Friday, February 26, 2016

Thrifty Acres: Old Grammar Books

Hello! Earlier this month I showed off valentines I had made, seen here  and here. All the cards included scraps or words from my set of vintage grammar books, and so I thought it'd be fun to talk more about those tomes in this post. 

Here are my four books, which are all in the M.O.S. (Maintenance Of Skill) series, published by Scott, Foresman and Company. The skill maintenance they're referring to is "...the fundamentals (spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence variation"). 

Yes, they're a little beat up, but that's to be expected due to the thin paper they were printed on. Age is also a factor in their condition: one of the grammar books dates to 1926, one from 1929 and two from 1930.

Nevertheless, I grabbed these books when I saw them at a local college library's used book sale a few years ago. I had nothing to lose since they were free. Even at that "price", I guess no one else had seen any use for these worn-out volumes. But as for me, I've gotten plenty of use out of them!

These books contain hundreds of sentences for grammar students to work through, and the randomness of what these sentences convey amuses me greatly (guess that shows I'm easily amused?) As a creator of greeting cards, collages and other paper-based projects, there's an endless variety of words at my fingertips.

It can take a little while to find that "just right" sentence to cut out and glue to a card, but it's always fun when I come across a good one. For instance, a few years ago I made a small collage in honor of the local tulip festival, and a phrase about tulips blooming in May from one of the grammar books was perfect for this piece. 

And here's a few examples of some sentences I can use in the future:

"He seemed to be a peculiarly ignorant person, though he said he had a degree from Cornell". If I knew someone who had graduated from Cornell, this would be funny to put on a card for them. 

For the cat lover: "The worst thing about Marjorie was her dread of a cat". Add vintage images of a horrified woman and a cat and you'd have a card sure to get a laugh from a feline fancier. 

But for the cat hater - or bird lover: "A cat seems a wicked animal to birds". 

Perhaps you know someone who never took cooking seriously until they set up a household: "Soon she hoped to learn more about cooking. Then she would be more comfortable. Her husband would not have to start the day on soggy muffins". Maybe she'll burn the eggs or toast instead!

After awhile the honeymoon wears off, so then it's "Are you listening, try to look as if you were". Ha!

As I'd mentioned, these grammar books are definitely vintage, so some of the sentences seems funny due to dated content:

"The vast dish of milk-toast, with its golden streaks of butter on the creamy milk, was a pleasant sight to the hungry lawyer". It's hard today to picture a lawyer eating milk toast - or anyone else, for that matter. Do people still make it? 

I had this dish a few times, when I was in junior high in the early 1970's. I had a friend whose grandmother and great aunt lived with her family. Both ladies often made homey foods like custard pies and milk toast. I was skeptical about that milk toast, but it was actually pretty good. However, I've never heard of anyone serving it ever since.

Another oldie:

"Out of the tunnel thundered a train of Pullmans". I know that "Pullmans" refers to passenger cars. As befitting books of the era, many of the sentences refer to train travel. 

An unfortunate turn of events: "By the time I got home for supper, not only was the honey all eaten, but they finished the biscuits, too". Oh dear! Well, I'd be bummed too, since I do like homemade biscuits, fresh out of the oven and dripping with butter and honey.

What was true decades ago can still be true today: "Last year he batted his way to the heights of baseball fame, and then seemed to lose his eye, and next year he toppled far down the list". So, which batter will go bust this year? Hopefully not anyone on the Detroit Tigers!

Okay, I think I've shown enough sentence samples, so now I'll show off a small collage I made a few years ago:

On a scrap piece of mat board, I layered vintage paper and a piece of vintage ledger paper. Next, I cut out images of a man's head and three forks from a vintage Sears catalog. Lastly, I cut a sentence from one of the grammar books: "A steward laid three extra forks at my plate". It was just a fun little thing to make and leave out on display. The vintage paper I used for the background is getting a little beat up, so I should put some decoupage medium on this collage to protect it. 

Or I can just make another collage, using other images and a matching sentence from one of my vintage grammar books. After all, I do have hundreds of sentences to choose from!




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