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
This one just screams 1980’s awesomeness in a
Tron-universe sort of way:
For the dudes, nothing says “Back-to-School Cool” like Football:
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
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
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.
Read Jules' Other Listening To Mix Tapes & Thinking About . . .