Remembering the good old school days

When I was in second grade, the big day came – Tuesday, Oct. 7, 1958. We began to write cursively, according to the Aunt Palmer method. I took my pencil and attempted to write the selected word on the black board with my left hand. Suddenly, I heard clicking rosary beads and felt a hand on my left shoulder.

“Dennis, try writing with your right hand.”

“Yes, Sister.”

So I attempted to carry out her order with my foreign right hand. It was an indecipherable scrawl. My pencil even summer-salted over to Jody Baxter’s desk where it attracted the attention of the right-handed future beauty queen who politely smiled at the klutziness of her neighbor.

At noon I went home for lunch and told Mom, “I’m not going back to school!”

“Say what?” she said.

“My educational career is over,” I replied. “Sister wants me to write with my right hand and I cannot do it!”

“Let me make a couple phone calls,” Mom stated.

Nothing was ever said again.

How would you describe your handwriting? One 91-year-old retired farmer’s wife from Ellendale said her handwriting has suffered since she had a stroke. She now writes like a left-handed person. Of course she said that to the left-handed chaplain. I will forgive her if I can have an Ellendale St. Joseph’s rhubarb pie.

Check out the site which boasts they have “Really Funny Clean Jokes and Humor.” I suppose some people have really funny hand writing. Some of their 23 examples that I liked were:

  • If letters slant to the left: Indicates introspection and a lot of emotional control.
  • If letters slant to the right: Reveals a person who’s outgoing, friendly, impulsive, and emotionally open.
  • Heavy pressure writing (like you can feel the rib made on the back of the paper): The writer is agitated.
  • An end mark that curves up: Reveals generosity
  • (And the one that I like a lot and the one that represents my style and perhaps the style of those who write our prescriptions…)
  • An indecipherable scrawl: Indicates a person who’s secretive, closed-up and likes to keep his thoughts to himself.”

Of course I don’t think of myself as secretive, closed-up or one who likes to keep his thoughts to himself. Neither do I see doctors that way. We just write a funny way.

I talked to a doctor’s wife (her last name is McC—a.) who came by on a Corporal Work of Mercy (feed the hungry) and I asked her if her husband wrote prescriptions with an indecipherable scrawl. She simply cast her eyes downward and smiled. She then boasted that her father can not only write his signature with his left hand, but simultaneously write his name in a mirror image (the production of letters, words or sentences in reverse direction, so that they look normal when viewed in a mirror) with his right hand. Try it!

I’m certain that Jesus could do mirror-writing, and I always wondered if he wrote with his left hand or his right hand.

Since Jesus always cared for the underdog, he would know about the persecution of left-handed people. Historically, the left side, and subsequently left-handedness, was considered negative in many cultures. The Latin word sinistra originally meant “left” but took on meanings of “evil” or “unlucky” by the classical Latin era, and this double meaning survives in European derivatives of Latin and in the English word “sinister.”

I prefer to gravitate to the sacred words of our Lord in John 21: 24-25. It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.

There are also many other things that our Jesus did – but not write – but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books, reed pens on papyrus scrolls, that would be written. Jesus would not build a library. He would build another ark because he knew we needed saving again.

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.


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