Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Of sailors and pens

So I’m sitting here, looking at the inscriptions on the little plastic pen I will use for my writing chores today, and I wonder why a pen company would be called Sailor.

Google tells me: A British sailor filled the head of a young Japanese entrepreneur with the miracle of a fountain pen. In honor of that anonymous sea-farer, the Sailor Pen company was named, way back in 1911. It’s based in Hiroshima, so it survived the nuclear bombing of that city in World War II.

I love to let my mind linger on such moments in time. Instead of spending his shore leave getting soused in a bar or darkening the door of a brothel, the mariner sat down with a local and the conversation turned, somehow, to pens. I picture the limey sitting down with the curious young man, perhaps in a coffeehouse or a drowsy shop on a sunlit Japanese afternoon, and the two scribbling on a scrap of paper.

Did the sailor ever learn, when he boarded his boat again and sailed away, what he had left behind – not a lost love, not change on a bar top, not the conception of a child – but an innovation upon which his young Japanese friend would build a corporation?

Did they correspond over the years?


Janice Thomson said...

Oh wouldn't that be neat to know and somehow satisfying.

Eastcoastdweller said...

Janice: We can truly never know what will be the result of the things we say, or the things we do.

A casual conversation might set a sharp mind to thinking and in quest of the resolution of an ancient mystery; a kindness rendered might change the world.