4 Fun letter writing prompts

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Mary Beth weighs in:

Trying to prompt letter writing with children is a never-ending battle. Obtuse enticements (“You’ll feel good about it”) don’t work. We tried to make the ordeal fun by making a game of it. When an event (sending a thank you to a relative for a gift) came up, we practiced a letter. We had our children write a make-believe letter in their journal. One memorable letter our son wrote was to a tv character thanking “him” for not stealing the other character’s food. The imaginative letters became stencils for the real ones.

Four of the most memorable “stencil” prompted letters are as follows:

  • Your favorite ice cream shop is hiring children. Write a letter to the owner explaining 3 reasons why you are the perfect person for the job. Coincidentally, this letter helped our son when he was applying for his first job as a newspaper carrier.
  • Pretend that you’re a family pet and want more freedom. Write a letter to your owners and ask for one or two new privileges and reasons why you deserve them. I can imagine what you’re thinking!!
  • Think about a recent school trip. Write a letter to your cousin or grandparent describing your experience and what you learned. Convince them to take a trip there too.
  • Have you ever held a grudge against the shoe laces that broke making you miss the school bus or the book pack zipper that got stuck with your school work inside? Write a letter to the object and express your disappointment.

I’m sure there were many more of these Maroney letters (five children ) but these were the ones I remember the best!



American Flag

Dear Fellow Journalers,

The following is a speech G gave to an elementary school today, Flag Day.

American Flag

Back in 1947, a man named Colby Dunn wrote a piece called ”  I am the American Flag.”  I reread it lately, and decided that it needed to be modernized. Have I done a good job? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

I am the American Flag, and I remind you that valor and honor override any feelings of compromise and capitulation.

I am the American Flag, here to tell you that it matters not to me what your race, color, creed, other national origin, or political beliefs are, only what you will do to respect and honor those things in others.

I am the American Flag, and the only places I fly are the places that sacrifice has earned for me.

I am the American Flag, here to tell you that you have a duty to honor and respect, and if necessary, protect all that I stand for.

I am the American Flag, and I tell you that the sacrifices of all past generations of Americans, that gave us freedom and democracy, must never be forgotten.

I am the American Flag, and you must preserve, protect, and defend both the Constitution and me.

I am the American Flag, and I fly over the schools and colleges where the greatest gift that can be bestowed is given, the gift of knowledge.

I am the American Flag, and I have accompanied my sons and daughters to far away battlefields, where they have defended not only our freedom, but the freedom of peoples around the world.

I am the American Flag, and I have been draped lovingly over the caskets of those who did not return from those battlefields, then tearfully presented to Mothers, Fathers, Spouses, Daughters and Sons to honor their sacrifice.

I am the American Flag, and I insist that the values, for which I stand, must be preserved daily.

I am the American Flag, and I stand for Truth and Justice, and tell you these things must never be denied to anyone.

I am the American Flag, the keeper of the sacrifice of blood that so many generations of Americans gave for freedom and liberty we all enjoy today.

I am the American Flag, a Flag that not only honors, but respects and encourages individualism, hard work and sustained efforts.

I am the American Flag, never allow me to be defaced or defamed.

I am the American Flag, a reminder to every Nation on earth that American values and ideals are ones they wish to copy, emulate, and honor.

I am the American Flag, a symbol that the sick, downtrodden, and oppressed will always find hope, comfort, and care under my broad stripes and bright stars.

I am the American Flag, not just any Flag, I am YOUR Flag. I am the American Flag, and during times of extreme danger and crisis, like Pearl Harbor Dec 7 th . 1941, and New York City, the Twin Towers, Sept 11 th 2001, when brave men and women looked upon me, I allowed them to know and experience their fears, but then, to allow them to know that doing their duty overcame any fear that they might experience, and they did it anyway.

I am the American Flag, and promise all future generations of Americans that during times of extreme danger and crisis, where ever and what ever they may be, just gaze upon me, and I will give you strength and courage. And you will do it anyway. I AM THE AMERICAN FLAG !

