Howard Koch’s favorite pencil

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Howard Koch, a Hollywood blacklisted screenwriter who may be best known as a co-writer of Casablanca, paid tribute to the role of pencils in his work:

“On my desk, sharpened by my patient secretary, were a dozen brown pencils. Eagle Number One. I’d learned to have great respect for these pencils and use them to this day. Sometimes they seem to take off on their own with me merely holding them, like the marker on a ouija board. The pencil obediently wrote down the two words that open every screen play — Fade In.”

Howard Koch, Casablanca: Script and Legend, Overlook Press, Woodstock, N.Y., 1973.

Eagle was a pencil company and “Number One” is a grade, so the exact pencil being referred to isn’t clear. What is extremely clear is Koch’s appreciation for these tools. A pencil having it’s own life, to “take off on their own”, is an engaging line of thought.

My thanks to Gerald for providing the citation.

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