in praise of paper

I know there are a few  hold-outs there because you send me comments - people who love paper and the messages written on it.  I've told you about the granddaughter of a friend who taught herself cursive writing because it isn't taught in the schools any more, and who wrote her grandfather a LETTER that he posted on the fridge door. There used to be an expression, something like a promise "not being worth the paper it's printed on". Let me tell you, paper, good paper, is worth a lot.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store issues awesome catalogues (online, though the mailed ones are nice, too). I have been buying Met cards (they used to be called hasti-notes) for a few years now and send special ones for special thank-yous.  The special ones are identified as "embellished cards"  and they are splendid. They end up on a lot of fridge doors. You can also buy beautiful postcards, not only with tourist pictures of lakes and mountains but also with art by famous artists or dazzling modern design.  Apparently the big card companies are not running out of customers as I feared.  They are producing more funky cards, and "embellished" thank-you cards and smaller, interesting paper good for just a few paragraphs.  Of course, people have to figure out what to say. One company, Hallmark, published a book, "On a Personal Note: A Guide to Writing Notes With Style" and it's a best-seller in its stores across the country.  It teaches people how to write messages worth keeping.  Twenty years ago now I won a fellowship at  The Bunting Institute at Radcliffe to work on a play about Alice James.  It gave me access to the Houghton LIbrary archives from which I was allowed to read the letters of Henry James to his sister Alice and hers to his.  The opening scene of my play flashed before me in that library as I read the words, still blood-warm, on the carefully preserved pages - well worth keeping.