TexasEscapes.com Texas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1600 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Quills, nibs, ink bladders
were part of daily life

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
If you know how to trim a quill or clean a nib the president is probably sending you birthday greetings on a regular basis.

A quill is an ink pen made from sharpening a feather to a fine point then dipping it into ink to write. A nib is the metal point attached to a wooden staff of an old-time writing pen. To clean a nib you hold it over the top of a lamp chimney to burn the old dried ink from the metal. Once clean, dip the nib in ink and write.

- If you know what an ink bladder is and how to tip an ink bottle to fill the little tank near the top of the bottle, you are probably my age. This is the next step up from the nib and is called the fountain pen. It had a small rubber bladder contained inside the pen to hold ink. A device on the outside included a small lever to squeeze the bladder then suck ink up inside to fill.

To make filling fountain pens easier and help prevent spills, a little glass pocket was located near the top of ink bottles where the pen could be dipped or filled. Old time school desks had a hole drilled through the top of the desk to hold ink bottles. A bulge near the top of the bottle kept the bottle from sliding through the desk and made the bottle top-proof most of the time.

Remember the little slot at the top of the school desks? It held your pencil unless someone bumped the desk, then your pencil fell to the floor and broke the lead point. This required a trip to the pencil sharpener. I spent many an hour writing and drawing on my Big chief tablet with a pencil. Dad bought me my first pocket knife because he got tired of having to sharpen my pencil.

All major decision in the Trew family were made only after Dad had "put the pencil to it." Sheet after sheet of paper bit the dust as his pencil flew across the pages adding, subtracting and dividing or making lists of materials or things to do.

Once the Dust Bowl and Great Depression ended and the people began to make a little profit, the pen and pencil became more important as the income tax people became a recognizable force. Profits had never been a problem before. Now, records were a necessary evil.

My favorite "pencil records" story involves an old rancher who had homesteaded and lived on his place for more than fifty years. The Internal Revenue Service sent him a letter saying he was to be audited and to have his past five years' financial records at the courthouse on a certain date.

The agents arrived to find the old rancher waiting along with the wood door off his saddle house leaning up against the wall. The old weathered door was covered from top to bottom with pencil-scribbled details of the old man's financial dealings for the past fifty years.


Delbert Trew

"It's All Trew"
- March 1, 2005 column
 
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES
Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South |
West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS

TEXAS FEATURES
Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII |
History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books | MEXICO
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters |
Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators |
Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Corner Stones | Pitted Dates |
Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
Vintage Photos

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | USA

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us
Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE
Website Content Copyright 1998-2007. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: March 1, 2007