My Trapper Keeper


What has possessed me to keep a binder–a school supply–since the fifth grade? What is this contraption of a notebook that has survived with me for 17 years, in multiple moves and spring-cleanings? I find it each time I get to the bottom of my closet, under stacks of books and piles of hidden laundry. It’s a freaking Trapper Keeper. My Trapper Keeper.

I remember picking this one out myself. I’d been studying the trends from the previous school year. I knew which ones were played out, which ones everyone had, and which ones were lame. I chose from the coveted Designer Series.

Choices were huge, a chance to identify yourself, and even when presented with a choice as mundane as, “what cup do you want to drink from”, I’d still push my sister out of a chair to pick the blue cup before she did. Making a bad choice, like renting Jaws for the NES, could ruin an entire Saturday.

School supply choices were even more critical–the choice you made had to stand up the whole year. You were stuck with that pencil case, even when the pencils barely freaking fit inside, or the design was a little too splashy. The wrong choice could have dire consquences, such as other kids dancing around you like MC Hammer.

But this time, this Trapper, I chose wisely. Trapper Keepers were huge in the 80s and 90s. It was the ultimate in notebook accessorization. It had whozits and whatzits galore, like a velcro closure mechanism, built-in clips, and pockets that came in rad-ass colors like magenta. Kids flaunted these things like they do cell phones rings today. Not having a Trapper would be like having La Cucaracha as your cell phone ringer.

The Designer Series of Trappers was defined by its geometric shapes and orbs. It was some computer graphics shit. You know those commercials on TV where you can quit your job, learn about computers in 8 weeks by taking classes, and then make 8 million dollars doing vague computer stuff? I imagine those are the people who design geometric orbs on Trapper Keepers.


There’s an inside look at the Trapper Keeper. This is my collection of Cal Ripken baseball cards. I was given these cards with an instruction to take care of them, so I have kept them inside my Trapper Keeper for almost two decades now. It was a tall, but easy task for the Trapper Keeper–it’s a sturdy binder. The velcro still holds tight and the plastic is mostly intact, having only suffered from being picked at when I was a child, bored in class.

Currently, I’m collecting the President Barack Obama trading cards for my future kid. You bet I’m storing them in the Trapper. I want to have a complete set to present to them on their 10th birthday. Nothing like the gift of a crappy set of presidential trading cards to ruin a perfectly good bowling party. That and a drunk parent.

2 thoughts on “My Trapper Keeper

  1. I’d love to know where that design aesthetic came from. It really was specific to the Trapper Keeper — and possibly those job-training commercials. I suppose there could be someone’s shameful career trajectory in THAT story. I like the idea of an heirloom Trapper Keeper, so I hope you give that to her along with the cards. I also have some new old stock Trapper Keepers on E-bay if you’re particularly nostalgic. ;-)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s