"So when kids in my class throw it, the papers won't fly all over."
September 19, 2013 4:42 PM   Subscribe

Mental Floss examines the history of the Trapper Keeper, the de rigueur school accessory of the 1980s, on its 35th birthday.
posted by Horace Rumpole (65 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I had the gold one with the mountain scene! I loved that thing.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:49 PM on September 19, 2013


I remember them being my first introduction to the Lisa Frank designs, which I LOVED and probably owned at some point. My first one was the horse one.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:53 PM on September 19, 2013


I've bought tons of 'em--for my kids, my grandkids, friend's kids--but I graduated before they were invented. :(


and I walked through three feet of snow every day summer and winter, uphill both ways, with no shoes... And we liked it!
posted by BlueHorse at 4:53 PM on September 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just remember the SHAM and DELUSIONAL LIE that was calmly setting up every section with a color-coded folder and tabs for each subject at the start of every year like some cargo cult of organization that we ALL KNEW was just going to turn into doddle and scratch paper in like, a week.

It's the exact same feeling when you get a new laptop and you're all "Okay THIS time I'm going to keep everthing neat and orderly" and then bam, you've got ten thousand random jpgs laying on the desktop
posted by The Whelk at 4:54 PM on September 19, 2013 [57 favorites]


It somehow heartens me to know these are still around.

Parents: Do schools still hand out paper textbook covers at the start of each year? You know, those large rectangles of orangey-brown butcher-grade paper with generic illustrations and a shitload of ads for local merchants printed on them? And do kids still put them on the books blank-side up, so they can draw skulls and spaceships and band logos all over them?
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:57 PM on September 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


In my school in Canada we had Hilroy Note Totes instead—very similar to Trapper Keepers, except without the weird portfolio things. Everyone just used them to hold looseleaf paper and hole-punched handouts. Turns out Hilroy's owned by the same conglomerate that owns Mead, so maybe we did have the real thing (sort of). Not that anyone really cared by the 90s—that's something else we didn't have, people being ridiculed because you didn't have a Genuine Note Tote.
posted by chrominance at 4:58 PM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, so much nostalgia. For some reason the thing that sticks in my mind most is the flexible plastic hinge cracking and failing.
posted by exogenous at 4:58 PM on September 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


I still have one of these, but the earlier version with a snap and not the velcro. The built-in plastic clipboard at the back does indeed say "Mead" on it. The outside is "jean" colored with a giant red rectangle in the middle decorated with white paisley.

The only reason I kept it is because my grandmother, who was into genealogy, gave me a ton of her charts and also a bunch of mimeographed family histories, which go into the pocket part (a plain manilla folder). The charts were hole punched and I have those still in her hand writing.

I pulled the cardboard out of the front and flipped it over and did an elaborate drawing of a tree, complete with bats and a moon, and "My Family Tree," on there.

But inside the white plastic flap, on the top front is still my name and home room from 8th grade, written in blue pen.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:02 PM on September 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


and then bam, you've got ten thousand random jpgs laying on the desktop

What is wrong with you were you raised in a barn? ugh
posted by maryr at 5:06 PM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just reading the words "Trapper Keeper" immediately called up the iconic Trapper Keeper font. Thanks for the nostalgia...
posted by honey badger at 5:11 PM on September 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Those were for the hip kids with their designer jeans and troll pencil toppers and huge white plastic Goody combs sticking out of their pockets under their Izod knit shirts.

As for myself, I had a perfectly serviceable green canvas-covered pasteboard binder, but I lined it with postcards of Mink Stole, Jean Hill, Edith Massey, and Divine, which served as a potent reminder that there was a richer, lovelier world out there beyond the horrors of middle school.

Trapper Keeper was the first walled garden of academia, I say. STAY IN THE SYSTEM.
posted by sonascope at 5:12 PM on September 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ugh. Trapper Keepers. Progenitors of the disgusting public school education cop-out, the "notebook check." Did you properly complete all your brain-dead assignments? Did you write neatly on each sheet? Are all 173 pages in exactly the prescribed order?
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:14 PM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's funny, but my association with it is something the cool kids - specifically the cool rich kids - had, and I either couldn't persuade my mom to get or didn't actually want. (Either is possible - I honestly don't remember.)

