Today I found a letter from 1982. It is from my high school creative writing teacher, Mrs. S—. I was extremely fond of her, though admittedly, a little intimidated as well. She was kind enough to write me a recommendation letter to go along with my college application forms and essays. I have retyped it with my own comments regarding this particular letter in parentheses and italicized them. The letter reads as follows:
Gentleman: (Notice the formality of the salutation! I love it!)
Miss Stephanie Parrillo (maiden name) has distinguished herself as a serious and conscientious student who performs excellently. (Perception is everything.)
Academically, Stephanie earns above average grades. (My department chair at Stevenson will be very surprised to hear this, wink-wink.) My course, Creative Writing, in which she is presently enrolled, is a high level writing course—Phase 3. (I can’t quite remember what exactly that means, but we’ll pretend it was really, really challenging, and demanded serious, thoughtful dedication, along with extremely gifted, off-the-charts writing abilities.) Her performance and participation in class are outstanding.
Stephanie seems to be aware of her academic responsibilities and meets them successfully (my parents may have had another viewpoint on this matter). It is apparent by the quality of her class and homework assignments that she devotes a great deal of time to this type of activity (I had them all fooled; I pretty much talked on the phone and only concentrated on cheerleading.) She is often involved in class discussions and activity. (The activity part was probably passing notes and giggling at a guy who called himself “Spike,” but only to substitute teachers. He was otherwise known as David.)
In short, I recommend, with enthusiasm, Miss Stephanie Parrillo to any situation that combines an academic and practical means to satisfy her personal and career objectives. (Whew! Thank goodness she did! I am pretty certain I put all my eggs in Mrs. S—’s recommendation basket.)
What a well-written piece of correspondence; it must have been persuasive, too, because I did get into college, despite the cheerleading and phone usage. Today, people often write in the salutation “To Whom It May Concern,” or “Dear Sir or Madame.” I love the simplicity of “Gentleman,” though it’s way too sexist for today’s world. It does make me feel like I’m reading an Austen novel, which also makes me feel quite old, actually.
Incidentally, this letter was not found in one of my boxes in my storage room. After reading my Nostalgia post, I know that may not be surprising. It was, however, neatly organized and lovingly kept in a folder my dad gave me recently that included my report cards, the few awards I received in high school, and some letters, such as this, to remind me of my younger days. My dad is super organized and I’m thankful for that, because it helped me remember that Mrs. S— had a profound impact on me. She helped me believe that I could be a creative writer, and all these years later, I am still working on fulfilling that dream.
Therefore, this is a belated thank you to Mrs. S—, for inspiring me, believing in me, and recommending me, though at times I probably didn’t deserve it. Additionally, I am quite sure I didn’t properly thank her all those years ago. Also, thank you, Dad, for diligently keeping a file on my life as a student.
It’s funny how a little letter can cause you to reminisce like this…
Well, that’s all for now, Gentlemen.