The Big Chief Tablet

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THE BIG CHIEF TABLET
By S.B. Watson

My first clear memory of writing is at the young age of 5, before the first grade, when my mother took me to the five and dime store to purchase school supplies. We bought crayons, pencils, erasures, scissors and glue. We put it all in a white cigar box. We also picked up this red writing tablet that was thicker than most books I had ever seen. On the cover was this Big Indian Chief. I remember thinking, “Why did this chief have his picture on the front?” and “Could I buy it even if I wasn’t an Indian?” Well, I got to buy it without any problems and I was so excited as I carried out my wonderful treasures. On the way home I pulled out all my supplies and gently unwrapped each one. I carefully put them in my box and tucked the big red tablet under my arm. When we got to the house, I jumped out of the car and ran to my room. I couldn’t wait to start writing and perfecting my alphabet. My mother had already taught me to write my name and I could sing the alphabet song since I learned to talk. I wanted to practice my letters because I wanted to write better than my dad. I had heard everyone say that his handwriting was “horrible”. “He should have been a doctor!” my grandma always said. As I sat there putting my letters in the straight rows with the dotted lines, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Big Chief. I closed the cover and ran my fingers gently over the smooth surface. “I should be able to feel the feathers,” I thought, but of course, I couldn’t. Who was this Indian Chief anyway? Was he still alive? Did he live in Shiprock? My mother came in and said, “Let me see what you’re working on.” I looked up at her inquisitive face. Her flowing black hair framed the most beautiful dark eyes. She wanted to see how I was doing with my writing. I showed her the few letters I had formed. She looked over each one admiringly and said she was so proud. She was always saying that.

I was about to burst...