Cursive handwriting

A Handwritten Note Worth Saving

Today is National Handwriting Day— a day when those of us who ride the bandwagon of cursive writing have an excuse to bang the drum loudly. I offer in evidence exhibit #1—the handwritten note.

Obviously you can pen a handwritten note no matter what your handwriting looks like, but if it looks like chicken scratch, the missive tends to lose some of its charm.

Handwriting is not like blue eyes; it’s a skill, not a given, and it’s never too late to learn to control your handwriting— to develop a consistent, systematic hand. It’s much easier, of course if you learn a system of joining letters as a child, and that’s why I support the teaching of cursive writing in the elementary grades.

Once you learn the system, your handwriting develops a unique personal style that is a recognizable part of your personality.

Which brings me to the handwritten note. The recipient holds your hand in her hand and is drawn close to you in a way that does not happen with typewritten text.

If I receive something handwritten—and today that is rare— I save it. The earliest note in my collection was written by Herb’s grandmother the day after we were married. We will celebrate that day next week (our 63rd!)  and in anticipation of the event I dug out Gram’s note.

Jan 30 – 55

Dear Children

Your wedding was beautiful something for you to remember for years.

The reception also was a success. Now all you have to do is live happily ever afterward.

Lots of Love and good wishes with your first mail as Mr. & Mrs.

Love GRAM

This is the first time I have ever typed the contents of this note. Even though I knew reading the typewritten text would be a completely different experience from reading Gram’s handwriting, I am astonished at just how different the experience is. The note provides an almost magical connection. I feel her presence and remember her so clearly. The typewritten text could have been written by anybody.

Gram did not have the benefit of a high school education, but she learned to read and write and developed a graceful legible hand that brings her back to us after all these years.

Her message has a sad poignancy about it, for she herself did not “live happily ever afterwards.” She had eloped with a street car conductor who turned out to be an alcoholic and eventually left her and Herb’s mom. You will be able to learn more about her in Herb’s forthcoming memoir: Hunting for the Plot: A Son’s Search for His Family’s Untold Stories.

Meanwhile, if you want help with your handwriting, this is the book to buy.

7 thoughts on “A Handwritten Note Worth Saving

  1. You are so right! Just seeing her handwriting brings her back! I can see her writing on the packages of “Grammypapers” that she used to send us. Carefully folder packages of the funnies from the Kansas City newspapers. Wow.

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  2. Mary,
    How precious and beautiful is such a note. Just a few words and I can feel her love for you coming off the page. Her style reminds me of precious notes I have stashed away from my own grandmother, and I agree with you about how the very sight of her handwritten words brings about such a strong feeling and memory.

    Our family is lucky enough to have letters written in the 1840’s to my first relation who came to NY from Germany – Carefully saved in shoe boxes from one generation to the next. We had them translated to English and so we have a fascinating record of what life was like for a newly arrived immigrant and the family he left behind. My cousins and I have often pondered on what will remain to tell our stories? Will someone have a way to go back a century into the ‘cloud’ and retrieve our texts and emails? Or will our communications all vanish into the ether? Luckily we do at least maintain the ‘old fashioned’ tradition of handwritten thank-you notes, and I save every one.

    Thank you for this potent and charming illustration of the handwritten word’s power!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Mary, Reading your Gram’s precious letter made my eyes well up! How wonderful that you still have it, and how blessed you were to receive all that pure, unadulterated love! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!
    I have a stack of letters my Dad wrote to my Mom when he was fighting overseas during the war. He had a beautiful, perfect cursive, as did my Mom. I treasure those letters!

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  4. Dear Mary,

    Thank you for sharing this treasure of a handwritten letter on a paper with an Iris Bouquet with us. Tears came quickly not only from the very sweetness of your Grandmother’s letter expressed in only a few words, but also from her touching style of writing which could have been by my Mother’s own hand. Her D’s, C’s, M’s and other complete words are the same. Among your many fascinating interests which you also share with us, I love how you give handwriting an important place.

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    1. This subject seems to touch people’s hearts and no wonder. We impart something of ourselves to the paper when we pick up a pen. And that something remains even after we’re gone. Gram would be shocked to learn what it would cost to send her letter today!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We had similar experiences learning to write as kids. (No rulers in my school; was glad to learn they were just symbolic for you). When people compliment me on my handwriting, I am always surprised. (Doesn’t everybody learn to write like this? Apparently not today.)

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