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Summer Saturday with a cursive refresher

By Paula Scott

When the Icon visited the Schumacher Homestead on June 3 for a brief lesson in pen and ink writing, it was almost as if time stood still. The parlor was filled with period furniture from the 1800s and photos of the Schumacher family surrounded us. The five docents who were there to greet guests--Nancy and Ed Yeager, Ivan and Rachel Friesen, and Keith Sommer--were dressed in period garb.

A reminder that time had not in fact stood still? The room was deliciously cool thanks to air conditioning in the house.

Sitting in the parlor, Rachel warned me that it is very easy to get inky fingers with a dip pen and to tap off some of the ink inside the ink well neck before beginning to write. She also provided a sample of the copperplate script that was commonly taught more than 100 years ago. We used metal nib pens with a very fine point to make the letters adorned with curlicues. Rachel pointed out that some letters and numbers (including the 3 in 2023) were supposed to dip below the base line.

I was the first guest to stop by for this session--last year a pen and ink demo had some 30 guests. We chatted about the fact that cursive is no longer being taught in schools and how will that affect the ability of future generations to decipher family documents and do the detective work of genealogy research.

The next Summer Saturday event at the Schumacher Homestead, 8350 Bixel Rd., will be Saturday, July 2. Van Risser will provide demostratons of hearth cooking.

For more information on the Swiss Community Historical Society, visit


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