A journey, a find, a reunion, a loss
It was Baltimore in the spring, a wondrous time in a wondrous city. It was the late fifties or early sixties, and I was young and in good health and had been down to the harbor and was headed back to my apartment on North Charles. For some unknown reason I was way over on Calvert Street and so decided to cut across at Fayette and then up the hill past Mt. Vernon Place to home. The wind was out of the south bringing the smells from McCormick and Company (I remember they were doing cinnamon that day, funny how such things stick in our memories) and I was thinking about having diner at the bar in the Park Plaza or an evening of discussion and argument at the Peabody Book Shop and Beer Stube. Fayette Street was fairly level and a nice break in the climb and was also relatively sheltered from the wind that was beginning to chill as evening came on.
As I passed the Pen Hospital one pen in particular caught my eye. It was big and black with a white dot on the cap and gold lever that shined against the body and a clear section where you could see how much ink was left. For a moment I simply stopped and stared, then decided that was just what I had always been looking for.
I went in and Mr. Jenkins came in to see if a customer had really come in. I asked if I could look at the pen in the window and he graciously got it for me. The moment I held it in my hand I knew that it had been made for me. Had I been Harry and Mr. Jenkins been Mr. Ollivander he would have known that the pen chose me; perhaps he did.
He explained that the pen wasn't really for sale, that it had been brought in many years before for repair but I think he could tell from the way I looked at the pen and fondled it, that perhaps we were meant to be together. Finally he said he would pull the record, we would make one last attempt to contact the owner and if unsuccessful I could buy it for the cost of the repairs.
He went to the back and I could hear him going down some stairs, and a few minutes later returned with an old yellowed repair envelope. It seemed the owner had dropped the pen off over ten years earlier and although he had been contacted several times from the notes on the envelope, never come in to pick it up. The repairs were $4.50 and it had been a sack replaced and a nib adjustment.
it was MY name on the envelope.
It seems my grandfather had dropped it off for repair and simply (not at all surprising) never returned to pick it up. I immediately asked if I could make the call and when I got Gpop on the phone his response was. "Oh yes. By all means pick it up. I always meant for you to have it someday anyway."
He and Mr. Jenkins talked for awhile and Gpop insisted he'd come by and pay the repair bill but I insisted on paying for it then. He filled it for me, threw in a bottle of Blue-Black Skrip and I left a very happy person.
I used that pen daily for many, many years and never found anything I liked better. Then during a move from our apartment in California to the new house we had just bought someone broke into the apartment and stole a gold watch (also my grandfathers), an even older striking pocket watch that had belonged to my great grandfather and the pen. They did not take the stereo or the tv, only those three things and a small collection of silver dollars.
Since then I've had quite a few Sheaffer Oversized Balances but honestly, none have felt like that first one. I keep looking and trying to find one though and know that someday when I least expect it, The Pen will once again find me.