So my friends, I would respectfully and humbly request that every time you see our flag you use it as a starting point for a new beginning. A point where you form those beliefs that you will lead your life by. Some thing you can use to experience your fears, but regardless of your fears, to do things anyway. To experience and appreciate the beliefs of all those you know and respect, but not necessarily to take those beliefs for yourself, but to use them as a guide to form your own beliefs, and live your own life. Then when you look up at our Flag, you can look back at the boys and girls you were, and be proud of the men and women you’ve become.



What happened to my life?

Dear Fellow Journalers,

A perspective post from G.


WHAT HAPPENED TO MY LIFE ? Subtitle: How did it go by so fast ?

FAIR WARNING: I really don’t know if this piece is inspired by my recent illness, but writing and reading it, it’s a pretty good piece for anyone, regardless of age or health, to read. If not, hit delete. Also, like my life, it’s a little long. **************************************************************** It’s amazing to me. It REALLY is amazing. It feels like I’m 18, but my recent birthday a few weeks ago, firmly cements my place as an “official old man.” Now I don’t know if it’s common to all “old timers”, but in the last year or so I’ve had a flood, no, make that deluge, or tidal wave, of memories. Whether inspired by a simple, unexpected, “trigger” or a subconscious dream, they charge me like the Light Brigade at Sevastopol. And like it or not, I must deal with them. Another thing about these memories, some from 70 years ago, or seven years ago, or seven days ago, is that I really and truly don’t know if it’s Gods’ way of having me prepare to say goodbye to life, or preparing me for things yet to come ahead. Frankly, either way, I can’t wait to find out which. Another thing: all these things sometimes make no sense. I may have some sparked memory from say, 60 years ago, that was such a minor thing I can’t believe I remembered it. Other memories, I have absolute certainty why I remember it. Oh well, what the hell. The most positive thing about these memories is that they force you to look back at your life with either happiness, or unhappiness. For me, there’s no in between. Frankly, I’m glad about that. Makes thinking clearer. Some of these memories are JOYOUS !

Do you remember the first time you were really in love? I do— I was seventeen, and a junior in high school. She was smart, personable, pretty, and perfect. I was gonzo ! It was doomed to failure of course. She was off to college in New York, me off to college in Indiana, then the Marines, then Vietnam. But THANK YOU my wonderful first love. You gave me memories and taught me things about life I can never, ever forget. God Bless and keep you, where ever you are.

Then there are the memories that are HORRENDOUS ! I fought in the battle of Khe Shan in Vietnam. It was truly hell on earth. Death and destruction were EVERYWHERE. Funny thing— it was bad enough while it happened, but the other night I had a very detailed dream about it. (over 50 years later) It was like a childhood dream where you are being chased by monsters, aliens, and all things bad. I woke up in a cold, raw sweat, drenched from head to foot, and shaking. But this horrible experience WAS a part of my life, and helped shape it just like all the good memories.

All of us have memories at any age. Like me, some are good, some bad. But it seems to me that as you pass the “golden mark” (What the hell is golden about it? You get old, you get sick, and then you die) that memories become increasingly more significant. You get to question the content, character, purpose, and value of the life you’ve lived. Sometimes, you’re happy with the result, other times, not so much. Intelligent people call this “LIFE.” My favorite aunt (long since departed) had a favorite saying: Life is life, UNTIL life becomes what YOU make it. A good saying, even after so, so many years. God Bless and keep you Lady, wherever you are. Remember the old Barbara Streisand song ‘Memories?” “Memories, like the corners of our mind, misty watercolor memories of the way we were.” Reminds me of another saying of a favored teacher, and later mentor: What you WERE is ne’er as important as what you are NOW.

