Gramps spins colorful tale about living in black and white

“Gramps, what was it like living before color?”

The old man scratched his white beard. “Before color what?”

“My teacher showed us photos from the old days. Everything was black and white.”

The puzzled look on the old man’s face smoothed into a crooked grin. “It was a lot easier getting dressed back then. Gray goes with everything.”

The kid nodded. “Grandma’s always sending you back to your bedroom to change ’cause your clothes don’t match.”

“Yep. And laundry was pretty easy, too, until that creep Hosmer messed everything up.”

“Who’s Hosmer?”

“Hosmer Ignatius Crayola,” the old man said. “He invented color about 1963. Times have been tough ever since.”

“But I like colors, Gramps. Especially green. And red. How could you be happy without green and red?”

The old man plopped into his easy chair. “I suppose there is something to that. Without color, I wouldn’t know which was my chair and which was Grandma’s. That brown gravy stain really stands out against the blue fabric.”

“You’re s’posed to eat at the table. Grandma says so.”

“That’s another thing. Since ol’ Hosmer invented vibrant hues, I see when your granny’s face turns purple.”

“You probably ought to pay attention to when Grandma’s tint turns. You wouldn’t get into so much trouble.”

“Maybe. Sounds like a lot of bother, though.” The old man gazed out the window. “You know how people shiver on cold gray days? Well, back then, every day was gray. We never stopped shivering, even when it was 90 degrees outside.”

“See,” the kid chirped. “The world’s a warmer place in color.”

“Rainbows. I never noticed rainbows before Hosmer painted the sky with his colors. Kind of hard to pick out seven shades of gray against an equally gray sky.”

The kid bit his lip. “Unicorns must have looked just like horses with birthday party hats that slipped onto their foreheads.”

The old man nodded. “I remember all the unicorns on our farm were much happier when rainbows added color.”

“You grew up on a unicorn farm? Wow. Why don’t you have unicorns now?”

“The colorful critters got so silly happy that they laughed and danced clear over the pasture fence and disappeared into the forest, which wasn’t dark and scary anymore, not with all those greens and ambers and browns and crimsons. We never saw our unicorns again.”

“That’s so sad, Gramps.” The kid pondered a few moments. “So if Hosmer What’s-His-Name…”


“Yeah, if he hadn’t invented color, I’d get to ride unicorns all day? Maybe color isn’t so great.”

“True, but there was something disturbing about eating gray bananas and gray cherry pie. I didn’t know exactly what was wrong because I had never seen a color before.” The old man wiped his silver-framed glasses with a turquoise cloth. “And we had no idea what to call oranges. I once ate a baseball because I thought it was that no-name fruit.”

The kid grinned. “Yeah, color is better. So what shade are you painting the front door for Grandma?”

“White. With black trim,” the old man said. “Choices were a lot easier before Hosmer poked his crayons into everything.”


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