Remember when the teacher handed out “dittos” instead of xerox copies?
They never explained why the dittos were in purple ink. It was just another one of the many things you have to accept as a child without question.
They also never explained why it was called a ditto. I guess that’s easier for kids to learn than mimeograph, even though I think I would have fancied saying mimeograph.
The dittos came from a mysterious place in the school. I never saw anyone pick them. They just materialized. I had a feeling that some of my fellow students knew where dittos came from but did not tell as part of some inside joke.
Sometimes the fresh dittos would be hot to the touch when handed out. This led me to believe that they were manufactured close to the sun, perhaps in Florida where my grandparents lived.
I also noticed that sometimes the ink was of varying darkness. Getting a light dittos was a mild insult, I felt. I did not care to color in light dittos. But I also did not like it when the purple ink ran, as if the lines were smudged. That I also found offensive. How dare they ask me to color in a smudgy ditto.
When I think about the dittos I picture scenes like “Winter Fun” or “Thanksgiving Dinner” where we would have to color in a setting of nice kids in approved activities. This was supposed to show us what real life was supposed to be about. As if a ditto could compete with television.
And then one day the dittos were gone. I don’t remember the exact day the purple ink turned to black. I just noticed that it had been sometime since I’d seen a ditto. I pictured the ditto machine – wherever they kept it – sitting alone, unused, reminiscing about better days.