Up It Some
Off the Wall, July 13, 2017

I remember way back in first grade when my elementary teacher tried to give me the lowdown on how to write. I recall grasping my pencil in my left hand and proceeding to do as told. There was only one problem. I seemed to be disobeying our instructor a tad. “Paul, I said, put your pencil in your right hand!” I tried that but it didn’t feel right, so I switched it back to my left.

Our gal, who had rouge all over her face, who, by the way, I decided to call Magnolia, actually walked down the aisle and stared me in my eyes. No words needed to be spoken. I got the message, but she didn’t.

I don’t think teachers back then realized that ninety-nine percent of every boy and girl had two hands, either a right or a left one. For me, it was the latter that I favored.

I’ve always realized that I am a piece of work. Is it because my right side of my brain is controlling my left side, particularly my left hand? Was Magnolia a “brainiac (one whose brain could understand everything that could be understood about others and knows all the answers about every question asked)?”

It’s true, my mental age was not quite of that of my chronological age, but I thought I did OK when it came to acting as a normal kid. Of course, maybe even back then, what the hey was normal?

When I told my mother that Magnolia tried to turn me into a right-handed writer-to-be, she was quite upset. I think my mom got to understand my physical makeup long before “my teacher-friend” entered the picture. She pretty much acted as my attorney. When things were not fitting as to each situation that I shared, upon arriving home, the school was notified and another approach was taken.

Now that I think of it, I was probably the most popular kid in school all for the wrong reasons.

So Magnolia had no other choice but to let me attempt to write with my left hand. It may not have been popular, but it was a start. And it really goes without saying, I’m still using my left hand. Can one appreciate how many checks I’ve written between the date of Magnolia (seven) and the present date now being seventy-three year old? I’ve signed transfer papers for a motorcycle, bought a home and signed my name on a marriage certificate.

I think my left hand has come in pretty handy, wouldn’t you say? A matter of fact, I think Magnolia would have been proud of how I artistically constructed the cursive techniques she taught all us kids to design on those lined tablets back then.

It seems as each of us have aged, we have wanted to put a bit of our personalities into our writing, signatures, or initials, so they are not as beautiful as ‘Maggie’ may have expected. But we all change from age to age and nothing stays the same.

That very idea brings me into the subject matter today. I remember when in high school I was taught typing by the same man who was my rifle coach. Using a ‘pica’ typewriter, I could fly over the keys – well maybe not over all of them, particularly the numbers. But I was a whiz kid at best as I felt fired up to do the very best I could.

So when I entered the ‘computer age,’ I thought all I had to do is transfer all my knowledge from one keyboard to another. Nope! “Bring back the ‘pica’ please!”

The spacing of the keys made it so much easier on the old machine. I went from graduated keys to a newer system where the keyboard is practically flat. I can only imagine, my speed has decreased from ninety-five words per minute to maybe thirty or so. If one’s touch-typing has been erased, it’s down to my duo method.

Using a pencil eraser in my left hand and stabbing the other keys with my index finger with my right, the job gets done.

Here’s the problem. When I get emails in, some insist in typing their messages below ‘nine’ (font size). I don’t think they realize that tiny, little print and old geezers don’t go well together. I like to use ‘eighteen’ when writing or returning my messages. Up it some, folks. Be kind to your elderly friends, won’t you please?

- Paul J. Volkmann
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