This is an autograph book that belonged to my grandfather.
It is full of fond remembrances from his high school friends from 1898.
My grandfather, John William Allred,
aka Bill or Willie
That, in itself, is very special to me.
But beyond the obvious, there is a significance that sets my mind to wondering.
What kind of human beings were these people?
Do the words that they write tell me anything about them?
With this comes a reminder of a history lesson.
One thing that stands out is their handwriting.
All the words written, no matter how many the individuals, are almost identical.
The sentiments may vary slightly
but the form is precise
and appears that each one was written with a magical pen
that allows all final copies to turn out exactly the same.
Nothing like the scattered scratchings of some of the letters
I've seen from my generation and beyond.
The names, too, seem to have a different sense about them.
Today, you might know an Oliver
that wears his cap turned backwards
and his pants at half-mast,
and think nothing about that,
but see a boy from another era,
with the same name and he sounds, and looks, mysterious.
Post cards from long ago
are also something that makes me wonder
about the ones who sent them.
Post cards from way back
usually portrayed a colorful and poignant scene on the front,
and while that is what first catches the eye,
don't lose track of what is written on the other side,
as that is what tells the real story.
Here again, the writing looks similar
but the messages are what holds the wonder.
They are all short and to the point
due to the space on the cards
but what is the underlying
meanings of the words?
Was this a night on the town
ending in unexpected circumstances...
a marriage proposal gone bad?
Evidently, the crops in South Dakota
in 1903 were good...
...but it was a bad year for crops
in North Dakota in 1913.
A Christmas post card from way back
still conveyed the similar season's greetings that are seen today
but some of the hand written messages
are just a bit more embellished...
...or, on the other hand,
said as little as possible...
Maybe, in case you haven't heard from your sister in a long time,
you might have to sign your last name
in case she can't
remember who you are...
...and even though
you are under the weather
you can still find beauty in the world.
These are all so much fun to collect
and while they are all unique
in their own way,
when it comes right down to it,
they are not so different from today's letters or e-mails.
There is an underlying message
from then to now
that we all wish our friends and families
the best that life has to offer,
sent with love
to one and all.
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