Writ in Ink to make You Think | Newberry

Writ in Ink to make You Think

I wrote in the book you handed to me; Now you can never deny you knew me.

I like it when people donate their old autograph albums, but it IS a trifle frustrating. I leaf through the pages, looking for celebrity signatures to run the price up. (The biggest celebrity I ever actually found was Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States, who was apparently a cousin of the original owner.) The sentiments written tend to be rather slow-moving, things like “Regards” and “With Compliments”. Now and again I at least find some nifty verse, but then it’s frustrating because it’s NOT a celebrity. I can’t charge more because a book is worth reading, drat the luck.

Once you’re married and you have twins, Don’t come to me for diaper pins.

This book was signed, based on the basic design of the cover, at some point in the Fifties, a conclusion reinforced by the fact that several people have put a “56” or a “57” after their name AND because some of the poems are obviously the work of that rebellious and rowdy teen generation.

When the lights have dimmed, dear, and you’re too old to dance: Don’t forget the Senior Prom. (I still have your pants.)

But either the owner never wrote her name in the book or (more likely) she tore that page out before she got rid of it. (There does seem to be a stub of a page where once the title page bloomed.) There is no clue on the pages where this group of high school kids hung out.

When you’re begging in the street, I’ll toss you peanut shells to eat.

Their names are generic, things we might expect from the decade, and mostly exist without last names. It’s all “Liz D” and “Jennifer (Heart) A”. I’d love to know what became of Wally, who wrote,

Writing in your book at all has made me leave this awful scrawl; My pen is wiggling, you see, because the thought just tickles me.

It’s true that as long as there have been autograph books, there have been books giving tips on what to write in autograph books. I own several, buying my first in a year not too far away from the possible date of this book, but I don’t recognize any of these. I read those books thoroughly, too, in my apprenticeship as a Poet. (There are those who say I never left that stage. Well, why would you?)

Red are Roses, Green Is Clover: If you don’t like this, I’ll do it over.

One or two people have put four initials after their names, and I am enough of a cryptanalyst to be able to figure out what the last two letters in EDHS stand for. But what High School is it? East Delaware? Elgin DeKalb? Eternal Dropouts? WHERE did they have classes which could inspire such poetry and even prose?

When your secrets are discovered, and the citizens all line up to spank you in the street, I’ll hold your pants until they’re finished.

Yeah, Everett, I’m looking at you. If you turn out to be an elected official or a Pulitzer Prize author, I’ve got something to sell YOU. But you might have given me a few more clues on how to find you. Only one of the owner’s friends (unless, of course, other pages were ripped out) addressed the verse TO a name. And I can’t quite read your writing, Vera. Were you writing to “Sally”? That would be my guess, but there have been guesses of “Sully” and “Solly”, and one person felt the only reason this page was left in the book was that it says “Silly”, and is thus not addressed to the person by name at all. But let us finish with Vera’s sentiment, and reflect that this little picture of a moment in time will be for sale in July, if you want to pursue it further. Vera wrote:

My love for you will not expire, While my heart goes ker-thump, Unless you set this book on fire, or take it to the dump.

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