Monday, June 21, 2010

Life's treasures: Autograph books

I was going through a box of things that had belonged to my mother-in-law, Ethel P. Hershey Gross. She passed away in 1994. Ethel was the oldest of 11 children and, after helping to raise all of her brothers and sisters, she put herself through nursing school. She was an incredible woman, far more independent than many at the time.
Ethel married my husband's dad, a widower with five boys. They met in the hospital, where he was her patient. She gave up her nursing career to live on a farm and raise five stepsons. She eventually had my husband, her only child, when she was in her early 40s.
Anyway, I found something really neat in the box. There were two autograph books, one from 1933-34 from Wellsville High School and the other from 1935 from Dillsburg High School. Apparently these books were the "hot thing" at the time. The pages — yellow, blue, pink and green – are faded, but the writing is legible.
The sayings and rythmes the students wrote make me smile and laugh out loud. There’s an innocence about them that transports me to another time when life, it seems, was simpler in some ways, tougher in others.
So, here's my first post from the treasure trove I've found. Visit often for more entries from these books plus many other things I've found, including a "List of baby beeves to be sold at public auction at the York Fair grounds, Friday, October 7, 1932."

Mar 17, 1935
Dillsburg H.S.

My Dear Ethel P. Hershey Bud:
With all my chirping I can't think of one (1) sensible thing to say. But I must make it clear and plain that thou shalt not forget to remember not to forget about our "great charter" – you know the one we made Mar. 26, 1935 saying that thou shalt have 10 children or else – well I shalt have placed before me by you a large dinner which is not to be scorned at – If you have 9 or less kids I shalt place before you the most delicious dinner which you ever ate – Mar. 26, 1967
"Twitter twitter"
"tweet tweet"
Carol Bird

Can you imagine? 10 kids! This just cracked me up. So the date was set: March 26, 1967 for the big dinner. That would have been 32 years after they had made this pact as seniors in high school – plenty of time to have 10 kids. Well, my mother-in-law never had 10 kids. I wonder if Birdie did? And if they remembered the pact they made so many years ago. And how about that Birdie and her "twitter"? Who knew so many decades later we would have a thing called Twitter. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I have. Have a terrific day!


  1. that is sooo funny! I love finding old, interesting things like that. Makes you wonder about those people and how their lives turned out. Can't wait to see what's next.

  2. That is such a treasure. It's so cool that you found it. Sorry, but I am glad things have changed for women and that we can have careers and be independent.

  3. Wow, this really has got to be a treasure trove of language and social mores now almost forgotten. What a find! I know you'll put it to good use!

  4. This is so neat. I love hearing the language. Wow. Talk about a whole different time period. Can you imagine kids today saying thou shalt?

    I'll definitely be coming back to hear more of this. In the meantime i wanted you to know that I gave you an award on my site.

    I've been following you for months and have always been entertained so I figured you definitely deserve one!:)

    To pick it up just come to: and click on the blog link. See you there! Have a happy Monday. :)