Anniversary Re-Blog (The Written Word)

The written word is a dying art, and that makes me sad, for so many reasons. This is my vent about something that I hope comes back again, but realistically know it never will.

The Written Word

Several weeks ago I came across a note my father had written in 1953. It was over sixty years old. My Dad passed away 34 years ago but as I looked over his written words, I felt as if he was standing next to me, smiling. I stared at the way his letters were written, the curls, the way he formed each one and wondered what was going on in his life, and through his mind, at that moment. There was a small stain on the page and I tried to imagine what may have caused it. I ran my fingers over the letters and smiled as I took in the knowledge that I was holding a very small part of his life in my hands. It was very personal.

I recognize that my feelings on cursive handwriting is, in some ways, generational. And I understand that if you’re reading this and are under the age of 40, you may want to patronize me with a smile, pat me on the head and send me on my way. But you’d be wrong to do that. Because the truth is, we don’t know what we don’t know and to think otherwise is shortsighted.

I’m a fan of modern technology, even at, what some of you may view as, my advanced age. But there’s always a price to pay, isn’t there? For as much as we gain, there is always something we lose. Sometimes the tradeoff is worth it; sometimes it comes with a bill I’d rather not pay. For me, the loss of human interaction is a big downside to technology. In this specific case, it’s more personal . It’s a loss of history. Mine, yours and ours.

Not many people write anymore. Instead we send texts and emails over phones or computers. Cursive handwriting isn’t even required past third grade, though some schools still teach it without attaching grades to the practice. So much of our country’s history is written in documents, letters and books, yet experts have suggested that since future generations have not practiced the written word, they won’t be able to recognize or read it.

For me, a handwritten note is like a photograph; a moment of our lives that’s frozen in time. Unfortunately, it’ll be gone soon, and along with it words and letters that were never written. Future generations will never know what it’s like to carry around a simple I love you in your pocket, purse or wallet for years and how personal those written words feel.

So write a child or someone you care about a letter or short note today. It doesn’t have to be long, it just has to be you. It may take you a little more time and you may have to explain what that strange form of communication actually is. But you never know. One day, sixty years from now, that person may find the note and read it. They may wonder what you were thinking or feeling as you wrote it and what that strange stain on the paper might be. And maybe, if they linger long enough, they just may feel you standing next to them, smiling.

49 thoughts on “Anniversary Re-Blog (The Written Word)

  1. A.PROMPTreply

    Oh, you are so speaking my language here, George. When my second son wasn’t given more than a cursory course in handwriting in school and was almost immediately taught keyboarding, I took it upon myself to see that he could do both print and cursive handwriting in a legible manner. It is important and there are so many things they’re going to miss that we had….oh, they’ll have their own things, I’m sure, but I tend to agree with you…some trade-offs just aren’t worth losing that personal touch.

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    1. George Post author

      I agree, Torrie, which is why I hand write letters to my grandchildren. I just think it’s so much more personal. I’m just afraid they won’t be able to read it..:) wouldn’t that be a shame.

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  2. Carrie Rubin

    Lovely post. I don’t have nostalgia for the written word like you do, but I do worry someday my handwriting will be completely unrecognizable. I don’t write much anymore, other than quick notes or grocery lists, and when I do write out a card, I find my handwriting atrocious. I think it’s a mistake to not teach kids cursive anymore. It’s quicker than printing, and it doesn’t take all that long to learn on top of learning to print.

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    1. George Post author

      I agree that kids should be taught. For me there’s something intimate about a written note or letter that a text or email can’t provide. But that’s me…:)

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  3. Helen Devries

    I write to my husband each year on his birthday…ink on paper. My handwriting is dreadful – described at school as being like a spider which has fallen into the inkpot (remember those?) and left the traces if its narrow escape.
    The primary school taught us print and cursive and we were supposed to be taught italic hand, but the person responsible was on sabbatical in the year we were due to be taught. Still, my handwriting brought me through school, public and university examinations…though i cannot tell you how much the secretaries rejoiced when I bought a little word processor when working.
    It’s a sad thought that people might not be able to read old documents….they have a life which breathes through the writing itself.

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    1. George Post author

      That’s a great last line about life that breathes through the written word, Helen. There is a personal connection there for me that can’t be duplicated. Keep writing those letters..:)

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  4. Nurse Kelly

    Beautiful post, George. I love writing – always have. Anything I write including all of my blog posts are handwritten first – sometimes a number of times, and quite illegible, but it’s just how I do it I guess. I’m ambidextrous as well, so when one hand gets tired, I just switch off!

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    1. George Post author

      To be able to write with both hands….that’s so cool…:) I love the fact that you hand write all your posts first. Do you save them? I’ve been told rough drafts of anything should be saved so that when you become famous one day, you can sell the notes..:)

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      1. Nurse Kelly

        I save everything including all the roughest of drafts and outlines – even notes of when ideas come to me… I’m weird about my words that way! lol!
        Won’t be banking on any of them for retirement someday, however!

