Last week, Mr. Doud wrote that neither the U.S. Congress nor fountain pens are worth very much. Let me try to say why I like fountain pens a lot.
Maybe a year ago I read that an American artist whose drawings I like had used a fountain pen for his sketches. Like a boy wanting to use his favorite player’s kind of baseball glove, I went to Fresno to buy a fountain pen in hopes that my drawings would improve.
What I discovered was that I very much enjoyed the feeling of the pen as I wrote. I also enjoyed the simple process of filling the pen from an ink bottle, and I’m someone who thinks that his hands look more interesting when they are smudged with ink. I also enjoy seeing the wet ink shine when I am writing near a window that’s sunny.
This pleasure in a fountain pen takes me back to the seventh or eighth grade when I found myself copying the handwriting of Bobby Hart and Kenneth Hannah, who was my cousin. Both of them were lefthanded and their handwriting slanted to the left and that seemed just what handwriting should do.
Finally, I began trying to copy my father’s handwriting — what attracted me was the sense of quickness I saw — he wasn’t all that careful to write clearly, perhaps because he was in a rush as a doctor to help people.
Now I can write even more illegibly than he did. The last person I would have tried to copy was my mother, whose handwriting seemed effortless and perfect — and no young boy wants to be perfect, does he?