Lost in Transcription

“How’s your shorthand?” prospective employers and temp agencies would ask.

Oh, mine was lightning fast back in the day. I wonder if my stenography notebooks are still around somewhere…hmm.

I even participated in numerous shorthand competitions, receiving sizable monetary prizes as well as scholarship offers from a Tulsa business school and from Northeastern State University. My Tahlequah High School business teachers could not have been prouder of me.

Local newspaper coverage of an outing in the competitive shorthand arena.
Photo credit: Tahlequah Daily Press @1981

Mrs. Whitworth, Mrs. Turnbow, and Mrs. Huffmyer all assured me that my excellent typing and shorthand skills, combined with my writing skills, meant that I could easily walk into a high-paying executive secretarial position upon graduating from high school. I didn’t happen to choose that route, pursuing music performance in college (with their approval) instead.

But, just as my business teachers had predicted, my skills came in handy at various times in my life, no more so than just after graduating from high school. My secretarial skills put me through college—through work study positions and part-time clerical work during the school year and in full-time positions in the summer months. They also provided a much-needed supplement to my meager earnings as a free-lancer/part-time professional musician just after finishing graduate school.

Although I did have a side career in radio, once I had established myself as a professional oboist, most of my employment was performance related, and I rarely used my typing or shorthand skills.

With the advent of the internet, and of email specifically, my typing skills came in quite handy once again. Unfortunately though, as with most underutilized skills, I couldn’t take diction now to save my life.

I sense little glimmers of recognition as I look at the squiggles below, but I’ve lost my transcription skills as well as my dictation skills, I’m afraid.

What were the thoughts that Curry quickly jotted down here? It would be fascinating to see what his initial ideas were about depicting his subject. How, in the process of creating the work, might he have deviated from his original conception?

Tragic Prelude by John Steuart Curry

If there happen to be any stenographers reading this who have the time and inclination to transcribe the characters above for me, I would be immensely grateful, as would the Jefferson County Historical Society who originally posted this image to their Facebook page.

2 thoughts on “Lost in Transcription”

  1. I took shorthand in 82/83 but wasn’t super fast due to being left handed. It got tedious to always push my pen when everyone else was pulling it. I only remember Dear Sir and Mister, sorry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankfully, a knowledgeable person chimed in in the comments to Jefferson County Kansas
      Historical Society’s post of the shorthand to their Facebook page! Nothing like social media for crowd-sourcing!! 😉


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