You Must Send this to Five Friends…Or Else. This is Not a Joke!

Failed to Return Chain Letter
Failed to Return Chain Letter

I miss the 1970s. I realize I probably romanticize my childhood, but the dawn of the computer revolution was a magical time. Computers were in their infancy and wouldn’t become home appliances for another decade. Pinball was still dominant, with video games still a few years away. Cable TV was new. You had to see movies in theaters as there was no other option. Music was played on records. And phones were tied to cords, with most homes only having one. Funny to me that teenagers would actually sit at home “by the phone” so as not to miss important social calls.

One of the goofy things we kids would do was write chain letters. My own kids had no idea what I was talking about when this came up over dinner the other night. On that same note, my daughter had only recently heard of the “Muppets” and referred to their green-skinned amphibian leader as “Kirby the Frog.”

A chain letter was a great summertime project. It started by crafting some sort of form letter. The form letter invoked powerful benevolent or malevolent forces depending on the extent to which the reader followed the instructions. Some letters would bring great fortune or true love. Other letters would bring financial ruin, heartache, or even death if the reader failed to follow the instructions. My neighborhood gang of Michelle, Ana, Big Matt, and Toothless Eddy all preferred the latter invocation of the form letter.

Regardless of which forces were invoked, the letter was sent to five random recipients. We usually chose names from the local phone directory. Quaint, I know, but this was in an era before Google or People Search. The recipients were then directed to send the letter to five more people in order to call forth the magical forces of the letter (in our case, usually to avoid death in a fiery car accident). We always added a line about the seriousness of the letter. It was not a joke! This gave an air of credibility to the letter, or at least we thought so as we reread our missive out loud around the picnic table, rewarding ourselves with a handful of Spree when we were finished. Before we sealed the envelopes, we would add a plea for a postcard from some exotic location. In our case this was usually Australia, home of Olivia Newton John – patron goddess of pre-teen boys.

Of course the real intent of the chain letter was to be fruitful and multiply – what we would now call an intentional effort to “go viral.” Our job was merely to act as the Prime Mover. My kids thought all of this sounded extremely time-consuming, too much like homework, and pointless. What can I say? It was the most fun a gang of kids could have for sixty-five cents, or the price of five thirteen cent stamps, back in the summers of the 1970s.

I think of those days fondly. I still eat Spree. I still listen to Olivia. And I still like the Muppets. And summer is here again, so I thought I would try one more time, for old times’ sake:

If you are reading this blog post, you need to forward the link to five friends. If you do so, you will be rewarded with renewed love and attention from someone you have held dear in your heart for many years. If you fail to do so, financial disaster (and possibly a fiery car wreck) is in your future and may lead to the loss of all you hold dear. To avoid negative consequences and bring good fortune, you must forward this link on to five people.

This is not joke!

PS – If this post makes it to Australia, please place a comment on the blog.

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