Genealogists and family historians get a lot of satisfaction from chasing their ancestors’ stories. Finding a diary, a message on a postcard, or a photo with a name attached is like the sun coming out after a storm. One day we will be somebody’s ancestor. We need to leave our descendants a little bit of sunshine too. So here is my story told alphabetically, not chronologically: Growing Up in Cradock.
At James Hurst Elementary School, cursive writing was taught in the third grade. From third grade on, I practiced beautiful penmanship. Neat and precise formation of letters with the proper slant and appropriate loops took practice. We were given special paper designed to encourage the best habits. Two solid lines separated by a dotted line marked the boundaries of parts of both capital and lower case letters.
To say I enjoyed our lessons in writing cursive is an understatement. I absolutely LOVED it. My heart raced when Mrs. Daughtry came around with the practice paper. I was determined to learn to write well.
For some strange reason, my mother saved this page from a fourth grade history assignment.
I don’t know whether it was because of the beautifully phrased answers to my teacher’s questions or pride in my pencilmanship. After all, I had been writing in cursive less than a year.
Looking at the page from my Nifty notebook (see the holes at the top of the page, not the side), I can only bemoan the loss of control over pen and paper. I managed to produce lovely writing all through public school, but when I went to college, my handwriting deteriorated rapidly. I blame my professors. Taking lecture notes furiously day after day completely undid all that good practice.
Now educators are debating whether to even bother teaching cursive since no one writes anymore. Schools are equipped with computers and iPads. Credit cards and debit cards have erased the need to write a check. I have made purchases by signing my name on a vendor’s phone. The signature might look nothing like my real signature, but apparently it does not matter.
If cursive writing goes the way of the slide rule, how will our descendants read documents we leave behind and those of ancestors before us? They are hard enough for us who are used to cursive to read right now.
Here are just a few samples of the handwriting of some of my ancestors:
|A letter from my great-grandmother |
Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh
to her daughter Helen
|My great-grandmother Sudie Rucker|
signed my mother's autograph book
|from a letter from my 2X great grandfather James Franklin Jollett|
to his daughter (my great-grandmother) Mary Frances Jollett Davis
"Good by your father J F Jollett
Mrs. Mollie Davis"
Hop, hurdle, or hustle to the A to Z April Challenge for Hundreds and Hundreds of posts on the letter H, and that’s no hyperbole!
© 2016, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.