Lois Lowry's Blog
I was sitting here this morning, answering mail, when I happened to glance at this container of scissors.
Three cheers for whoever invented scissors. They really are quite ingenious, aren't they? Someone, sometime, after using a knife to cut a piece of paper, must have thought: Hey, if I took two sharp edges. and then attached them to something that you could fit your fingers through...
When I was a kid, there were never enough scissors in our house. (Why not? I wonder now. Were scissors very expensive in the '40's?) Those were the years of paper dolls. I don't think little girls play with paper dolls much anymore. But my sister---she was three years older---and I were passionate about paper dolls. Every Saturday we got our allowance. I don't remember how much it was. Not much. But paper dolls at the local Woolworth's only cost ten cents. I bought a new set every Saturday. So did Helen. Often they were movie-star paper dolls: June Allyson, Esther Williams, Jeanne Crain, Judy Garland... You punched the doll itself---she had perforated edges---out of the cover. She was fairly sturdy, sort of cardboard, and usually wearing a bathing suit. Sometimes you got two of her, in two different poses, arms arranged differently.
Then you set about cutting out her clothes from the flimsier paper inside---evening gowns, playsuits, lounging pajamas---all of then tabbed so that you could attach them to the cardboard doll, though they never stayed on very well and "playing with" the clothed dolls wasn't fun. We rarely bothered cutting out the shoes and hats. The fun of paper dolls was all in the acquisiton, the cutting-out, the comparing ("Does yours have a fur coat?" Mine does")
Helen and I each had an accordian file, and each set of paper dolls had its own storage slot.
But back to the cutting-out. There were never enough scissors in our house. Mother had what she called her sewing scissors---they were thin and sharp, excellent for cutting out paper doll clothes; but we weren't allowed to use the sewing scissors, and we had to sneak them. Hell to pay if we got caught. Dad had scissors in his medical stuff. But they were medical scissors, also forbidden. There was another pair of scissors, which we were allowed to use--but it was only one pair, so we had to pass them back and forth. "My turn for the scissors!" "Mom, she's hogging the scissors!"
At some point in recent years, long, long after paper dolls held any fascination for me, scissors became ubiquitous. They come in all sizes. And they're cheap. The world is full of scissors. And every time I walk down the aisle in Staples---the aisle where the scissors are displayed---I feel scissors-lust, clearly born of early deprivation. I buy them in all sizes. You can never have too many pairs of scissors.