I love the smell of ink

Published in yesterday’s GoLocalProv

Dad gave me an Eversharp fountain pen that fit beautifully between my fingers and, even though it leaked and stained, I loved it. My enjoyment of pens and ink was heightened when Miss Casey taught us penmanship in the third grade. Our desks had inkwells in the top right-hand corner. We had to dip pens so significant that they had their own groove at the top of the desk.

One day Miss Casey gave me the job of filling those wells with a narrow-funneled quart bottle of ink. The ink had a smell and color I loved; metallic with a deep purple tang and a hint of blue. Our pens required repeated dipping and the ink, having its own mind, traipsed everywhere; on papers, desk, hands, shirt and sometimes my chin. Small green blotters acted like mops. My penmanship was only promising with small letters that did not slant enough and hugged the bottom line, never quite reaching the line above. “You should slant your letters a bit more, Edward, and make them reach.”

As the years went by, I stopped writing with pen and ink until one evening when I was watching an old English movie. The camera narrowed in on someone writing a letter. It was beautiful. The only things in the scene were the lustrous white paper, a quill pen, blue-black ink and two hands; fingers steadying the paper in the upper left, and the writing hand caressing the pen as if it were a baby bird. Miss Casey would have given this careful writer an “A” for the thick, tall, looping letters and smooth strokes that loped to the top.

The beauty of that scene brought me back to the days of penmanship, paper, ink and my love of fountain pens. I thought, “This is what we should be doing rather than e-mail and text. We should be writing to people on paper with fountain pen and ink. Even broken penmanship can be as smooth as soft summer waves. And the waves can carry the meaning.”

This leads to my advice. Take pen to paper and write. Take time to write to friends and loved ones. Be yourself in your notes or letters. Transferring your thoughts with pen to paper is still the best way to communicate, because thoughts in writing come from the heart. The handwritten message is ever so much more meaningful. I love to send one. I love to receive one.

Why do I start my day at the computer looking at my e-mails? Necessity, I guess. But it will no longer be my only means of communicating in the course of a day. My resolution is to spend some time writing with fountain pen and paper. My resolve is to fill the pen and relive my youthful pleasures.
Dad gave me his Eversharp. I now have a collection of pens that I treasure. Miss Casey gave me the penmanship tools. They started my life-long love affair with pens, ink and paper.

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