Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Lined Paper

Miss Struble is rolling over in her grave. The depths to which the legibility of handwriting has sunk would disturb her greatly. Miss Struble was my 3rd grade teacher. She proffered the lined paper like it was fine parchment, handed out the pencils and intoned that we were to “Stay within the lines!”
Oddly enough this did not put me off handwriting entirely but started me on a life long journey of a love affair with the pen and calligraphy which, to me, is just the high falutin’ way of saying “cursive writing”. When I was learning to write I practiced so much I got a knob on my middle finger from gripping the pencil but now people comment about how they like my handwriting when I do the simplest things like write a check. Miss Struble would be pleased.
I once saw a movie and in it the main character, a Jesuit priest, was demonstrating the written word to a bunch of Algonquin Indians. He asked one of the braves to tell him something no one knew. Then he wrote that secret on a piece of paper. When he was finished he gave the paper to his companion to read aloud. Can you imagine the surprise and shock of the Indians upon hearing the secret? How did he do that? But what if the writing was so illegible that the companion couldn’t read it? How embarrassing would that have been? “Uh, what’s this word? Its looks like ‘pigslop’.”
Imagine if one of our most famous founding fathers, John Hancock, had not been taught proper cursive writing. We’d never be using that phrase “put your ‘John Hancock” here.” We’d also be having a difficult time deciphering our constitution and the English might have laughed so hard we’d have given up trying to get our independence.
Nowadays we don’t need legible handwriting. Cursive writing seems to be dying a slow death. We have the modern word processor. Even now I’m using it to write this piece. The knob on my middle finger has disappeared. But I still enjoy writing and reading a beautifully hand written letter. If instruction in the art of cursive writing was brought back the world would be a more beautiful place.


  1. Renee, you should really confess that you have such a emotional alignment to calligraphy that your simple 'script' has been art ready design work for business cards and advertising. You are one with the pen!

  2. Yes, I confess. I do have an emotional alignment with calligraphy! It pleases me and that is good.