Back to School and No. 2

Over at Amazon.com today, the following image popped up on their home page and brought back a flood of memories.  Can you believe it’s already time to start thinking about going back to school?  I’m sure glad I don’t have to.

But did you ever wonder why we used a No. 2 Pencil?  What happened to No. 1?  Did you obsess over what kinds of pencils you wanted?  I preferred the plain orangeish yellow Dixon Eldorado HB USA No. 2.  It had a nice eraser.  Every once in a while I’d buy one with a design on it (when those later became available), but I preferred that traditional off yellow. Remember those cheapy pencils that always left red streaks when you tried to erase with them.  You always had to buy those colorful square pointy erasers to put on the end.

And let’s not forget the pencil sharpener that hung on the wall and made that whirring sound when you turned the crank.  Someone would always go to empty the shavings and end up spilling them all over the floor, or they’d inhale the dust and start sneezing.  Those long curls of zig zagged shavings always intrigued me.  And who never got stabbed with a pencil and got lead stuck in their finger? And what about those naked brown pencils which someone forgot to paint?  I loved those!

Gosh, that smell alone of freshly sharpened pencils brings back memories.  But as I progressed through school those odd plastic pens claiming to be pencils came along.  Kids now had tiny boxes filled with long thin pieces of lead to to refill their pen pencil.  I hated those things.

Although I haven’t used an actual pencil in years, probably since high school – It’s all blue or black now and my obsession with Uniball Vision pens will have to be another post – it’s nice to see a small piece of my educational history still intact and going for $12.00 for a 96 pack on Amazon these days.  Wow!  Hey kids, you are lucky.  We didn’t have Amazon back then.  We had to go buy our school supplies and Wal-Mart or Target like everyone else.  And why 96?  Is it too much work just to put 4 more pencils in the pack and make it an even 100?

I bet no one ever stabs their classmate these days with a pencil.  They’d be in court with a lawsuit on their hands in no time.  Wow, how things have changed.  In K through 8, there were 35 of us in class, unlike the tiny classes today they have so students can have more attention, and yet they still aren’t learning anything.  But then again, we didn’t have metal detectors to walk through, or knives, or guns in our lockers.  Occasionally, someone got caught with cigarettes.  That was so taboo.  Oh, and we spoke to one another in class and wrote notes and made those little pocket games out of paper where you opened flaps and discovered who you were going to marry and that you were going to live in a castle.  We didn’t have IPods or cell phones, and couldn’t text one another.  We didn’t have Xbox.  Our first game was Oregon Trail and we learned how to play it on an Apple with an all green screen.

And at the end of the day, we didn’t have a computer to come home to to surf MySpace or write in our blogs.  We did our homework with a No. 2 pencil.  Ahhh, those were the days.

God, I’m old.

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