Thursday, May 17, 2007

Write away!!!


Study the out take from the family Bible image. What do you think Andreas used in 1875 to make this message?
Let's spend some time today thinking about writing implements.
The metal nib had replaced the crow quills by the time he wrote in the Bible. The signature clearly shows a drag on the "A" and a stop on the "O". How many times did Andreas dip his pen to write his signature? Simple pens and nibs or points are still available at good office supply houses for calligraphy. The birth year was written in pencil, which was invented in independently in France and Australia in 1790.
In remembering my own grandparents, I am remembering pencils. My grandparents played cards each evening to see who had to get up and make coffee in the morning; serving their mate coffee in bed. There was no waste of paper, Julia carefully opened a used envelope where she wrote the scores of each round of 500 rummy. The headings were Pa and Ma. They would lick the lead of the pencil before writing. I asked her why and she told me it was to make it permanent.
When I was little, I would sit on her lap and watch her convert English recipes into Norwegian in a spiral notebook. It is how I learned to write; I would have my hands smacked with a ruler often in the lower grades for not writing just how the teacher wanted. I did not budge.
Mother's handwriting lessons were submitted to the County Fair. She won ribbons for her excellent skills. In her era, special lessons were written with a fountain pen. When she would talk about writing, she would say they made row after row of circles as she made the motion on the table. We were not allowed to use her pen, or Daddy's for that matter. The nib grooved according to how you wrote. Mother had a white pen with gold lines, she used blue ink. I loved to watch her dip the point into the ink and close the lever on the side to fill it. Daddy used black ink, he had a broad tip on his and when he signed his name it made scratching noises. Listen! Can you hear it?
Mother's penmanship was even, calculated, always the same. Same from the time she won ribbons at the fair until she died. Always! Daddy's was a running some print some "longhand". He made a funny "a" and mother made a funny "t" at the end of her words. Fascinated by both they were incorporated into my own style. A friend in third grade showed me how to make a small "r".
In 1945, the Gimbel's department store sold 10,000 ball point pens in one day. I would not know about ball point pens until a gross, (144) of pens with RANUM CONSTRUCTION were ordered as a promotion for my Dad's business. They were orange and black and dragged when you wrote with them. I liked the ink well and pen! Triggered by a recent blog post from my daughter's site, I found myself back in time thinking about the Sheaffer ink jar sliding down my desk.
Here is that story:
The first major crush a boy had on me was in sixth grade. His name was Richard; he worked for the post office after graduation from high school. He had become a widow by the 40Th class reunion. When I saw him I asked him if he wanted to play marbles; even his white hair blushed.
In the spring of 1956, he was either passing me notes or looking in my desk to see if his "puree" was there.
He taught me to play marbles instead of spending recess jumping rope.
I didn't have any marbles so he gave me some to **use**. One of them was a deep red pure shooter. I didn't know it was a rental, I thought it was a gift. Although he asked for it back, I had put it in my ink well where he would never find it.
I spent my allowance on marbles and a shooter made out of lead. It could knock anything out of the marble ring.
The better I got the more of his marbles I won. The more I won, the more he whined about his precious dark red puree.
Although we had a gross of ball point pens with Ranum Construction written on the side, I was still fascinated with pens one fills with ink. I can still see that jar of Sheaffer ink sitting in the ink well indent in my desk.
I was wearing a wool watch plaid skirt and a white blouse when that jar of ink slid down my desk. It spilled red ink on my skirt and the jar hit the floor. The jar broke, and the red pure shooter rolled away leaving a red trail. Richard jumped up from his desk and retrieved the shooter shooting, "Finders Keepers!" I went to the bathroom to press the ink out of my skirt.
The Bic Stix was followed by the Papermate Flair.
The felt tips were the pen of choice to doodle with when my daughter was in grade school. The point was soft and didn't stand up well. It needed the light touch of someone trained to write in the twenties. Mother used them and her tip was never broken down, it simply ran out of ink.
Next came the roller balls, rubber grips, and now there is a pen on the market designed to write without gripping the pens with 3 fingers. How does one hold that?
School supplies for Julia were a slate and pencil. Mother's was a Big Chief Tablet and pencil. My supplies were crayons, a Big Chief Tablet, and a pencil. My children required a list so long it came in a box including pencils, Magic Markers, paper, ruler, and of course, a box of tissue.
What are the must haves for children in grade school, now?

3 comments:

ryen.anderson said...

You forgot the next step in the progression! You and your parents spent YEARS learning to have good penmanship. i grew up knowing it was important and striving to have cool handwriting, but now i only use it once in a long while. Everything now is typed out on the computer and typing skills are vastly more important in the real world than handwriting skills. My friend Lisa gave me a hand made book for Christmas. She inscribed it in the front, "to practice your handwriting."

Rachel Thomae said...

I hated those handwriting workbooks that we had to use in elementary school and all the times I had to erase and rewrite my work. Then, when I got my teaching degree, I failed my first attempt at the handwriting test. When my college professor kindly asked if I'd brought a big eraser to school that day, I burst into tears. In a strange twist of irony, I eventually went on to help write the best selling workbook, "Love Your Handwriting."

Interestingly enough, Jaeme has absolutely beautiful handwriting.

Susi said...

as a former kindergarten teacher, I can tell you what many teachers of today ask of parents for 'donations" of classroom materials. We could not say that it was obligatory to send in any of the items, because many children's families might not be able to afford it. We sent a list out asking for at least 4 pocket folders, 4 boxes of 24 ct crayola crayons, 2 boxes of crayola 8 ct markers, a set of watercolors, a box of colored pencils, 4 4 oz bottle of elmer's glue and a pair of Fiskars children's scissors. We also asked for boxes of baby wipes, ziploc bags of all sizes etc.
Extras items were put on a "wish list"...paper plates, disposible cups and plastic silverware, coffee filters, dispoible cameras... I can't remember what else. We would tell the parents that everything would be taken from each child and stored away to be used as "community materials". We often had many extras at the end of the school year, but we still asked for the same items each and every year. I probably have some materials that I recieved from students 5 or 6 years ago. What a difference from what materials are used today, and what was used way back then!

As for handwriting, when I first began, we really weren't trained to write in a certain way, but it was an unwritten rule that we use the Zaner-bloser method (ball and stick), and that was to be taught to the students. Then there was a movement for d'nelian handwriting, which was supposed to lead into cursive, and now it's eith back to the zaner bloser type, or in my case... the spalding method, which we were required to take classes in the summer to learn. So I know what it was like to have to learn how to write again, in a completely, almost foreign way that I had learned to write... we had to learn this method so we could teach it to the children properly... we were graded on it, and I absolutely HATED it! it was so very frustrating for me as an adult, with highly developed fine motor skills, I can only imagine what it was/is like (for little children especially) to have to learn the same way. I guess as everything goes full circle, just like fashion etc... it happens as well.
Well enough said on this subject!