My Kingdom for a Pencil!

Back in the middle of the fifties, when I was first introduced to printing, it seemed to me that all pencils were yellow.  They had erasers on one end, they were made of wood, and the class had a pencil sharpener that we were allowed to use at certain times of the day.

I took great pleasure in taking a handful of yellow pencils and putting a very sharp tip on each with just a few cranks of the handle.  Once I had, I was good for at least a day’s work.  We used those pencils up, down to the nubs that wouldn’t comfortably fit in a hand. 
I long for those pencils.  They moved well over paper. I know that a lot of folks now enjoy writing with gel pens or fountain pens, but I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of pushing a pencil over paper.

But it has been years now since I’ve been able to buy decent pencils.

I don’t like mechanicals, neither the ‘disposable’ sort that put hundreds of hunks of plastic into the earth every year, nor the ones that are reloadable. (I’m under a curse. I never have the right size of lead for any mechanical pencil in my possession.)  I like wooden pencils with erasers on the end that I can sharpen with a wall sharpener, a little pocket sharpener or a pocket knife. 

(Not that I own a pocket knife!  No.  No, it wasn’t me with a pocket knife in my pocket in a public place. Please don’t call Homeland Security!)

Lately, I’ve tried all sorts of pencils. Ticonderoga, which used to be very good pencils, don’t seem any better than flourescent ones bought at the dollar store.  Without exception, they will not sharpen to a fine point.  The leads inside them seem to be broken into fractions of an inch.  The bodies of the pencils are often pretend-wood that gum up the blade in any sharpener.  I won’t even discuss the ‘erasers’ which are paper smudgers or tearers, but don’t erase anything. 

Seems sad to me to see such a useful piece of technology fall to the wayside. Does any manufacturer care to make a decent wooden pencil anymore?

Perhaps I shall have to travel to Russia to find them.  I like thier attitude toward writing implements.  During the early days of our space program, so I’ve been told, astronauts needed a way to write that didn’t rely on gravity to bring the ink to the tip of the pen.  Thus the ball point pen was invented.

The Russians simply used pencils.  🙂


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