I’m also a very lucky man. I confess to having a “man cave”, plus the Jerry Goodwin study, filled with the mementoes of my life. Pics of family and friends, especially Carla, Laur-Laur, and K-K are everywhere. These never fail to bring a huge smile to my face. Momentos of Marine days, and of civilian job are there too. Two of my favorites are from my years at the printing company when I had to fire a particularly bad employee everybody hated. When I told him he was fired, he took a swing at me. I was forced to put him down. The employees gave me a photoshopped picture of Godzilla wearing boxing gloves, with the inscription: “In memory of the stupid son of a bitch who took on Godzilla”. My other favorite is a simple frame with a red felt background, upon which are nine black Marine emblems. It symbolizes the nine Marines who died under my command. I NEVER want to forget them, because the sacrifice of their lives means I HAVE TO make the most of mine. In order to get from my bedroom to the bathroom each morning, I have to pass the Goodwin study. As I do, I touch the door jamb and pat it. After so many years, it has a slight indentation from this practice. God bless, love and keep you my cherished friend, wherever you are. You taught me what true friendship is. Also throughout the house are momentos, citations, awards, medals etc. Some of them were presented to me by some of you reading this. THANK YOU ! They mean a lot, and when on days the world seems cold and dark, they remind me that at least on some days my life had meaning and purpose. That somehow I accomplished some good for my fellow-man. Believe me, an old man (or woman) really needs that. My personal religious beliefs are that someday I will be brought before God for a “final judgment.” God will say “Account for your life !” I hope, I really really hope, that the first words out of my mouth are : THANK YOU GOD FOR GIVING ME SUCH A FABULOUS LIFE ! If I can do that, I’ll take my chances from there. So as I began this over long piece, “What happened to my life?” Answer is Life happened to my Life ! The good, the bad, the ugly, the heartfelt and the heartbreak, the tried, the true, the false and the bullshit. And one morning, wearing the disguise of an old man, I saw it all for what it was / is— MY LIFE.

I close (finally !) with a request for a favor: When you have time, grab your favorite beverage, find your favorite spot, put your feet up, and regardless of your age, cherish the memories of YOUR LIFE ! Until next time, and more ramblings of an old man———


Creativity -do you have it?

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Why are some people creative, imaginative or innovative while others fail at trying to be original? How come some people can consistently “think outside the box” while others choose the safe and narrow road? And finally, why are there so few people who are naturally curious while others aren’t? In my view, the answers to these questions lie in the way people view the world they live in. Oh, they start out curious and full of adventure but along the way they get scared of being wrong, doing a risky thing or are uncomfortable in the face of doing something different.

A friend of mine cautioned his son in his career choice saying that he needed to have  “back up plan” if his first choice didn’t work out. His photography “hobby” was one thing but it wouldn’t “pay the bills”. As it turned out, the young man took some college courses in marketing, media and research and computer science and now has his own successful studio.

I always associated creativity with the arts but the concept outweighs the subject. You can be creative in just about anything you do. I ‘re-discovered creativity in other forms of expression during the past month by accident.

“Long ago, in a Galaxy far away” I was a fan of western tv shows. My favorite shows included Bonanza and the Virginian and then I grew up. Well, while visiting a family member in the hospital last month I found an internet site that featured fan- based tv/movie fan fiction. These creative stories are written by folks who take the tv/movie shows a bit farther, enhancing the character so to speak. Most of the stories are written based on the show as portrayed on the screen while others are entirely a work of fiction. I found them, for the most part to be extremely creative and they helped me pass the time. Another creative outlet presented itself when I ‘re-discovered an old cookbook and began experimental dishes.

Creativity is all around us, we just have to discover the curious child within ourselves and balance our life’s choices. We may loose our sense of imaginative thoughts but I don’t think we ever outgrow it.

Happy Discoveries,



Happy Thanksgiving!


Be thankful for the many blessings you have and remember those to whom this day (and maybe the whole holiday season) will be difficult.

I am particularly grateful for you sharing your comments and posts with me this year.


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