Years Later, Autograph Book's Messages Take On a Clearer Meaning

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Every once in a while, those cardboard boxes we haul through life yield both memories and perspective.

I cleaned out a closet the other day and found my old autograph book stuffed in a box of ancient photographs. I was given the book when I made the transition from junior high to high school in 1963. The cover, once white and gold, is now tattered and torn and an odd shade of yellow. There are stains on the cover and rips near the zipper, but the inside remains intact.

When I received the book, it was encased in a beautiful white box and covered with tissue paper. I remember I wore a gold pen around my neck to make certain I had a writing tool with me in case I ran into someone who wanted to sign a page. It seemed like every single person in my class, even the boys, had a book.

We used to run around that last year before high school and collect as many poems and jokes as we could from all of our classmates and teachers. The sentiments have no relation to anything you'd find on MySpace or any other social network that's available these days.

For instance, someone named Kathie wrote this to me:

"There are gold ships

And silver ships

But the best ship

Is our friendship"

On and on, through pages of blue, pink and yellow, there was an innocence to the rhymes and greetings that had no indication of what was ahead in the not-too-distant future. The main thing on our minds was to make sure we filled every page of our books and to "have good luck in high school," as wished by all who signed.

"When you get married

And live in a tree

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