I studied what to do with unused electronic gadgets, of which I have plenty to recycle. I straightened some books and found myself stopping to read. I sorted some cards and letters and found myself remembering special times and interesting events. I readied myself to burn old receipts and found myself musing about how much appliances cost years ago. My instincts were good. I kept these things, so my children could be amazed when they go through “my stuff” someday. Finally I stopped and went to lunch with some friends.
The conversation turned to my task in the library. One accomplished woman, Judy, spoke out, “I’m a ‘pitcher.’ If there’s something I haven’t used in twelve months or so, I pitch it. Out it goes!” I was never so envious. It occurred to me to analyze what I value so much that I find hard to “pitch.”
With cards and letters, it’s not the information but the handwriting and signatures that I treasure. For instance, my brother’s handwriting reflects his temperament-- always alert, always in a hurry. And so it goes. My mother’s handwriting is neat and well formed; my father’s script is distinctive and slants forward. At a family reunion, my sister had everyone present sign a canvas using different colored inks. Later she had it framed. I adore the testament to the diverse personalities and moods family members and friends expressed on that sunny day many years ago in the Carolinas.
There is a woman I know who is immaculate, organized, detailed, efficient, always elegantly attired with a home beautifully appointed. Occasionally she writes a note to me. When I first saw her handwriting, however, I was struck by how wild and unruly it was. I wondered if she were harboring some internal conflict or illness. I don’t know even yet. Typing and writing on the computer have destroyed and made our handwriting deplorable. As I post these thoughts, I am aware that a bill has been put forth in the Indiana legislature to require schools to teach cursive. I doubt that it will pass, but is something worth considering.
In a magazine in my cluttered library, I read about the history of early American script. Although the Gutenberg printing press (1440) gave people access to the printed word, the ability to write was limited. Not until the 17th century did the “italic hand,” which is akin to what we call cursive, grow in popularity. By the way, the “italic hand” originated in Italy and has many forms, dating back to the classical “Roman hand,” which is an “upright” form.
I will tell you one thing I won’t “pitch” --yet. A friend, a licensed graphologist who at one time did handwriting analyses of potential employees for some big name companies, humored me and analyzed my children’s handwriting. I have the samples and her remarks. These I will give to my now adult children. And so it goes . “The best laid plans of mice and men do often go astray.”