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Romance Is Alive And Well, And Being Delivered From the Briscoe Western Art Museum

For a small slice of time—only about 18 months in fact—the Pony Express carried letters on an 1800 mile trek from Missouri to California. The telegraph spelled the end for the Pony Express, but now 154 years later it’s being remembered in a quirky, even romantic way.

Imagine the sounds of a typewriter.  Do you remember that sound? If so, you probably weren’t raised texting. At the Briscoe Western Art Museum they have a vintage Remington typewriter, and you can put it to good use. Beth Folds is with the Briscoe.

“You just come to the museum, you do not have to pay admission, just walk in with your inspiration and you’re good to go.”

What she’s describing how people can participate in their Pony Express Love Letters program. It's their own way of helping you celebrate Valentines Day.

“And what that is—you come to the museum, you either hand write, or use our vintage typewriter to write a love letter."

The idea of a hand written Valentines love letter is a fine one, but the Briscoe is adding the interesting touch that ties it to the Pony Express: delivery. And the Briscoe is delivering on two wheels instead of four legs.

“On February 13th we have volunteers from B-Cycle who will hand deliver all those letters, in the downtown area, and we mail for free all the other ones.“

I spoke to Gus Sullivan who's the Business Director for B-Cycle. Last year Gus was asked if B-Cycle would partner with the Briscoe for this project, and he says he didn’t have to think twice.

"Very few people I think send handwritten love letters anymore so it’s a great way to bring romance back into the modern day.”

Horses just weren’t a good fit for this modern-day innovation.

“The bikes are probably easier to use as well. Horses are a little bit more fussy.”

So how do you know if your sweetheart is within hand-delivery distance?

Beth says “We have a B-Cycle map that’s been marked with hearts and if it’s within that 'heart' boundary, your letter will be hand-delivered.”

That delivery area map is on the Briscoe website. So are all Valentines letters are of the romantic kind? Beth says no, in fact, they’re not.

“I saw one that was written to somebody’s teacher. So it was mailed to an elementary school.”

Sure enough, there are other plenty good excuses to send Valentine letters. Veronica Burciaga got a letter created at the Briscoe last year.

"It was in a poem, and it was really sweet. It meant a lot more than flowers. And you could tell that the person who wrote it took time and effort to really put a lot into it.”

Turns out this poem was written to her by her mother.

"Yes. My mom wrote me this love letter."

“Can I ask what she said?”

"It said like ‘roses were red, and I remember the time we first met, and you were in my arms, and I saw your beautiful face’ and things like that" she explained. "Inside stories and jokes along with it. I cried, but not because I was sad. It was happiness, joyful memories, laughter—I laughed when I read it. It was so sweet."

And then there’s Grant Ellis, whose romance has a history of written letters.

"My wife and I, when we were engaged, it was a long distance engagement. She was in Austin, Texas and I was in Oklahoma. And we used to write letters to each other back-and-forth."

Last year she typed a Valentine one out for him on the Remington at the Briscoe. But not a regular love letter. I asked what she said, and he gave a resounding laughter.

"I don’t have the letter in front of me, but my wife’s got a penchant for Haikus. So she typed out a Haiku, and it really brightened my day.

I asked, "how did it make you feel?

"Oh, it made my day! It made me feel loved. I obviously..." and then Grant laughed "... re-emphasized that I married the right woman!"

Back at the Briscoe I asked Beth if this fun service cost much.

"No, it’s actually free."

If you want to write one, you’d better get on it. Like the Pony Express, your opportunity will disappear soon. We've more about it here.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii