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Indispensible Catalogs
by Verna Mull 
07/08/10
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Yes, I’m speaking of years ago when we received catalogs from J.C. Penny, and Sears Roebuck and Company. As a child, they seemed huge to me, and I spent hours just looking at pictures of all the things that one could buy if they had money.

My parents ordered a tin can sealer to can our meat and vegetables. It was a fascinating machine. After the cans were opened, they were run through the machine and made ready to use them again. Of course, the quarts became pints after a few years, but were certainly an improvement over all of the glass jars. We used to cool them by dumping them in the horse tank to cool, after boiling them for what seemed hours, on the old cooking range. I still own the machine, but have no idea how one could buy tin canning cans today. Of course when my parents used it, we ordered a few new cans each year from the dear catalog.

Mother often ordered “bundles” of cotton fabric remnants to make quilts, potholders etc. It was so exciting to see what the prints were, as there was no choice in a “bundle”

Well, we got a new catalog every year, and, you guessed it, the old one made a welcome trip to the outhouse to be used as toilet paper.

When the catalog became toilet paper, I was free to cut pictures from it.

I saved all the cardboard backs from our school tablet, (the ones that my grandma didn’t need to put a new “sole” in her shoes,) I could use to paste all the little girls, Mamas, and Daddys, etc. on.

When they were carefully cut out, I made a little cardboard strip to paste to the back to make a little stand, and presto-I had a new paper doll family. (Elmer’s glue?) Oh my no, just a little flour and water mixed together, and I had paste!

Perhaps someone is wondering about the “sole” in Grandma’s shoes. Well, this was during rationing, and we had to make our shoes last a long time. I solved that by going barefoot. (Still the only way to go) Grandma’s shoes had holes in the sole, and so she made the inner sole to protect her feet. She was always willing to let us growing children use her shoe stamp, if we outgrew shoes during the school year.

Somehow, I sort of miss the excitement of receiving the huge catalogs in the mail, and those days of childhood, when every little thing seemed to carry a load of excitement.


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Member Comments
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Jacob Gibson 13 Jul 2010
That's really interesting history, Verna. I don't think I would like to use catalog pages as TP though lol (unless they were made of softer material). I know exactly what you mean about missing the excitement from old things. That's how I often feel about old material possessions, but now I find endless amazement in God and His Word.




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