By Peg Bos, Clovis Museum
Printed words define us, motivate us, preserve our past and often challenge us. Historically, autograph books were treasured since they were usually signed by friends, family members, teachers and at times a secret admirer.
We will share the entries of two autograph books from 1908 and 1911 that belonged to Alma Dawson.
Alma’s father, William L. Dawson, was born in Wisconsin in 1872. He arrived in California in 1891 and eventually acquired property on Gettysburg, east of Temperance Avenue. He planted an orchard, vineyard and raised hay. He married Edna Parkes (Clovis pioneer family) in 1899 and Alma was their only child.
Alma attended Jefferson Grammar School, established 1884 on the northwest corner of Shaw and Fowler. She graduated from Clovis High School in 1918. She secured her elementary teaching credential in 1925 and married Charles A. Lemmon the same year.
Many entries were made by the John William Sharer family. John was born in Illinois in 1869 and arrived in Clovis in 1887. He became a prominent viticulturist. He organized the Clovis Farmer’s Union and the Melvin Grape Growers Association which was formed in 1916.
John began construction of his home at 6177 East Shaw in 1892. He married Nellie Dawson, sister of William Dawson, in 1894. They had three children: Ralph, Alice and Everett. Their home was relocated to the northeast corner of Fairmont and Fowler avenues.
Here are some entries from Alma’s autograph books:
“The largest are not the sweetest flowers. The longest are not the happiest hours. Much talk does not much friendship tell. Few words are best.” –Mr. & Mrs. W.A. Stevens
“Last in your album. First in your heart. First to be remembered and last to be forgot.” –Goldie Hewitt
“May your life be like arithmetic, your joys be added, your sorrows subtracted, your pleasures multiplied and your cares divided.” –Ethel McFee
“Down on the river there is a rock and on it grows forget me not.” –Raymond Fincher
“Remember me dear Alma when on this page you look. Remember it was Ethel who wrote this in your book.” –Cousin Ethel W. Dawson
“When you and your man get mad, pick up the broom stock and show you’ boss.” –Anna Thomesen
“A line is sufficient for memory. Your friend and well wishes.” –L.D. Reyburn
“Be kind and be gentle to those who are old, for kindness is dearer and better than gold.” –Friend, Pearl Hays
“Whoever you are, be noble. Whatever you do , do well. Whenever you speak, speak kindly. Give joy wherever you dwell.” –Gladys Reyburn
“Some may wish you pleasure. Others may wish you love. Mine is a better treasure. Tis’ a home in heaven above.” –Aunt Mabel
“May your days be bright and sunny and your husband fat and funny.” –Loving friend, Jennie Belle Fincher
“Remember me in friendship, remember me in love, remember me dear Alma when we shall meet above.” –Johnny Sharer
“Trip lightly over trouble, trip lightly over wrong. You only make them double by dwelling on them long.” –Cousin Ralph Sharer
“Down in the corner of your heart, where no one else can see, plant a sweet forget me not and name it after me.” –Wilbur Sharer
“Dear cousin, when you see a baboon up a tree, pull his tail and think of me.” –Cousin Ralph Sharer.
“Beauty is good, courage is better, but best of all is kindness.” –Elizabeth Irwin
“Kind hearts are the gardens. Kind thoughts are the roots. Words are the flower. Kind deeds are the fruits.” This entry was not signed but remains very true today.