Southern Thing Column

We’re losing our handwriting … and a little piece of ourselves

Below is an excerpt from a column initially published on It’s a Southern Thing. Click here to be directed to the full column now.

On my daughter’s wedding day, she carried a gorgeous bouquet with a special tag attached. The small piece of leather, tied to the bouquet with a ribbon, was made by her cousin and printed with the words “Love, Pop.” The words were copied from her grandfather’s handwriting from a birthday card he’d signed before he died.

It was the perfect way for her to feel her beloved grandfather’s presence on her special day. No one else in the world wrote like her Pop and just seeing his handwriting brought a sense of his love and warmth.

That’s how handwriting is – it evokes emotions and memories of the people who have touched our lives. The sight of greeting cards, recipes or letters written by our parents, grandparents, aunts, cousins or friends immediately calls up a mental image of our loved ones – and not just their faces. When you see their writing, you can hear their voices, smell their colognes and perfumes or picture their surroundings.

My grandmother Gray, a writer, wrote with a neat and pretty cursive. Whenever I see it, I think of her sewing room and her boxes of buttons.

Grandmother Caldwell’s cursive letters were more spaced and slanted, with pretty loops on her capital letters. When I see her writing, I can smell sheets dried on her clothesline in the Georgia sun.

When I was a child, every elementary school classroom had a cursive alphabet taped along the top of the wall, showing letter-by-letter exactly when to dip and when to swirl.

I remember in fifth or sixth grade my friends and I began to distinguish our handwriting from that of others, changing the loops on our Gs and Ys and crossing our Ts with flourishes … and, for a time, we all dotted our Is with tiny hearts. Like fingerprints, handwriting is as individual as we are. It is part of our makeup; part of what makes us who we are. And we are losing it. Click here to read the full column.

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