On the last day of school, did your friends sign your:
a. autograph book
b. a "slam shirt"
d. something else
Your answer likely depends on when you grew up. Even elementary schools publish yearbooks these days, so children of today typically sign yearbooks, or autograph booklets created by their teachers, or both.
If you grew up in Edina in the 1970s, you probably wore your dad's big white shirt on the last day of school and asked your classmates and friends to sign a cuff, a sleeve or a collar. Patricia Bender donated this shirt to the Edina Historical Society with writings from her classmates at Cahill Elementary.
Popular band teacher Hal Freese signed the collar.
This photo, posted on the Cahill Elementary Facebook page, shows the signing party in progress.
I suppose it was difficult to pen a poetic saying on a cloth shirt -- many sported a "kick me" request in the back middle or simple signatures. The same could not be said of the decorative autograph books in the 1880s that contained poems, clever puns or hand-drawn sketches along with the signature.
In addition to Ella Grimes' book (top photo), we also have a 1889 autograph book (below) that was found at a garage sale. The owner is unknown, except for a first name of Katie, but many of the signatures are daughters of prominent Edina farmers of the day: Bull, Fortwinkler (also known as Fortwingler), and Slye, among others.
Mary L. Bull wrote:
"Whether the tempest lull or blow
Whether the waters ebb or flow
In fortunes high or fortunes low
In days of weal or days of woe
This be my motto for friend or foe
Gather the roses as you go.
Your friend and teacher
Mary L. Bull
Edina, Feb. 26, 1889
If a child today has an autograph book, he's most likely collecting signatures of Mickey Mouse or Cinderella at Disney theme parks or autographs of celebrities, rather than his buddies in homeroom
These artifacts are on display in our exhibit "Growing Up in Edina: A Show and Tell Exhbiit." I like them because they show despite changes over the years, many aspects of childhood remain the same. Whether you grew up in 1880 or 1980, you most likely collected signatures of your classmates.
Are we missing anything? Do you remember slam shirts or autograph books, or did you sign something else? I'd love to hear your story - please comment here.
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Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
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