What I did have, though, that was just as much an in-crowd thing, was something we all called a Chandler, because it was sold at and branded by the local stationery shop, Chandlers. It was just a school-oriented planner, with daily/weekly/monthly calendars, but it was The Thing to Get when you went into junior high and started getting serious homework. I wonder what happened to mine? They were definitely victims of the same set of delusions that the Whelk describes, and probably completely empty after October of each year.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:16 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember these caused a split when they came out. You had the True Believers and you had the people who couldn't stay that organized and reverted to the blue denim binder with Pee Chee folders stuffed with random papers. I could probably add "messy notebook" to my "signs of undiagnosed childhood ADHD" checklist.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:17 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got a trapper keeper sometime in grade school and money was tight enough that I just used the same one until well into high school so it got encrusted with so many drawings, stickers, and decals that it turned into one of these construction sites in London where you keep knocking down walls to find older signs of habitation.
posted by The Whelk at 5:23 PM on September 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Side note: Was coloring in the tennis racket of the girl playing tennis, and adding a drawing of a fried egg on Peechees something everyone did? I remember that was like an actual "thing" that everyone seemed to do before then personalizing them with poorly drawn guitars or flowers or poor imitations of band logos or whatever.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 5:26 PM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Parents: Do schools still hand out paper textbook covers at the start of each year?

Man what? Never heard of this. If we wanted covers on our textbooks, that was up to us. We always used the blank side of regular brown paper grocery bags.
posted by curious nu at 5:31 PM on September 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


Aw, I wanted to be the first to say Note Tote - I had a brown one in 80s that I loved, and a purple one in the 90s.
posted by Calzephyr at 5:45 PM on September 19, 2013


“It was that weird thing where having a knockoff was worse than having nothing at all,” Ryan, now a senior writer at the Huffington Post, says. “Being the new kid, this was strangely devastating.” He would eventually get the real thing—bright red, with red, green, and blue folders. “It didn't make me cool, but at least I felt like I was conforming. Which, at that point, is all I had hoped for.”

I remember in first or second grade all the kids wore Vision Street Wear, so I asked my mom to get me a Vision Street Wear shirt, since it was obviously cool. She did, and then the first day I wore it, I learned about the concept of a "poser", which some kid told me I was, since he knew I didn't really skate.

I was like, "seriously? I make a good faith effort to conform socially, only to learn there's just another layer of arbitrary rules? To heck with this human socialization thing"*.

*20 years later I was like that, I mean, but you get the idea.
posted by anazgnos at 5:55 PM on September 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


These were forbidden at my elementary school, not because of the size but because thirty Velcro rrrippps at once drove the teacher insane.
posted by juniper at 5:59 PM on September 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


They were banned in my elementary school too! I never knew why - the velcro thing makes a ton of sense, though.

Parents: Do schools still hand out paper textbook covers at the start of each year?

Man what? Never heard of this. If we wanted covers on our textbooks, that was up to us. We always used the blank side of regular brown paper grocery bags.


The first time I went to a school that demanded we used textbook covers, my mom showed me how to make a paper one, and I figured everything was ok, until I showed up the first day and literally EVERYONE else in the entire school had the elastic-y fabric kind that you just stretch over the book. As a middle schooler, this was pretty much dying-of-shame-worthy.
posted by naoko at 6:06 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I too remember the joy of a new Trapper Keeper. "This one has a geometric futurescape! Geometric futurescapes help me file in an orderly fashion!" No matter how hard I tried, I always managed to mangle the heck out of the edges of my notebook paper. By the end of the year, I was sick of my view within the geometric futurescape and was stuffing papers into the first available folder, whose holes had worn through in January. My stuff was neither trapped nor kept.

And that commercial... poor 1st Boy. He gets shown up by the organized jock who intimidates him into dropping his books in front of his crush, which from the angle shown may well be a flowing wig supported upon a mop handle.

1st Boy: That's all you're taking to class?
2nd Boy: Everything I need is in my Trapper Portfolio.
1st Boy: Trapper?
2nd Boy: It traps in all my papers. The pocket is built this way... so...
*thwap*
2nd Boy: Why do you keep Trapper Keepering yourself?
*thwap*
2nd Boy: Huh?
*thwap*
1st Boy: I (oof) sure do like (oww) your note pad (agh) and pencil (ugh) clip, sir.
*thwap*

posted by Turkey Glue at 6:11 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


restless_nomad: "What I did have, though, that was just as much an in-crowd thing, was something we all called a Chandler, because it was sold at and branded by the local stationery shop, Chandlers. It was just a school-oriented planner, with daily/weekly/monthly calendars, but it was The Thing to Get when you went into junior high and started getting serious homework. I wonder what happened to mine? They were definitely victims of the same set of delusions that the Whelk describes, and probably completely empty after October of each year."

