Tom DeNucci on Writing with Pen and Ink
My friend, Tom, is a guest writer again.
Schaeffer, Wearever….the pens of my youth…
I was taught by nuns in the Catholic Elementary school who insisted that we write with pen and ink; ball point excluded. In the early 60’s, there were no inkwells, just holes in the upper right corner of the desk, because we had the “cartridge pen.”
The cartridge pen had a clear barrel and came in blue, red, and green colors which we could see through the barrel. The barrel was a cylindrical tube filled with the ink, and was “tapped” with a spike located distal to the nib. A shiny metal cap covered the nib.
As a boy of 10, the word “cartridge” had military connotations. My pen had many working parts which could be “field stripped,” cleaned, then re-assembled. And, of course, when the cartridge was empty, we got to reload. I felt close to being in the military.
I can picture my desk at St Mary’s School. Inside it was a blotter(do you remember), a pencil case which contained Number 2 pencils, an eraser, and the cartridge pen with its cartridges lined up in a little package which, to our eyes, was as close as we could get to a “clip” (magazine).
These pens, the latest issue, were not perfect. They leaked, they smeared and they smudged. Our school uniform consisted of white shirt and tie, and navy blue pants. The pants were great for hiding ink stains. The shirts, especially the pockets….uhhh…not so good.
There is nothing like the beauty of blue ink on white lined paper. The nuns, who out of necessity judged our penmanship, had rubber stamps with either a smiling angel or an angel in tears which said “could be neater.” My papers had much of the latter. I came to expect those crying angels!
But, worse than the crying angel was to be cursed with being left handed, which I was not. Those poor souls, while writing, had to drag the heal of their left hand over that wet ink. A smudge was routine for them and garnered a lot of crying angels.
So thank you Ed, for reminding me of your love of pen and ink. On the way home, I plan to stop by the local office supply store to check out the cartridge pens. I wonder if I can find a Schaeffer or a Wearever. I’ll be careful not to wear a white shirt.