No one is born with their future written in stone; it took me years to find my own path. Looking back I can see now what I couldn’t see then, that the tiniest inspiration, if you love it enough, can be the gateway to a future. For instance, don’t laugh, (and most of you probably already know) but I always got an A in handwriting. At the time, no one got very excited about that (although, when I was around fifteen, my dad did take something I wrote to work to show his co-workers, something the daughter will never forget ♥), but really, how much more insignificant could an “achievement” be? Would you ever imagine there could be a life in handwriting? Me, either.
But yes, it can happen. Which, by the way, means anything can happen! This is the top of my calendar page for March 2011. (Musica? Oui!) It’s a celebration of good old-fashioned letter writing. I love my grandma’s old letters that all start with “Sue Darling;” my old boyfriend’s letters; all the letters from my best friend Diana when I left California to move to Martha’s Vineyard. Our letters flew back and forth and now they’re like little diaries. They never get old; their details capture and hold on to a moment in time like almost nothing else. Except for the photos, everything on that calendar page was either written or painted by hand. The old letter in the upper left was one written by a beau to Joe’s great, great grandmother in 1881. On the right, is the front, inside, and back of a card I wrote to my grandmother when I was eight. As you can see, I was so excited to get to the p.s., I almost forgot to sign my name first! I’ve always been a P.S. Person!
Goodbye cursive? Get outta here! They’ve been talking about taking cursive out of schools. I saw this newspaper in a gas station while traveling last fall and practically cried before I ran to get the camera! My sister says the school her eight-year-old twins go to is no longer teaching cursive! Luckily my little nephews are amazing artists; they want to know how to do cursive and Shelly, my sister, teaches them.
Learning cursive was the first connection between my brain, a pencil, and whatever artistic talent I had; learning to move the pencil just so to draw letters, to make a little curl on an E, to bend the top of a T took the same sort of concentration and creative thought as drawing a flower or a house. I don’t know if it happened that way for other artists — but what if it was the same thing for some of the most talented artists, for example, like Monet, or DaVinci (who taught himself to write cursive backwards!), or John Singer Sargent? What if it was??? No pencil, no connection = just maybe, no art. Children see the learning of handwriting the same way they see art, learning to form their letters is like learning to draw. If you can make a letter, maybe you can make a rainbow. Not every child is going to be an artist, but what about the ones that would?
And for sure, two out of these three books could never have been written if it wasn’t for cursive. Not to mention the Declaration of Independence, which wouldn’t have been half so interesting or informative if it had been written perfectly, on a computer, all mistakes and cross-outs deleted.
I have nothing against a printed book, love love love them in fact, but
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this kind of book makes me feel history more than any printed book could ever do. Rachel (we met as pen pals and now we are dear friends for twenty years; go say hello if you have time!) sent me this old diary she found for sale in an antiquarian bookstore in England where she lives; she knew it would be my cup of tea, and she was so right!
This diary was written by a twelve-year-old British girl named Alice. She writes about her lessons with “mademoiselle,” about her dog, about teatime and what she ate; and about how much she whistles, which is practically every night. She really loves to whistle! “Dec. 4, 1906 Nothing special today, whistled in the evening.” It’s a little treasure; she might have thought it was “nothing special” but it is to me. I wonder what she was like as a grown woman?
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I would love to have known Margaret Cavendish! And, just imagine, no this:
I have no doubt at all that Nancy Luce’s writings and little books were inspired by her simple everyday school life here on the island, learning to make her letters. Despite her illness and loneliness, she still managed, through her handwriting (and her heart), to become the most famous person on Martha’s Vineyard in the late 1800’s.
This was part of my diary entry for January 19, 1978; the first time I broached the question of how “real” writing was done. Sometimes people tell me they don’t want to use their handwriting in their scrapbooks and on recipe cards because they think it’s so bad. Could it be any worse than this? Would it really matter? Wouldn’t a great, great, great grandchild love seeing any kind of handwriting at all, as long as it belonged to you? (Yes, they would, I know this for a fact.♥)
And you know what else? Without cursive, here would be no more of these!! How terrible! Kitchen scrapbooks, all gone!
So, I’ve decided to declare this day, March 10th, as “I Love Cursive Day” for all of us who do. P.S. In England, there’s a fine attempt at using Cursive in the 21st century way at www.inkly.com! Go see!
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