Skip to main content

My Mother’s Autograph Book

Recently, I was going through some of my papers when I came across my late mother’s autograph book. The first poem in this small leather-bound book, was written by Annie Stolz, on January 22, 1935. Numerous other short poems and thoughts and reflections about life and its challenges are found in my mother’s autograph book, written by friends, family members, and even one of her teachers.

2_Autograph BookThe tradition of the autograph book has pretty much disappeared, an unfortunate loss. The autograph book allowed people to express their thoughts about life and their feelings for the owner of the autograph book itself. It also allowed people to showcase their cursive writing and in some instances to highlight their artistic talents, as sometimes a small hand-drawn diagram was included with the written text.

On February 2, 1935, Joy Cross wrote the following poem to her cousin (my mother), Wilma Clement:

Dear Wilma,

We meet upon life’s river,

We meet and then we part.

But the friends we meet at E.S. [Ellison School]

Are the dearest to our hearts.

My mother’s friend, Mary Shaw MacLaren, wrote the following lines on October 28, 1938: “Dear Wilma, Cautious words, smiles of good will, these kindly actions are the flowers by the wayside which cheer the hearts of fellow travellers in the road of life.”

Sometimes, the message was short and simple. On March 18, 1935, my mother’s sister-in-law, Effie (née Mitchell) Clement wrote: “To Wilma: – With Love From Effie.” However, this short message was accompanied by a hand drawn and coloured picture, showing a woman and her infant child, attesting to Effie’s artistic prowess.

4_Autograph Book
One of the longer poems in this autograph book was on March 3, 1935, when my mother’s mother, Margaret Annie (née Whelan) wrote the following:

Dear Wilma

It is easy enough to be pleasant

When life flows along like a song

But the man worth while

Is the man who can smile

When everything goes dead wrong

For the test of the heart is trouble

And it always comes with the years

And the smile that is worth

The praise of the earth

Is the smiles smile that shines through tears.

1_Autograph Book

On October 25, 1935, in beautiful cursive writing, my mother’s teacher, George Elliot wrote the following message to his pupil:

Dear Wilma,

One thing at a time and that done well

Is a very good rule as many can tell,

Moments are useless trifled away

Then work while you work, and play while you play.

3_Autograph Book

The thoughts, sentiments, poetry, and art work in my mother’s autograph book are beautiful and genuine, reflecting friendships and love from more than seventy-five years ago. They are timeless in their beauty.

By Bob Hayes, Director of the Lake Country Museum and Archives

Robert Michael “Bob” Hayes is a life-long resident of Kelowna and is a descendant of the pioneer Whelan and Clement families. He is a Life Member of the Okanagan Historical Society, and the Kelowna Branch (O.H.S.). This article is part of a series, submitted by the Kelowna Branch, Okanagan Historical Society. Additional information would be welcome at P.O. Box #22105, Capri P.O., Kelowna, B.C., V1Y 9N9.


  • Thanks for sharing, Bob.

  • I see that the picture and writing called, A LOVE TEST, was done by my aunt, Beryl Trewhitt. She now lives in New Zealnd and will be 94 in a couple of months. I will write her and tell her about seeing her entry in Wilma Clement’s autograph book. I know she will laugh when she learns about this.

  • Such a lovely connection, Cheryl. Thanks for sharing that with your aunt and with us.

  • I have my Autograph Book from school in the 30’s also.
    It is great fun to look back on, remembering friend’s and teachers
    from Grade School.

Leave a Reply