Copybook

Why can’t Johnny read? He would like to. The letter is from Mary, and presumably could evoke delightful emotion. But he can’t read it because Mary can’t write. Or, rather, she is a creative writer. Her letters do the twist with imaginative abandon. An “S” may swell like a spanking spinnaker or slump like a slovenly slattern. However, no two are alike.

Mary’s writing was never regimented. She never traced letters in kindergarten nor did she copy “specimens” in the grades.

Of course, in the Old Days we did all that. Feet on the floor, paper at a proper angle, back rigid in spite of a kink. “Round and round and round we go; touch the line above, below.” Arm movement isn’t dead yet. A school teacher friend of mine, also trained in the Old Days, has a kind of Mae West jacket on her fountain pen to give it that Coca-Cola bottle grip beloved of the Arm Movement.

I must confess that I left the Movement on graduation from sixth grade. My writing teacher warned me not to use a fountain pen. That was before the days of status symbols, but the fountain pen was as modern as a Model A Ford.

Since then, I have been writing with a fountain pen and with my feet on a desk (or window sill). When I want someone else to read it, I use a typewriter. That brings in regimentation with a vengeance: the uniformity of the machine.

I suppose Pastor Peterson would see here the modern paradox of science and freedom. We write illegibly in individual freedom but communicate through the pica standard of the typewriter.

He preached on 1 Peter 2:21 recently, and presented the picture in the “example” that Christ left in his suffering for us. The word means a writing sample, “the dotted line of the copy-books of childhood.” Christ’s patience furnishes a ...

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