As I was writing my last post, Spring’s New Box of Crayons, an image kept popping up in my mind, a blurry picture from years long past. One of my most memorable gifts as a child was, indeed, a fabulous box of crayons. I was very little, no more than three, but I can’t forget my first glimpse of it under the tree on Christmas morning. The package was unusual for a crayon box. It was long and flat, and it showed two kids drawing. Those crayons saw constant use. Even in our family of thrifty savers and recyclers, the box disappeared many years ago. I’ve often tried to remember its details, wishing I could see it again.
Today, I did. Thanks to the web, even the vaguest of childhood memories are literally at our fingertips. I googled “Vintage 1960s crayons,” and it appeared, as though I’d snapped my fingers and conjured it by magic, much like Samantha used to do in Bewitched:
72 Different colors including 8 fluorescent crayons.
There was the white box, bearing an image of two ideal early 60s-era children, happily creating Crayola masterpieces. The girl wears a pink, full-skirted jumper and white blouse, a pink bow in her neatly ponytailed hair. She sits with her feet tucked up under her in a ladylike position. The boy wears a striped blue and green shirt and belted khakis. His bright red hair has a rakish flip, and he lies stretched out on the floor. One odd detail I certainly didn’t remember: next to the boy’s elbow is a toy dagger. Why in the world is that there? Perhaps to show that wholesome, red-blooded American boys willingly lay down their weapons for a chance to enjoy Crayola crayons? Tough guys color? No need to worry, macho Dads: these crayons won’t turn your son into a sissy?
Inside the box lies the real treasure (and not a single knife): the crayons themselves, arrayed in two long, beautiful parallel rows. My mother has remarked that she was rarely happier as a child than she was upon opening a brand-new box of crayons. For her, growing up during the Great Depression, that was a rare pleasure. I was lucky to open many new boxes of crayons, but I know what she means. And never was the elation more pronounced than when I first peered at all those perfect crayons inside that new white box.
My daughter understands, as well. She returned home from fourth grade one day talking excitedly about her friend’s wonderful new crayons. That the girl was a talented and imaginative artist gave the crayons all the more appeal. They were in a circular, clear plastic box, so all the colors, arranged by shade, were visible. They were so cool! Could she get some? Please? By the end of the week, she, too, was a proud owner.
Along with two classic boxes of 64 crayons, they still remain on the shelves of our former playroom. Barbies and stuffed animals were boxed up (and some even given away) during this summer’s room redo, but the crayons survive. They’re still used, still fun, still relevant. They abide. And now, with the prevalence of coloring books geared toward grown-ups, more likely to be used by all generations.
Even now I love the idea of opening a new box of crayons for the first time. There’s something close to magical in the sight of those flawless little cylinders of color, each paper cover intact, each point sharp and unused. Such potential. The chance for multiple new beginnings. Much like the promise of spring on an April day like today, when the sun is bright and the breeze is fresh.