Posted tagged ‘Cursive’

“I know most people use their phones to tell time, but there’s something very romantic and beautiful about a timepiece.”

January 27, 2018

Today is a disappointment. It was supposed to be a warmish with some sun; instead, it is cloudy with a chilling wind. I do have to go out this afternoon as it is dump day, and I also need a few groceries. Maddie disappeared this morning before I could give her her meds, but she was easy to find. She is upstairs sleeping on a guest room bed. Maddie hasn’t eaten much, but at least she has eaten something.

When I first moved into my house, I had a desk, a TV and a studio couch, all in one room. In the kitchen I had two pots, a frying pan and a toaster oven. I didn’t even have a fridge for the first few days. Though the mortgage was half my month’s salary, I remember sitting in the sun on the small farmer’s deck in a hand-me down blue lawn chair thinking I owned the world.

Last night the house was dark except for the candles in the windows and a few others in the living room. I love my house by candlelight. It feels alive and filled with warmth. I wait a long time before I turn on a light.

I remember learning to tie my shoes though I don’t remember how old I was. My mother taught me how. We sat in the living room, and she tied the shoelaces over and over again as I watched. When it was my turn, I kept tying the laces so loosely the bow wouldn’t hold, but I kept on until I finally mastered the task. My shoes, though, were always loose, and I had to keep retying the laces. It took a while before I figured how to make the bow tight.

I think of kids today with their velcro shoes, never needing to be tied, their digital watches which show the time in 4 digits so kids never learn quarter or half past or any time words and their computers which take away the need to learn cursive writing. I don’t know if those skills are really all that important any more, but I know they were milestones when I was growing up. I remember feeling so proud and accomplished I wanted everyone to know. Hey, world, here I am a kid who can tell time, tie a shoe and write my name.

“Education is the movement from darkness to light. “

April 10, 2015

This morning I noticed webbing between my toes. It appears I am beginning to adapt to a wet world where it rains every day. The sun is supposed to return, but I have become a skeptic worn down by snow and cold and rain.

In elementary school my day was chock full of subjects, some every day and some once a week. Many of them have since disappeared.

Back then no school room was complete without those green writing alphabet cards running atop the blackboards. On each was a single letter in both small and capital cursive forms. I always liked the capital Z and the capital Q. They were odd-looking and uncommon to use. We had penmanship a couple of times a week when we practiced the Palmer method. I remember the circles and the lines. I also remember mine were usually messy and didn’t resemble the examples we were following. The nun always stopped at my desk to show me how my hand should be moving up and down as I practiced. Many schools don’t teach writing any more. Cursive is disappearing.

Geography was always one of my favorite subjects. I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about knowing that Columbia produced coffee or that Costa Rica led the world in bananas, but I loved the pictures and the articles. I used to dream about visiting some of the countries in my book, but I never really believed I would see so many of them. When I was sixteen, we went to Niagara Falls and saw the falls from the Canadian side. I was visiting my first foreign country, and I was thrilled. They don’t teach stand alone geography any more either.

We had music a couple of times a week. We learned the fundamentals. I still remember every good boy does fine and face: the mnemonics for the names of the scale’s lines and spaces. We sang songs. I remember every nun had a mouth tuner like a round harmonica. She’d blow the note, and we were supposed to start singing the song on that note. I doubt we ever did. I was in the rhythm band in the first and second grades. I remember first year I did sticks and second year I did triangle. I always wanted tambourine.

Reading was a subject unto its self. We had reading books with stories then questions and new vocabulary at the end of each story. I always liked those books. Each year the stories shared a theme. My favorite was American folk heroes. I loved Pecos Bill and his riding the tornado. It was the only time he was “throwed” in his whole career as a cowboy. I learned about Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox, John Henry and Sally Ann Thunder who helped Davy Crockett and wore a real beehive as a hat and wrestled alligators in her spare time. There was even a sketch of her and the alligator. I got my love of reading from those books and those stories.

I was never bored in school. We went from one lesson to another quickly enough to stave off ennui. I looked forward to most of them but only tolerated the rest. I still don’t like arithmetic no matter what you call it.

“Handwriting is civilization’s casual encephalogram.”

July 23, 2011

Yesterday, at 103°, Boston was the hottest it’s been since 1926. We were close, in the 90’s, which is unusual for us, but the ocean breeze had totally disappeared. Gracie and I stayed inside almost the entire day. The few times I went on the deck the heat and humidity sucked my breath away. Today I have to go to a bridal shower, and I am not the bridal shower type. To make it even worse, if that’s at all possible, it will be hot. It’s only 10 and already the temperature is 83°. I’m going to practice my oohing and ahing before I go. I’m a bit rusty.

I remember learning the Palmer Method. First we had to learn to hold our pencils a certain way and then we did exercises. We were taught to use our hands and arms in making circles then lines. My circles were never very neat, but I was great at lines. I remember my hand moving up and down on the paper as I made my lines, and I remember the sound of hand against paper and the scribbling sound of the pencil. The nun would walk around and reposition pencils or make comments about the circles and lines.

Across the front of the room, over the blackboard, was a set of the alphabet in Palmer Method cursive writing. It was ornate with all sorts of loops. The R in my last name was one circle. It was the same R my grandmother always used. The K in my first name had a loop. I think my favorite letters were X, Q and Z. They were strange looking, and if you hadn’t learned Palmer method, you would never recognize the Q. We practiced all the time on lined sheets of paper. The capital letters went from the bottom of the line to the top. The small letters were about half the size and were easy to recognize, even the q, which looked a lot like the one my keyboard has except it’s missing the loop.

I read in the paper that schools are phasing out the teaching of cursive writing. The keyboard is replacing it. It reminded me of all that is fading away. My newspapers are ceasing to exist, bookstores are closing at a rapid rate and now cursive writing is disappearing. I’m afraid to venture a guess as to what’s next.


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