OH MY GOD I ORDERED CHANDLER'S ASSIGNMENT NOTEBOOKS UNTIL I WAS DONE WITH LAW SCHOOL, and had them shipped to me from that little stationery shop, even after they shop went out of business and you could only get them by mail, because my organizational life depended on them after I got so habituated and I am still sad that they went out of business because I NEED A CHANDLER'S, YO. All other dayplanners are inferior. Every now and then I run across one when I'm cleaning out some old box and mine are stuffed full of assignments, slips of paper, phone numbers, you name it.

I carried my purple Trapper Keeper and my green Chandler's around in my ESPRIT tote bag in junior high that probably gave me scoliosis from carrying all the text books on one shoulder but THAT IS WHAT THE THING WAS.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:11 PM on September 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


The old nuns that ran my school were convinced that these wouldn't fit in the desks. They would have fit fine. I'm sure my parents wouldn't have bought one for me anyway.
posted by TrialByMedia at 6:26 PM on September 19, 2013


I'm "Get Off My Lawn" old, so like Room 641-A said, I was all about the PeeChee folder. And thanks to this post, now I know they're being sold again. I think I'll order some to use at work.
posted by Edward L at 6:36 PM on September 19, 2013


When I was telling my middle-aged friends I was going back to grad school in 2010 at the age of 40 the "I got my Trapper Keeper and everything" was a pretty sure fire laugh line.
posted by shothotbot at 6:38 PM on September 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just to provide some context for what Eyebrows and I are talking about, check out this hilariously overwritten paean to the store and the notebook.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:39 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just remember the SHAM and DELUSIONAL LIE that was calmly setting up every section with a color-coded folder and tabs for each subject at the start of every year like some cargo cult of organization

I am chronically disorganized and when I was a kid I used to like to go to a stationary store and just look at all the calendars and cubbies and labels and boxes of pencils and feel like I was just a graph-paper notebook away from happiness.
posted by shothotbot at 6:41 PM on September 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


Not much makes me feel older than people's nostalgia for stuff that showed after my time.
posted by octothorpe at 6:49 PM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, like Pokemon. That was some newfangled deal for tiny little kids, right?
posted by exogenous at 6:57 PM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I graduated from High School in 1979 and have no children, so I have NEVER HEARD of these things. I thought this post was going to be about the paper "cootie catchers" (or whatever they call them in your neck of the woods) that kids have folded up for generations.

Wow. A beloved cultural phenomenon that I COMPLETELY MISSED.
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:08 PM on September 19, 2013


I think I had a trapper keeper in 4th grade but the teachers in my district were very controlling about what kind of notebook we got and how many etc. They would take so long to figure out how many 5-subject notebooks we needed for each thing that by the time we got our lists the school stuff was already out of the stores to make room for Halloween. I distinctly remember one year there were no "portfolio" type folders to be had, I was so annoyed and I remember the cashier shrugging at me. I stopped buying folders when I realized 99% of the pieces of paper they gave us were never going to be referenced or used again. Then I realized that taking notes was also mostly futile. By the time I was a junior or senior I had it down to a notepad and a half-sized bag. Which was sad because I still have this love and fascination with school & office supplies even though in my experience they're all 100% useless.
posted by bleep at 7:21 PM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nice post, and that was a fun look at trapper keeper history. I had a Trapper Keeper with a unicorn on it. But like so many others it just became a wasteland of disorganization. I carried it in my ESPRIT tote as well. I remember the paper book covers, too, and the joy I felt when I saw someone putting it on with the pictures on the INSIDE because oh my god that's brilliant, we can do that?

I also remember the Pee Chees and coloring in that tennis racket. But hey, Curious Artificer, we did cootie catchers, too.

