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Helen Maguire, The Northwest Connection

Although many of my classmates at Bishop Conaty Memorial High School (Los Angeles) studied shorthand, typing (on manual typewriters), bookkeeping, and other office practices, I was college-bound and had already taught myself to type, so I focused on the requisite “college prep” classes (languages, math, science, etc.).
Ten years later, I came to regret not having taken shorthand, when I found myself applying for a “stenographer” job with the federal government’s NASA division in Boston, Massachusetts. We were still living in Culver City, California, but were planning to move “back” to Frank’s old stomping grounds in “Bean Town.” So, I quickly enrolled in our local high school’s night classes where I could take a 4 week course in shorthand, which would culminate in an “official” certification of the required level of proficiency that could be submitted along with my application.
I took the class and passed the other “requirements” for the Fed’s steno position and was offered the job. When we arrived in Massachussetts, we moved into an apartment in Brockton, MA. On the map, it looked pretty close to Boston. But, in actuality, the commute would have been just about impossible. With four school-age children I really needed to work closer to home, and found a job in nearby Canton.
This is a round-about-way of letting you know that I never did get to utilize my now-long-forgotten shorthand “skill.” I do, still, regret not retaining that ability. There have been countless occasions, both in my work and personal life where taking shorthand notes would have been wonderfully convenient. Over the years, I did develop a note-taking method that “worked” for me; but I am sure shorthand would have “worked” even better.
My mother-in-law was a wonder at shorthand. A graduate of well known Boston business school, Mary would brush-up on her skill by taking shorthand of the nightly news programs, without skipping a beat!
Recently, on Facebook, this image was posted, asking if anybody knew what it meant. I didn’t have a clue. The slanty lines and curlicues looked familiar, but I was completely baffled.
My son-in-law, Michael, has been studying shorthand on his own, for a while, so I asked him about it and this was his reply:
“This is Gregg Shorthand: Anniversary Edition. Here is my best guess at a transcription.‘With shorthand, every person may form his own books of reference according to his own requirements, and that in the same space as though they were printed; and no selection of printed books would contain and only contain what he wanted. Any person who will collect only for a brief time such facts into shorthand as (to) appear likely to be useful in life and sometimes read over what is so collected will find the ideas secured again and again recurring in future reading. If this selecting…’ (The passage ends here.)
“The sentence structure is always so awkward in these exercises. I’m guessing this passage may have been printed in the old monthly magazine, ‘The Gregg Writer.’ The perfect penmanship is almost certainly by Winifred Kenna Richmond whose hand graced the 1916 Edition and Anniversary Edition manuals. A lost art for sure!
“I took to teaching myself Gregg Shorthand and chose the Anniversary Edition because, even though it first came out in 1929, it is still the most common version with the largest amount of reference materials out there. I use what I’ve learned every day in the constant notes that I take.
“My mom learned Gregg Simplified Edition in school and used it in offices for years. She then became a court reporter, and the foundations of Gregg translated well when she had to learn machine stenography. She knew several ‘hand’ reporters still writing Gregg in the 1980’s, but at incredible speeds. I wish I could see that.”
Thanks for your help, Michael!

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