Newspapers, cursive greetings and Latin

Life in Ludlow

Ned Luce
Posted 8/2/23

So, this week is BJ’s birthday and we are looking forward to the challenge of deciphering the cursive writing ...

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Newspapers, cursive greetings and Latin

Life in Ludlow


So, this week is BJ’s birthday and we are looking forward to the challenge of deciphering the cursive writing executed by the grandsons in the birthday cards sent to her. Frankly, we suspect they might have to get a translator to read any “thank you notes” written in our cursive. 

How did we get to this subject? We ate breakfast the other day at Dusty Green with John and Lucrezia Paxson and our normal discussions again turned to journalism and its subplots. You see, they actually had professional careers in the industry with real training for it. Notably, that is unlike the background of this columnist, but I digress. 

We talked at length about the plight of newspapers in this country, particularly the smaller ones like the Leader that have all kinds of challenges. The folks, mostly younger folks, are getting more of their news, music and other entertainment from TikTok, Spotify, Instagram, etc., rather than picking up and reading a newspaper. That led to further discussion about younger folks and cursive writing. 

It turns out a group of governors and school officers from around the country are in charge of setting the standards in the “Common Core State Standards,” a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy. The standards focus on core concepts and procedures starting in the early grades, giving teachers the time needed to teach them and students the time needed to master them. As it turns out, until 2010 the “common core” required competence in cursive writing, a competence no longer required. This fact is regularly proven when those of us with grandchildren see thank you notes and birthday cards come in. Yeah, I know, those notes and cards are rarer than they used to be. Frankly, we have become appreciative of a text message with the right sentiment. 

So, do we care that folks are communicating digitally but can’t read/write cursive? In doing a little research on the subject I came across a story about an experience a professor had. It seems that she was teaching a class, a seminar for undergraduates at Harvard, Civil War history. A student was giving a report to the class about a book he’d read. He said one of the great attributes of the book is it had many wonderful illustrations, including illustrations of documents from the Civil War era. But, of course, he couldn’t read those because he couldn’t read cursive. How do you read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution let alone a birthday card without being able to read cursive? Another woman wrote that she taught her children cursive at home. She also confessed to teaching them basic Latin. 

In the Seattle Times last week there was an article by two women who made a delightful trek to Port Townsend to see a movie at the Starlight and have dinner at Finistere. They called out Port Gamble as a highlight of the drive from Kingston but apparently avoided the traffic congestion(?) at the four-way stop in Port Ludlow since there was no mention of enjoying the scenery through Paradise Bay. I conclude they felt the route to Port Townsend along the edge of the Shine Quarry was more attractive. 

As a regular reader you know of my self-destructive obsession with the subject of cars, particularly Porsches, particularly with manual transmissions. In addition, I enjoy the weekly columns by Dan Neil in the Wall Street Journal usually reviewing a car even though the highlight is actually his writing style. This past week the title of his column was, “911 Carrera T: Last Manual Standing?” Yep, I think I will laminate a copy for posterity.

Finally, in the latest issue of the Port Ludlow Voice is the news that Gil Skinner is retiring from the South Bay board of directors. He has been a constant voice in the South Bay for several years and his contributions have been many. 

This Friday the monthly pancake breakfast in the South Bay Club will benefit the Port Ludlow Performing Arts, PLPA, so stop in to support them. There is a free PLPA concert featuring Black Diamond Junction on Sunday in the meadow adjacent to the Admiralty condominiums so plan to come down and rock out. 

The theme of this column this week has been on the things you can find in newspapers from this one to the Seattle Times to the Wall Street Journal to the Port Ludlow Voice, but you should feel free to write to me in cursive. I might not be able to read it but you couldn’t read my response either. 

By the way, I have had several years of Latin. “Numquam ubi sub ubi.”

Love a curmudgeon and have a great week!