Rumor has reached me that cursive writing is being downplayed in our school systems. In some schools, I’m told, it has even ceased being taught.
I wish that had happened a few years ago and I would have been spared a grade-school humiliation that has scarred me for life.
We were taught something called Palmer Method. This was the Bible of handwriting. It was a red workbook filled with perfectly-formed letters, circles and loops. For one miserable school year (4th grade, I think), we practiced copying the Palmer Method pages over and over and over.
Finally, we each carefully filled out a tablet page to be sent into the Palmer Method Company for a certificate.
Weeks went by before the coveted envelope arrived with certificates for each lucky student who met The Judges’ criteria. Our teacher, Sister Whoosis, always spoke of The Judges in such reverent tones, I pictured them in powdered wigs and black robes with huge magnifying glasses to study each loop, curve and dot.
When Sister opened the big manilla envelope with the certificates, my worst expectations were realized. Everyone in the class passed except me. However, all was not lost, Sister assured me. After further practice, I could try again.
My classmates rallied ‘round me. Arleen Ludwig was our class artist and had the best handwriting. She volunteered to help me. Donnie Froelich gave me a stick of gum in a rare gesture of support, and Billy Robinson even stopped pulling my pigtails for the next few weeks.
I worked so long and hard at the loops and scrolls that my hand twitched in my sleep. In spite of Arleen’s best efforts to transfer some of her talent to my hapless fingers, my second entry met with no more success than the first. I flunked again.
Since the Palmer Method, people apparently followed baseball rules – three strikes and you’re out – I was given one last chance. Sister let me know that the honor of our class, indeed of the whole school, and the sovereign state of Iowa was riding on my uncooperative right hand.
I again practiced until my arm ached. Having all that honor riding on my efforts was not to be taken lightly. My final sheet went off laden with prayers, hopes and fears.
I flunked again, the only student at St. Cecelia’s to be so disgraced. Arleen patted my shoulder, Donnie gave me two sticks of gum and Billy didn’t pull my pigtails for the rest of the year.
None of that helped much. However, I take comfort now in picturing the dreaded Palmer Method Judges out of work, slamming their ratty old powdered wigs on the floor and lamenting their loss of favor.
Serves them right.