Jeremy had spent the entirety of is nineteen years in the same town. Buried deep in the farm-belt Hog’s Knuckle was the backwater of all backwaters. When he was 15 he had made that one trip to the state fair with the 4H Club, but beyond that he had never journeyed more than twenty miles from “Knuckle.”
The economic situation in the town was dire, and with the closure of the cannery there seemed to be no hope for any real semblance of life left. With the longing for a new start in his soul, Jeremy left home a little after nine, being sure to go out the kitchen door as if he were on his way to the barn. Circling back he picked up the old knapsack he had left by the silo, and headed to the bend on the Billings Line. By ten he would be on a freight train on his way to new horizons.
When I was at school, I was quite proud of my cursive hand with its requite swirls and flourishes. Many hours were spent trying to replicate the elaborate script that, in white on green, spanned the front of the classroom wall just below the ceiling.
But times, and life moved on and I found myself a teacher in the UK, where my adorned writing caused confusion among my students. “Sir, why does your ‘n’ look like a ‘m’ and your ‘m’ have three bumps and not two? Yes, I had inadvertently wandered into the realm of “joined writing,” in which cursive was seen as archaic and unnecessary.
But tides and time wait for no man, and even “joined writing” became something to forget. If a student could master a keyboard, why spend time with the mastery of a pen? To touch type was the new scribal talent.
I have often heard students moan “my arm is breaking,” if they needed to hand-write more than a few lines of text. Primary teachers speak of students who hold pencils gripped in closed fists, rather than between index and thumb.
How far have we journeyed? Where will it lead? Will writing in the future even be a thing we need?
“That’s one right moving song, Mr Foster,” the composer’s housekeeper said.
“I don’t rightly know,” Foster retorted, “I don’t need any folks saying I only write dark tunes. I’d rather have folks singing O Susanna or Camp Town Races, especially with this dang war going on.”
“Beautiful Dreamer dark, Mr. Foster?”
“Why just look at the lyrics,” he challenged. “‘Sounds of the rude world
Heard in the day, Led by the moonlight, Have all passed away . . . . Gone are the cares of
Life’s busy throng, Beautiful dreamer, Awake unto me, Beautiful dreamer, Awake unto me.’, Don’tcha see, she is goin’ to be waking to the Lord, she’s finished here below.”
“I didn’t realise,” the housekeeper muttered, “well maybe you should keep to brighter songs like Jeanie.”
Jeanie with the light brown hair (a song about permanent separation)
I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair
Borne, like a vapor, on the summer air
I see her tripping where the bright streams play
Happy as the daisies that dance on her way
Many were the wild notes her merry voice would pour
Many were the blithe birds that warbled them o’er
Oh! I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair
Floating, like a vapor, on the soft, summer air
I long for Jeannie with the day dawn smile
Radiant in gladness, warm with winning guile
I hear her melodies, like joys gone by
Sighing round my heart o’er the fond hopes that die
Sighing like the night wind and sobbing like the rain
Wailing for the lost one that comes not again
Oh! I long for Jeannie, and my heart bows low
Never more to find her where the bright waters flow
I sigh for Jeannie, but her light form strayed
Far from the fond hearts round her native glade
Her smiles have vanished and her sweet songs flown
Flitting like the dreams that have cheered us and gone
Now the nodding wild flow’rs may wither on the shore
While her gentle fingers will cull them no more
Oh! I sigh for Jeannie with the light brown hair
Floating like a vapor, on the soft summer air