The other day I told you the story about the way Lily’s crayons shaped a day of family warmth and celebration for our group.  Today we are off to celebrate crayons in a different way.

In 1903, Edwin Binney and his cousin Harold Smith decided to launch a new product.  Edwin’s wife, Alice Stead Binney, was a school teacher, and she was excited about their invention of drawing crayons that were safe for use by children.  It was Alice who coined the name, “Crayola,” by combining the French word, “craie,” which means “chalk,” and “oleaginous” which means “oily.”  Crayola crayons have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  Today we will take a group of eleven of Alice’s descendants to the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA.  There they will learn how crayons are made, participate in some art activities, and hopefully take away a feeling or two about the source of their own creativity.

You see, Alice Stead Binney was my great-grandfather’s sister.  In addition to being the wife of Mr. Binney — her claim to status in those days — she was a very creative woman.  Years ago, my great-aunt Alice — her “only niece and namesake” according to family tradition — shared with me some of Alice’s writings about spirit and nature and life.  I was stunned to see that her subject matter and opinions paralleled my own; and her writing inspired me to continue to put my words to paper.  Alice also wrote music, and we were delighted to be given copies last year.  My creative brother digitized some of her compositions, and I share one with you here: Helen’s Caprice by Alice Stead Binney Stereo MP3 28jun09

I just know that the tune will be playing in my head as I watch the grandchildren light up with color today.  I hope they will also come away with a sense of their creative heritage.  We will linger a bit at the historical exhibit and look for a picture of their great-great-great-great aunt.  She truly was quadruple great.

As for me, I will breathe in the intoxicating aroma of brand new crayons.  May your day be filled with color.