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Let’s Do it Again: Old School Office Supplies

05/25/2010

Bill Cosby & Sidney Poitier in Let's Do it Again

I came across this entry by Christine S. Blystone while searching for “old school office supplies” and while the entry concerns itself with typewriter ribbon, I was quite taken with this passage:

My boyfriend suggested I try “that old-school office supply store behind Maiden in the Mist.” So, today on my lunch break I hauled my typewriter towards that general direction, and found exactly the place he was talking about: Office Supply Co. on SE 6th and Alder. Hot damn! I will never purchase my office supplies anywhere but there ever again. As I walked through the front door, it felt like I had stepped into the year 1978.

There are certain products that transport me back to childhood moments of writing bliss and simplicity. Whether it was spring snap motion of my Trapper Keeper as I placed another one act play, which would never see the bright lights of Broadway or the small My Melody locked diary I hope was lost in one of the dozen moves I made during my youth, there was something irresistible about all those products. A sweetness that at times feels very far away. So as I eagerly await School Supply Season ’10, I thought I’d reflect on a few childhood faves.

But first, let’s get some help from The Staple Singers and their 1975 title track from the Bill Cosby/Sidney Poitier buddy flick Let’s Do It Again – not so much a sequel as a follow up to Uptown Saturday Night.


Le Plume II Dual Tip Markers

    They say you always remember your first; so it is with Le Plume Dual Tip Markers. These were my first “grown up” markers when I was 11 and I remember carefully curating my collection – heavy on pinks and purple shades – and using them to draw hearts and bubbles over my i’s. These pens put down a pretty snazzy line and seem to last and last. The brush tip – something I’ve never mastered – is handy for inking stamps; though I’ve never had occasion to use it for that purpose. They were inexpensive too. Back then I could score one for $.75! Nowadays they’re around $1.99/pen or $13.99/12. No. 9 and No. 20 are still my favorite shades.

Hello Kitty Stationery

    One of the cool things about living overseas was being able to send free mail within the DoDDs/AAFES system. I became a feverish letter writer and managed friendships developed during the frequently held K-Town All-Area dances – a huge deal back in the day. There was only one reason you didn’t go to a K-Town All-Area: you were grounded. Every school had bus transport, it was considered bad form NOT to share your cute clothes with folks in need of them (REALLY REALLY BAD FORM); basically pretty much everything connected to the military – even high school dances followed the “never leave a soldier behind” code of ethics. I followed the code and my family wasn’t even military. My stepfather is, but he wasn’t my dad then! And I made a lot of friends there and phone calls were expensive! So we wrote back and forth. Sometimes using HK stationery; sometimes making our own notebooks – fashioned out HK products – and sending them back and forth.

Bic 4 Color Ballpoint Multipen

    Even though I’m a grown up with Grown up Multi-Pen I have such fond memories of Bic’s classic multi-pen. I loved toggling between the different colors far more than actually writing with the pen. This might have been my first non Hello Kitty pen purchase when I was around 10. I think that’s about the time I developed my fixation with office supply products. I spent a lot of time playing officey type things. Anything involving jogging papers, writing reports, drafting memos and firing employees – after first writing detailed performance reviews or psychological profiles, using my mom’s old psych textbooks – I was all over it. I needed important looking supplies and to me this pen personified importance.
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8 Comments leave one →
  1. 05/25/2010 11:17 am

    Great write up…I miss my trapper keeper. 🙂

  2. 05/25/2010 12:44 pm

    Oh I loved the Bic four color pen! Even though it blotted all over the place. I think that was the first time I’d ever been exposed to green ink before. I especially loved taking it apart to try to learn the magic that made one color disappear just before the one showed up. It also made a great laser cannon for playing with action figures.

    I also get nostalgic for the original Bic ballpoint (now known as the Bic Cristal). It was nice to always have a spitball shooter handy.

  3. 05/25/2010 5:09 pm

    Kate Harding linked this from Shapely Prose and I was all “office supplies blog? really? seriously? furreals? OH MY GAWD.”

    I’m off to read the archives right now.

    Have you used atoma/rollabind products? I was all over atoma notebooks when I first came across them, but then they weren’t sold in the USA anymore (but now I guess they are?) and I almost peed when I saw rollabind notebooks at a Staples downtown. Sadly, they aren’t interchangeable

  4. Mike permalink
    05/25/2010 7:31 pm

    I was telling my wife about this pair of movies, but I couldn’t recall the title! Thanks for firing up the “way back” machine for this entry. Nice work, Angelina.

  5. Pollo Con Queso permalink
    05/25/2010 7:32 pm

    Girl, now you’ve done it. Make me pull out Mavis and the crew. I do remember getting a couple of letters from on Hello Kitty paper. I wonder if I still have them somewhere.

  6. Adrian permalink
    05/25/2010 7:33 pm

    This was a lovely entry, Angelina. The best thing about your writing here, for me anyway, is the ease in which you blend memoir, product review and pop culture. Just lovely.

  7. Ryan permalink
    05/25/2010 7:35 pm

    Hey, DTPW! Great to see you back. Look forward to more entries. not to put much pressure on you.

  8. Miriam P permalink
    05/25/2010 7:37 pm

    They say you always remember your first; so it is with Le Plume Dual Tip Markers. These were my first “grown up” markers when I was 11 and I remember carefully curating my collection – heavy on pinks and purple shades – and using them to draw hearts and bubbles over my i’s. These pens put down a pretty snazzy line and seem to last and last. The brush tip – something I’ve never mastered – is handy for inking stamps; though I’ve never had occasion to use it for that purpose.

    Ooh Miss Snarky’s, I remember these pens! I loved them too. They did last forever. I used them to hand letter my zines. Gosh, this was a great surprise when I stopped by today.

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