I'm somehow not surprised that in Canada there was no "That's not a real Note Tote, ergo you suck" thing. Canada's a very different place from where I grew up. My (Californian) middle and high schools were hardcore cut throat places, man. I went to school once in a shirt I was so excited about, because it was a popular brand and I had to beg my mom to buy it because it was kind of expensive. It was red and pink with faded white geometric patterns all over it. I got to school and one of the popular girls glares at me as I get off the bus. She then says, in a loud scornful voice, "I cannot believe you wore that shirt. Oh my god! Red and pink DON'T MATCH." I spent the rest of the day alternating between wanting to hide my shirt (and myself) and wondering what kind of company could get away with making a shirt that didn't even match itself. It nearly made my 13 year old head explode.
posted by routergirl at 7:34 PM on September 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow. A beloved cultural phenomenon that I COMPLETELY MISSED.

It's okay. Every undifferentiated middle-aged year that passes, another grade of schoolkids graduates, burdened with their own memories of bullies, crushes, and fads. They have a language that you will never know, and their memories are dented by an array of consumer products that never made an impression on you.

i'm popular at parties
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:49 PM on September 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am chronically disorganized and when I was a kid I used to like to go to a stationary store and just look at all the calendars and cubbies and labels and boxes of pencils and feel like I was just a graph-paper notebook away from happiness.

I've long said that office supply stores are Toys' R' Us for adults.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:50 PM on September 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Ugh. Trapper Keepers. Progenitors of the disgusting public school education cop-out, the "notebook check." Did you properly complete all your brain-dead assignments? Did you write neatly on each sheet? Are all 173 pages in exactly the prescribed order?

Heh, I remember getting a D- in 7th grade geography because I so spectacularly failed my notebook check.

Also, this is the first time I've ever heard the folders referred to as "trappers." Which makes the name "trapper keeper" make soooo much more sense.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:52 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one in the post with the red car? That one is on the shelf next to me. I am getting up and getting it now.

The plastic is shredded. It has the remnants of old stickers on it. The only stickers still visible have Latin sayings on it because ... reasons? Ask 9th Grade me, who was taking Latin, probably.

The folders inside are labelled things like "Science/Lab Skills" and "Spanish", so they may date back to 8th Grade me.

They don't have old schoolwork in them, of course. Instead, most of my D&D character sheets. The hand-drawn (on grid paper) map of a four story Thieves' Guild building for a urban campaign I never ran. Notes and flyers for a Cthulhu game set in Cornwall. A sketch of what Middle-Earth looked like before the Day of Wrath. Schematics of Lankhmar's sewers.

Yeah.
posted by feckless at 7:56 PM on September 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I HAD A MENUDO ONE AND A TWO COREYS ONE I WAS THE MOST SPECIAL
posted by elizardbits at 8:15 PM on September 19, 2013


WHY WOULD YOU WANT A TRAPPER KEEPER WITH A PICTURE OF BEEF TRIPE ON IT
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:33 PM on September 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


What a terrible thing to call Corey Haim.
posted by The Whelk at 8:36 PM on September 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Parents: Do schools still hand out paper textbook covers at the start of each year?

Shit, they can barely afford textbooks in some districts!
posted by BlueHorse at 8:45 PM on September 19, 2013


I had a Lisa Frank trapper keeper! I think it had a unicorn on it. The trapper keeper, along with slap bracelets, ended up not being allowed at my school.

As a 29-year-old returning college student I am highly tempted to buy a trapper keeper off of eBay right now...
posted by littlesq at 8:54 PM on September 19, 2013


I had no idea PeeChees were strictly a West Coast item! They're so linked with high school in my brain. I feel sad for all the East Coasties who never got to draw the one basketball player stabbing the other and making it all real bloody looking.
posted by lovecrafty at 9:02 PM on September 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


This thing was Jesus on toast when it came out. Everyone had to have one.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:14 PM on September 19, 2013


Well shit, Lisa Frank trapper keepers are going for $120 on eBay

Do I want a school parking pass or a trapper keeper?
posted by littlesq at 9:17 PM on September 19, 2013


In 7th grade I first had a denim covered cardboard binder with metal rings on which I painted DISCO SUCKS with liquid paper. The cloth frayed and I tore it off. "Isco ucks?"

I then got a red trapper keeper, replacing it whenever the soft vinyl hinge tore.

In college I switched to spiral bound notebooks.
posted by brujita at 9:21 PM on September 19, 2013


The rainbow one in the picture was my preciou...uh...I mean the one I had.
posted by double bubble at 9:26 PM on September 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Heh, I remember getting a D- in 7th grade geography because I so spectacularly failed my notebook check.

