02 September 2019

Eht Teop

Gingerly, I open my ancient black binder. Loose pages fall out, and I set them aside. Bound pages remain, held together in sections with bobby pins. I read the first page . . .

“Eht Teop”

“Eht Teop!” I say aloud to myself. I remember this story! I wrote it when in the sixth grade, and 11 years old. Eht was my favorite character.

Eht Teop is “the poet” spelled backwards. I was into scary stories and poets and living in the forest at the time . . . and writing, as I still am now. I get a kick out out of Eht’s lists, like his posssessions: “one ax, one needle, one table, one chair, one comb, one pan, one dull knife, one fork, one spoon, one big, sharp knife, one pipe, three blankets, and one set of clothes”. (One dull knife, one sharp knife – of course.)

This week I typed this old story into Pages so I could save it on my computer. Click on Eht Teop for a pdf version of this sixth-grade story, written in 1961. The beginning of the story is the best part, later even I nearly get lost in the plot line.

If you have the time or inclination, below are some images of the original, handwritten version. And, my sixty-something thoughts on this story.

I transcribed the story from a version written in ink on white, lined notebook paper. My guess is that I created this still-legible version a year or so after writing the original. It looks like this:

(click on the image below for a larger version)

ink version

Secured with a bobby pin to this ink version are a draft pages of the original version, written on the type of paper we used in elementary school: rough, tannish, wide-lined paper. Note the top line that includes my name and the date.

Eht Teop original

On this page of the original I give the phonetics for Eht Teop. I was into details!

Eht Teop original with phonetics

I am certainly glad I re-wrote the story in ink! The first draft was fading, the pencil lines blurring after all these years.

My handwriting in sixth grade was slanted to the right, as we were taught. I had terrible handwriting even then, though I did try. Just like drawing and the like, I wanted to be good at it, but I just didn’t have the talent or patience (it’s slow) or whatever. Eventually my handwriting changed to something that works for me, more up-and-down. Since my handwriting was slow and awkward, when I got to a typewriter in junior high, and then to my computer keyboards in the eighties, I finally found I could get my thoughts down as quickly as they flow out of my brain.

What my today-self loves seeing in this story is my spelling and punctuation and word usage. Even then I was obsessed with spelling and grammar. I did find one misspelling: “responce” instead of “response” and a miss-use, “became” instead of “came”. And I originally named Eht’s friend Reper and his friend’s son Recer, but sometimes I spelled them Repper and Reccer. (This bothers me now! Didn’t it then? I changed them all to Reper/Recer in my digitized version.)

It is good to look back at my sixth-grade talents and inclinations. I was good at spelling, I was good at complete sentences, I liked making stories a bit silly, and I liked happy endings. Those attributes of mine have not changed, here at age 69. And in sixth grade, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say “I want to be a scientist, an artist, and live in the country”.

I can whisper to that little girl, now, as I look out my big windows at the birds and hummingbirds and the breeze in the trees and the slanting golden sunlight of dawn on the long vistas of fields sloping up to red cliffs . . . reflecting on my long life . . . yes, you will have those things.

And you will be happy.

(Click here to view a 2015 post of mine that is also about me talking to my past self.)


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