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Flashback Friday - Retro School Supplies Edition

Pee_chee Back in grade school, while I generally stayed abreast of the latest clothing fashions, I was always woefully behind on which backpacks and binders were cool and which were totally dorky. Aren't all school supplies dorky? I thought. As it turns out, no. School supply trends seem to change on a whim: one day you're in—and the next, you're out. Today I bring you the three most important trend setters of my youth: Pee Chee, Trapper Keeper, and Lisa Frank.

Pee Chee folders were yellow folders with multiplication tables and other helpful little cheat sheets on the inside. They were covered in pictures of people doing totally gendered athletic activities, and for about fifteen seconds of my youth, they were totally cool. Then, one day, they were just the dorkiest thing since pocket protectors. But when they were cool, they were only cool if you drew all over them. Here are some examples of Pee Chee doodle art:

The Abstract

The Collage
The Witticism
After Pee Chee folders came Lisa Frank and Trapper Keeper. My parents were not super rich, and they could not understand why I couldn't have just any old binder and folders. I remember I had to beg for about a year to get a JanSport backpack, because for some reason, anything else was social suicide. At that point I think I was high school age and better able to manipulate things like the fact that it had a Lifetime Guarantee to my advantage. The hardest fight I ever had was for Trapper Keeper, though, and if I'd had better debating skills as a third grader, I could have definitely worked my parents on this one,because I was always losing shit. Since it was one of the few binders that fastened shut with velcro to keep your shit in there, I don't know why it didn't occur to me to work this angle with my mom. I have never been able to bother with any system of organization, so an expression of the desire to keep my schoolwork in order could have done wonders. Instead I took the, "if I don't have one I'll be laughed at" approach.

Ideally you were supposed to use folders called "Trappers" inside your Trapper Keeper, but that's for dorks who do their homework, dude. Mostly I filled my Trapper Keeper with intricately folded notes passed during and between class.

But it wasn't good enough just to have any Trapper Keeper. Design was key, and for girls, Lisa Frank was like the Versace of folder fashion. Check out some of the hot designs:


Looking back, I guess it's kind of apparent how we got here, huh?

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I had all that Lisa Frank shit. (Best diction ever). I'm pretty sure one of the bears on that top L.F. folder is in blackface. Just saying.


Ha! & Ahhhh... The Trapper Keeper. Mine was green. I made the mistake of writing on the plastic cover. I was always shielding my, too big for a shy 13 year old, breasts with the Trapper - until it rained on picture day and the ink smeared all over my white turtleneck. It was not a good day. My Trapper Keeper was a frightful mess - opening it sans an explosion of loose papers was a rare thing indeed. Lisa Frank didn't hit the cool radar until I was in my twenties, but that doesn't mean I didn't buy any. I love purple cats and floating hearts just as much as the next tween.


did you know that Ed Hardy is the new Lisa Frank? I saw it at Target. It has now killed my childhood.


had the oh so cool purple trapper keeper..I stuck all sorts of stickers and whatnots on it,tres cool!!!! I stuck the wacky pack stickers all over because it was a huge deal and I spent all my allowance on them


HAHAHA - I had the "save the planet" Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper in the 6th grade. . And, I used recycled school paper that year. I thought I was such a cool hippie...


I lobbied hard for, and got, a Trapper Keeper, but then I never used it. I found it annoying to have to carry around my folders for ALL my classes ALL the time, instead of just the relevant one.

And that's why I had no friends, the end.


I had a trapper keeper with kittens on it. Tres chic. The Lisa Frank thing and Trapper Keeper thing did not hit at the same time at my school. Lisa Frank hit when I was in middle school and Trapper Keepers were soooo grade school by then. I had all that Lisa Frank shit, though. Pencils, pens with pink ink, folders, note pads, post-its. What use a 7th grader has for post-its is beyond me.

My kid has Lisa Frank stuff now. there's one with a tiger wearing a tiara that she just thinks is the coolest things since snowpants.


Look, I'm straight-up pimping the vintage Trapper Keeper collection I've got up on E-bay. I found a stash of them in an old grocery store here in Philly, and I bought them ALL even before I knew other folks might want them. Feast your eyes and recover that childhood: http://myworld.ebay.com/jump-dumpster


I had SEVERAL Trapper Keepers (looking at that ebay site brought back long-repressed memories) and a Lisa Frank lunchbox. My family was broker than the 10 Commandments, but somehow I ended up with decent gear.


My Trapper Keeper had a fierce-ass tiger on it. I mean, what displays the fierceness of one's 9 year old personality better than displaying a tiger on one's Trapper Keeper? *sigh*

The more things change the more they stay the same, really.

Suzy Q

I thinks Lisa Frank was on peyote. How else to explain her "art"?


OH. EM. GEE. I had that unicorn folder! Holy mother of flashbacks...


I totally had everything Lisa Frank and it was all in my Trapper Keeper. Ah, memories.

And yeah, I also saw that Ed Hardy is the new Lisa Frank myself. I wish he would GO AWAY already. I'm over it EH.

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