Monday, May 6, 2013

Why you never write the name of the person you love in your textbook

Because some dorfy blogger might tell the whole world about it 130 years later.

In paging through a battered copy of "Monroe's Fourth Reader,"1 which was published in 1872, I came across a few pages that feature the writing of a long-ago schoolgirl.

Here's a look at the title page...

Joan and I deciphered this together and this is what we came up with:

Miss Stella M. Gross
Mechanicsburg Pa.
Sits with
Miss Carrie E. Donson
Mechanicsburg Pa.
in the year

But the back of the textbook is where the true secret is revealed.

Here's the last page of the book...

We think the wraparound pencil-writing states:

Stella Gross is in love with Jim McCormic.

On the following page, which is the inside back cover, is this statement:

Stella Gross is in love still With Jim McCormic.

Of course, we're counting on both (1) Joan and I having deciphered Stella's cursive writing correctly and (2) Stella having known the correct spelling of Jim's last name.

Wouldn't it be great to find out how the lives of Stella, Carrie and Jim turned out?

1. The textbook was written by Lewis B. Monroe, the dean of the Boston University School of Oratory. It was published out of Philadelphia by Cowperthwait & Co. The first section of the textbook teaches the sounds of the English language with the help of the illustrated boy pictured at right. The short reading lessons in the book's second section include:

  • Audubon and His Pictures
  • The Lost Penknife
  • The Merry Autumn Days
  • A Dog Saving a Ship
  • The Nail-Maker
  • Underground Travels (by C.L. Matteaux)
  • The King and the Goose-Herd
  • The Poor Tavern-Keeper
  • The Gunpowder-Harvest
  • Thanksgiving Dinner at Plumfield (by Louisa May Alcott)
The third section is poetry and the final section is "Dialogues and Concert Readings," including a piece titled "The Money Panic."

1 comment:

  1. Since books were expensive, in many schools, children shared desks and books. I am imagining the two girls writing notes to each other in the book since they probably would get in trouble for talking while they were supposed to be reading.