Fountain pen a constant companion
I have attended thousands of garage sales looking for the old-time fountain pens and it’s almost like looking for a needle in a haystack.
The fountain pens that I recall were Eversharp, Parker, Sheaffer and Waterman. Ironically, I never owned a fountain pen during the Depression, because we could not afford that luxury.
Upon entering the U.S. Navy in 1943 during WWII at 18 years of age, the first item I purchased at the “Ship’s Store” during boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Station was a gold-plated Eversharp pen and pencil set.
The set traveled many thousands of miles with me on land and sea during my 33 month- Navy career. It never failed me in the many letters that I penned home from the severe heat on New Guinea to the bitter cold of northern Japan.
I kept the pen in a box of writing paper that I had in my locker aboard the Amphibious Ship U.S.S. LST 582, my home away from home. The pen was my constant companion in the D-day invasions of Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines and Okinawa in the Ryukyus.
Our mail was censored during the war and being of Italian descent, I occasionally wrote a few words in Italian. Our fine communications officer, Vasco Luchi, also of Italian extraction, was our censor. Nothing ever got past him because when I looked at my letters, after I was discharged, there were “cut outs” here and there.
In February 1946, I arrived at the Bremerton Naval Base, Washington, aboard a huge troop ship, The General Pope. It was a 17-day voyage from Tokyo, Japan, and I had plenty of time to write letters.
During my several days stay in Bremerton, before heading back home to Youngstown, Ohio, I visited the naval base’s huge “ship’s store.” There I saw the first ballpoint pen, the Reynolds. It had just been introduced in October 1945 and cost $12.50, a lot of money in those days. I was so fascinated by it that I bought one. Today, I buy dependable ballpoint pens for a dime.
Conversely, a Parker Duofold senior fountain pen cost $7 in 1927 and a similar reproduction produced in 1993 cost $325.
Many of the younger generation have never seen, let alone heard of an old-time fountain pen. When they are conducting garage sales and I ask for fountain pens, they look surprised and ask “What’s that”?
Michael J. Lacivita is a Youngstown retiree and member of the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame and the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.