[I posted this in a thread titled “Pleasant Memory” on Zoss on Jan 29, 2000.]
In the 1950s when I was in grade school, the schoolmistress in my one-room schoolhouse
was a stunning, raven-haired young woman who wore a torpedo-shaped bra and form-flattering, short-sleeve, cashmere sweaters in primary colors that complemented her red lipstick. This otherwise not very sensible young woman wrote with the pen of her day, a very practical black Parker 51 with a gold-filled cap, but in keeping with her choice of attire, she always used South Sea Blue ink. All our grades were meticulously recorded in a fine script in the school ledgers and on our report cards in this flamboyant turquoise color. Very few of the grades were smudged while the ink was still wet. I have vivid memories of all this in wide-screen Technicolor.
Well, one day she was politely leaning over my right shoulder helping me at my desk with some eminently forgettable exercise, perhaps pointing things out with the end of her pen, and I turned to look up at her, and Boink!, inadvertently stuck my face right into her pointed breast.
I will remember her Parker 51 and her turquoise ink until my dying days.
Needless to say, I used to carry a black Parker 51 with a gold filled cap, filled with Herbin Indian Orange ink. This 51 has been replaced by a modern repro 51 made especially for me by Paul Rossi in the Parker Centennial Duofold Orange color. [See above.] A decade ago, I found a veritable some-guy’s treasure trove of new-old-stock pen parts and gold nibs, used parts pens, and specific pen company repair tools. These effects were all left behind by Albert Wendland, a pen repairman in my city who ran a repair shop called Specialty Repairs. He repaired fountain pens and pencils, but had to branch out into repairing electric razors, women’s purses, and all sorts of other small personal articles, that is, until he was put out of business by the ballpoint. Those new pen parts were all in envelopes marked with parts numbers written by the workers in the parts departments in Janesville and Fort Madison and other such places, and among those parts I found three mint Parker 51 aerometric filling units, still in their cellophane bags. I placed my favorite extra-fine italic nib into one of those units, and placed the loaded unit into that Rossi 51. My favorite 51 has been filled exclusively with Herbin orange ink ever since, all in memory of my grade school days, and being taught “the perts of speech” by the “salient point of [her] politish leanings”. Heck, you could poke an eye out with one of those.
And then Len Provisor made a joke about it being “a wet ink dream”.