WHAT HAPPENED TO CURSIVE? Annalisa and Nick never use cursive writing. They print their letters with what seems to me astounding speed. Learning to write in cursive was a big deal sixty years ago when I was in elementary school. It was one of the relatively few things I learned other than to play better with others. One or two children were chosen by the third-grade teacher each week to be permitted to bring in a pen. My brother Elmer was one of the first to have the privilege, and was bitterly disappointed when he found out that he had brought in the wrong pen. He had brought the kind you dip in an inkwell (our desks all had a round space to contain an inkwell). Instead, we were learning to write with a fountain pen (ballpoints were little known, and and all through school we were not allowed to use ballpoints except for a grudging acceptance of Papermate ballpoints, which were considered superior to other ball points).

My father had beautiful handwriting, and I later saw a number of examples of hand writing that could be taken for his. He had learned the Palmer method. This wikipedia entry says that the Palmer method was the most popular handwriting system in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century (which included Green Bay around 1910 when my father learned it). The method, says wikipedia, promised “a uniform system of cursive writing with rhythmic motions”. It was the rhythmic motions that kept me from mastering it. We were supposed to move our wrist and hand in writing. I could never do better than a cramped motion of the fingers.

The wikipedia entry has an example of Palmer method handwriting that looks like my father’s.

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