Driver's Ed where I went to high school gave two grades. The first was your notebook check and the second was your practical driving. If you got at least a B in both you could skip the driving test at the BMV. I aced the practical driving but failed the shit out of the notebook check. My folks were not amused.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:09 PM on September 19, 2013


... wait ... you mean kids don't still use Trapper Keepers?
posted by evil otto at 10:16 PM on September 19, 2013


I can smell that distinctive smell right now in my memory.
posted by mynameisluka at 10:53 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


They were for rich kids in my school. Like Vision Streetwear and neon colored Zinka sunblock. Stupid protectionist tariffs made anything cool very expensive to import from the states.

Then they showed up in the black market, along other high value contraband like Lucky Charms, Snickers, Sony Walkmans and guns and ammo. And then they got banned.

The many of us who did not have the money to go to the US or the mall would lie to our parents about going to the movies and take the bus to San Juan de Dios market. Buy some fresh pressed sugarcane juice. Sip it while looking at the thousands of caged birds for sale in the central courtyard, trying to get the parrots to curse.

Climb the service stairs and walk down dark corridors between boarded up stalls used for storage. A few stalls were always open, mostly Indias selling herbs and the witches with their Santa Muerte candles and their spell casting powders and potions. Were any of the girls using those powders on us? Polvo Amansa Guapo, which can tame the worst womanizer. Polvo Amarra Hombres, so your man will never leave. Polvo Aburridora, used by jealous third parties so your lover will be so bored with you that she will leave you. Just in case we got a few satchets of Polvo 7 Machos, it never hurts to increase one's virility sevenfold.

At the end of the corridor one big stall had swallowed dozens of smaller ones. Each small stall stacked with similar boxes, a few open boxes showing product samples.The same people who were sending trailers full of weed to the USA were bringing them back filled with contraband, and it all ended up here. Most buyers were there buying in bulk, to stock smaller versions of this market in hundreds of towns in Jalisco, Colima and Michoacan.

We only cared about Trapper Keepers, Vision, Vans and Sony. We would pay and leave, pretending not to see the guns and the drugs and the porn.

The bus stop on the way back was just outside a brothel, and in 15 minutes of waiting we saw and heard things no one would ever believe back at school.

Then they got banned. Not because stupid kids from the good side of town going to a drug, gun and contraband market on the bad side of town to buy them. They got banned because the front and back artwork for both the trappers and the keeper, specially in the abstract ones, was mirrored along the spine. We would open them flat and try to find designs a la Rorschach Test. One of the teachers noticed, and all she could see was demons and orgies and demon orgies.

The Trapper Keeper was killed by the Satanic Subliminal Messages. Oh the eighties.

On preview, sorry for length, bored and on call and out of nicotine is my excuse
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 12:24 AM on September 20, 2013 [30 favorites]


Apologize for nothing. That was a hell of a post.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:33 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always wondered what a Trapper Keeper was.
I was only half right.

Man, if only Mitt had Trapper Keepers full of women....
posted by Mezentian at 2:37 AM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Trapper Keepers were never a thing in Holland, so I was somewhat confused by that South Park episode that revolved around them. Over here it was agendas that were the cool thing to have when I was in high school, if they were devoted to the correct brand of consumer items (hey, it was the eighties). O'Neill was huge, so was Mexx, but nobody looked as cool as me with my Marvel superheroes agenda...
posted by MartinWisse at 2:51 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember starting the school year and being all "YEAH I got my Trapper Keeper, it's all organizey and check out all these pockets, I'm gonna use this folder for this and that one for that and check out this Velcro action!", but by the end of the year the spine would be split (leaving nice sharp edges to scratch or cut yourself on), half of the Trappers would be torn out at the punch holes, and the plastic cover would be all nasty and grimy along its edges and corners. I only remember getting my first one, when they were a big deal ("I know this won't make me cool, but maybe it will make me just a little bit less uncool!")... but I feel like I must have had at least two, maybe three of them over the years.
posted by usonian at 5:08 AM on September 20, 2013


These were forbidden at my elementary school

I'm confused: what did you use to set up a three-sided wall on your desk to prevent those lazy bastards around you from just copying off your test so they could graduate and then get into a good school and wind up as investment bankers? The problem with this country today is probably a lack of Trapper Keepers and the concomitant lack of paranoia about neighbors they provided.
posted by yerfatma at 5:33 AM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, they were banned in my school system, up until fifth grade, where self-satisfied 10 and 11 year olds would start the school year with that lovely RRRRIIIIIPPP of Velcro echoing through the classrooms.

