Mystery Object #12: Flesh Crayon



Antique stores are useful repositories for objects that evoke memories of the past. Nearly every time I visit an antique store I am confronted with a few objects that evoke things long forgotten. Sometimes I find objects from a time before I was born that confound me with their alien common-sense assumptions.

About a week before fall semester started, on the way back from a canoe trip, we stopped in an antique store in Lindstrom, Minnesota. While looking through the collected objects I came across something that I remember from my early childhood—an old set of crayons. Their fragrance instantly brought me back to some of my earliest memories—coloring on the kitchen table or elementary school classroom.

Were they even my memories?  I can’t say for sure—the smell of crayons is a foundational, childhood smell for many. Coloring with crayons is a cross-generational experience for many Americans.

Of course, seeing the light-colored “flesh” crayon in the pack reminded me the serious messages—the lessons of category—that can be communicated through childhood play.

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