But you’re going to have to say an awful lot to match its length.
Don’t I know it. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Wait a minute — you’re an English teacher. Aren’t you supposed to avoid clichés?
Ordinarily, yes. But rules are made to —
Just stop right there. So what’s the story on this pencil?
Wish I knew. I found and bought it at a used-furniture and junk store in an Illinois village some years ago. My guess is that this pencil was made for railroad use. The odd designation “FORM NO. 520” does not suggest a traveler’s souvenir.
And there’s no eraser. Not a very friendly pencil.
Perhaps that’s a reminder not to make mistakes. “Service with safety,” after all.
The Illinois Central — is that important to you as an Illinoisan?
Sort of. Elaine and I —
Excuse me: my wife Elaine. Elaine and I and our daughter Rachel rode on the Illinois Central line (or what once was the I.C.) when we spent a summer in Chicago’s Hyde Park some years ago. And Elaine and I have traveled to Chicago on The City of New Orleans, formerly an I.C. train, now Amtrak. But what really interests and excites me about the Illinois Central Railroad is its place in music.
Yes, of course. [Begins to sing, slightly offkey.] “Good mornin’, America, how are —”
Yes, that’s a great song. But I’m more interested in the role that the I.C. plays in blues lyrics. Here, listen to this podcast about it.
[Twenty-one minutes later.]
That was a good show. I didn’t know that Casey Jones was an Illinois Central engineer.
Well, you learn something new every day. Let me add one more song, full of train effects: Bukka White’s “The Panama Limited.” The Panama was another I.C. train.
Who knew that a post about a pencil would turn into a post about railroads and music?
[This post is the seventh in an occasional series, “From the Museum of Supplies.” The museum is imaginary. The supplies are real. Supplies is my word, and has become my family’s word, for all manner of stationery items.]
Also from the Museum of Supplies
Dennison's Gummed Labels No. 27
A Mad Men sort of man, sort of
Mongol No. 2 3/8
Real Thin Leads
Rite-Rite Long Leads
More on the Illinois Central
The Illinois Central Railroad, Main Line of Mid-America (American Rails)
Monday, December 21, 2009
By Michael Leddy at 7:19 AM