My godmother was an artist, and she dealt in all sorts of media, including pen-and-ink, so she always had bottles of India ink around when I was a kid. I was never permitted to get close to the ink bottle when I was young. To state it in mathematical terms:
India ink + carpet = a permanent mess
Fortunately, the ballpoint pen, like the Bic stick, had pretty much replaced the fountain pen for daily use by the early Sixties, obviating the need for bottles that could be knocked over and ink that could be spilled on clothes, furniture, carpets, pets, younger siblings, etc.
Unfortunately, no one bothered to tell the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus about this modern miracle, and when it came time to learn to write with a pen in third grade, we were told that we would have to go out and buy a cartridge pen before we would be allowed to attempt the Palmer Method in anything but pencil. We didn’t question what the nuns told us; being eight years old, we just said, “Yes, Sister,” went home and hit up our parents for the money to buy a cartridge pen.
When I told my mother what I needed and asked her for the money, her reaction was to snap, “Oh, for God’s sake” and call the principal, who had taught her twenty years earlier, to argue the case for the ballpoint. After a half hour of contentious conversation with Reverend Mother, she hung up, handed me a five-dollar bill and told me to go buy a cartridge pen.
I was able to find one at the corner drug store, and it came with several “washable blue” ink cartridges, as required by the nuns. I learned later that the reason for washable blue ink was not so that our mothers could wash out the ink that would inevitably be spilled on our clothes; it was so that ink that was inevitably spilled in the classroom wouldn’t cause permanent damage to the furniture.
Armed with our pens, we began the painful process of learning to write with pen and ink. The results were mixed: the girls took to it like swans to water, while the boys … not so much. We boys were more interested in swinging our pens at our friends and splattering them with ink.
By the time fifth grade rolled around for us, we had a new principal who decided that making us write with pen and ink was asinine. We were ordered to part company with our cartridge pens and never use them at school again, and to use ballpoint pens from then on. None of us complained, our parents were happy, and the quality of our penmanship didn’t decline that much. Furthermore, left-handed kids like my brother no longer had to try and write right-handed. Everyone was a winner.