PS: Postscripts & Promises.
Recently we've been sharing the adorable and tender Roth letters. In the process of four years of photographing, typing, and sharing I've come across some stupendous postscripts that got me wondering more on the history of the postscript and perhaps most importantly: What kind of Postscripts were lurking the archive? Join me as we deep dive into these questions and more!
What is a Postscript?
According to Merriam-Webster a Postscript is a:
"a note or series of notes appended to a completed letter, article, or book."
Sometimes the most revealing part of a found letter can be in the last thoughts jotted at the end of a note. I particularly love the ones that snake up the sides of letters, tiny handwriting getting tinier to save the effort of another piece of creamy paper. Postscripts are often things we forget to include, something remembered right before we seal up and search for a stamp. Some might say, a Postscript is the promise of the letter in one distilled line.
What does P.S. stand for?
A P.S. stands for Postscript. Simple enough, right? The word Postscript itself comes from the Latin word "Postscriptum", with "post" for "after" and "scriptum" for "written". The P.S. gets a lot of use even in the days of e-mails, when it would be simple enough to click up a few lines and add your thoughts many still gravitate towards the handy-dandy "P.S." Long live the P.S.!
Postscripts from the Archive:
With over four hundred letters and counting featured in the archive and over a thousand waiting in the wings there are plenty of Postscripts for us to peek at! Below we've pulled two examples from the 1930s, one from World War II and one from Post-War England for an idea of some of the many -- and yes, including romantic-- applications of the P.S.
As we mentioned at the start of this post we've been so enjoying sharing the Roth letters. Written in 1938 and 1939 these letters between husband and wife are a telling time capsule of American life just before the start of World War II. From discussing hit film stars of the period to describing dinner menus, the letters of this couple are not to be missed.
In this P.S. from Nelda to Kaye on July 30, 1939, Nelda, who goes by "Nonie" in some of her letters explains her sign off of 'Amo Te':
"P.S. I forget, maybe you don’t know what Amo Te pronounced “Amo ta”, is. Well I’ll tell you anyway. It means “I love you” in Latin -- I do mean you. N. "
These Roth letters were generously gifted to the archive by the precious Aoife who flew them all the way from Washington, D.C. to Dublin, Ireland just for us. Everyone give Aoife a big round of applause!
While at times mundane, at other times eerily foreboding the Gay letters from 1939 were written to "Katherine Gay" of Houston, Texas. Glimpses of a world on the brink of war peek through like this note from September 23, 1939. Jimmy tells his sweetheart Katherine news of the day like a recent gathering of friends, a new microscope for his medical studies and of course signing off the letter with:
"P.S. I love you"
Sometimes at Flea Market H.Q. we don't get entire series of letters. This could mean there are letters out of chronological order, or could mean we have several letters to one individual that don't really tell a clear 'story'. That's the case with the Dolores letters. In this letter from March 10, 1945 our writer "Lee" ends with:
"P.S: Still love me?"
Lee we know from the earlier parts of the letter is stationed in Germany and in the Army. It sounds like he and Dolores -- who we don't know much about unfortunately, other than that she had some interesting penpals -- might have been romantically involved. But was it cooling by Spring 1945 when Lee penned this Postscript?
Sandy & Harry, 1946:
In the first collection ever featured we saw Sandy -- also known as "Betty"-- writing from post-World War II England to her Husband-to-Be Harry in the U.S. of A. Here in a letter from January 1946 after filling Harry in on the every day of home including a flu that's knocked her mother sideways and a farewell party for a fellow War bride, Sandy reminds Harry to post her a snapshot (if he remembers).
"P.S. Hate to harp on it but how about that picture you promised me??? You rogue!! I’m still waiting"
Get in Touch.
So there you have it, a light breakdown of the history of the Postscripts and some unique ones from the four years the archive has been featuring letters! Do you have a letter story you'd like to share? Send us email -- we'd love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org