Now, when WE were kids, I don't remember knowing a lot of people in rural North Mobile County in southern Alabama who had a lot of money. We always had construction paper, coloring books, and cheap pulp paper. As the fourth of five kids, and with a BUNCH of cousins who lived up the hill, most of my early drawing supplies were 'gently-used' hand-me-downs. The exception would be at the beginning of every school year, when I would get that new pack of ruled paper, my allotment of the pencils from the family multi-pack, maybe some new scissors (the blunt-nosed, 'safety' type), and-- if I was lucky-- a NEW box of crayons! Typically, I would get the 8- or -16-pack variety.
Now, in THOSE days (early 70's), I was a wee lad with the attention span of a gnat and the motor skills to match. Coloring 'inside the lines' seemed like a lot of unnecessary pressure. I preferred the 'freedom of expression' method, and the stacks of primary color 'ant-men' battles and crudely-drawn explosions I left everywhere are evidence of vivid imagination.
Even though I don't remember if it was my way-older (back then, six years was a BIG difference) brother or my slightly-older sisters to whom was actually bestowed the motherlode, I'll never forget my mixed feelings of awe and envy when my eyes beheld the big 64(!) color box! I remember thinking "Wow!" and wondering why anyone would NEED that many different and mostly-unappealing colors-- and then I saw something that just blew my mind:
There was a Sharpener-- MADE INTO THE BOX!
The planning! The engineering! The sheer awesome genius! Not ONLY was there a multitude of useless, oddly-named hues destined for melting or experimentation, there was a PRACTICAL bonus that helped me to understand the concept of premiums, up-selling, and accessorizing.
It's a rare pleasure to experience and remember these bygone feelings of awe and wonderment.