My love affair with pencil and paper began with my brother. Ron is 5 years older than me and I followed him around like a little shadow throughout my childhood.
I missed him when he went off to school in the fall. When he was nine and I was four, I began to wait for him when I knew it was time for the school bus. I would look at the papers he brought home and listen to him answer questions about his day from my mom.
The concept of school fascinated me, though I had never been there. I looked at the numbers and letters on the pages he brought home, he sometimes would bring me a coloring page that I would scribble on and pretend I was doing schoolwork. I learned to recognize his name printed at the top of every page and was quick to brag that I knew what that word was.
One afternnon we sat down together and he printed my name. He carefully explained how the letter u looked like a cup, the letter t looked like a cross, and the letter h looked like a chair. I was hooked. I sat down and tried to duplicate what he had written. Ron made some examples for me and showed me how to make an entire row of letters. After lots of practice, I was able to write my name. The first letter always gave me trouble, because it did not resemble much of anything except itself! But the cup, and the cross, and the chair stuck with me and made it easy.
Two years later, it was my time to go to school. I could already write my name. The next year, my teacher chose one of my writing samples to be exhibited at the county fair in an educational display.
I continued to love to write. I loved school. I became a teacher and taught manuscript writing to first graders. After that I taught cursive for several years to classes of second graders. Other teachers complained about teaching penmanship…they thought it was boring and tedious. Not me, I loved every minute of it.
And…I loved telling my young students who taught me how to write!
I always struggled with it, maybe because I’m left-handed and always had to do the opposite for things like angling the paper. I read that the Library of Congress and National Archives are looking for volunteers “of a certain age” to help add metadata to scanned images of hand-written documents so archivists and historians can locate them online. They need older volunteers who can read the cursive handwriting. I understand cursive isn’t widely taught any more? Is that correct?
What a dear memory.
Thanks for sharing your story about penmanship. Your penmanship is lovely! That is so wonderful to hear how you learned to read your brother’s name.
I struggled in those early years to make the letters neatly and make those loops that were so tricky, but later came to love writing. I still have some of that lined paper that we used. Wish I could find the big round green pencils!