Vanishing Slam Books

In the 1970s in my Georgia town, slam books were all the rage. Everyone, and I mean everyone, had at least one slam book making the rounds at school.

To make a slam book, you took a stack of lined paper and put it between two pages of construction paper. Then you’d take a Magic Marker and title it (Your Name)’s Slam Book in your fanciest handwriting on the front cover, and you’d number the first page from 1-25 down the left margin as if you were getting ready to take a 25-word spelling test. At the top, you’d write Sign In.

Then, you’d ask for information in the top space on each page. Things like Phone Number and Address. You’d ask Do you have a girlfried/boyfriend? If so, who? And then you’d ask things like Favorite Movie and Favorite Song. Sometimes you’d ask pressing questions, and sometimes you knew what they meant or sometimes you didn’t. Like when you wrote Have you ever been “on the pill?” thinking you were asking if someone had ever taken dangerous drugs.

People would sign their name by a number on the first page and then answer every question throughout the book by their sign-in number.

Slam book Sample page

These were the social media precursors of our day. The goal was to have multiple slam books of your own for others to sign and give back to you floating around out there, and to have several slam books stuck in your bookbag to sign during class, pass around, and give back to others. The fun was in reading all the answers and trying to come up with fresh, new questions that others had not thought to ask.

Like being “on the pill.” That was a fresh and new question. And your friends laughed about that and everyone came up with all these clever responses:

14. I’ll never tell and 2. Wouldn’t you like to know? and 6. Who would ask this?

And then that one girl who’d had a baby in 7th grade wrote

10. Yes, I am

And then all the slam books in the school were confiscated and banned, and no one was allowed to have them at school anymore.

They interfered with instruction and in the days before caller ID and emergency services number identification, led to fire trucks being called to several students’ home addresses as pranks when families were home watching The Brady Bunch and Match Game with no smoke in sight except for the parents’ fashionable cigarettes swirling up from their heavy glass ashtrays.

So the days of the deep, dark secrets of 1970s Slam Books lasted for a season and then suddenly vanished, never to be missed. Like those angel wings we all sported in the 1970s and the bottlecap buttons that we all wore covering our denim jackets in the 1980s and the Bo Derek cornrow braids we hoped would make us a perfect “10”….

Luke 12:3 

Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

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