Collecting Autographs

Autograph book from the 1940s

Did you have an autograph book? I know I did when I was in high school and particularly in our last year we busily collected the pearls of wisdom, seldom original, from our friends and classmates. Many of them were humorous.

Most were inspiring messages for a way to live life or wishes for the future.

Do you still have your autograph book? Mine has long gone but my mother kept hers with her as she kept her friends. She certainly abided by the lines written by her friend Marjorie as they not only remembered each other but remained friends until Marjorie died a couple of years before Mum.

Friends since primary school. I have one facebook friend from primary school but if it hadn’t been for FB we would never have revived contact with each other. Have you kept friends from your primary school days?

I wonder whether autographs are a thing of the past. Can you still buy an autograph book? Has the desire to inspire with words diminished as anytime you need a quote or inspirational saying, you can easily go online and find one that fits the bill perfectly for whatever it is you need. Perhaps these days the only autographs that are sought are those of famous people, rock stars, celebs of any sort, even an author signing their book for you. How meaningful is any of it? As an author doing the signing it was very meaningful. It meant you had made a connection (always good) and probably more importantly that you had someone who was going to read your book. For me being a recipient of an autograph it means much less to me.

Not so for these women finishing school in the 1940s. For each of my mother’s major birthdays I made a card for her. For her card when she was turning 70 I got her friends to write something they remembered about her. Two of them, some fifty years later referenced an autograph they had received from her.

One at least still had her autograph book and included the actual page my Mum had written on. Had she kept it because at that time my mother was famous (something for another post perhaps) or had she kept it because the words written by friends meant a lot to them.

I have to admit that I can remember my own days of the autograph book and feeling sick whenever I was presented with someone’s to write that clever, witty, humorous, meaningful verse – I rarely had anything on tap and I struggle (as I still do) to come up with those perfect words without having the time to mull them over and edit over time. Perhaps that is why I always preferred the skeleton autograph.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on autographs.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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28 Responses to Collecting Autographs

  1. lifelessons says:

    These sentiments are much more noble than the autographs I have.. in books or annuals. Mine ran more toward 2 good
    2 be
    4 gotten

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Judy. We must be of the same era as you have reminded me that that was a common one used. Totally forgotten. Yes I think the sentiments must have changed as many of Mum’s pages were quotes from Shakespeare back in the day when you knew Shakespeare quotes. Those days had gone by the time I reached high school.


  2. We wrote autographs in our school yearbooks, but I no longer have any of mine. I love seeing these old autographs; the handwriting reminds me so much of my mom’s. I’m afraid with everything being digital these days that no one bothers with autographs. Sad, really. Loved this post and hearing from you again, Irene!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. D. Avery says:

    Welcome back Irene!
    Over here and back then (class of ’83) we signed yearbooks in senior year, but I don’t know of anyone who collected autographs per se. I’ve met a few celebrities but never asked them for anything, seemed weird.
    I have maintained a few friendships from school days, without facebook or any of that, just old fashioned still doing fun things together every now and again. Easier now that I am retired and moved back Home.
    (I don’t like the term ‘retired’, it doesn’t fit; purposely and intentionally underemployed maybe fits)
    I’ve missed you. I hope you are doing okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi D. It is lovely to be welcomed back. Yes I’m doing okay. My Mum died just before Christmas and I feel I now have a little time to get back into catching up with my friends on wordpress and sliding slowly back into writing.
    Perhaps the autograph collecting was an English thing. We don’t have yearbooks like you do – usually a very small school magazine which has class photos, club reports and sets out scholarly and sport achievements and then a small section for student creative work. Small I think because they didn’t get that many contributions.
    I’m with you. I would never ask a celeb for an autograph. Can’t think what I would do with it if I had one.
    Sounds as though your non-retirement is suiting you. Look forward to catching up.


  5. Marsha says:

    This is adorable, Irene. I’m so sorry about your mom. 2021 must have been a very long, difficult year. My mom kept a scrapbook with pictures and a flower corsage, invitations. I have yearbooks, but like you, I was bad at writing in other’s yearbooks. My brother saved all my old yearbooks – I’m not as sentimental as he is. He gave them to me as a Christmas present one year.

    Lots of love and best wishes for 2022. Marsha

    Liked by 1 person

  6. oneletterup says:

    It is good to see you back on WP. I have not been online as much either and I do miss it. I enjoyed this post! I remember having the girls at summer camp autograph a special book; but mostly I collected autographs and messages in my school yearbooks – as described by other bloggers here. We had yearbooks after 8th grade and every year of high school. Many long messages after each signature. Of course I kept all of them (I’m sentimental to a fault). I find it fascinating to read all these years later (when I find them in a long buried box). I also have school record books I kept for my 2 children – and there was a space for a signature each year. I hope they enjoy having them someday. I think we lose the personal without the handwritten communication. And that is a real loss.
    I am also still friends with someone I met in the 7th grade. Such a treasure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the welcome back. It feels good to come back and to see familiar faces. I think many of us have had absences for one reason or another but it is good that we make it back when we can.
      Wonderful having friends for such a long time. My long time friend was from the start of high school but she died some years ago so nurse training friends are the oldest I have – mind you those friendships now feel as they have been forever.
      I agree that the less we write with a pen and paper the less personal it all becomes.
      Glad to catch up. Hope 2022 is good to you.
      Cheers irene


      • oneletterup says:

        My best to you as well. I have been writing in a journal since the pandemic began – recording my reactions and observations and our state’s data. I stopped this past summer but reluctantly began again in the fall – just sporadically. So hard to face it – interesting to see when my handwriting shift into almost illegible. I think it reflects my state of mind. I’m on the 3rd journal.
        Friends, especially the long-time ones are a lifeline! May 2022 bring brighter days. Andrea

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andrea I totally understand what you are saying. The world over is struggling with this. When it first started I’m sure no-one believed it would go on for very long. People were talking kindness to others and helping each other survive the lockdowns. Now I feel it is causing big divisions in our society and I can’t help but think of some of the apocalyptic novels I have read and see the similariites happening here. I must admit I can’t blame my state of mind for the condition of my writing. I’ve almost forgotten how to do it with a pen and paper and when I do it is illegible even to me after a couple of hours. Friends are definitely a lifeline and to be valued. I hope your 2022 brings much joy and definitely brighter days.

