Local Group Puts Shorthand to Use 

Decades ago, writing shorthand was second nature for many: now, it’s a dying art.Despite this fact, there is a local group keeping the specialty very much alive.Kay Grindall used to teach english at Waterville High School. She would write all of her personal notes in shorthand, and leave them on her desk.” One day a student came up to me to get help and she said, my grandmother writes that stuff, that’s so cool,” said Kay Grindall, founder of the Shorthand Penpal Club.Grindall became a shorthand penpal with the student’s grandmother and she realized there must be more shorthand lovers out there.”Shorthand is an exciting, fun skill. Whether they’ve learned it 70 years ago, or 20 years ago, it’s still there and we just need to activate and revive it,” said Grindall.Grindall started the Shorthand Penpal Club in 2005 with just three members. Now, it has grown to more than 70, including 92-year-old Catherine Peckenham. She learned shorthand in 1939 at Simmons College.”At that time it was the Depression and you had to be prepared to earn a living and I thought I could earn a living with my shorthand typing it up,” said Catherine Peckenham, a memeber of the Shorthand Penpal Club.Cheryl Cutliffe learned the art in the late 1970’s for the same reason, but because of technology, Cutliffe doesn’t use shorthand for work anymore.It’s not stopping her from putting it to use though.” I use it for shopping lists and notes to myself. And when I write notes I don’t want my kids and grandkids to see,” said Cheryl Cutliffe, a member of the Shorthand Penpal Club. The key to shorthand is to only write the sounds you hear. Members say it would take at least a year for someone to learn the specialty. ” For example, Dear Sir is just DS. So it eliminates d-e-a-r s-i-r. You can write it real quickly,” said Peckenham.The group meets once a month, and reads and writes shorthand. They also do activities like crossword puzzles and when someone travels, they send all the members a postcard.It’s become a family.”In fact, they’re coming to Boothbay Harbor to hear my band play. To hear me play the glockenspiel,” said Charlotte Eastman, a member of the Shorthand Penpal Club.