Category Archives: Memories

Stationery Stories

I have a very large stash of notecards, birthday cards, belated birthday cards, Christmas cards, postcards and various other holiday cards. They’ve been in a large canvas container for at least a decade and as I find more stationery I just toss it in with the rest of the cards, not really thinking what I am going to do with all those cards, some of which were my mother’s.

Today, wanting to find the perfect card for a friend, I decided to organize the stationery container — after all, I am retired and have all the time in the world.

It was an interesting trip down memory lane. A selection of the cards were cards I’d bought back when I still wrote a lot of letters. They were also from a time when, either there was nothing but saccharine pastel illustrations and sentiments on greeting cards or I actually liked saccharine pastel illustrations and sentiments on greeting cards. A lot of these were from Current, a catalog from which I ordered all of my stationery for many years. I thought that for sure Current was not around anymore, but looked it up anyway. According to its website it is still around and has been for 75 years. I am not sure who I will send those cards to.

At some point when we lived in Alexandria, I discovered Diversions, a (mostly) card store whose stock made me realize that cards could be tasteful without being overly sentimental. Sometimes I would stock up on cards there that I didn’t immediately need, just because I loved going into the store. The owner, Lindsey Bashore, was always very helpful and very friendly. My most memorable visit was the time I’d just left my obstetrician’s office after having been on bedrest for 3 weeks. I was in front of the thank-you cards, deciding how many to buy to thank for expected gifts for the baby when I felt a much stronger contraction than I’d been experiencing previously. I quickly decided and paid for my purchase and drove home. Sadly, Diversions is now closed. The last time I stopped in was a few years ago, Dean and the kids were along. I told the owner how much I’d loved shopping there and even told him about going into labor there and introduced Andrew — the child who happily was not born in the card store.

One of my plans for retirement is to write more actual letters. Maybe I will go through the stash after all. Apologies ahead of time if you get one of the saccharine ones.

My Franklin Language Master

I have never been a good speller which is why I thought I was not a good writer for many years. It wasn’t until automatic spellcheck that I realized I was a halfway decent writer.

Before automatic spellcheck was a thing, I wrote, but I also misspelled many more words than I misspell today. I was always mortified when someone would call me out on it, like the time I wrote a heartfelt letter to my third-grade teacher telling it was because of her I’d become a teacher myself and gave it to a colleague to read. She said I should not send it because there were too many misspellings. Then there was the time I misspelled negative (I wrote negitive) on a memo to other upper grade teachers and one teacher sent it back, circled in red. They were not wrong in pointing out the misspellings, but I wish they’d been a little kinder, like the time our principal (the one who asked if my second pregnancy was planned — so she wasn’t all bad) said that my note to parents asking for feedback on something we were doing was very will written, but she was pretty sure input was spelled with an N instead of an M. I spelled it like I said it, imput).

In or around 1990, Dean gave me (probably at my request) an electronic dictionary called a Language Master. You’d start typing a word and it would give you suggestions. I could always figure out the right word when I saw it in print, but I could not always see it in my head, then put it on paper correctly. The device also had games, including hangman.

This device came in very handy when I was applying for a teaching position for a public school system. I was given a specific amount of time to write an essay to a prompt and asked if I could use the electronic dictionary. They said I could, and was able to write a compelling enough essay to get me hired, that contained no spelling mistakes.

One of my retirement goals is to go through the mountains of crap in my attic closet which houses several old electronics and dispose of them.

Franklin no longer works. The only thing it displays are vertical lines, that look like a UPC code. I think I know what they mean though:

Display reads "I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dona. Dona, my mind is going.

So the time has come to dispose of my first electronic device. Thank you, Franklin, you served me well.

Readers are Leaders

I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. Weekly Saturday trips to the library (where my mom would drop me off and pick me up hours later) were sacred. I scored very high on my first grade reading evaluation and often read books above my grade level. I preferred reading to visiting friends on weekends and after school.

But I didn’t like writing about what I read. In 5th grade Miss Jaderman evaluated our reading ability on small book reports we wrote for books we read. After 5 book reports we got a small pin, after 15 we got a better pin and after 25 we got a gold pin. While I eventually earned my 25 book pin, I got low reading marks for a few quarters and was recommended for the remedial reading class for 6th grade.

We were not expected to write much on the book reports, they were less than half a sheet of 8.5×11 paper. The top half was reserved for an illustration. After filling out the title of the book and author, there was maybe room for 100 words. But I hated doing it. I know I read more than 25 books that year, probably more than most of the class, but because I was so reluctant to fill out the book report forms, I was considered a poor reader.

At the end of the year we were given all of our book reports, bound between two sheets of construction paper with brass colored brads. I think my book report portfolio was orange. I think I still have it somewhere, I distinctly remember what it looked like.

A few weeks ago I found the book report pins. Strange how I kept them all these years, despite despising the method of earning them.

I guess this is one of these things I need to let go. My anger at Miss Jaderman for not realizing I was a good reader — just a reluctant writer and the shame I felt being placed in the low reading class in 6th grade (luckily my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, figured out I was a good reader within days and brought me back to the regular/advanced reading group).

Things like this could squelch the love of reading out of someone. I am forever grateful to Mrs. Anderson for this, as well as for fostering an even greater love of reading.