Thursday, February 3, 2011


Old Trunks is thinking about her grand parents.

She is remembering how grandma would lick the tip of the lead pencil before she wrote out a check. Their check book folded like a wallet, and the stub to write the transaction was on the left side. Her signature was Mrs. B Ranum, never Julia. Her penmanship was rounded with a wonderful sense of bounty in her fat letters.

She remembers the used envelopes from cards they had received. Carefully openedwith a paring knife to lay flat. They were used to mark the scores of the years of card games they played; not only together, but with friends who came to play cards and have lunch at midnight before going home.

........and all of this was done with a pencil sharpened with a paring knife. Grandpa was careful to whittle away the wood without breaking off the lead. Erasers, if any, were long gone. If there was an eraser, it was hard and if you did erase, it smeared.

No matter how many tablets of paper we gave her, she still used the old envelopes for notes and marking for cards. They were called writing tablets, had light green lines, do you know of them? How many have you gone through in the last five years?

At our house, we always had a gross of pencils, advertising for Ranum Construction as well as 4H drawing pencils and wonderful flat clean erasers. And a pencil sharpener that made the points so sharp that when I accidentally stuck myself with one, the lead broke off under the skin. I liked the #4H and bought them at the office supply store near the theater on LaBree.

As I pull out the desk drawer and look inside, I see an

Arctic Cat pencil
Valentine Pencil
Paper Mate #2

None are sharpened and the erasers are too old for use. Do I use a pencil? Do you? When? I have two mechanically pencils with size five lead, left over from my days at trade school. They are used daily. I use them for my check register, as well.

As for lined paper. I keep all my genealogy notes in steno pads. The books have strong covers and one can tab page sides to find your place back to homesteading or who is buried in the Wildwood Cemetery. Besides, it fits in a normal size purse and if you are tracking something--let's say at the library-- it is easier than loose papers.

We all know there is much to be said about hand written notes. Someone working in Africa said she longed to see a real letter, hand written. In this day of keyboarding and getting the information out over the Internet, we don't see that much any more nor do we see hand addressed envelopes. Yet, she was worth the time and effort to write. Two pages of onion skin in an over seas envelope. Labor of love just like the letters I got from Grandma, written on lined stationary with the licking of the pencil.


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