Remember Aerogrammes?

Aerogramme 1Who remembers aerogrammes, those lightweight, prepaid, all-in-one flimsies that post offices around the world once sold for international correspondence?

A constant during my pen pal years and when I taught school in Melbourne, aerogrammes have gone the way of the dodo and rotary dial phones. When I lived in Australia, international phone rates ran a steep $2.00 per minute. Those were the days when people shouted, “It’s long distance!” and you RAN to the telephone to save the caller from spending good money on silence.

By comparison, an aerogramme at that time cost 25¢ from Australia and 22¢ from America, cheaper than regular international postage. I could cram a lot of news into one full sheet plus a third (on the inside fold). Conversely, letters with fold and seal end flaps had a marked finish line; I usually didn’t run out of news before I ran out of aerogramme. And the very name conveyed the feeling of swift couriers carrying a message in my own hand: “telegrams” sent by “airplane” = aerogrammes.

aerogramme 2Of course, there were drawbacks. No enclosures allowed, so I could not have mailed my cat, for example, who decided to pose on top of an old letter to illustrate my point. Plus, I don’t usually look for a letter opener, so piecing together ripped news was par for the course.

Aerogram006I recently found an unused 1985 aerogramme celebrating Mark Twain and Halley’s Comet that I had saved. Its white color is unsettling. No matter where I bought them, aerogrammes were always blue.

Email, Facebook and our other electronic connections are easier (and even cheaper if you don’t count the monthly Internet bill) than the streamlined aerogrammes. But wouldn’t you love to open your mailbox to find one of those thin blue missives, carrying in its folds a connection to faraway friends in distant lands?

3 thoughts on “Remember Aerogrammes?

  1. Chas Spain says:

    Hi Susan – I just put a link back to here as I’ve written a short piece about aerogrammes and I thought that younger people may not know what they look like!

  2. Angela says:

    The last time I wrote using one was to a young man who’d joined the Marines and gone off to Vietnam. I received only one letter back from him. I’d love to open my mailbox to find a letter from him.

    • Susan Lendroth says:

      When I think of everyone who has waited for letters from a war zone…I hope his was just a case of losing touch.

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