My grandparents' wedding announcements were pain-stakingly handwritten in beautiful cursive writing by a talented neighbor. It seems to me we have lost the art of penmanship in our day. Why take time today to carefully craft a hand lettered document when a computer program with a printer can reproduce documents faster and perfectly without any messy mistakes?
Some of us still remember penmanship classes in elementary school where you practiced loops and swirls to make your letters in cursive look like the textbook illustration. I recall how difficult capital letters like D, F and Z were, not to mention X. I worked long and hard to try to make my awkward left handed writing look exactly like the samples. There was a letter grade for penmanship on our report cards. All essays and assignments that we turned in were to be handwritten. I guess the teacher wanted to be able to read them, so students were encouraged to write legibly and neatly. Few people used typewriters for schoolwork, and computers hadn’t been invented yet.
In my grandparents’ time, school desks had a round hole cut in the upper right desk corner to hold a bottle of black ink for each student’s use during penmanship lessons. An old fashioned pen with a nib was dipped into the black ink bottle, then the student carefully made a few letters, and the process was repeated. The invention of the fountain pen, and later the ballpoint pen with its ability to store ink inside, greatly facilitated this process of cursive writing.
My grandfather, who was a typical mischievous school boy, told me how he liked to tease the girl in front of him by dipping the end of one of her long braids in his inkwell. I’m sure that got him into big trouble with his teacher and probably with the girl too. Grandpa had beautiful penmanship and kept accounting reports for his job as a section foreman on the Union Pacific railroad. He prided himself on his legible handwriting.
I raised four sons and they all disliked cursive writing. From an early age, they decided to print all their assignments despite my encouragement that cursive was faster. It wasn’t for them! Later when they gained computer skills, many of their assignments were typed instead of written. Check out your family, I bet you’ll find few younger members with admirable handwriting––it’s not a priority anymore.