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The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald To His Daughter At Camp

Some day, your kids will head off to camp and, after luxuriating in the peace and quiet, you’re going to wind up missing them. You could call them, but phones aren’t always the best way to express affection, let alone impart some words of worldly wisdom. To do that, you need to write a letter.

That’s why Letters Of Note, which recently published a U.S. hardbound edition, is one of the internet’s great rabbit holes. An eclectic archive of correspondence going back more than 100 years, the site includes the letters from some of history’s most interesting fathers to their kids. Sometimes they’re sweet and often times they’re amusing, but they’re always insightful as snapshots of both the man and his beliefs.

Letters Of Note F. Scott FitzgeraldTake F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example. While his 11-year-old daughter Scottie was away at camp, he took the opportunity to compose a simple checklist for keeping life’s priorities in order:

“Things to worry about:
Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions”

Letters Of Note Che GuevaraFamous T-shirt model Che Guevara had a tougher task, writing as he was a letter to be opened in the event of his death – which ultimately came to pass – while fomentingrevolution in Bolivia. Then again, the man’s singular focus came through crystal clear, even while speaking to his 5 kids from the great beyond:

“… Grow up as good revolutionaries. Study hard so that you can master technology, which allows us to master nature. Remember that the revolution is what is important, and each one of us, alone is worth nothing. Above all, always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world. This is the most beautiful quality in a revolutionary.”

The site, and the book, feature plenty more where that came from. There’s W.E.B. Dubois’ letter to his daughter after sending her to school in England; a letter of encouragement from Frank Sinatra to Nancy, and Ronald Reagan’s celebration of monogamy on the eve of his son Mike’s wedding.

Letters Of Note Jerry Linenger

But for pure, fatherly sentiment, few letters tug on the heartstrings more than the ones astronaut Jerry Linenger wrote to his one-year-old son John while orbiting the Earth on the Space Station Mir for 132 days in 1997:

“… But, I sure do miss you. I want most of all to see you come stumbling around the corner, bellow out your big laugh when I give my “surprised to see you” look, and then watch you stumble back out of the room to repeat the same to Mommy in the other room. You are the best son in the world, John.”