        Liked by 1 person

      • oneletterup says:

        It’s hard to hold on to hope in these times because sometimes it does feel eerily apocalyptic. Fingers crossed 2022 is better.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Tena Carr says:

    I still have 2 of my H.S yearbooks (not sure why). I seem to recall having something similar to what you’re talking about in Jr.High and maybe H.S.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello! It’s so nice to see you, Irene. What a fab post. We had yearbooks we wrote this sort of thing in but I do remember autograph books. I think they were meant to collect autographs of famous sports players and celebrities but I wasn’t into that at all growing up. I’m not sure what I used mine for now. I do remember having them, though, so maybe I did have friends sign them. Who knows?

    So many great photos and memories in this post. Marjorie’s is touching and Audrey’s made me gasp. My grandmother used to say that all the time and I’ve never heard anyone else say it:

    A little powder, a little paint
    Makes a lady what she ain’t

    Happy New Year! 🥳🎉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah it is lovely to see you. Have you got any more books published? You were probably like me – it was the thing to do but you really couldn’t give two hoots for it. I know what you mean about getting a gasp. A friend in Italy sent me a gif of a ball of room and a couple of knitting needles creating hearts. I immediately thought of my Mum who was knitting squares to keep refugees warm two days before she passed. It makes you do a double take and I’m glad those words of Mum’s brought back memories of you grandmother. Mind you in those days it was probably a bit of an unkind insinuation to make about someone who wore makeup. LOL
      You have a great 2022 also. Cheers Irene

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did get some books published. Two, actually. They are anthologies (not collections just of my own work–which I hope to get out this year). I’d been meaning to do that for many years but put it off. Last summer I just said what the hell and did it. It was a tad stressful and a lot of work, I won’t lie, but totally worth it. It’s been a really rough year and I just needed to focus my attention on something positive and tangible, if that makes sense.

        I also redesigned the covers for my old collections (Hinting and Edge) and they are gorgeous. The artist did an amazing job.

        Yes, I think back in the day, that was an unkind little rhyme, but my grandmother said it often. She found fun, new uses for it. Like when my childhood home was starting to look a bit…worn, she said that to my parents. Trim the trees that should be cut down, cover the rot with some touch-up paint instead of replacing them… 😉


      • Yes when life throws you curved balls to have a positive thing to focus on can get you through. I know all about that. I’ll check out your new covers. Your grandma sounds like fun.


  9. Charli Mills says:

    So good to see you, Irene! Your post popped up in my email, though I was taking a break from electronics. What beautiful moments caught in penmanship and sentiments. You mention the apprehension of responding to someone else’s autograph book, it’s like commenting on a blog post except we can review our response for wit, tone, and spelling before committing to permanency. I did have an autograph book. If I remember correctly, it was a gift from an elderly friend as a child (I used to visit all the shut-ins we called “old-timers”). It must have been an old-fashioned thing even by the 1970s (this makes me long for your memoir challenge where we get to compare experiences across generations and regions). I had never seen one and as a child of the ’70s I thought I had to save it for celebrities. Beau Bridges and Slim Pickens did sign it! They came through my mom’s general store, camping in the Sierras but not together. My friends signed it in silly ways. I have no idea what became of it but I did have a crush on Beau for the longest time. He was so handsome as a young man in person. Slim was a character. He had dinner with us because of a car accident on his camping trip and my dad was a first responder. What memories this brings up! I think of you often and so delighted to see you! My condolences for the passing of your Mum. We’ve all enjoyed the stories of her that you’ve shared with us here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Charli. Lovely to see you. I did pop over to you and realised you were on a well deserved break. Congratulations on finishing your masters and I’d love to read the completed book? Thank you for sharing your autograph memories. I agree by the 70s it was certainly waning and now I think non existent. Your book would probably be worth a tidy sum with Beau Bridges and Slim Pickens signature. How lucky you were to meet them both. I remember Beau’s handsomeness and Slim Pickens I loved since seeing him in Dr Strangelove. You have made me think I should think about bringing Times Past back to life because seeing these differences between generations and geographies makes those things now worth talking about interesting and does generate memories of our own that would otherwise lay hidden and forgotten. Thanks for your thoughts and wishes re my Mum. Now she has gone I will probably share more memories whilst they are at the fore. Lovely to see you Charli. Have missed you and the ranch and although I may not participate for awhile I will enjoy reading those 99 word stories.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        Yes, I needed a break and have to practice adaptability moving forward. I’d love for you to read my MS if you are interested. The book is complete but not ready for agent submission, yet. I might have to locate that autograph book, although my belongings still live in Idaho. More memories and stories of your Mum would be welcomed. If you bring back Times Past, I’d love to participate and read. It was always so enlightening to compare experiences. So many of us have missed you! Welcome back!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d love to read it Charli. You whetted my appetite with the chapter I read. You are making me thing I will do it but I will just test my feet a little first. I don’t want to overwhelm myself just at the moment. Thanks again for welcome back. It’s good to be here.


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