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Mourning Becomes Calligraphy
In the 1940s we learned to write in first grade with pencils first, and later (cannot remember which year) India ink. In those days Longden School still had the old fashioned desks in rows one behind the other, and there were actual inkwells—little bottles that rested in holes in the desktop approximately as shown in the adjacent graphic (created sparing no expense). The pens had wooden handles and a cork wrapper near the tip that improved our grip and recaptured errant ink.

The part near the student was hinged and our books went inside; another version just had a shelf underneath the writing surface. For writing class, we would go to the closet, get our little bottle of ink and a pen, which we would use very carefully to avoid getting the indelible ink on our clothes. This was no small trick, as the rubber stoppers would often commit suicide by leaping from the desktop to the floor, for which we were punished as accessories before the fact, since the India ink would stain the old wooden floors.

Suffice it to say that few of us became calligraphers, but all of us were thrilled at the advent of the ballpoint pen somewhere around fifth grade.

When the old 1920s Longden School was demolished in the early 70s, some of the old desks were still on site. One of them escaped going to the dump by accidentally falling into the trunk of a close relative's car and has been awaiting restoration in my garage ever since. It has cast iron legs that support one desk and the attached chair that originally accommodated the child nearer the teacher. The front-most position had no forward seat. Needs rust removal and some loving treatment of hinges and woodwork. At 80 I've given up on being that restorer. Any volunteers? It would make a great donation to the history museum.
—Rees Clark

PS: It will occur to the most observant readers that left-handed children had a high propensity for dragging their sleeves through their work while dipping their pens in the inkwell, which of course were placed at right as God intended.
reesclark60 - Feb 26, 2023, 12:44 AM
Enrolled alumni association members are welcome to submit articles for publication here. We invite reminiscences, announcements and descriptions of community events. We do not wish to be the locus of your discontent or of abuse of your fellow humans. —RC

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