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  5. DailyMusings

    Oh I so agree with you. I still write letters to my nieces and nephews in camp all summer, and send card just to say hello to those I love- all handwritten. I too find it sad that cursive script is no longer taught and the art of letter writing. I have letters from my grandmother when we corresponded when I was 12- she died in 1975 and I treasure those letters – as you said it is like she is standing with me when I read them. Beautiful post

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  6. balletandboxing

    A partner at work once wrote me a thank you card. Jam packed, both sides of the card, with specific things she appreciated about my work on a file that, to put it lightly, had been a disaster. I’d worked on it for 4 months instead of the budgeted 4 days!

    I’ve kept that card through 2 job changes, and won’t be giving it up any time soon. One of the highest levels of job satisfaction and pride I’ve ever experienced.

    I also have on my cubicle my favourite of all the cards my mother ever wrote me. When I am stressed, seeing it centres me.

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    1. George Post author

      That’s a great story. This person probably doesn’t know the impact she had on you by handwriting that note and how you’ve carried it with you. That’s the kind of stuff you don’t get from a text or email. Thank you.

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      1. balletandboxing

        I actually ran into her at a 5@7 last week, and I told her.

        She was so happy. She said she wondered sometimes if she was wasting her time with those cards, so it was music to her ears to get this kind of feedback, 2 years after the fact.

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  7. vanbytheriver

    It’s so sad that they are giving up on cursive. Someday, they will all be signing “X” instead of their name. I treasure the written word, and have extensive files of letters that I’ve saved over the years… even the ones my husband and I wrote over the summers we were separated during the college years. Special, for sure. ❤️

    I’m loving your reblogs, George.

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  8. Jodi

    Kinda how I feel about sending a handmade card and note 🙂 In our age of fast technology, there is something special about actually taking the time and effort to write – and then actually mail it – addressed, postage put on, and walk to the mailbox 🙂

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  9. Fourth Generation Farmgirl

    I love this post, George, and I agree with you. There’s nothing like receiving a handwritten note. It’s like a small piece of history, and the handwritten letter is so much more artful. I have letters and farm journals written in my Great-grandparents’ hand, and to me, it’s a tiny link to knowing them. I also learned cursive handwriting in school and continue to use it. I’ve actually read about studies that show learning cursive handwriting helps with brain development in children; sometimes, I wonder about our educational system. Great post! 🙂

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you and yes, the intimacy of the notes left by your grandparents can’t be duplicated. My parents owned a little grocery store and I loved seeing some of the handwritten bills or ledgers they kept. I wondered what they were thinking at the time. I’ve read the same thing about about child development and considering all we know, why we would want to lose this art form of communication. Thank you.

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  10. Ann Coleman

    You nailed this one! I couldn’t agree more, and have often worried about this, too. So much of our communication is now electronic, which is convenient, but no where near as personal as the written word. I have a box of keepsakes filled with nothing but old letters from friends and families, and sometimes I throw some cards in there as well, just for the quick note jotted at the bottom. They are a connection to the past and the people I knew then. Written words (even when printed, rather than cursive) are precious, and they matter.

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  11. blondieaka

    As Ann above said you have hit the nail on the head…I have just posted a card to my mum 2 days ago I always pick up a card wherever I am and send it…I also love recieving letters as you said so much more personal. I hope all good with you and your grandson is doing well 🙂

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  12. Hugh's Views and News

    I can remember in my childhood waiting excitetly for the postman to arrive with handwritten letters from my pen-pals. I certainly don’t get that feeling anymore when waiting for an email to arrive. About the only time I now do any handwriting is when writing a birthday or Christmas card. I wonder how long it will be before that has completely ended?

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    1. George Post author

      I know, and that’s what concerns me. There will probably come a time when cursive writing will be similar to hieroglyphics. There will be generations of writings lost. Thanks for your comment, High.

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  13. joylovestravel

    Completely agree George, I love handwriting and reading through old cards, letters and the like is my idea of the best way to spend a couple of hours. I write all my blog posts by hand first and insist on my son writing by hand thank you letters, cards, notes to grandparents etc.. Something I hope never dies out, it would be a tragedy…

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    1. George Post author

      I agree, it would be a tragedy, but I think we’re heading in that direction.
      You’re the second person who commented about handwriting their posts out before blogging. That’s so interesting. Good for you for having your son handwrite his notes. Thank goodness our Grandchildren do the same.

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  14. notewords

    Lovely post. I remember copying sentences with a fountain pen – my school believed ball point pens ruined your handwriting… Light up, down heavy (direction of the strokes to make the letters) 😉

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Frank. I’m curious though, why would you question teaching cursive writing? Opposite opinions always interest me, especially yours

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      1. George Post author

        All good points, Frank. I understand the need for spending more time on other more important subjects. My feelings are more personal, among other things. I appreciate your thoughts on this.

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      2. aFrankAngle

        Acknowledging the personal feeling is important … after all, that can get in the way (not saying that is the case with you)….. The rationale of some of the people I quoted from the paper had no clue.

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  15. Manja Mexi Movie

    Beautiful. Just yesterday I was remembering little notes that members of my family left for each other at the top of our stairs when I was growing up. They were often hilarious and inspired. And when I switched countries over two years ago, I didn’t take any such mementos with me, or photographs, or postcards and letters, even though I’ve kept many. They are safe where they originated. The plan was to start afresh and create new memories. So now I keep a blog instead.

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