A COLONIAL GIRL
It’s 1774 and I am learning penmanship at Miss Manderly’s school. I hope you find my quill scribblings legible, as I have a serious question about the inevitable War of Independence. The Patriots say we must fight in order to have a democratically elected leader, privacy rights, and freedom of speech. Yet I understand that you, along with Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld, are dismantling these very things. This vexes me. When I am riding my realistically rendered chestnut mare, Penny, or sitting in my scaled-down Windsor writing chair, I ask: Why must our fittest young men die if the Revolution will prove meaningless? If you will make yourself king, should we not avoid the bloodshed altogether? Please write back to me at Merriman Farm, the Commonwealth of Virginia. Lives are at stake.
A VICTORIAN GIRL
Congratulations on a splendid job! I live with Grandmother in 1904 in a New York City mansion, where we enjoy the great rewards of our industrial economy. The other day, as we were riding through Central Park in our historically accurate sleigh, I was looking at my period-perfect stereoscope pictures and feeling sad that my friend Nellie will remain in the servant class for the rest of her life. Then Grandmother remarked that it is the strict societal divisions favoring the fortunate few that allow me to have things like my crystal lemonade set, which comes complete with a Battenberg-lace-edged tablecloth. It made me grateful that you are bringing back the economic divide that allows little girls like me to be so exceedingly happy! Please come to tea. We live in the white house with gold griffins on either side of the front door. Nellie will be outside with a scrub bucket, polishing them.
A DEPRESSION-ERA GIRL
I apologize for the lack of proper stationery, but we’re too poor to buy any right now, and I have only the back of a fruit-crate label on which to write. I stole the crate, with the help of my friends, and made it into a scooter, one of my favorite accessories. When we’re hungry or impoverished, we children find it easy to break the law, and may grow up to be criminals. I wonder if you ever consider that when it comes to Iraqi orphans, those underserved by the U.S. public-school system, or even emaciated child actors. Since Daddy lost his business, I’m wishing that my array of accessories included a Molotov cocktail. Do not bother to write back, as we will probably lose our house to the bank very soon. I will miss the rose bushes Mother planted in happier times.
A NATIVE AMERICAN GIRL
I belong to one of the aboriginal peoples of North America, the Nez Perce. The name is a misnomer, bestowed by the French, and means “pierced nose.” I would venture that the one thing you and I have in common is that neither of us likes the French! I think we differ on everything else. Sometimes when I am doing my crafts, I ask, “Why has no one stopped Mr. Bush?” But then I think, “Why did no one stop the Europeans from sweeping across the Pacific Northwest and destroying our way of life?” I want to ride to Washington, D.C., on my Appaloosa mare, Steps High, warning people against your tolerance for increased eminent domain. But Steps is the size of a kitten, and I’m afraid the two of us would get run over by an SUV as soon as we got out of the cul-de-sac in our Phoenix subdivision. If you want to write to me, remember that my people are nomadic, so you’ll have to employ a very good tracker to find our tepee.
A WORLD WAR II GIRL
This is an invitation to come to my house at Christmas, because my father can’t be with us. Admittedly, I don’t have a real father, as I was made from an injectable mold. I like to be straight about things. What I mean is that the father of my “caretaker,” a third-grader named Hannah, is in Iraq and won’t be home for the holidays. I need someone to help me—well, actually, to help Hannah—fasten my maddeningly adorable tiny roller skates, and to explain how to use my cuter-than-cute Brownie camera, and to check off items on my miniature but sobering ration card, and to talk about why there is no war effort this time around. Hannah’s mom is working two jobs, and she’s often too tired to play. You can recognize our house by the sagging shutters, peeling paint, and dirty gutters, since Daddy isn’t here to take care of it. If you are handy, please bring your tool belt.