An American writer whose name I’ve forgotten, author of “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, once suggested that every baby who comes into this world should be given a free box of Crayolas. The big one: the kind with multiple shades of every possible colour, plus a sharpener built into the side of the box.
Crayons were simpler in my day. We had one or two ‘proper’, small boxes, plus a former Quaker Oats container which held the stubs and broken bits of crayons which were past their glory days. In addition, there were a few of the very small selection, rather cheap-and-waxy kinds generally found at places like Big Boy and Howard Johnsons, along with the place mats which were specially designed to be coloured in by children between around 4 to 10 years old.
Those poor, doomed crayons were probably such a set. The reason I remember them so well – if not exactly fondly – is because they became a permanent feature of a brown Ford “Meteor” my Dad drove in the 1960s. Those particular crayons spent years stuck to the back ledge of the car, following an unfortunate incident involving a family holiday, a sunny afternoon’s outing, and a forgetful small child.
One guess who that child was.
Our traditional 60s American vacations needed more organising, and packing, than I imagine a modern one does. Along with our swimsuits, bathing caps, flip flops – gods help us, we called them “thongs” – shorts, t-shirts, and other, related paraphernalia, the family car contained dolls, cuddly toys, a few games, plus of course crayons, and colouring books. Getting the car ready must have been quite a performance, especially for Mom, who liked to carry everything from a thermometer to a spare pare of tights in her handbag, even when she was just going to “Food Fair” or “Krogers” for the weekly shop.
If you’re getting ready soon for a family holiday with a sense of trepidation, or even dread, I hope you can relax, and enjoy it. Because those sorts of hols will soon be over, quicker than you can step on a piece of Lego.