Etch A Sketch and Colorforms were the two toys we’d bring with us in my dad’s Pontiac convertible on our annual trip to Omaha to visit my grandparents. It was the mid 60s and there wasn’t much on the market to help entertain five children for a three day car ride.
With the news that Andre Cassagnes died last month, a little bit of my childhood died, too.
I was terrible at Etch A Sketch. I could never figure out how to make anything more than straight lines. My accomplished masterpiece, after hours of driving, was something that resembled steps. It was the best I could do.
My sister, on the other hand, could make faces and pastoral scenes, rich in the intricate art of pen and ink. It would be a foreshadowing of her chosen field–art.
But even with my stunted artistic ability and doltish inability to figure out how to control the little white knobs, I loved Etch A Sketch. Why? It was magic. Just one shake and whatever I was attempting to draw would disappear and a clean slate would replace it. A blank canvas, if you will. And that signalled to me a mightier message about second chances and do-overs, something to this day I embrace. For what is life if not an ever-repeating chance to get it right?
Rest in peace, Andre Cassagnes.