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WORDS TO LIVE BY

Today marks 50 years since an aspiring young writer sat down at a manual typewriter at Hallmark Cards and thought WOW! Fresh out of college and full of ambition, I thought I had it made. Turns out, writing greeting cards was no piece of cake, if you’ll pardon the expression. It took managers and mentors most of a year to beat out of me the kind of originality and literary persuasions that are suitable to poetry, but not at all to commercial verse. They were patient. I was persistent. The trade and I got along well enough to make a career that lasted forty-one years.

As it happens, the famous Hallmark motto “When you care enough to send the very best” formed a kind of perpetual halo over the company and its workers. From the coffee cart ladies to the founder (Joyce C. Hall, who was still around when I arrived) we were proud to be partners in “the very best.”

I wish all companies today had that kind of esprit. In addition, Hallmark as a privately-held company was an early leader in providing benefits and compensation like profit-sharing and matched savings plans. I don’t get political very often on this blog, but doesn’t it make sense that workers who are also shareholders feel more invested in good performance?

Although it took me quite a while to learn the knack of it, I wrote many Hallmark “bestsellers” during the heyday of greeting cards. I still discover my writings on cards currently in the store. I’m not sure that the verse below was an actual bestseller. But I have a framed copy of it nearby, reproduced in beautiful calligraphy by a Hallmark artist.

Words I live by every day.

To have a grateful attitude
is always to believe
That everything in life
is but a gift that we receive,
So if the day brings laughter,
dark clouds, or hills to climb,
The heart can still be thankful
for hope and strength and time,
And gratitude remembers
throughout the longest night
That hands were made for holding,
that morning brings the light.
 
 
Barbara Kunz Loots

Comments

  1. This verse is a good example of why YOU, Barbara Loots, are a Hallmark legend. They also reflect the attitude you bring to life, not the dictates of an assignment.

  2. Gee, Barbara, I thought you were simply BORN knowing how to write greeting cards! But seriously, it’s a real learning curve to go from studying poets like Wordsworth and T.S. Eliot in school to writing commercially successful verse. You did a wonderful job of it and went on to serve as a mentor for so many of us who worked as writers and editors at Hallmark. And now you are happily retired and can write “real” poetry again without worrying about how sendable it is!

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