The lost art of handwriting

A friend of mine recently was telling me about a person he worked with who had laid claim to a digital watch since the young man was a kid. When the gentleman went to work at the local soda beverage distribution location, he was required to punch in and out at a time clock. The man did not know how to read an actual clock and had to learn how to tell time on a regular faced clock that had hands. That got me to thinking.

In today’s fast-paced society where everybody and his brother has a smart phone and government makes sure that welfare recipients gets one free, the good thing is that everybody has learned to type. That has not always been the case. It actually used to be a coveted skill in which one learned how to type in “typing” class. Like the way of shorthand classes, typing classes have gone the route of the dinosaur. The only difference being that the two classes are not likely to be dug up and pieced back together.

While some may know this, I suspect there are others who do not: cursive writing is going to be extinct in our schools. Yep, students are not going to be taught how to write anymore. As I TYPE this message during my lunch break today, I can’t help but notice the huge copy of the Declaration of Independence I keep on my office wall. In beautiful hand written penmanship it reads, “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands that have connected them together…. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The signatures of such greats as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock, among others who validated the coveted document, stand out with great distinction. I just don’t believe it would look as exquisite as it does had all the words and signatures been simply printed.

We all learned our ABC’s and how to print before we took on the task of cursive writing back in our grade school days. It took a great deal of practice before one could actually declare himself or herself a “writer”. The task of typing was almost unheard of during my school days, except for 9th grade junior high school. In fact, hardly anybody even owned a typewriter because few knew what to do with it.

I remember being in 8th grade study hall, when some teacher came in and announced that there were two openings in the 9th grade typing class. I and a girl named Kathy Bokkon from Whitman Creek volunteered for Eugene Washington’s class. Even though the class was tough for me, and I barely made it through, it could possibly have been the more mature female attractions which the class featured that took precedence with me. After all, half of the class consisted of pretty cheerleaders like Taunja Willis, daughter of former Logan High School coach and then later West Virginia State Senate Clerk, Todd Willis. From the back of the class, I had a perfect view. By the way, I was the only male in the group. Unfortunately, I don’t believe anybody cared.

Many years later, I honed my typing skills, or lack thereof, on a typewriter at The Logan Banner which we used mainly to write headlines to be later printed. Before my starting time (late 70’s), all newspaper stories were typed out on typewriters and then set to metal type. Former Banner Editor Earl Lambert, who I’m sure never had a day of typing in his life, used just two index fingers to “burn” a typewriter up, so to speak.

In this age of texting and sexting and everything else that is going on, I can’t help but wonder about the future of communication. Think about it. When was the last time you actually sat down and wrote someone a letter? Telephones of all kinds and computers have made many things obsolete. Within the next several years, I predict the act of cursive writing to be a lost art. There will be no check signing and no autographs either.

Anywhere you go nowadays, people are reading or texting—while standing in a grocery store line, or anywhere else—including while driving. Heck, I get a kick out watching people practically sitting side by side, texting to each other and laughing. Perhaps the printed word is funnier than the spoken word, I really don’t know. Of course, the English language gets abused in most forms of texting, too. I guess abbreviations have come a long way.

The way things are going; there soon will be more ink on human bodies than on paper. I wonder how Congress or future Presidents will be signing legislative law into action. In fifty years, will our leaders only know how to print their names, or will some fancy future creation do it for them? Perhaps, one will simply pick out a signature that they like and use that.

I’ve got a baseball signed by future Hall of Famer Peter Edward Rose. I think I’ll hold on to that thing because I know, many years from now, it will be worth a lot of money. I can’t help but wonder though: would it be worth much if his name was just printed on the ball?

Oh, well, I’ll be long gone to my happy hunting grounds by then, anyway.

In the meantime, please don’t text and drive. Not only is it dangerous, but it also requires a mandatory $100 fine—and your hand written autograph.


The microfilm machine and copier at the SWVCC library have been sent to Charleston for repair, so when an elderly couple came in the other day requesting to view sports stories featuring their grandchildren from the Logan Banner microfilm files, the nice library ladies informed the former Logan Countians of the dilemma…..I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation about our local history…..the couple, who said they originally were from Holden and were history buffs, brought up the subject of Mamie Thurman…..I listened as the gentleman explained in some detail how “it was all politics” and that Mamie’s burial place was never found, but he knew she was buried at Holden…..the lady said she remembered Dwight Williamson writing “all those stories”…..I quietly left the library scene without telling the gentleman that he was incorrect or who I was…..well, with the upcoming “Mamie” production coming to Chief Logan State Park, I will soon write the story of her death, parts of the trial, tell you for certain where she is buried, and give readers a hint as to who killed her…..I think it only appropriate…..Logan County sometimes gets some bad publicity across the state, but I’m here to tell you that only in Putnam County is there a Presbyterian church located side-by-side with an XXX adult movie/book store, while in more closer Alum Creek of Kanawha County, a woman there has been arrested for stealing headstones from a family graveyard and using them to decorate her driveway and line her burn pit… the way, the church was there before the XXX store…..maybe, we’re not so bad, after all…..congrats goes out to coach Eric Ellis and his Chapmanville Tigers baseball team, as well as coach Larry Vance and his Man Hillbillies squad, for their impressive showing in the state tournament…..speaking of congrats, how about Logan High cheerleading coach Michelle Akers, who after 13 years in Wildcat land, is stepping down…..under Michelle, the LHS girls won state cheering championships in 2009 and 2013, and were entertainingly competitive every year…..though some may know she is married to former Logan basketball coach Willie Akers’ son, Chad, I wonder how many know that she is the daughter of former Logan County Commissioner Jack Robertson and his wife, Joyce Robertson…..Joyce is the person that has written the screen play to the production of “Mamie”…..I hope things go well with that…..this has been a bad year for many of my friends and family, as now we have lost two more from the family: Arlie Bush, husband of my cousin, Connie, and more recently, Donna Jean Williams, wife of another cousin, Lawrence, have passed on; both were good citizens and good people…..there are reasons why families gather for family reunions; ours is set for September at Chief Logan park…..QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Idleness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him.”—unknown author…..I saw on NBC Nightly News where there is a new drug that practically eliminates cholesterol in patients with that problem……with heart disease still the leading cause of death in the U.S., it was reported that it will cost a patient about $10,000 a year to get the medicine… me, this shows that America needs more health care reform…..we waste billions and zillions of dollars on lost causes around the world, when that money could be used to provide low-cost care for all Americans…..of course, that would have to make our insurance payments and hospital bills a lot lower, right?…..guess who’s against this type of reform…..DID YOU KNOW that in the 1880’s ketchup was sold in drug stores as a patent medicine?…..or that an alarm clock was patented in 1907 that squirted water in the face of the sleeping person?…..FINAL NOTE: I certainly appreciate some of the kind words of some readers like Joe Ojeda, who telephoned me recently following a story about The Rolling Stones. A coal camper originally from Dehue, the Chapmanville resident let me know that he spoke with James A. Haught, the editor of the Charleston Gazette about running some of my stories in the state newspaper. Joe said that Haught wants me to telephone him. However, as a fulltime magistrate, I do this stuff on the side as a hobby, and since it’s usually about local people, I think it more appropriate for our hometown paper. Just to let you know, though, following my conversation with Joe, my wife had to open both French doors in order for me to get my enlarged head out the door. I intend to speak with Mr. Haught to extend out of respect to him and Joe thanks for even desiring to speak with me. I will point out that back in the 80’s when Omar native Don Marsh was the Gazette’s top dog; he extended an interest in my work. One can only guess about the road not taken.

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