65 Briarwood Circle Worcester, MA 01606

Remember When: Inkwells, Pens and Cursive Writing

By Phil Heywood, Briarwood Resident and regular contributor to the monthly residents’ newsletter, “News & Notes.”

As kids we often heard about a girl’s pig tails being put in a school inkwell by the boy in the seat behind her! Today that couldn’t happen as inkwells are no longer a common fixture in elementary school rooms. Children were taught to write right-handed so the well was located in the upper right corner of the desk. This caused great distress for those of us who were left-handed as ink was often smudged across our work causing a messy paper.

Those were the days before the ballpoint pen when cursive writing was commonly taught in the 2nd or 3rd grades. Cursive writing is any style of penmanship in which the symbols of the language are co-joined in a flowing manner. Casual cursive is a combination of joins and pen lifts. Writing styles can be further divided into “looped,” “italic,” or “connected” modes. I’m sure that all of us wrote in one of these styles. Today many educators consider this form of hand writing a dying art!  Here in Massachusetts our curriculum still requires it, but many other states do not.

So what happened? In the beginning there was the quill pen and ink wells; then came the fountain pen with its own refillable ink and then the big change – the ball point pen! Patented in 1888  the Bic Pen hit the US markets in1949; no more ink-stained shirts, no more ruined papers and best of all, it was CHEAP!  It sold at first for $10.00 but was soon down to today’s price of 19 cents in any store.

Moving forward in time we have keyboard computers, cell phones, smart phones that the younger generation uses with shortcut symbols and letters to constantly communicate with others, leaving most of us wondering what communication will look like in the future.  I still have a wonderful Parker fountain pen which I use occasionally – perhaps you do too!

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