Soul singer R. B. Greaves’ 1969 hit “Take a Letter Maria” came on the oldies station. I thought of what an outdated image it presents.

A boss is dictating a letter to his secretary. The image is one of her jotting down the words in shorthand, going to her typewriter to create the letter and then (after the boss’s approval and signature) mailing his “so long’ message to his wife.

My mind had to go back a lot of years before remembering the last time I heard someone ask a secretary (administrative assistant now) to “take a letter.” Personal, instant communication — for better or worse — has changed the way many of us work and live.

Correspondence, travel plans and other tasks are just a click or two away. I can’t imagine verbalizing a message that is scribbled down by another person and then pecked out on a typewriter (at least once) before facing a three-day delivery.

There is some great music on oldies stations, but cultural explanations may be needed for younger listeners.

“Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee. Help me find that party trying to get in touch with me.”

Never mind, I’ll just send her a text.

Share This