By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Before text messaging and emails, a sweetheart's form of communication was love letters sent through the mail.
Vero Beach residents Bob and Fran Zielsdorf own love story was documented in such a way, and now those precious memories are bound together forever in Mr. Zielsdorf's memoir, "Sealed With A Kiss."
What began in 1957 as a pen-pal friendship between young teens after an introduction by a friend blossomed into eight years of corresponding through letters, carrying them through high school and college and culminating in a marriage that has lasted to this day.
The couple never lived in the same town, nor the same state while they grew their friendship and as long-distance telephone calls were too expensive to make very often, picking up a pen and paper to express their thoughts and opinions was natural.
"Today, letters are as passť as poodle skirts and bobby sox," Mr. Zielsdorf, 70, said in a press release.
"But there's something about writing down your thought that breaks through barriers. Fran and I got to know each other better through our letters than we might have had we lived next door to each other," he said.
Mr. Zielsdorf always thought the letters would make a great story, but didn't pursue publishing them as a book until after he retired from the business world.
"It struck me that what we wrote captured unique moments, not only from our lives but also from a pivotal time in American culture," Mr. Zielsdorf said.
"I'm glad I was wise enough to wait until retirement. I knew that getting the book from concept to finished product would be hard work, I just didn't know how hard. The collaborative process was not only productive but fun," he said.
The book is available on Amazon.com in both trade paperback and Kindle editions launched Jan. 22.
"I think that email is one of the best inventions of the 20th Century," Mr. Zielsdorf said.
"I use it constantly, I even text with my kids and grandkids. But I just don't think it reveals the true depths of the writer, or builds enduring relationships, like handwritten letter," he said.
Mr. Zielsdorf said he committed himself seriously to the project after attending a memoir writing class at the Vero Beach Museum of Art with local author Suzanne Fox.
Ms. Fox also worked as a consulting editor on the book, and another Vero Beach resident, CJ Madigan created the book design, a press release said.
This year the Zielsdorfs, who have five children and 10 grandchildren, will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.
"We probably owe the United States Postal Service some thanks," Mr. Zielsdorf said with a smile.
For more information about "Sealed With A Kiss," visit www.bobzielsdorf.com.