Grandma Underwood was a crossword puzzle fiend. She had a crossword puzzle command post set up in her living room which consisted of her chair, a hand-crank pencil sharpener, cords of Dixon-Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils and, of course, a never-ending supply of crosswords.
She didn’t mess around with those easy grocery store puzzles, either. Heck, no! Grandma Underwood was a pro. She worked the hard ones, leaving a carnage of pencil shavings all over the floor around her chair because she’d sharpen those poor Dixon-Ticonderogas to nubs.
One of the side effects of solving crossword puzzles is that you acquire a large amount of new vocabulary. Grandma’s mental stash was substantial. One day when I was a teenager, she unleashed a word on me I had never heard: Discombobulate.
She proceeded to inform me that “discombobulate” meant “to confuse.”
Huh! Not only had she taught me a new word – and I knew a lot – she had successfully used said word in a conversation. Grandma was that good!
Not long after, I started solving crossword puzzles, too, and I’ve been addicted to them ever since.
Grandma Underwood has since moved on the Great Crossword Puzzle Command Post In The Sky, but every time I see a Dixon-Ticonderoga pencil, I think of her. I even keep a supply on hand for my own puzzling needs. Using the same pencil she used just feels right.