Tuesday, November 3, 2009

School Memory Books

Posted By on Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 9:03 PM

SchoolAutographs1.JPG
Nowadays I suppose students remember their classmates by the oh-so-clever posts they write on their friends' Facebook pages, or with Twitter "tweets" and other so-called "social networking" devices.

Things were different when I was growing up. We bought fancy little autograph books, and passed them around, collecting the signatures and sayings of our dearest friends. Sometimes these turn up at estate sales or on eBay, and I thought I'd share one with you because — well, that's what I'm paid to do.

This much-worn little booklet was once owned by Robert Hugh Murphy, who was age 10 and in the fifth grade. I know this because he wrote it inside the book. A few of his friends wrote "Bloomfield, Missouri" at the top of their pages, so that tells you where the book came from. Now how it ended up in Memphis, I can't say.

What's interesting is that in a book whose cover is labeled "My Schooldays Autographs" you didn't just collect autographs, but you gathered witty sayings from your classmates. Apparently everyone picked out a clever poem or phrase, memorized it as their own, and wrote that in every book they were handed; they didn't stand there and try to think of something on the spot.

So here are a few of the inscriptions. You'll notice a certain trend with some of them.

And yes, by our standards they are corny, but you bet they were the bee's knees back in 1932, which is the date of most of these:

Dear Robert,
When you get married and you wife gets cross, pick up the broom and show her who's boss. — Your classmate, James Hugh. PS — I hope you do not have to do this, ha ha.

Dear Robert,
When you get married and your wife gets mean, pick up the broom and crack her on the bean. — Byron Boyles
[who, I must note, does NOT say that he hopes Robert never has to do this.]

Dear Robert:
When you get married and live by a lake, send me a piece of your wedding cake. — your classmate, Mary Lou

Dear Robert:
When you get married and live on a hill, send me a kiss by a whippoorwill. — James Sifford

Dear Robert:
As I was going up the lake, I met a little rattlesnake. It ate so much cherry cake it got the little belly ache. — Yours, Th. Cox

Dear Robert,
When you get married and live on a farm, send me a sweet potato as big as your arm. — Your classmate, LaVelle Bess

Dear Robert,
Roses are red, violets are blue, lemons are sour, and so are you. — Love, Evelyn Walker

Dear Robert,
When you get old and cannot see, put on your specks and think of me. — Lovingly, Margaret Parke

My dear little brother,
Beefsteak when you're hungry, water when you're dry. A good woman when you marry, Heaven when you die. — Beulah (your new sis)

Dear Robert,
When the golden sun is setting and your trod no more will be, may your name in gold be written in the autograph of God. — Love, Miriam Keepers
[Okay, Miriam, that does NOT rhyme. Next?]

Dear Robert,
When the golden sun is setting and the day is almost past, may your name in gold be written in the autograph of God. — Maxine.
[For God's sake, Maxine, that is EVEN WORSE than Miriam's. Let somebody else give it a shot. Next!]

Dear Robert,
When the golden sun is setting and your path no more is trod, may your name in gold be written in the autograph of God. —Your pal, Mary Lou Oliver
[who gets the poem RIGHT, I must say. Finally!]

Dear Robert,
I'm glad to write in your book! Remember me for gracious sakes. And send me a piece of your wedding cake. — Eleanor Cossart. PS — Remember me as long as this cat
[she drew a little cat here] has a tail.

Dear Robert,
When you get married and live on a boat, I send you a kiss by a billy goat. — Lots of love, James.

Okay, just one more:

Dear Robert,
When you get big and you get sweet, take off your shoes and smell your feet. — Your old pal, Bill

Good stuff, eh? Here's a snapshot of one of the pages from the book. This person wrote more than just a funny poem or couplet, as you can see.

SchoolAutographs2.JPG

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