Little-Known Santa No. 35


If you should happen to be like so many others of these trendy technophilic times, you may have simply tweeted your Christmas wish list to #Santa this holiday season. Or, if all of the goodies you are hoping for could not have been enumerated within a mere 140 characters, I imagine a lengthy smartphone text or emailed missive would have worked just fine. Maybe, after calling and calling and reaching no Nick nor elf nor reindeer receptionist, you simply left a voice-mail.

Perhaps you are a bit more long in years, or have somehow slipped a wee bit behind these advancing technologies? Then maybe you instead clackingly tapped out your seasonal request by way of a desktop word processing program (printing out one of those pale dot-matric copies on perfed paper for your records).

Still older yet, are we? Or indeed tech averse? Then you must have pounded out your ‘Dear Santa’ correspondence on an old reliable Selectric or Smith-Corona.

But can you imagine what it must have been like crafting one’s plea to ‘S. Claus, North Pole’ in the backward days before Saint Bic?

]Huddling in a drafty winter cabin, dragging a crude and stubby pencil of flaking charcoal across linen crafted from the intestinal lining of some farm neighbor’s ovine stock, ‘neath the smudgy sooty emanations of a sole suspended coal oil lantern? Wondering if you weren’t in fact getting more charcoal on your hands than on the paper?

Cowering close to the flickering candlelight under the loft eaves, listening to the rhythmic scratching of the flimsy metal shard of a nib, as it deposited squiggles and dots of jet ink across the rough woody foolscap? Hoping against hope that an errant blot would not obscure the key words of ‘doll’ or ‘sled’ or ‘slingshot’?

Or retreating from the intense solar singe of an equatorial midday to the shade of the oasis’ few scraggly date palms with a fresh irregular slab of yet-moist mud? Striving to quickly and deftly chisel the proper parallel rows of wedges and lines with your stylus of thin reed before everything baked to stone under the Mesopotamian sun?

How about cowering in the cool dank dampness of the hillside cave (well out of the likely ranges of both the mastodon and the saber-tooth), while daubing the rough rock surface with the purplish juice of crushed wild berries?

So, as you address holiday cards this season, or label various gifts for friends and family members, with that handy clear plastic cylinder containing a pipette of freely-flowing ink, you might want to give thanks to Saint Bic’s ancestor: Marcel Bich (1914-1994) of Clichy, France, founder of Société Bic — formerly known as Société PPA (pencils, pens & accessories). Having perfected the tiny stainless steel ‘rolling ball’ of his eponymous ball-point pen, the resourceful Monsieur Bich went on to develop an ink neither too thick nor too thin to flow for roughly two kilometers per pen. More than a hundred billion of the efficient little writing instruments have been sold worldwide.

It is thus no wonder why the visage of Little-Known Santa No. 35 so resembles that history-making little sphere!

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