How Do You Spell ‘Man’?

15-year-old Helena wrote a hundred years ago today:

Friday, January 20, 1911: Brought home some maps I drew at school last year. They were very excellent specimen’s of drawing, so I thought it would be worthwhile to save them and exhibit them to my friends if I ever have an reason to. Perhaps I shall not. Missed the word (man) in spelling. Now looked surprised, anyone else might have missed it too under the same circumstances.

Her middle-aged grand-daughter’s comments 100 years later:

Recent Photo of McEwensville High School

It was just one of those days with a high point and a low spot. Today’s five sentence diary entry gives lots of hints about Grandma:

  • She’s proud of her drawing ability (or at least her map-making skills).
  • She wants to share her successes with friends, but seems to hold back and feel uncertain about how they’ll react. Grandma so wants affirmation that the maps are good but fears that maybe her friends wouldn’t think the maps were as cool as she thinks they are—and then she’d feel bad.
  •  And, I guess she wasn’t much of a speller. (That trait seems to have carried down to my generation–though I can definitely spell man.)  Was there a spelling bee?—Maybe it was supposed to be a fun way to end the week on Friday afternoon.  Did Grandma really mean that she misspelled the word “man”? What were the circumstances? Was she horsing around with friends instead of paying attention? . . . Daydreaming? Did she feel humiliated when the class laughed? . . . or did she enjoy the attention? 

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