Thursday, May 5, 2011

That Took Some Pains In Writing

One story about John that gave us a chuckle was relayed to us years ago by one of his friends from Marshall. As the story goes, high school history teacher, Henry Cunningham, told young John that, "You must learn to type, because no one will ever be able to read your writing."

John’s left-handed scrawl was probably a bit of a sore spot for him – note that Professor Childermass confesses he hates people that comment on how bad his handwriting is, too [The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull; 8]. Of course, John did learn to type: most of his work – be it college assignments or his numerous books – was completed on his portable typewriter. And if you think typewriters are something from another generation then the concept of grade school courses in penmanship must be strangely foreign, as well. How to hold a pen or pencil and knowing which direction to glide it across lined paper to create lines and shapes is a lost (and neglected) art in an age when it’s easier and faster to type on a keypad.

Penmanship wasn’t lost on Lewis Barnavelt, either, as his school desk has a circular hole cut out of it to hold an inkwell for when he’s practicing his cursive letters. Plus he’s seen examples of other handwriting, too:
It was just a sheet of blue-ruled notebook paper that some kid had been practicing his handwriting on. At the top of the page was one of these double-rainbows you had to make when you were warming up during handwriting class [The Figure in the Shadows; 78].
We imagine Lewis’ handwriting might be similar to John’s and that neither was fond of their handwriting class. But we haven’t been to such a class in decades ourselves so we’re lost on the concept of the double-rainbow warm-up exercises. Does anyone recall such a thing? Anyone want to share their memories of learning the Palmer Method? Palabra jot?

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