In Praise of Good Old-Fashioned Autograph books

These days your average school leaver gets everyone to sign their shirt with marker pen on their last day as a souvenir of their time at school.  Turn the clock back a few decades and you reach the time when people kept autograph books, and their friends wrote silly little poems, or drew pictures, or even a sentimental verse.  I had one of these – but only for junior school, and I don’t know what happened to it. I’ve been clearing my Mum’s house the past few days and have been too tired to blog until coming home. 

I’m continuing to find treasures, and one I wanted to share with you today is her autograph book – the entries within date from around 1941 onwards so she’d have been ten then, and it carries on through her senior school days at Belfast’s Methodist College.  I remember it well from my childhood – we often used to look at it for inspiration for rhymes to write in other people’s books.  But for me the stars in Mum’s book were always the drawings people did.  Here’s a few of them, and some rhymes too …

Your Highness sublime
Your Highness so mighty
I wish your pyjamas were next to my nightie
Oh! Don’t be mistaken
Don’t be misled
I meant on the clothes line: Not on the bed.

M Ritchie, 1946


 Oh Maureen dear I love you,
You know the reason why,
Your eyes are always blurry
And your nose is never dry.

Rona McAlpine, 1046.


Three things to remember on your wedding day –

Aisle, Altar, Hymn.

I’ll alter him!

Flo Blair, 1942

Aren’t they wonderful?  Bring back traditional autograph books – so much nicer than marker pen scribble on an old shirt.

Did you have an autograph book?  

Any good ditties or pictures to share from it?


0 thoughts on “In Praise of Good Old-Fashioned Autograph books

  1. Teresa says:

    What fun those are! When I was growing up, we didn’t have autograph books, but we did have school yearbooks that you’d get classmates to sign. The usual thing was just a short note, with personal in-jokes for good friends. Rhymes and drawings weren’t the norm, but some people did get clever with the yearbook notes. I rarely look through mine anymore, but I’m still glad to have them.

  2. Jessica says:

    On my last day at school I got all my friends to fill out a questionnaire and its really funny looking back on it now. One of the questions was ‘Who is you top Crush’ and most of the answers are either Mulder from the X-files or one of the men in solider solider. Its kind of a slice of the time I guess.

    • gaskella says:

      I’m trying to think who I’d have said at age 18 … Possibly Sting, or else Doctor Who (Tom Baker).

    • gaskella says:

      Claire, I just wish I knew some of her friends who wrote in the book. The only one I’d heard of was Harold who drew the Spitfire – he was a second cousin I think.

  3. Yvonne says:

    Why oh why, were things so much nicer and simpler, way back when. People were much more talented in the days before computers and cameras, don’t you think.
    We had autograph books, but the only cheesy rhyme I can remember, that everyone used to have in their books (well The girls anyway), was:

    Roses Are Red,

    Violets are blue,

    Sugar is sweet,

    And so are you,

    That was after we had all fought to get the autograph of Mr. Dowse the sexy french teacher!!

    • gaskella says:

      There’s always a sexy French teacher! They made the mistake of giving him the bottom set in yr8 at my school, and that year girls were failing French to be dropped down a set!

  4. winstonsdad says:

    I had one remember getting brain jacks autograph as a kid ,mum had one with players from 66 world cup that stayed at hotel near her house ,much missed part of teen culture ,all the best stu

  5. LizF says:

    Yes I had an autograph book – red leather with black pages I seem to remember, although I very much doubt that any of the poems or illustrations were anywhere near as good as those in your mum’s book! The prize autograph had to be Bjorn Borg’s from 1974 – he was gorgeous and I was tongue tied and crimson faced, so much for teenage sophistication!
    My mum had an autograph book too – full of the signatures of numerous rugby league and cricket stars from the 1930’s as she was a sports mad tomboy ! Needless to say, the names mean nothing to me now but I know it meant an awful lot to her!
    ps I went to Sixth Form College with a guy who was the spitting image of Tom Baker as Dr Who right down to the long scarf although he flatly refused to wear the hat!

    • gaskella says:

      Don’t know what happened to mine – I was hoping to find it during the great sort-out, but it’s not turned up so far.

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