When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.
I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.
There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.
You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.
“George” was apparently well known for handwriting notes and memos.
Not only is this an example of courtesy and humility, it is so very personal.
It is also an example of an act that no one can imagine our current president performing.
The above was written in a sort of freestyle script.
There has been some conversation of late about the inability of young people to read “long hand” script. It is no longer taught in schools, and future archaeologists may have to take courses in deciphering hand writing as well as archaic languages.
At one time penmanship was taught as a regular course in public schools. I was taught penmanship as late as the 1950s. It was important at one time. At the height of the British Empire young men and women being sent off to the ends of the far-flung empire were taught penmanship and that standard stuffy British speech termed “received pronunciation”. In Britain the accent and dialect of someone fifty miles away may be unintelligible. It was critical to empire that written and oral communication be clear.
From grade school, to high school, to college and then medical school my own handwriting went from neat - if not exactly like the sixth grade teacher’s - to sloppy to unintelligible (even to me) to printing, to a sort of hybrid printing/script that was generally decipherable. My parents who were high school graduates with a couple of years of business school never went through that. Their handwriting stayed the same. Mother’s was definitely feminine and Dad’s masculine, but both were the same as when they were taking penmanship.
My daughters both learned script, but the younger one, an artist, began printing in a beautiful style when she was young and still writes everything that way. I love getting cards from her. Not only are they pretty, but the sentiment is so much better than Hallmark.
Somehow, a love letter typed on a computer just doesn’t seem right. It’s a step up from a telegram.
I love you (stop)
Communication is a lot more than words. President Bush's penmanship would not have won any awards, but it communicated warmth and personal style.
President Trump’s message to an incoming president would not be written. It might be a Tweet that said,
“I was the best president ever. I did a tremendous job. Voter fraud. You don’t belong here. So sad. You’ll be hearing from my lawyer.”