Remember when school started after Labor Day and your school supplies included an 8-pack of Crayolas and a Big Chief Writing Tablet?
Truth is, I coveted Lucy's 64-pack of Crayolas and that wonderful little built-in sharpener on the box, but we were all equal when it came to the Big Chief. I loved Big Chief tablets. Well...truth is, I loved them except when I had to make a correction and my eraser eroded the paper and it got all nappy. I think I was learning to form my letters and must have been pressing too hard or something. Or maybe it was just jangled nerves from that ruler-wielding nun, Sister Mary Theresa. Or that tuna smell permeating from my Barbie lunchbox.
Anyway, forty-five years later, I am still loving Big Chief tablets, but this time for the graphics instead of the precision lined paper. The iconic school supply has changed a lot over the years and its history is a bit vague and sketchy. Prices have ranged from 10¢ in the 1950's to a couple of bucks in the 1970's. Ownership and production have changed as well with early manufacturing by Western Tablet Co., then Mead Corp., and finally Springfield / Everett Pad & Paper. The graphics have ranged from a very traditional illustration in the 1930's, to groovy pop art in the 1970's. Sadly, though, Big Chief Writing Tablets are no longer being produced. Don't know why. I hope it didn't come under the same scrutiny as the "Indian Red" crayon that got re-named "Chestnut" because of "cultural sensitivity". (FYI: I didn't have an Indian Red crayon in my 8-pack, but Lucy did... uhmmm!)
Today, you can view Jason Liebig's collection of vintage Big Chief tablets on Flicker. He has done a nice job and I have "borrowed" from his assemblage for my Big Chief timeline below.
By the way, which Big Chief cover do you remember having?
I'd love to hear!
Oh, and how about these two cute little critters? They started 2nd and 5th grade this year and sadly there is not a Big Chief Tablet in the lot.
Harris - 1st day of 2nd Grade
Presley - 1st day of 5th Grade
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