I know it's the electronic age. I'm aware that most schools no longer teach cursive writing or penmanship. I know many students print, when they opt to use a writing utensil at all. But, I still use pens and I still like pencils.

I know it's the electronic age. I'm aware that most schools no longer teach cursive writing or penmanship. I know many students print, when they opt to use a writing utensil at all. But, I still use pens and I still like pencils.
I may have pens in a variety of colors and prefer the smooth way a gel pen writes. In the past, I've had fancy pens and fountain pens (which I think are obsolete) but I also have pencils.
A pencil may grow short with use or break but it won't run out of ink.
If I make a mistake, I can use the eraser and change it.
I enjoy the way the pencil scratches against the paper.
So, yes, I sometimes, in the 21st century, use a pencil.
They are excellent tools for writing a grocery list or for marking off items at the store as I put them into the cart.
I jot down notes with a pencil and once in awhile, I might write the rough draft of a scene that's in my head and won't go away until I get it on paper.
I always buys packs of pencils when school supplies go on sale in the late summer.
Since my son, age 17 and a high school junior, also uses pencils I also buy them by the gross on Amazon. That way, we have plenty of pencils to go around for school, work, and any other purpose we can dream up.
When I was a substitute teacher (for eight consecutive years and about ten years total) I always carried extra pencils and gave them to students who needed one. They were numerous. Unlike some, I let them keep the pencil. I figured it was one small way I could do my part to help them with their education, providing a simple utensil.
I wondered, like I so often do, about the history of pencils.
They evolved from the styluses used to write on papyrus.
The discovery of a large graphite deposit in England in the 1500's led to the first pencils.
Germany was the home of the first mass-produced pencils as early as 1662.
When early settlers crossed the Atlantic to the colonies, they relied on pencils from Europe and the first American made pencils were made in 1812 by the company that eventually evolved into Ticonderoga, still a common name in pencils today.
The Industrial Revolution led to the increased mass production of pencils. Until the 1890's, most pencils were just polished wood, which allowed the use to see the natural grain of the wood and the different types of wood used to make them. The Victorians with their love for bright colors began painting the pencils and yellow became a popular color.
It still is, today.
Why yellow? Because at the time painting pencils became in vogue, some of the best graphite in the world came from China. In China, the color yellow represented royalty and respect. Pencil makers used it to make the connection to China and to highlight those qualities.
I remember I didn't like the fat pencils for first graders when I went to school. I had a pencil bag shaped like a pencil in the early grades.
And, it always seemed like when I needed a pencil, I would find one, left on a desk, when school desks still had pencil grooves or elsewhere.
Pencils are simple. They're user friendly and I like them so pass me a pencil please.
If all else fails, I might use it to punch out a number on my phone or on my tablet's key pad.






Lee Ann Murphy is a staff writer and writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.