(Last of five parts. Go back to “Grandpa’s Diaries” for the first.)
Recently, a friend showed me a beautiful keepsake recipe book she designed for her family. Divided into sections like party time, dinner time, dessert time, each page pictures a relative, her favorite recipe and sometimes the food. What makes the book special is that the recipes are presented in the familiar writing of their loved ones.
Handwriting identifies a person by a unique style. Have you ever received a handful of mail and singled out a particular one because you recognized the writing of the one you were anxiously waiting for? Even people who lived a hundred or hundreds of years ago may be identified by their handwriting.
Did you ever gather signatures of classmates in an autograph book or yearbook? Did you push through a crowd with a scrap of paper or program to get the autograph of a celebrity or VIP?
Why do people desire autographed books? Shouldn’t we be satisfied with an ink stamped signature? Of course not! An autograph is a real signature. It gives value to a book, a letter, a scrap of paper. Even if it’s only sentimental value.
Handwriting is romantic. I’ll let you ponder this from your own experiences.
America’s Golden Age of Penmanship extended from 1850 to 1925. Penmanship used to be a subject for which students received grades. Teachers prompted them to draw circles like a Slinky across lined paper. My mother learned the Spencerian script with its ornamental flourishes. Even after the typewriter became popular, people valued Mother’s ability to elaborately script names on certificates, invitations, in books and Bibles.
Dad did not have Mother’s beautiful cursive writing and he did not write many personal letters or notes like she did, so I treasure the few I have. A few days ago I opened an old scrapbook and found one. He had written it on a scrap of paper at the airport just before my parents saw me off to Africa for the first time. He must have sneaked it into my purse for me to read once I was on my way. I’m sure it was an emotional time for them as it was for me when I discovered that precious treasure.
Children today learn to type before they can hold a pencil. We’ve even succumbed to the electronic signature. Penmanship has been devalued.
In the future will we view a framed signature or letter on the wall and declare, “Isn’t that a beautiful piece of art?”