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Try Writing Computer-Free This Saturday

Apr 15, 2016

When’s the last time you received a personal, handwritten or typed letter in the mail – snail-mail that is? There’s a concern that emails have turned letter writing into a lost art and is going the way of typewriters.

But a Tampa couple is committed to changing that trend on both fronts by sponsoring a free, “Write-In” and “Type-In” Saturday, April 16, 2016, from 9 am-5 pm as part of National Letter Writing Month.

Their base of operation is inside a green, 1920s bungalow in Tampa’s SoHo entertainment district. It’s the Paper Sea Horse, 211 S. Howard Ave., described a “paperie and makerie” by its proprietress Tona Bell.

Bell has filled the comfy store with fine stationary, handmade cards, decorative paper and limited edition writing pencils and calligraphy pens – all tools to stimulate creativity and inspire people to put pen to paper.

“The power of the written word is stronger than most people think,” Bell said. “People don’t throw away letters, they throw away emails.”

So the Paper Seahorse is giving the public a chance to celebrate National Letter and Card Writing month by attending a free creative writing class or coming in Saturday to write a letter or postcard.

Her husband, Randy Rosenthal, is supplying typewriters for the event and will a class, Typewrite 101, on the history and basic use of a typewriter at 11:30 a.m. He uses computers daily, however, Rosenthal prefers typewriters for his creative writing.

The Paper Seahorse holds various creative and craft classes and has a following who have taken on the challenge of writing 30 letters in 30 days during the month of April.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

“The delete key may have killed creativity because it took the risk out of writing,” Rosenthal said as typed away using his two index fingers on a 1920s Underwood typewriter. “When people sit down at a typewriter, they mean it.”

Typewriters are set up for people to try out and possibly contribute a missive for the event.

And don’t worry if you don’t have a pen pal, you can write a letter to someone in the community like a sick child or housebound elder.

Bell said the Paper Seahorse partnered with Meals and Wheels, All Children’s Hospital and Alpha House to deliver letters to the people they serve.

“For example, Alpha House has 39 women who are homeless and pregnant and our goal is to write a letter to every single one of them on Saturday,” Bell said.