Before there was cyber bullying, there were bad luck chain letters. For reasons unknown some morally deficient individual or group of individuals came up with the notion of sending letters to ordinary folks that promised ill will or destruction to them. It seems crazy even now to try to explain them. This polar opposite of a love note came through the US post office directly to your mailbox and asked you to send a handful of duplications of the same letter to other unsuspecting folks. If you decided to throw the letter out, and ignore it, the letter explained that some form of ruination would be headed your way. I actually had a Social Studies teacher that dropped dead in his driveway and my entire class was convinced that a chain letter was the catalyst. In class one day he was asked if he had ever received one. He said he had not and went on to say that the entire idea of a bad luck chain letter was complete “poppycock”. A kid in the class vowed to send him one. The rest is history. One could argue that cyber bullying is far more unkind and devastating than a chain letter. I would have to agree. As strange as it sounds the intent of a chain letter wasn’t quite as malicious. A bad luck chain letter was more like a hot potato. It gave you a specific time to unload copies of the letter you had received. You just wanted it out of your life. You passed it on . . . like the plaque. I’m pretty certain that stepping on a crack wouldn’t really break your mamas back. Rest assured picking up a penny that was face down may make you a penny richer but wouldn’t make you more at risk or accident prone. Yet most are hesitate to test fate. That was also the case for chain letters. Most were fearful of breaking ‘the chain’ instead of realizing that the truth of the matter was that someone was actually yanking theirs.
To the best of my knowledge, chain letters aren’t around any more. Not all chain letters were negative. They were used for all different purposes. Fundraising, recipe exchange and telling jokes to name a few. I’m hopeful that there will never be a resurgence of the mean spirited kind. Don’t we all have enough in our own lives to worry about? The written promise of pending doom is a little bit tough to take!
This summer let’s keep in mind, with or without the aid of a curse wielding chain letter, injuries and accidents do happen. For these occasions there are Fishbellies. Much needed cold or heat for summer bumps and tumbles brought on simply by daily life. Before or after your mail is delivered.