My dear husband looked at me the other day and told me that my handwriting was getting more and more like my father’s every day. Since his writing is almost completely illegible up and down peaks, I found this comment to be less than flattering.
This observation was prompted by Jim’s inability to decipher the illegible scrawl in my appointment book that denoted a certain client’s name. Why he could not tell that a couple of peaks with a valley followed by a squiggly line meant “Mary” is beyond me.
After we traded a couple of bons mots about my handwriting and penmanship in general, he suggested that it wasn’t that my writing was getting bad, it was that it was getting much more efficient as I was leaving out a bunch of unnecessary loops, dots and up and down motions. I can tell what the cryptic entries mean, so basically I am using a sort of short hand, if you will.
Anyway, this whole subject led to me thinking about how my hand writing has changed since I was a kid, struggling to learn to write and follow the Palmer Cursive writing system. I recall receiving a C grade on a penmanship exercise. Being the sort of challenging child that I was, I approached the teacher and inquired as to why I was getting such a poor grade for an exercise that was completely legible. She informed me that my letters did not look like the ones in the handbook. Whereupon I informed her that when she wrote on the board her letters didn’t look like the book either, so what was the big deal? I believe I was sent to the office for that bit of insubordination.
Of course, this was the woman who informed the class that porpoises were fish and when I pointed out to ther that they most certainly were not, they were mammals, argued with me and told me that she was the teacher. So I got out the World Book Encyclopedia and showed her the entry on porpoises and dolphins. I got sent to the office that time too. The principal was actually sympathetic with my plight, and so we sat and had a pleasant chat for a while, then he sent me back to the classroom with the advice that perhaps I’d get along better if I tried not to argue with Mrs. Swisher, even though (or perhaps especially if) I was correct and she was not.
But I digress.
I happen to have a sample of my handwriting dating from the fifth grade (I was 10 1/2). This is an entry in a handbook I made under the tutelage of my mother, which I joyously entitled:
This is the entry on making a hand-bound buttonhole.
I notice that I left an “h” out of the last “stitches”, which doesn’t surprise me much considering how many times I had to write that word during the course of producing this handbook. I also find it interesting that even at the tender age of 10.5 I was cutting corners — observe the efficient crossing of both t’s in “stitches” with one line.
And now, for your delectation, what I wrote about that entry this evening.
I see I have dropped the double t cross over the years in favor of hooking the next letter to the crossing. Just for fun, here is my very careful signature circa 1963:
I just want to say that the skills I acquired while doing this little project have stood me in very good stead over the years, and I actually referred to this little book a couple of years ago when I was trying to remember how to do a French seam when I was sewing some extremely prone to ravel silk.