I was out walking the dog this morning and taking pictures of a pretty butterfly flitting around from hibiscus to hibiscus. It was quiet and the AC unit, for once, wasn’t humming. The only sounds were birds singing and sheep baaing.
I guess the solitude of the morning took me back in time. Mom grew hollyhocks on each side of the concrete steps leading up to our porch. The hibiscuses remind me of those sometimes. I always loved helping her gather the hollyhock seeds after they had bloomed.
The morning was hot and still, but I can feel autumn in the air. I spent a lot of time outside as a kid. Even inside, the windows were always open unless it was winter, of course. We didn’t have AC until much later. The way the hot sun beat down on my back for those few minutes, and the smell of the flowers and grass was enough to momentarily take me back to my childhood, a simpler time. I know they say time travel isn’t possible, but sometimes I can argue that point.
One morning, Mom and I were out hitting yard sales. It was most likely a Saturday morning. We would get up early and go to town to the Flea Market, which is still held on the bank parking lot. Then, we usually went to ACT II, which is a second-hand store, before stopping at any individual yard sales in the community.
It was at one of these individual yard sales, this particular one being a garage sale, where we acquired one of the most important pieces of my childhood. It was a desk with two hard-to-open drawers on the right. It wasn’t anything fancy, but I didn’t care. Being made of some kind of pressed wood or fiber board, it sagged a little in the middle, and it continued to sag more over the years. It wouldn’t have meant more to me had it been made of gold.
Finally, I had a special place to keep all my office supplies. Yep, even as a little kid, I had a fully stocked office. Stationery, stickers, printed envelopes, cool pens, scented markers, you name it, and when I could get Lisa Frank stationery, I was pretty much over the moon. I used brads for awhile but finally acquired a stapler.
One of the funniest things I kept on my desk was an old, black rotary telephone. It was extremely heavy, and I’m sure it was an antique even then. Sometimes the desk was “the principal’s office,” and other times it was anything and everything my imagination could conjure, but often it was a “magazine office.” Either way, the old, black phone made and received hundreds of calls. That’s a lot of calls for a house, or office, that didn’t have a landline.
One morning when I walked into my third-grade classroom, I spotted white business-sized envelopes on everyone’s desks. They were bulky, filled with something exciting, and sealed. We weren’t allowed to open them immediately, maybe not until we went home, so my entire day was filled with anticipation of what goodies those envelopes held.
I wasn’t disappointed. The envelopes had a pen, pencils, erasers, and some other basic supplies. Specifically, I remember the pen. They were white with a blue cap and ink. I don’t think we were allowed to use pens in class, so I kept mine in a beer stein (which my aunt had brought from Germany) on my desk at home.
At the desk, I was anyone I wanted to be. For two or three months, I was a magazine publisher. Each month I would create a magazine from your basic, three-lined notebook paper. Other than stationery, it was what I had access to because we didn’t own a typewriter, computer, printer, or anything that needed plain white paper. Oh, how I longed for that crisp, clean paper.
The magazines had a cover with some type of artwork that went along with that month’s theme and told about the contents. Inside had a coloring page that my customers were supposed to return to me for judging so they could win a prize. No one ever did.
I would trace the coloring contest page from a coloring book and add my own final touches. Then, I carefully traced my final creation a few times so I would have exact copies for each magazine. I can’t remember anything else I included in the magazines other than poetry.
All of this was done in blue ink with the pen I had received at school. It’s odd to me now because I am not a fan of writing with a blue pen.
The October issue of Funny Mail Magazine featured a coloring contest page titled, “A Windmill, A Pinwheel” and a poem I wrote called, “Witch Axe, Blood Axe.” I don’t remember what the poem said, but I remember attempting to write it as gross and gory as possible to hopefully impress some of my older cousins. It also included a picture of a witch I drew. She held a bloody axe in her hands and there was blood splattered around her.
Funny Mail Magazine sold for 25¢ per copy. I broke the record with an all-time high of three sales that October.
I spent the money on more stationery.
Miranda Crites is a reader, book reviewer, photographer, writer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia. Miranda has always enjoyed reading, photography, and writing. She received her first camera as a gift when she was nine years old. The writing bug bit her at a very early age. She won the young writers’ contest in first grade and never stopped writing.
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