Ross McKinney
Biography # 193 email:

I was raised in Kansas, where the topography is as flat as a piece of notebook paper, and I grew up with pencils and Chief Tablets. My handwriting was terrible, terrible, terrible - so bad my 4th grade teacher threatened to flunk me ("How can I pass him when I can't even read what he's writing?"). Eventually, I was allowed to give up on cursive and move to printing. I used BICs and Cross pens until medical school (in frozen Rochester, NY).
In med school I bought a Sheaffer Targa that weighted 27 pounds and wrote with the subtlety of a thermonuclear device. A friend saw it, said, "That's a sorry excuse for a pen!" and gave me a Parker 51 as a gift. I loved it. Until I dropped it. And replaced it with one of those cheapish '70s Mont Blancs with a hooded nib. Lasted me until 1998, when it cracked. I asked my wife for a fountain pen for my birthday. She gave me a Parker Sonnet. I loved it. I loved it so much, I said, "I should get another one!" So I did. A Waterman L'Etalon. Man, was that a dog. Smooth as can be, heavy as the aforementioned thermonuclear device, and totally numb. So I traded it. Dave Penn gave me a Parker 51, a Parker Vacumatic, a Vac tool, and a Vac diaphragm.

One installation later, I was hooked. I started fixing pens and found that I loved it. So I still do it. Lots of them. Some I buy on E-Bay, some from friends, some from antique stores - wherever I can find them. Then I fix 'em up. My wife began to get anxious. "Ross, dear, how are we going to have space to live if you keep accumulating pens?" The simple solution was to move to a bigger house, so we did. The long term solution was to start selling them - so I do, at I love to write with flex nibs, think Parker Vacumatics were the best pen line ever made, and collect Moores because I love the plastic. The best Moores write very well, and there isn't that much competition for them (well, Rob Morrison and Charlie Harles...). I also like Chiltons (great pens!) (but the prices...whoosh!), Carters, and '30s Watermans. I'm a pediatrician by trade, academic administrator currently, and work at Duke in Durham, NC.

Other interests : guitars, books, wine

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