Ah Nostalgia, Oh Memory, Alas Science

by Steve Mitchell

In high school, some *coughcough* years ago, I always carried a pen, a Parker ballpoint pen.  I carried it it my hand and fiddled with it when I wasn’t writing with it.  I doodled in the margins with it.  I clicked it.  I twirled it.

I literally carried a pen in my hand all four years, until I graduated 30 years ago.

Um, yeah.  Oh.  You got me.  30 years.


Anyhow.  I always thought it was called a Parker Arrow because the pocket clip was shaped like an arrow but I guess it was called the ‘Jotter’.  I had a blue one and, at one point, a red one.

You know the kind I mean.  They looked kind of like this:


object not doodled to scale…

Sort of like that.  Kind of.  You know the kind I mean.

When I joined the Air Force, I stopped carrying a pen in my hand.  In uniform, you have to leave your right hand free to salute.  My left hand was generally busy with a cigarette.

But, when I decided to quit smoking, once and for all, a couple few years out of the service, I bought another Parker.  And I carried it and clicked it whenever I felt restless for a smoke.  I remember being disappointed Parker had downgraded to using plastic threads in the cap instead of the brass threads, but i still liked it.

Somewhere down the line, I lost that pen and didn’t give it much thought.  I haven’t smoked a cigarette in about 16 years.


Where was I?

Oh yeah.  I’m a nostalgic type and given to sentiment, and a week or so ago I started thinking about the Parker pens.  I missed them.  I carry a pen in my back pocket at work but it’s just a pen.

Because I get all shoppy when I’m nostalgic, I went on eBay.  There’s a bunch of Parker pens to be found on eBay but, to get a super clean, vintage pen with the brass threads and the recessed button with the logo, I’d have to spend about 35 dollars and I didn’t see any in a color I wanted.

So, Lucie, unbeknownst to me, went and got me a new Parker Jotter, the deluxe, chiseled, steel version.



I’d always had the pens with the plastic barrel and, initially, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this variety, but I like it.  I like it a lot.  I especially like it because Lucie bought it for me just because she loves me.

I noticed, though, it felt thinner in my hand than I remembered the pens being.


makes me want to doodle…

Had they changed them?  Are my hands bigger?  Are the steel ones thinner?

I went back to eBay.  Hey! I decided, I already have one for work, but now I need one for home!  And I can get a less pristine, vintage pen with the brass threads and the recessed button for the price of a new one then I can compare the thickness and see if they changed!  It’s science!

I strolled the eBay and found an inexpensive, vintage, green Parker Jotter.


very clean for the price


I noticed right away it’s pretty much the same size as the new one.


that settles that


it’s got the recessed button I remember

Science wins the day, right?  Chalk off this business of them being thinner to a faulty memory.  Chalk it off to my hands growing thicker.

But wait…


what manner of deception is this?


I checked the cap thread insert of my vintage pen and it’s plastic!  The eBay description specifically said brass.

Well hell.

The pen is vintage; it has the recessed button.  But, it’s still a newer make than the ones I had in high school.

I emailed the seller to let him know his description was wrong.  He offered to exchange the pen, but I’d paid a fair price, even for the plastic thread, and I like the pen.  So I chose to keep it.


So, that’s where I’m at.  I’ve got a pen for work and a pen for home.  I’ll maybe put Fisher space pen refill cartridges in them because that would be cool.  I’m happy with my pen situation.

And I can forget the nagging feeling they used to be thicker.

Or I could forget, if only …

I hadn’t read on wikipedia, at some point Parker changed to a thinner diameter barrel and cap.

The article didn’t know when, only saying there were many slight design changes between 1958 and 1973.


I guess I’m not quite done.

Oh, memory.

Alas, science.