old at this point. By the time I left for university we had acquired a second dog, Spike, and Trouble had got fat and crotchety. But at this point, in 1987, she was still puppy-like and I used to love to wrestle with her on the living room floor. I’m fairly certain I would have missed that dog as much as I did the rest of my family.
As for Yonaton, he was a friend from primary school. His father, Mr. Bleichbard, was my seventh grade Hebrew teacher. My father was convinced I’d had a crush on Yonaton (or maybe that he was my secret boyfriend) because he was a boy and he was my friend. By this point, Yonaton had been back in Israel with his family and was in Yeshiva. I’d received a few letters – again leading my lovely, supportive father to mock me endlessly.
And my brother and his friends…note the shotgun threat. It will rear its head again later on. He had a double-barrelled shotgun that he kept in the bedroom when I was growing up. Secretly I think my dad wished he hadn’t been born into a Jewish family so he could have embraced his inner redneck with gusto. As it was, he had to settle for keeping a couple of guns, ostensibly for self-defence should anyone burgle the house while we were in, and to shoot snakes with them once or twice a year. In fact, every so often the neighbors would hear a gunshot and they’d stick their heads outside and shout over their fences “Has Stanley seen another snake?” So the shotgun was for snakes, intruders, and as a threat made to boys he thought wanted to date me, boys who dated my friends, and friends of my brothers who irritated him. He liked watching our friends squirm.
In any case, this was pretty typical of the letters I received all through summer camp. I did eventually write him back – just not as often as he wrote me.