What's the provenance of the stylized S from school?

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/21/whats-the-provenance-of-the.html

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I was amazed when my kids started doing it a couple years ago…

I think he was onto something. Most nine-year-olds can’t draw, so when someone hands them a magical recipe to create something fairly cool on demand, that’ll go viral.

So… kinda like drawing 3d boxes…?


I still contend that it started not as a “S” but as an “8” and when the poor class of '90 could no longer use it as an “8” it became an “S”

(Still Rules, BTW)


For me, it was associated with the band Styx. Their logo has a stylized “S” that is similar, and I was definitely making this thing back when “Too Much Time On My Hands” was a hit.

There was a thing at my school to make bubble letters and geometric letters that smooshed all the voids in glyphs away, and this is a natural fit.


Yeah that goes back a lot further than '78. Last time it was really popular was '33 and later.


I am a modern man, but I’m not buying it.


Still no excuse for using a display script typeface in all caps. The “of” looks like “07”.


I can always trust boingboing to point out some cultural trend that everyone knows about except me (class of '86, btw).


I definitely knew it around 1980, and was quite surprised when my 8-year-old became obsessed with it a few months ago.


I never saw or heard of this before reading about it online as an adult. It seems like another pop culture thing that just passed over my city, or at least my suburb.

Sometimes I imagine it was part of a great sci-fi plot where some ‘bad guy’ or ‘evil empire’ had this as a logo and all of our collective memories were wiped - but the logo and memories of it have persisted next to this gaping hole where the why would exist. For those like me who have no recollection of it at that age, perhaps we were more directly involved and more had to be erased.

Or it just never made it to my suburb. Believe what you like.


Tiny little baby person (class of 2000) here, so I’m not adding any hustorcally deeper observations, but perhaps some geographic data with a mid 80s sighting from midcoast Maine. I can confirm that my sister (5 years my senior) featured it in her cover annotation of “Lyf Sux” on the family dictionary


It made it to a town of 5000 in backwoods Montana… it made it to your suburb.


I would agree, but I was in a hurry. Typeface was a last moment consideration. I will go and meditate on the differences between Helvetica and Arial to atone for the poor choice.


An older kid taught this to me in 1987 (2nd grade) and told me it was the Styx logo.

It’s clearly not, but I think a lot of kids thought that’s what it was.


I graduated high school in 1977 and don’t recall ever seeing this.


I think about kid memes sometimes. The way they’re passed from grade-to-grade without any recorded media as a source–or any to perpetuate it–is a thing that grown-ups haven’t had in a long time in our culture, I don’t think, or not with nearly the same frequency. A totally oral tradition. Then kids outgrow it but they’ve already infected the littler kids with the meme.

I mostly think about the songs. Sometimes they had hand-clapping routines. Or I guess the jump-rope songs. The really bizzare thing is I remember the girls at camp (we’re talking around age ten at most) used to sing one of the filthiest songs I’ve ever heard, and the adult staff never batted an eyelash (because there were no curse-words, I guess. Come to think of it, it was probably regarded as harmless since they all sang it themselves when they were there–the camp had strong camper-to-counselor traditions.) “Minnie the Mermaid,” if you’re familiar, though undoubtedly there are variations.

It just seems like this really special thing that nobody ever acknowledges. Except Groening, he used to put 'em in Life In Hell.


It’s actually the logo of the Illuminati, which, in their native Bavaria, is spelled with an S - a highly stylized S.


You are my brother’s age, and he knew about it.

Interesting. It must have completely blown past a lot of people. Maybe not even geographically.

I knew about it, but had no clue what it meant.

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Who know? With my memory I wouldn’t be surprised that I drew them but have just forgotten.

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The floor is made of lava. A game even cats and dogs know the rules to.
Did anyone teach you this game?
Who teaches kids the words to “ring around the rosey”?
How do kids know that it’s “two for flinching?”

There is an uninterrupted chain of the esoteric knowledge shared only by and with children which I hope will always be with us. It is a collection of thoughts and things that resonate with the young mind which one day, without our knowledge or consent we are all cut off from. When you have or are around children as an adult, you can watch it happen, you can even join in, but you will never again be a part of it. The S is another part of that magic world.