Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Random Thoughts On Writing

Brenda Starr's great aunt kept a journal. Some of her writing is in English; much of it is in swirls and lines and dashes that her great niece described with delighted hand motions. The aunt was a legal secretary in the early 1900's, which meant she took shorthand.  Can any of you translate from steno pad to iPad?  There are stories in there, just waiting to unfold, if only we could read them.
G'ma printed.  She claimed her cursive was unintelligible, and was no faster than her printing.  There was always trouble when I presented my first she was ill note from home to the teacher; it was obvious to everyone but my mother that printing was for children, not adults.  But comparing her hand printed notes to the chicken scratch that passed for communications from my father, I am very happy that she stuck to the legible.
Mr. 12 is in the last cohort of students who was taught cursive writing.  I wonder how his successors in the upscale school district will sign a driver's license, a marriage license, a check.  How will they read  historical documents' elegant script?  How will they read their parents' diaries?  This is a worse predicament than Brenda Starr's steno pad personal history; this is akin to losing the fancy F - for - S and random spellings of the 18th century.  The originals will be inscrutable to my great grandchildren.  This makes me sad.
My children wrote thank you notes, one sentence for each grade, on stationary of their own choosing.  My granddaughter sent us a thank you note after her third birthday, signed with her initial, written in her own hand with her own yellow crayon.  My heart nearly exploded.
We weren't allowed to use pen and ink until the third grade.  Cartridge pens
were preferable to fountain pens, with their accompanying and quite spill-able bottles of ink.

We could choose any color ink at all; turquoise, peacock blue, purple were my favorites at one time or another.  Only the teachers could use red ink.  Decades later, in Marin, when my kids were small, the teachers were encouraged to avoid the use of red pens so as not to offend the sensibilities of the little ones.  I sighed.

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