The lost art of handwritten communication

By Katrina Boguski

Last week, driving through downtown Haliburton the number of impressive signs on the local storefronts made me think about a man who made his living painting signs by hand.
His name is Maurice Cooper and up and down the Pacific Coast, you can see his craftsmanship gracing the transoms of many well-kept yachts. There are not a lot of people who go into hand-painting signs these days, and like many trades, being a good “signwriter” means that you are in a narrow class of people. Cooper is at the very top of that class.
Cooper’s flawless work can be recognized in an instant. As soon as the stern of the boat is in sight, you can see the lettering. It is perfectly painted and always in colours that fit the overall design of the boat. His work is well-executed design at its finest. He is an artist, a craftsman and a perfectionist. People have been known to wait months for the privilege of having him paint a name on their boat.
His work stands out instantly, distinguishing itself from the slapped-on-vinyl-decals used by most boat owners. However, if you wanted some extra confirmation that a sign was painted by him, you could always look for his unique and stylish signature that accompanies each work of art he paints. At the end of each boat name you will see a stylized “M” for his name Maurice. The arms of the M are stretched out and the letter is painted in such a way that it resembles a seagull gliding effortlessly along some air current.

While Cooper’s work appears effortless, it is not. It is the result of decades of practice and a rigorous commitment to quality. If two boats of the same make, model and year came on the market, and one had its name painted by Cooper, you could place a winning bet that the one signed by Cooper would sell faster and for more money virtually every time.
People who invest time and money to have their boat name painted professionally and who are willing to wait to be slotted into Cooper’s tight schedule are also the type of boat owners who take great care with the rest of their boat too. They keep them clean, well-maintained and in shipshape. You can tell almost everything you need to know by that signature seagull M on the stern.
We rarely see each other’s signatures these days and instead do most of our interactions electronically. I miss seeing signatures on quality work and am hoping that others do to. My aim is to encourage more handwritten letters to the editor in an effort to hear from people who might not be on online for one reason or another. The elderly, those living on properties that are outside of the internet coverage area or those who simply prefer to opt out of instantaneous communication from time to time.

If you fall into one of those categories, please submit your handwritten letters to the editor. Please be sure to sign it and include a phone number in case we have a question for you. If you know someone who has a strong well-founded opinion about life in this area, but does not have email, please encourage them to write to us anyway. We will type up their letters and, space permitting, print them for readers to see.
My own handwriting is atrocious and has been the bane of many who have read it. Nevertheless, handwritten communication has always struck me as one of the most effective ways to express a thought to another person. I am looking forward to hearing from more readers who take the time to write their letters by hand. Your opinion matters too.