Tuesday, May 7, 2013


When I was a teenager, one of the great pleasures we had at school was circulating "Slam Books". They were created by using a stenographer's notebook, and on each page, there would be a question and when a person completed answering all the questions, the Slam Book would be passed to another person to complete. They were called "Slam Books" because one could SLAM another person or opinion! That rarely happened because the questions were mostly innocuous, such as, "What's your favorite color?", "What do you think about Sandy and Gary together?", "What's your best subject?", "Who's better--Elvis or Pat Boone?", "What are you wearing to the prom?", "Do you want to go to college?" There was seldom anything thought-provoking, challenging, or controversial, but it was fun!

For several years, Sandy, our class trend-setter, started a new Slam Book at the beginning of the school year. She started the books in the 8th grade and I can recall filling out the last one, when I was a senior, and feeling highly sophisticated with my answers. I asked Sandy where she had gotten the idea and she said a pen pal from California had told her about them.

At one of our class reunions, Sandy brought several of the Slam Books for us to see! The Time-Capsule feeling to see how much we changed and also how much we didn't change (Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose) was enormous!

At that reunion, while he was reading one of the Slam Books, a fellow classmate, Mike, screamed with delight and said, "Phyllis, look what you wrote for one word which describes you!" I looked and my 16-year-old self had written ICONOCLAST! He said, "I had never heard the word before you used it but there has never been a time in my life when I heard the word that I did not think of little Phyllis Shirkey." I said, "I wish I'd known SESQUIPEDALIAN then!"

After that reunion, I asked my friend Patty if they had had Slam Books at her school. When she said that she'd never heard of them I told her that she was a big-city, sophisticated, Indianapolis girl and they probably had real entertainment there, but we had to make our own entertainment in Podunk, Ohio!

For Patty's birthday in 1993, I gave her a Slam Book. It was replete with vapid, as well as provocative questions. I had members of my family complete half the book and then Patty circulated it among her family and some friends, with her comments being the last of the entries. She made copies of the answers.

Today, I am enjoying re-reading those entries, especially from a number of people we've lost. I'm going to make a copy and send it to my nephew so that he can see HOW he's changed and hasn't changed since he was 16, now that he's a cosmopolitan, man-of-the-world!!

My grand-niece (now age 16) told me that they used to do Slam Books in MIDDLE SCHOOL; of course they would be doing now, what we did in HIGH SCHOOL, because they are so advanced! (See examples of today's Slam Books from Google.)

CLICK HERE to see another blog about slam books.

Les said, "That's Retro Facebook!"

Here's a sample page from Patty's Slam Book.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We called them SLANG BOOKS at my school; I wonder why! I like Slam Books better! ML