Tuesday, December 12, 2017. I am a lifelong user of fountain pens. The principal at St. Rita’s School insisted that everyone above the fourth grade would henceforth (in 1961) do all school work (except math, where pencils were substituted) with fountain pens. Or, as they were also known, “cartridge pens.” The drugstore did a big business selling Schaeffer pens to us. These sold for ninety-eight cents, with two extra cartridges included. When they ran out of ink, the kids would have to get their parents to buy a new six-pack of cartridges, also for ninety-eight cents.
We were not allowed to refill our pens from a bottle of ink, as our grandparents did, back in the age of beautiful script handwriting. The problem was the squirting of ink and perhaps even the dunking of girls’ hair into the ink bottle. Using the cartridges eliminated that problem.
But my mother figured out a way around this. She kept the empty cartridges and refilled them from a bottle of ink. She used hypodermic syringes. She worked in Central Supply at Ochsner Hospital, where she would snip the sharp needles to make them safe to fool with. And she refilled the pens that way. I still use that technique. Someone looking in my medicine cabinet, which has three or four large syringes scattered inside, would get the wrong idea.
The reason I bring this up is that I’m down to my last working fountain pen. I lost this one–a Cross, and the only fountain pen I’ve ever seen under that name. The problem is that I don’t write with them much, and they stop flowing. I’m trying to figure out ways of cleaning them out. Maybe a jewelry cleaner?
Also, the teller at the bank was totally wowed by watching me write a check with my fountain pen. He had never seen one still in use before.
Short diary today, because I have a lot to say about the Eat Club dinner that plays on tomorrow’s date. Also in tomorrow’s diary the sudden shutdown of the cooking island in our kitchen. An electrical problem will leave us with no way to cook for all the guests who are coming over for Christmas. It’s always something.