Those old autograph books bring laughs

Published 4:11 pm Tuesday, March 16, 2021

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Down the Lane

Most girls I knew growing up were asked to sign an autograph book by their friends. In return, when they got their own autograph book, they passed it around to have it signed. These books were sometimes a birthday gift or Christmas gift for many young ladies.

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Now the way these books were signed was usually passed around in class in a way so the teacher would not see. I am sure many books were confiscated in class by a few teachers. More than likely they were not returned until the teacher had a chance to read what was inside.

I was shown an autograph book that belonged to Ikie McKinney’s mother, Frances, for whom Ikie received the middle name of Francis. His mother died at the age of 18 years old giving birth to Ikie, and his father was killed at war three years later. This autograph book was during the years of 1939-40 at the old Clark County High on Lexington Avenue. This was her senior year of high school, when only 38 students were in the graduating class.

I still have my old autograph book and still enjoy looking back and smiling at what was written and who wrote it. However, out of all the autograph books I have ever looked at, and I have read many, none has been as entertaining as this autograph book.

I mentioned that I would love to share this with you who read my article. I was given the book to be able to share with you. I hope you enjoy what I found so humorous and so sweet. Some of the same limericks were even during my autograph book days but most were just too good not to bring laughter to others.

Many of the people who have signed the book have passed on, but there are many who are still alive in our town so I will not put names to what was written. Some actually put the date when it was written.

I will begin with this one written on Christmas Day 1939. “Green grows the willow, yellow grows the bark. Many have my company but you have my heart.”

The next one made me wonder if this lady ever married. She wrote on Dec.26,1939. “When you are married and living at your ease, remember I am single and doing as I please.” The next one was written on Dec.29, 1939. When you get married and have twins, don’t call on me for safety pins. She also wrote, “As sure as a vine grows around the wall, _________ will be sleeping in your bed next fall.”

No date for this one, “It tickles me, it makes me laugh, to think you want my autograph.”  I could not think about all who were not well known in high school who went on to be famous and everyone wanted to get their autograph years later.

Another girl just wanted to meet a guy from North Middletown. She wrote, “Do you ever think I will ever meet a guy from North Middletown who isn’t married?” I wonder if she ever did. While another girl wrote, “Remember well and bear in mind, that Winchester boys are the only kind.”

I was not real sure whether this lady loved or disliked Frances. She wrote, “When I am dead and almost rotten, Think of me and come a trotten.” She also wrote,” Yours, til the ocean wears rubber pants to keep its bottom dry.”

This one made me laugh, it goes, “Don’t forget me little Frances, when they lay me down to rest, just put some fair roses on my manly chest and say here lies a body of truth, for none of it ever came out.” Under that one someone put, “You ain’t a lion.” I laughed harder to think they were seniors and still could not spell.

Another one had a nickname and wrote this little ditty: The boy’s name was first then Frances if you can follow along. Love me honey! Frances, I should smile! He: kiss me honey! Her: After awhile! He: Cold honey? She: About to freeze! He: Want my coat?

She: No, Just the sleeve!”

This one I had heard, but not often. “When you get married and living for the Lord, Order your children from the Montgomery Ward.” While another wrote: “When you get married and having good luck, Order your kids from Sears and Roebuck.”

On New Years Eve, 1939 a guy wrote: “Bread. Is bread, and Cheese is cheese, What is a kiss without a squeeze?” This one was not dated. “You may fall from an airplane, may fall from above, but the hardest fall you will ever have is when you fall in love.” How true that one is. She wrote on the bottom of the page, “Yours until chocolate drops.”

This one proved my point of writing during class. It was written during civics class in 1940. I could not help but wonder if Mr. Tom Goff was the civics teacher. Several were written during sixth period study hall. This one penned: “Times are hard, boys are plenty, Don’t you marry before you are twenty.” It had been written during study hall.

Then one girl led me to believe she had a lot on her plate to deal with as she wrote: “You ask me to write, what shall it be? Three little words, Forget me not!” Thinking she must be going to school after having a baby she had written on the side, asking Frances to remember her and her baby and wish them good luck in 1940. Again, I wondered how her life turned out. The irony of it to me was, how, if they only knew that Frances would die at the young age of 18 having her baby boy.

Other seemed to be serious about life. This wrote: I will give her name as Judy. Judy is my name, Winchester is my station. I am going to Clark County High School to get my education.

Some wrote words of morality such as this one: “May your hair stay in curl, may you stay a sweet girl. Always be honest, always be true, so others will always trust in you.”

One wrote “Of all the birds in the flock, the blue one is the neatest. Of all the girls in the world, I know you are the sweetest.”

I thought this was so sweet that one wrote: “I hope there will be just enough clouds in your life to make a beautiful sunset.” Written Jan. 9th, 1940.

This one was so cute. “I’m not a northern beauty, I’m not a Southern Rose, I’m just a little high school girl with freckles on my nose.” Funny thing was below it she wrote, “I do not even have freckles.”

The next one has a lot of truth in it, it goes like this: “When boys are happy and girls are sad, it makes the world seem very sad.” Sort of goes along with, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’ t nobody happy,” doesn’t it?

One wrote and signed it as one of her admirers: “Peaches in the cupboard, apples on the shelf, I am getting tired of sleeping by myself.”

June 30th written after she graduated from school a girl wrote: “Friends are many, friends are few. I think you will never find a friend better than I am to you.”

One wrote: “I can’t think, Too Dumb, Inspiration, Won’t Come! Can’t write! Bad Pen! Best Wishes! Amen!”

One wrote an almost prophetic verses: It was written on June 30th, 1940. It states: The clock of life is wound but once and no man hath the power to tell to tell just when that clock will stop at a late or an early hour. Now is the only time that you can live, love, or toil with a will. Put no faith in tomorrow for the clock may then be still.”

I am sure her intention was to tell Frances to live each day fully but I could not help but think how prophetically true this came to be for Frances. She also wrote a message on the side of the page that said, “ As you pass through life, let it be a joy and only pass through stations marked happiness.”

It was easy to tell Frances was a good student and had good manners from what her teachers wrote. One wrote: The nicest part of teaching is the friendship of students like you.”

Frances’s Mother, Florence Gilvin wrote to her on January 23, 1940. “Remember well and bear in mind, that trusty friends are hard to find. When you find one faithful and true, change not the old one for the new.”

There were many more but some too long to try to get down. I want to begin wrapping up as Frances’s life did. The one who wrote this at the end of the book wrote: “Frances now, Frances forever, Gilvin now, but not forever. It would not be long before Frances fell deeply in love with a guy named Isaac Mc Kinney.

Frances’s husband and Ikie’s father wrote: “You I loved, when we first met.”

Soon after another wrote: “By hook or by crook, I will be the last one to sign this book.” She was wrong because the one Frances would have loved the best wrote his name in her book also. His autograph simply said, Isaac “Ikie” Mc Kinney.” That one brought tears to my eyes and I could only think of how proud she would have been of her son!”

Remember as one student wrote so wisely that the clock of time is wound only once and no man hath the power to tell if it will stop at a late hour or an early one. We all need to be so mindful of this. Love helps so much in making the world go round.