Did you ever collect autographs? Many of us did, especially as kids, whether a baseball player’s scribbled signature on a game program or the wit and wisdom of a classmate in a pastel-sheeted autograph book constructed precisely for that purpose.
Although I’ve had a curious personal history myself regarding autographs, I must say that both of my parents’ brief foray into the hobby has provided me with some valuable insights into their familial relationships, schoolboy (and schoolgirl) romances and a surprising contrast in tone of classmates jottings in their autograph books.
I’ll be writing this week about what I learned from my parents’ signature-laden autograph books. But first, a bit about my very different approach to the subject.
I’ve never been much for celebrity worship. Most honest-to-goodness celebrities I’ve met are not much different from anybody else. That’s why, on assignment as a young reporter to shoot a photo of some country music stars signing autographs for kids at a local bowling center, I retreated with the musicians to the lounge where Johnny Cash’s guitar player, Luther Perkins, shared many a tale of the road while rockabilly legend Carl Perkins and Mother Maybelle Carter played pool behind us, occasionally correcting Luther’s recollections. Great fun. No autographs.
Same thing with many other famous people I met or interviewed during my writing career: George McGovern, Stan Musial, Red Skelton, Hank Aaron, Waylon Jennings. I had an out, at least, since no real reporter would ever ask for an autograph under any circumstance.
But I didn’t even collect many classmates’ signatures as a kid. What’s up with that?
Chances are, your relatives probably did better. If you spot an autograph book among their possessions, peek inside. You may be surprised by what you find.
Writing prompt of the day: Examine someone’s autograph book and make a list of questions that arise from your examination. Then find the answers and write about them.