Kids these days! And yesterday, and the day before, and 20 years ago, and a hundred years ago, and probably a thousand years ago too. Also most likely far into the future as long as kids exist. They will always give in to the same urges, and one of those is to deface your textbook. One difference from then and now is that textbooks used to be passed on within the family, so you get siblings or cousins using the same book, with multiple names and dates written in them. It seems the newest owner made their mark, and if so inclined, went on to do their own scribbling and poetry-writing within. Here are some examples from my own collection of antique textbooks ranging from the 1800’s to 1920.
First we have Personal Hygiene, a text copyrighted 1913. It was owned by a “Jesse M. Balmer” of Beaver(farm? you tell me, pic below), Ohio in 1918.
Jesse either was quite bored in school or at home. He had some great limericks to record in the back of his book. Here they are as presented, and I will recreate them below (all [sic], I did not make any grammar corrections.):
“Times are hard
girls are plenty
Don’t get married
Before your twenty”
“KAISER bill went up the hill to take a shot at france.
Kaiser Bill came down the hill with bullets in his pance.”
“I wish I had a nickle
I wish I had a dime
I wish I had a girl
I’d kiss her all the time.”
“you I loved when first we met
you I loved & love you yet
you I love & shall love forever
you may change but I will never.”
D’awwwwww, thanks Jesse. By the way, I wonder if Jesse noticed this picture in the book, which although it professes to show proper rain gear, it seems that this kid is walking one of those invisible-dog joke leash things. Did those even exist back then? Is Rain-man(boy?) here a time traveler?
Next up is a “Harper’s United States Readers” Third Reader. The copyright is 1872. That…..is 140 years ago. I can make out two names in this book, a James H. Stone and a Seri or Levi Kelley. If there was any address scribbled in, it is long lost.
One of the two names in the book liked to put coins under the pages then rub them with graphite, which was a wonderful find. Someone also drew a couple stickmen that seem to be eating a dowsing rod.
A difficult-to-read poem on the backside of the first blank page reads, again, [sic]:
“When a girr have a man
and he a clipper
hit him over the head
with the heel of your Slipper”
The grammar is horrid, but I can’t argue with the sentiment, assuming a “clipper” was a jerk, and not just some random innocent barber.
The back of the book gives us a lot of scribbles, and, mysteriously, what looks like “666” scrawled into the bottom right corner. Check it:
Bringing up the rear with a short and sweet entry, we have “Stoddard’s New Intellectual Arithmetic,” copyright 1849. It belonged to an Alex Crawford of Gardendale, Michigan.
He liked to write his name a lot, and left this common come-on on the first blank page:
“If my name you wish to see look on page 103.”
Well we all know how this one works. I turn to that page, it tells me to turn to another one, and another one, kind of a depressingly predictable Choose Your Own Adventure. So, let’s turn to page 103! Behold! Here it is:
Annnnnd……nothing. Except that maybe proof that ADHD is nothing new.