More ancient history…

My last remaining Pennsylvania ballcap from 30+ years ago, and one of the ubiquitous EAB dust caps that we submariners tend to use as keychains.

Ship’s hull number ball caps were regulation while in dungarees back in the 80’s (might still be, I dunno), so I had a wide selection of these ball caps… If I wasn’t wearing a dixie cup or a hardhat, these were my daily wear while onboard the Pennsylvania and at E.B. there in Groton.

The downward folds on the brim weren’t terribly regulation, but no one cared.

The easy way to tell the real-80’s-deal from a more modern hat is that the ship’s name, the dolphins, and the hull number are all separately embroidered onto the hat. The modern hats appear to be a patch attached to the cap or the ship’s info screen printed onto it – and they just look cheap in my opinion.

The EAB dust cap in the photo is a newer model of the brass ones we used back in the 80’s. I lost my original one some twenty years ago and replaced it with a newer one for old-time’s sake… It’s a hell of a conversation starter. 🙂


While taking this stroll down memory lane, someone had asked me “What’s the oldest thing you own?”

I’m taking this to mean personal item and not some antique I acquired because it was an antique.

I think it would be my pencil…

Ye olde Staedtler Mars 780 lead holder and optional sharpener.

To the uninitiated this will look like the bog standard 2mm 780 lead holder you can buy right now at your local art store; Staedtler has been making the 780 for like 50 years after all. But for those in the know – they will recognize this as being the late 1970’s incarnation.

The holder and the sharpener were part of a kit that also had a compass, this cool three-sided ruler, and some other pieces. My mother bought the set for me when I entered junior high in my 7th grade year – or 1981.

And I’ve used the pencil as my ‘daily driver’ ever since.

Yes, there are 12 year old me fingerprints on this thing. It has written roleplay worlds and rules my neighbor and I used, homework that I never turned in, old BASIC programs that ran on my ZX-81 and VIC20, my Navy rating exams, notes for my qualifications at test depth on a submarine, artwork that I did in the 80’s and 90’s, code and design work for the Sticker Station in the 2000’s, my resume in 2004 for where I currently work, and most recently some security notes for Apple.

Lots of miles on this thing, and lots of memories as well.

While we’re on the subject of old pencils, here’s a collector’s item I’ve had since 1990:

The Tombow Monotech 500 0.3 limited edition “black”

This is a super rare Japanese mechanical pencil designed for animation work. I picked it up for myself at an art store where I was dropping a couple hundred on art supplies for my ex… And while I’ve never done animation with it, it’s an incredible tool to draw with.

This pencil stays in the box it came with when not in use, because it would be frighteningly easy to bend the tip on it.

I also have a collection of Rotring ArtPens and technical pens, but those aren’t as interesting. 🙂