For some forgotten reason Tracie and I started talking about Pee-Chees the other day. If you don’t know what a Pee-Chee is, either you’re not old enough or you grew up in the eastern half of the US. (While I was googling about Pee-Chees I learned that they seem to be largely a western phenomenon.) A Pee-Chee is a cheap cardboard portfolio for carrying around papers, and was standard issue equipment for everyone in my junior-high and high schools. They look like this:
They really weren’t the best way to keep track of papers, but we all used them anyway. I used one for each class; current assignments, notes, other works-in-progress and blank paper went in the right-hand pocket; everything else (mostly returned assignments) went in the left. They got really beat-up by the end of the term and usually had to be reinforced with tape before then.
Since you inevitably had a Pee-Chee on your desk during class, and since most classes were, frankly, pretty dull, everyone doodled on their Pee-Chees. The interesting thing to me–and the point of this post–is that there were certain doodles that everyone did. Everyone put a knife in the hand of the basketball player so that he was stabbing the chest of the guy with the ball, everyone turned the baseball bat into a battle-ax, everyone added a fuse to the baton carried by the relay racer, everyone added polka-dots to the tennis player’s shorts. What’s remarkable is that Tracie confirms that everyone in her schools did the same thing, even though we went to entirely different schools. So what I want to know is, how did these Pee-Chee doodle customs travel from one school to the next, and how far did they travel? Was making the baseball bat into a battle-ax just an Oregon Pee-Chee doodle motif, or was it more widespread?
Our usual supermarket has its back-to-school stuff up already (actually I guess it’s not too early–school starts earlier here than it did in Oregon when I was of school age) and I was chagrined to see that they don’t stock Pee-Chees. Chris tells me that Bi-Mart (another Oregon phenomenon) still sells them, though.