My journalism teacher once again sends me a real letter

A week ago the letter came in the mail, and I immediately recognized the handwriting on the envelope. A little early for the annual Christmas wishes from journalism teacher at Morrisville Agricultural and Technical College from 1975 to 1977, I thought, but as I tore open the envelope, the familiar type font on his printed letter put me in that old, great mood, along with his yellow-highlighted phrases, green-circled points of emphasis and clips.

Lots of clips.

A letter from Bandlow, good as gold.

A letter from Bandlow, good as gold.

My Maryland Terps had played Neal’s Michigan State Spartans on the football field a few weeks back, and he had to address their first meeting as brethren in the Big Ten, of course. Before mentioning that his Sparties spanked my Terrapins, though, he just had to chide my squad’s boorish behavior when the captains refused to shake hands with Penn State’s captains before the pregame coin toss a week prior at Beaver Stadium. Poor sportsmanship, Neal declared. I sheepishly agree.

Oh, then he got to teasing me about the Michigan State victory.

Neal's Big Ten standings.

Neal’s Big Ten standings.

Yes, I got the point about him hand-writing in the score and new standings after the Spartans’ easy 35-15 victory over the Terps. In the Terps’ stadium, yet.

Of course, always a lover of good writing, he also sent me a clip of a newspaper a story about a Michigan State alum who attended three Spartans games in Maryland that weekend.

Neal loves newspaper stories.

Neal loves newspaper stories.

After covering some personal issues about his family and mine, and our extended Morrisville journalism family, Neal signed off with his usual well-wishes.

I met this man in August, 1975, and took classes with him through May, 1977. That’s 37 years ago, folks. And still we remain steadfast friends.

That’s why in February, one month after I began writing a weekly community blog for Syracuse public media site, I decided the journalism program at SUNY Morrisville needed my touch. So I met Neal and some other of his students from over the years for lunch out there in Morrisville, some 35 miles southeast of Syracuse.

Carol and Neal Bandlow, at the Copper Turret in Morrisville, N.Y.

Carol and Neal Bandlow, at the Copper Turret in Morrisville, N.Y.

I took a shot of Neal and his wonderful wife Carol during that lunch, after telling her how she’d been one of us all these years, too, or since the days she’d answer the door of their house to find college students asking if they could talk to her husband for a quick second. Heck, she’d come out with him to the bars to join the discussions about life and learning, too.

Here’s the link to the story I wrote for my blog about that lunch, a sister piece to my story for

Here’s the link to the story I wrote about the journalism program and Neal Bandlow for

Neal's point. Writing matters.

Neal’s point. Writing matters.

After I got done reading Neal’s letter and all those clips, I knew I wanted to use all it, his words and his messages, to wrap up Nano Poblano.

Why did we want to publish on our blogs every day in November, and read new blogs, and converse with new bloggers? Why did this group called Nano Poblano mean so much to so many of us?

I believe it’s quite akin to why Neal Bandlow still writes me a letter 37 years after my last visit to a classroom in which he taught.

Because words matter.

Fish of Gold

44 thoughts on “My journalism teacher once again sends me a real letter

  1. Oh Mark, what a beautiful essay. I love writing and receiving letters and unfortunately receive so few now. I believe it is such an important means of interacting, and sadly becoming a lost means of communicating. Thank you for sharing this lovely essay.


  2. This is great, Mark! I wish I had kept in touch with Neal! I was just talking about him the other day. Some things just stay with you.


    • Yes, but you still have a chance to make a New Year’s bowl, Snoozer. And Izzo will have you sailing in hoops, as always. My football squad absolutely soiled the mattress at home against Rutgers. Bad news.


  3. fantastic–lovely story. And “because words matter” is the best slogan ever. Way better than “word geeks unite,” which we joke about over at BoFN. Perhaps we will put you in charge of marketing over at that funny names blog ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Oh, no, Liz, BoFN has many word masters with long spoons stirring and stirring and stirring already. ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s never a dull moment in that comment section, you know?

      I do like Because Words Matter, though. And I’ll share freely.


  4. This was a fantastic way for your teacher to connect, once again with you, Mark! I loved this post from front to back, beginning to end! hugs for your niceness and way you always stay connected to ones who you appreciate along your way in life!


  5. Great way to wrap up the month – and I loved the ending line.
    I didn’t really participate in Nano Poblano but I’ve been reading all your posts.


    • I am proud that you’ve been part of us as a reader, ATP. I’ve noticed your likes and comments. Keep hanging out with us. I will keep visiting your poetry, you know. Keep me posted on your plans for attending Syracuse, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I honestly can’t remember the last time went to the mailbox and found anything there other than bills, flyers, advertisements, and occasional greetings cards. A person, handwritten or hand-typed letter? I didn’t realize those things still existed.

    Great post, Mark. Great way to bring Nano a close.


  7. Your words matter, very much, Mark and mucho thanks for helping so many of us know that our words matter, too. Nano Nano Poblano to you (and to all those you love and all who have helped you tell your stories) as we move, together, from November into December.


  8. Loved this story and reading about the relationship you still have with your former teacher. Your words jumped out at me when you said that your recognized the handwriting. I’m eager to go back and read about your lunch wit them.
    Just recently, I received a letter from my high school English teacher. He was awesome and wonderful and taught me everything I know. My mom and dad had been printing off my blog posts and sending them snail mail to St. Louis…he doesn’t own a computer. He just wanted to write to tell me that he was proud of me–his handwriting hadn’t changed in thirty years.
    Words definitely matter.
    Thank you for this uplifting post today!


    • I’m glad this little story moved you today, MMT, and that you, too, have a teacher in your life who keeps track of your progress and reaches out with words to make you happy. Very nice, indeed for you, my friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember that original story too ๐Ÿ™‚ What a perfect way to wrap up the month and bring it back to the words that tie us all together.


  10. Cool story Mark. People like your old prof really bring the world together – not only because he lives the world of communiaction as he taught, but because he follows up on firendships – obvioulsy valuing the human aspect of communication – you did it to become a part of someone’s world and they a part of yours – sharing.

    I really enjoyed this post Mark, it exhibits an important part of being human. Thank You very mucj mark.


  11. What a great tradition, and a great example of real human interaction. Old-school, as it were. He sounds OK for a Michigan State alum ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, words matter. Especially from folks like him.


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