Tuesday, March 27, 2018

C. & E.I. pencil

[From the Museum of Supplies.]

Great pencil!

Thanks. Your voice sounds familiar. As do your italics. I mean, your italics look familiar. Are you the same guy who interviewed me about my Illinois Central Railroad pencil?

Look — let me ask the questions, okay?

Okay.

So what can you tell me about this pencil?

Not much, really. It’s a gift from my friend and colleague John David Moore, who likes all things old. He’s an excellent pianist, and he and Elaine have been playing recitals together for years. He’s also an expert mycologist.

Shall we keep to the pencil?

Sure. John David —

The pencil?

— likes antiques stores and flea markets, so I suspect he found this pencil in one of them. C.E. & I. is the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad, which ran from 1877 to 1976, from Chicago to St. Louis, southern Illinois, and Evansville, Indiana.

So you knew that all along and were holding out on me?

No, I had to look it up. But about the pencil. I like the sincerity of its motto: “Friendliness is a C. & E.I. tradition,” a motto that sharpens much better than, say, “Don’t use drugs.” And I like the numero sign before the numeral: № 1. And I like that it’s a № 1 pencil, a nice soft lead for the railroaders as they sit and drink coffee and write in their pocket notebooks.

What a cozy little scene. [Rolls eyes.] Sentimental fellow, aren’t you?

Yes and no. It’s really Elaine who’s the sentimentalist about train travel. You may wish to speak to her. Oh, and thanks, John David.

[This post is the eighteenth in a very occasional series, “From the Museum of Supplies.” Supplies is my word, and has become my family’s word, for all manner of stationery items. The museum is imaginary. The supplies are real. A bit of the dialogue in this post comes from Citizen Kane.]

Other Museum of Supplies exhibits
Dennison’s Gummed Labels No. 27 : Dr. Scat : Eagle Turquoise display case : Eagle Verithin display case : Esterbrook erasers : Faber-Castell Type Cleaner : Fineline erasers : Illinois Central Railroad Pencil : A Mad Men sort of man, sort of : Mongol No. 2 3/8 : Moore Metalhed Tacks : National’s “Fuse-Tex” Skytint : Pedigree Pencil : Pentel Quicker Clicker : Real Thin Leads : Rite-Rite Long Leads : Stanley carpenter’s rule

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