I had a fabulous aunt, who not only introduced me to Dr. Seuss, but also thought nothing of giving cash to the feckless young. For my birthday she would give me R5.00, which was worth approximately $5.00 in the 1960s, and was a king's ransom. For that price I could buy a huge box of Crayola crayons, the extra special one with a bazillion colors, including the amazing copper, gold and silver. In reality, the box probably looked like this one.
Drawing with the crayons was the least of the joy in this purchase. There was the trip to town with my mother, which was an adventure in itself; there was the stationery store, full of enticing things; and the staff's solemn respect due to the possessor of such massive wealth, even though she couldn't quite see over the counter yet. Then there were the organizational possibilities. Taking up each pristine crayon, its tip unmarred, its paper unruffled, I would read the name. Such names! Pure poetry! Burnt sienna! Magenta! And the variations, sky blue, Prussian blue, French navy, Wedgewood blue, blue green, turquoise. Not just a blue, but a classification of blue. This blue is not that blue. This led on to the sorting. How should each color relate to its neighbor in the box? How could one possibly start using the crayons until all the relationships had been worked out. Hours passed, continents drifted, and still no crayon had touched paper! Some would marvel at such detail in one so young, others (usually those closely related to me) would mutter about OCD. Of course, in time, crayons would be blunt or broken, wrappers would be torn and lost, but that bright shining moment of possibility is what I always remember when I think of Aunty Betty, long gone, but much loved. A passion for color, fostered young, is a priceless gift.