A Powerful Stimulant to Memoir: Crayola Memories Past and Future

Photo by Linda Hoye

A new box of Crayolas — is anything more beautiful? Those perfect points. The swoon-inducing fragrance!

When I was a child, I craved the box of 64 I saw inside the desk of one of my first-grade friends. I loved the varied hues and the strange names: vermillion, burnt umber, magenta. I got one or two large boxes over the first ten years of life. Eventually, they ended up in a big shoe box and were shared with the brother and sisters.

I’ve bought two boxes of crayolas in the last year. I’m buying for the two grandchildren whose works of art I crave before they have the small-muscle control to create them.

Owen selects a color. Photo taken last Christmas when we visited the credit union.

Crayolas stimulate my memories of childhood and are some of the classic toys, like teddy bears, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, and Golden Books that children of the 1950’s can share with the children of the 2010s. Little Owen is smelling and tasting and crayoning his way to his own sensory memory bank, which will some day be stimulated by the sight and smell of Crayolas also.

When he and his sister Julia are old enough, I want to follow Joanne Hess Siegrist’s good grandmothering example and help them make their own books about our adventures together. It’s never too soon to plunge in to memoir! Take a picture and write a story. Or draw a picture and write a story. Publish with a stapler. Maybe throw a launch party.

Whether making memories or preserving them, Crayolas are a great tool of creativity. I suggest that you sit down with a box of them and a fresh drawing tablet and see what happens.

Many thanks to Linda Hoye, the photographer of the lovely picture of crayons above. Linda is one of the people (more than 300 so far) who pre-ordered Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World and told me about it. I’m thrilled and grateful, Linda. Big hugs to you. Linda blogs at Slice of Life Writing.

62 Days Until Blush Launches

My New Beginning today is to read the Blush manuscript one last time to check on the proofreading.

What’s your New Beginning? Log it here.

Shirley Showalter


  1. Tina Barbour on July 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    What a precious photo of Owen! Isn’t interesting to see what colors kids pick out? I always picked out the purple crayon in Sunday school. My teacher remembered many years later my love for the color.

    And you’re so right about the smell of crayons!

    I’ve never been a very competent artist, but I still love to color. 🙂

    • shirleyhs on July 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Thanks, Tina. I love when my blog gives me an excuse to pull out Owen pictures. Thanks for enjoying along with me.

      Purple. You bring up a new topic. Did I have a favorite color too? I don’t remember.

      Keep on coloring!

      Thanks for staying in touch.

  2. Elaine on July 12, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Love the blueberry countdown! 🙂

  3. Marian Beaman on July 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    You have a serious student of crayons with your sweet little Owen. . . interesting to observe his color preferences. 5-year-old Ian liked pink last year and now his favorite is black!

    We have a box of Crayolas always open on one of the desks in our office space. Beside it is a bunch of non-toxic, dry-erase markers waiting for little hands. Sometimes when I walk by I pick up the crayons and take a sniff which puts me right back in first grade.

    • shirleyhs on July 13, 2013 at 10:19 am

      Marian, what a good idea. I’ll follow your good example as our little ones get a few years older.

      Smell. What a great link to memory. As you say, it can take us right back, even while we hold a grandchild in the present and imagine his path in the future.

      “And time shall be no more.”

      Uh oh, I feel a new blog post coming on. 🙂

  4. Linda Hoye on July 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Owen is absolutely adorable! Isn’t it a joy to watch these little ones grow and to help introduce them to things that we once treasured like a simple box of crayons?

    • shirleyhs on July 13, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Thank you, Linda. Your photo gave me an excuse to be a proud grandma with pictures of her favorite children in her “wallet.”

      Yes, those simple things are the best of all.

      May have have plenty of simple New Beginnings in the creative journey ahead of you!

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