Wednesday, March 28, 2012


When I was sixteenyears old, my father built me a wooden box to hold my pen pal letters.  The year was 1958 and I had been writing to pen pals since I was twelve years old.  I had a lot of letters.  There was nothing fancy about the box but I so appreciated him building it for me.  It was one of the few times in his life that he showed he cared for me.

Over the years I have used this box to store my letters.  For the past fifty-four years I have rarely gone into that box.  Why did I save those letters?  Now I know why.

A few months ago my longtime friend Larry and I decided to write our autobiographies.  Larry and I are the same age.  We became friends when we were in third grade in elementary school.  We were best friends until 1963 when we had a disagreement (mostly my fault) when I came out.  Larry is straight, I am gay.  I won't go into the details of that disagreement at this time, that is a subject for another blog (or several).  We renewed our friendship again after Larry's mother sent me a Thanksgiving card in 2001 suggesting that I get in touch with Larry because he was feeling pretty low after losing his banking job.  Since I had also lost my banking job (I worked in Philadelphia, PA and Larry worked in Wilmington, DE), she thought I could uplift his spirits.  I contacted Larry and we have renewed our friendship.

Ron Tipton 1959 Graduation Photo
Larry Meredith 1959 Graduation Photo

I am very happy to say that today, with the exception of my Bill (my spouse), Larry is my best friend.  Larry knows me as I am, the good and bad.  What makes him my good friend is that he accepts me as I am.  He doesn't run for the exits just because something I did offended or angered him.  Larry is a True Friend.

Larry and I talk to each other almost everyday on FaceTime.  A month ago we decided that now is the time to write our autobiographies as blog entries.  Both of us have separate blogs specifically for our autobiography entries.

Larry Meredith - Civilian 1962
Ron Tipton - Army Private 1962

Both of us were having some trouble remembering names and dates for certain events early in our lives.  That's when I had the wonderful idea of copying Larry's letters to me and sending them to him by e-mail.

This has turned out to be a very interesting endeavor.  For one thing we are coming up with names and dates to match those names.  The downside is we are also reliving experiences that were best forgotten. Indeed, this is proving to be a very interesting experience.

This morning I took out the box that my father built for me lo those many years ago to hold my letters and took all the letters out and spread them on my bedroom floor.  Wow, what memories.  I have letters from old affairs.  I have letters from girlfriends who are berating me for "dropping them like a hot potato".  Ironically, most of the girls I don't remember.  However, I remember all the guys, ALL OF THEM.  Now that tells me something.  What it tells me is that I am 100% gay.

So here is the deal.  I will eventually scanned all these letters (or at least most of them) into my computer.  I realize that when I die, whoever goes through my things will throw out these letters.  I know they are of no interest to anyone but myself.  But I still feel the need to memorialize my past history.  I plan to eventually put all those letters in book form.  Who knows?  Maybe fifty or hundred years from now someone will find them of interest.

Ron Tipton - Retired 2012

Larry Meredith - Retired 2012
I remember well when I worked in my bank trust department and I came across a series of letters written by an old farmer who wrote about his childhood on his farm in the late early 1900's.  He wrote his history on a dozen pages of notebook paper in longhand.  I found reading it fascinating.  After reading it, I wanted to read more.  At that time I decided that if I ever wrote my personal history I would provide more detail.

I feel good about this.


Bob said...

it has the makings of a very cool collaboration. It might be fun to combine your stories to tell the tale of two friends and how their lives differed and yet seemed the same, and how they stayed friends.
Very cool.

nitewrit said...


Well, there is always the possibility we will yet be discovered. Meanwhile, History is often the collection of letters, diaries and memoirs written by common men and women. I have tried to include some of the news events that occurred as I occurred for a historic perspective. I also include a lot of photos. As I write I discover so many places that existed in my younger days have simply disappeared from this world and it is not always easy to even find a photo of them. This is also why I take photos of places. They may become the only record someday.


Jon said...

So many memories contained in one wonderful wooden box.
I miss the good ol' days when penpals were popular. I corresponded with penpals for years - - it was my link to the rest of the world. Nowadays, handwritten letters are passe and penpals are a thing of the past.

I treasure old letters and have kept hundreds of them - from relatives, friends, and (of course) lovers. My letters are all stuffed into several big old suitcases.

Sentimentality and I are synonymous......

anne marie in philly said...

what a treasure trove there! good and bad, history, memories. oh my!

Ron said...


Great suggestion! We may do just that.

Ron said...

I too try to include current news events in my journal entries. I write with a thought to how it will appear one hundred years from now. I know I would love to read journals and letters that old. It's just a shame we won't be around then. But we do have these fifty year old letters to read.

Ron said...


Another pen pal affionando! Oh how I wish I saved all my pen pal letters. Bill made me throw them away when I moved in with him. I'm sorry I did now. So much was lost in those letters.

Ron said...

Anne Marie,

There is a lot in there. Some of it we don't want to dredge up. Best to leave it alone.

Ur-spo said...

I have a similar box. In it, are bundled letters I have collected since my youth. Although there are no more letters to add, these are priceless to me. I have letters from my grandparents and great aunts, and as well as friends who have disappeared or died. The greatest collection is from my penpal from 1980 until maybe 5 years ago. Although I know him well, we have never met.
Someday, when I am holding unhappy, I will get out these letters and read them, and remember.

Ron said...

Dr. Spo,

If possibile, I have even more admiration for you now. I don't feel so weird now for saving all these letters. I"m just sorry that Bill convinced me to throw out all my pen pals letters. I would love to read them now. The letters I have left I now read and yes, they bring back many, many fond memories. I am so glad I saved them. They are now a treasure.

Mark said...

I love everything about this post. Everything!

Ron said...

Thank you Mark! I am so glad I saved these letters. Some of them are very, very interesting. Most of them will eventually end up on my blog. I don't know if some of these guys are still around but I'm posting them anyway, a Slice of My Life. - Ron

Anonymous said...

that is awesome! i too have a couple pen pals now. since i never had one as a kid. i love the nostalgic aspect of it. born in 86 and im transgendered, i wish i could say i have a box full of pen pals, but hey at least im keeping it alive. e-mail just dosent cut it. anyway thanks for sharing this story!