"Got a letter from my mom today, 42 Â½ years after she sent it."
That was the opener to an email Vanice Bartlett sent to The Tribune on Monday. It seems her mother was a huge fan of Dan Valentine, the Trib columnist whose work ran for decades and was collected in little books found in small-town cafes all over Utah.
"It was a Dan Valentine â¦ article with her comments noted in the text she'd sent to my older sister," Bartlett wrote. "Mom passed away in '99 at age 95 and my sister passed this March at 85."
Her sister's daughter came across the article and, "as per instructions," passed in on to her aunt.
"It was so strange," Bartlett wrote, "to open the envelope and see mom's handwriting again."
It seems her mother was a lifelong, faithful Tribune reader who would see something she liked and "start it on a round robin" to those she thought might enjoy it.
Her mother especially liked Valentine, "who wrote about folks and things as though we were all still part of a Utah family. This was back in the days when it wasn't unlikely you could run into him on the streets downtown.
"The article was so different from those of today another time, another place, almost like another planet," Bartlett wrote.
I remember Valentine's columns about his son and daughter going to school for the first time, and how he pled to the powers that be to watch over them. I remember his folksy approach, the occasionally cranky complaints. He retired in 1980 after three decades of writing his "Nothing Serious" column. He died Feb. 12, 1991, at his son's home in Arlington, Va.
Searching the Internet, I found a quote that put Valentine, for a moment, close to the Will Rogers category: "Filibuster a long speech about nothing by an authority on the subject."
Bartlett received much more than an envelope with a column in it. It was the completion of a cycle: "Valentine to Mom, mom to my sister (all three gone now) and my sister to me almost 43 years later."
She said she wasn't sure where to send her email, but "I felt it right to go full circle with my appreciation and the Trib is the last address I know.
"Thanks Dan for getting it started," she wrote. "Today has been special like no other."
Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at email@example.com, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @pegmcentee.