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Jules is listening to mix tapes and thinking about . . . Trapper Keepers

By Julie Anderson

It’s mid-August of 1982. You’re with your Mom doing some back-to-school shopping. You want to project just the right level of cool for elementary school. To do that, you need a binder that’s trendy yet functional, well-organized yet hip. You need a . . .

Trapper Keeper, baby!



Oh, they were just the coolest; a whole new breed of 3-ring binder. The “keeper”, or outer shell, came in bold colors or mega-cool designs, and featured a fold-over Velcro closure that held it shut. The folders (or “trappers”) were glossy and primary colored. The rings weren’t the passé metal snapping variety that inevitably got mangled and off-kilter. Trapper Keeper rings were made from smooth white plastic and slid with a sweet little pull-tab action. I do recall that it was a bummer they didn’t hold all that much, once the school year really got underway. Also, the nature of the trappers was such that you couldn’t flip through your papers quickly; you had to take out a handful from one trapper at a time to look for your homework.

But, whatever, right? Who cared when there were sweet designs out there like these?

This one just screams 1980’s awesomeness in a Tron-universe sort of way:

Tron-like Trapper Keeper: Closed Tron-like Trapper Keeper: Open

For the dudes, nothing says “Back-to-School Cool” like Football:

Football Trapper Keeper: Closed Football Trapper Keeper: Open
Photo Credit: eBayer koonscollectibles

I totally remember this hot air balloon one! Do you? And this one has got that gorgeous Lisa Frank candy colored dream-world thing going on:

Hot Air Balloons Trapper Keeper   Lisa Frank-esque Trapper Keeper
Photo Credit: P. Mark Anderson   Photo Credit: eBayer cagedheat3

And guys: THIS WAS MY TRAPPER KEEPER! Oh, my glossy brown horse with the white star on her forehead, I loved you so! I thought this image was the pinnacle of natural elegance, with its grassy green background and that prancing mare:

Horse Trapper Keeper: Front Horse Trapper Keeper: Angle
Photo Credit: eBayer koonscollectibles

My fifteen-year old son informs me that he’s never even heard of a Trapper Keeper. I am aghast. I did a search and learned that they DO in fact still exist, with some modifications to the original design, but their popularity is definitely nothing like what it was in the mid-eighties.

And why is that, I wonder? Sure, they weren’t the most durable binders on the market; that flexible plastic spine tended to split, and the punched holes of the trappers eventually ripped. But they were plenty tough for a year of fourth grade, right? And sooo very stylish.

I can remember the feel of mine clasped against my chest right now as I walked down the hall to Mrs. Barclay’s fourth grade classroom, buoyed by fresh equine beauty and the power of trendiness.

Good times.

Read Jules' Other Listening To Mix Tapes & Thinking About . . . Stories


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