Pearls of Wisdom, in Cursive

Pearls Before Lobster by Jann Alexander © 2014

Pearls Before Lobster by Jann Alexander © 2014


By Jann Alexander

How one thing leads to another.

Live and Cooked by Jann Alexander © 2014

Live and Cooked ©2014

I followed the stenciled signs on the scarred deck floor showing a lobster with letters that said, Live & Cooked, because I was on a lobster roll hunt, in Maine and . . . well, wouldn’t you?

A little while later, I was rewarded with one very fine succulent lobster roll, accompanied by a free local brew—a friendly gift from strangers who had a few left in their carry-in six-pack.

But it wasn’t a Pearl, from the ancient empty delivery box I had discovered along the pathway to lobster nirvana. That would be The Gem of Fine Beer (“It’s Lighter”) 1886 Pearl Lager. What was an old Pearl box, from an historic San Antonio microbrew that grew to be the largest brewer in Texas (under the leadership of the founder’s widow, Emma Koehler), doing in a popular lobster-and-lunch spot in South Freeport, Maine?

Retro Pearl (Wikimedia Commons)

Retro Pearl (Wikimedia Commons)

Well, who knows. Mystery unsolved, but inspiration triggered—because that Pearl logo was a fine example of 20th-century cursive design. Ironically, cursive fonts first appeared in the 1880s, about the same time the Pearl brewery launched its German-formula signature beer in Texas. The use of cursive typefaces peaked from the 1930s through the 1950s, during an era when script handwriting was valued, and the retro Pearl logo is evocative of that style.

More irony: while cursive fonts are still just as popular today as beer and lobster rolls, cursive handwriting is fading from our elementary school curricula. Called longhand, cursive writing, script—it’s no longer valued enough for our children to learn it. Which ought to make cursive fonts surge in popularity, or disappear entirely, once no one knows how to write in cursive any longer.

I’m rooting for the underground cursive movement.

When did you learn to write longhand?

For more on Pearl beer, cursive and lobster rolls:

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14 replies

  1. Learned beginning cursive in first grade with the good Ursuline nuns in San Antonio, Tx. I grew up there, and my grandmother’s favorite beer was Pearl. I love what they’ve done with the brewery these days.

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