Once upon a time, many years ago, a girl on the Alberta prairies went to a one-roomed country school. The students ranged from grades one to nine and the instruction was old-time, structured, and she loved it. Once she was in grade three or four, the hated “fat” pencil was discarded and she began cursive writing using, gasp, a straight pen and ink from a bottle in the inkwell of the desk. Writing was serious and practice consisted of a series of patterns used in cursive and then more practice using the patterns in letters.
I was, of course, that girl and the straight pen and ink were a challenge. My fingers were splotched in blue-black ink, the nib on the straight pen would catch on the paper and my penmanship featured ink spatter more often than not. After I achieved a certain competency, I could use a fountain pen (ballpoints weren’t invented until the sixties when it was debated whether students should be permitted the use of these new-fangled instruments.).
Blue-black ink is so un-inspiring. I remember the day, (in Morgan’s department store of our small town) that I saw the South Sea Blue ink by Waterman on the shelf with the ordinary ink. It was beautiful. A rich, turquoise green, a colour I didn’t see in nature until years later when I saw the Caribbean. My mother bought it for me. I can imagine the horror that my teacher felt when she saw the new ink. It would have been an affront to her sense of order and the way things should be done.
All these years later, I saw a bottle of the ink in an antique store. I pointed it out to my son but when we looked at it, alas, the ink had dried away.
Fast forward to Christmas morning, 2018. My gift? A fountain pen and South Sea Blue Ink- now known as Inspired Blue but it is the same beautiful turquoise. Nostalgia complete.
It seems I’m not that much of a nerd. Like many older technologies, fountain pens are enjoying an resurgence in popularity. A lot of the aficionados are my vintage but there are young people, too, who have been drawn to this writing instrument.