Ramaine, LeeAnn, and I would get together when we were little and color. Coloring was so much fun. We knew never to take our coloring books and crayons to LeeAnn’s house, though.
Because of the incident.
There we were, at her kitchen table, minding our own business, coloring. All of the houses on the block had the same floor plan, so we were comfortable where ever we were. But, apparently not at LeeAnn’s kitchen table.
The coloring Nazi was ready to make an appearance.
Now, you have to understand that coloring is supposed to be fun. If it wasn’t meant to be fun, we would just have brown crayons. Since I love writing and researching, let me give you a little information about our colorful past in the world of crayons before I move on to that fateful coloring day.
Back in 1885, Edwin Binney and his cousin, C. Harold Smith, formed a partnership and called their company Binney & Smith. They were quite creative. His father, Joseph Binney, founded the Peekskill Chemical Works in upstate New York, where he produced charcoal and lamp black. I don’t know what the hell lamp black is and I am too lazy right now to look it up, but it had something to do with using “black.” So, after Joe retired, and the kids formed their partnership, they went to work on other products. Early products included red oxide pigment used in barn paint and carbon black for car tires.
So, we have red and black stuff going on. No crayon invention yet.
In 1900, the company began producing slate school pencils in its new mill in Pennsylvania. Teachers suggested their needs to Binney & Smith and so they introduced the first dustless school chalk two years later. Chalk dust probably was and still is a mess. Well, the dustless chalk ( I first wrote chalkless dust) was so successful, it won a gold medal at the St. Louis World Exposition. Well, you know what happened next. Teachers all over the country were using their chalk.
Now we have red, white, and black.
Now according to the website, In 1903, ”Noticing a need for safe, quality, affordable wax crayons, the company produced the first box of eight Crayola® crayons, selling for a nickel. (red, yellow, blue, green, orange, brown, violet (purple), and black). The Crayola name, coined by Edwin Binney’s wife Alice, comes from “craie,” the French word for chalk, and “ola,” from “oleaginous.” Well, what the hell does “oleaginous” mean, you ask? I will guess, “butter,” but I will go look it up. (She leaves her writing to look the word up in the dictionary.)
Ok, so Crayola means oily chalk. Kids are drawing with chalky grease. Colored chalky grease. Cool.
I’m missing something here, though. They jumped from making chalk to all of a sudden having 8 colored crayons in a box. Oh, but before you think you are going to read that they invented the crayon, you are wrong. Crayola did not invent the crayon. Records show that Europe was the birthplace of the “modern” crayon. The first crayons were made from a mixture of charcoal and oil. Later, powdered pigments of various hues replaced the charcoal. Wax was substitued for the oil, which made the crayons sturdier. All the great painters of that era, Leonardo Da Vinci, included, colored with crayons. Well, I didn’t read that. But, I’m sure they picked up a waxy colored thing and used it at one point or another. Fast forward to the mid 1960s to LeeAnn’s kitchen table. We are now the artists. Or so we think.
I personally loved to color.
It’s weird how kids sit down, pick up a crayon, and attack the coloring page differently. Why is that, I wonder. We all have the same picture, and the same 64 choices of color, but yet, they all ended up different. I remember how my friends colored. Weird, isn’t it? I can’t remember why I walked down to the basement. “Hmmmm, why did I come into this room?”
Anyway, this is my own opinion, but I think that there are different types of colorers (?)
1. The “I don’t Give a Shit” colorer- This child just picks up a crayon and goes to town. He (notice I’m visualizing a boy) doesn’t sit and ponder which color he should use on the clothing the people on the coloring page are wearing.
The picture of this kid made the rounds on the internet with the “I F*CKING LOVE COLORING”
written underneath the picture. But, if you look closely, he is holding a pencil.
2. The “I Press So Hard, I Break the Damn Crayon” colorer- This colorer was not my friend. My brother, David, was this type of colorer. You know, the ones who think it has to be so dark or no one will be able to see it. You will actually see crayon shrapnel lying on the coloring page.
3. The “Either You are in This, or Just Go Home” colorer- This colorer is just coloring to be with her friends (notice I use a girl here) She will either sing or hum while she is coloring. And this is the part that just pissed me off. She left items uncolored and was the first one done. “Um, you didn’t color the girl’s hair. Or the sun. Or the grass.” God dammit, go home. That’s all they wanted to do. I mean, if there is a freaking sun in the sky, and you are at my house, you better freaking color the damn sun.
4. The “I Think I will Add Shit” colorer- Guilty. I added things to the picture. If there was room for a sun (well, if it was an outdoor picture, duh), I would add a sun. If it was a close-up of a girl, I added earrings or a Wilma Flintstone necklace. I put rings on fingers and purses in their hands. I accessorized.
5. The “Less is More” colorer- This type of colorer always win the coloring contests. They shade their coloring picture and then use a darker stroke to go over the drawn lines as to highlight their masterpiece. Or they outlined it first, just to show where the coloring boundering lines were. My bff Ramaine was this type of colorer. Her dad was an artist and she inherited some great artistic genes. In my book, she was the best colorer in the whole world.
Which was a problem the day we sat coloring at LeeAnns’ table. Apparently, her dad, who usually hung out downstairs fixing people’s broken radios and tv sets, was upstairs, sitting in his chair, while we were in the kitchen. Now, Lee Ann was a “I don’t give a shit colorer” AND a “If you’re not in this, just go home” colorer. So, I just wanted to slap her. But, I didn’t have to. Her dad came into the kitchen for his fourth cup of coffee and lingered beside the table. He watched us color for a few minutes. I wanted to puke. He was different. I think he had some mental issues. Well, yeah, I’m sure of it.
“LEE ANN!” His voice was so loud, I almost colored outside the line. (Which I never would do, ever.)
She immediately stopped and looked up at him. He continued.
“Quit coloring like that! I don’t want to see you coloring outside of the lines again…. Color like Ramaine!!!!”
Well, uh, what about Vickie? I was doing ok. Ok, maybe the polka dots I drew on the empty dress were a bit much, but I thought I was doing well. I looked at LeeAnn. She was using a purple crayon at the time. She quit humming, and finished everything in that picture with the purple crayon. A dog was purple. A person’s face was purple. Every freaking thing was purple. She stayed in the lines, but the mood in the room was clearly all over the place. I wanted to crawl under the table.
Well, so much for our coloring day. We left right after he went downstairs. He stood over her for a very long time. He was so mad at her. For not coloring the way he wanted her too. And I never colored at LeeAnn’s house again.
But, she never colored outside of the lines again. And she favored purple, which I never questioned. (Ok, I have no idea about that. I just sometimes like to lie.) Maybe she was suffered from post tramatic coloring stress disorder. She went on to graduate with a 4.0 from high school, I believe. I never doubted that one bit.
I often wondered that if we were given blank sheets of paper, if LeeAnn would draw her family with her dad standing in the background on fire or something. One for a future therapy session or something.
I bet she did.
I know I did.