I had one but was pretty unimpressed with the strength of the rings. I actually liked the denim covered cardboard ones better, since they could be doodled upon with Sharpies very effectively. Even better into middle school (mid-90s) when you got the neon colored ones with the plastic covers you could slip photos into. My friends and I had the most awesome self-decorated Star Wars binders. And then X-Files binders. And then Ranma 1/2 binders. And then Sailor Moon binders. And then Utena binders. And then Gundam Wing binders.
posted by olinerd at 5:36 AM on September 20, 2013


I'm confused: what did you use to set up a three-sided wall on your desk to prevent those lazy bastards around you from just copying off your test so they could graduate and then get into a good school and wind up as investment bankers?

We just used regular paper folders... ?
posted by olinerd at 5:36 AM on September 20, 2013


Atom Eyes: "Parents: You know, those large rectangles of orangey-brown butcher-grade paper with generic illustrations and a shitload of ads for local merchants printed on them? And do kids still put them on the books blank-side up, so they can draw skulls and spaceships and band logos all over them?"

curious nu: "Never heard of this. If we wanted covers on our textbooks, that was up to us. We always used the blank side of regular brown paper grocery bags."

The ones we got weren't orangey-brown butcher paper, they were...well, I don't quite remember, I vaguely recall them being shinier paper, that was white or maybe some other light color, with the type all in some other color? Green, maybe? Blue? But yes, tons of local ads and generic illustrations.

I switched to brown paper grocery bags because I liked it better aesthetically, and liked the texture and how the edges got soft and fabric-like, and because I didn't like the busy design with all the ads, and also because damn the man and conformity or something.
posted by desuetude at 7:54 AM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also it was much easier to draw on the paper bag book covers instead of the shiny ones loaded with all kinds of designs and other crap.

I moved to a new school to start junior high. It was pretty traumatic, in the way that things can be pretty traumatic when you've just turned 12. My mom went into the hospital with what I later learned was depression, so, surprise, just a few days before starting 7th grade with all of my friends, I moved 2.5 hours away to this hick northeastern Pennsylvania town to live with my dad. I brought my Trapper Keeper, of course. Well, no one else had one. Like, no one. Somehow I missed the memo that 7th grade was the demarcation line between Trapper Keeper and no Trapper Keeper, so when I showed up the first day of school, friendless and small and unsure of myself, I felt even moreso like I didn't belong.

Then I made matters worse by getting on the wrong bus to go home and I didn't get home until well after 6pm, scaring the shit out of my dad. But what a terrible week that was. No friends, couldn't even figure out how to get home from school, having to shower for the first time in gym class, missing all my friends, yuck. Giving up the Trapper Keeper (which of course I did, because I was desperate to fit in) was a little like saying goodbye to my former life.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:25 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man what? Never heard of this. If we wanted covers on our textbooks, that was up to us. We always used the blank side of regular brown paper grocery bags.

In my day, local merchants would get textbook covers printed and hand them out to students and teachers. Students were required to protect their textbooks, but could choose what with.
posted by ocschwar at 8:47 AM on September 20, 2013


I often got cool-kid things at the very tail end of their popularity, either because I'd finally saved enough allowance or because my mom was tired of hearing me ask for them. I didn't get a Trapper Keeper until sixth grade, in 1991, and even though I suspected that Trapper Keepers were a relic of both the 80s and elementary school and thus no longer cool, I was still thrilled to finally have one. Until maybe two weeks in, when the plastic ring part popped out and the vinyl started splitting at the seams. Man, that thing was crap! It looked so cool though.

(Even further behind the times: I got my first Swatch when I was 23. It's held up much better and I still wear it.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:26 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


1. Obtain exacto blade.
2. Slice plastic at bottom of cover.
3. Remove cardboard insert.
4. Flip cardboard over.
5. Write names of bands/Cure lyrics on cardboard.
6. Reinsert.
7. Hope for girls to notice.
8. Weep.
9. Maybe ride bikes.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:26 AM on September 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


And 10, 10, 10, 10 is for EVEYTHING, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING
posted by maryr at 1:10 PM on September 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Maryr just won the thread.
posted by uberchet at 2:30 PM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


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