Expired Catalogs Made Quick Toilet Paper

Catalog pages were put to good use in rural outhouses.

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You certainly can't eliminate from history that homely object, "The Privy." If you've never had the "privy-lege" of using one, you can understand their importance by simply going out on a camping trip, sans (without) porta-potty! If nature abuses you with a spell of summer complaint and you are out there under a big bushy tree and suddenly a sudden unexpected downpour occurs, that's the height of adding insult to injury. Then the vision of the little grey board shed with a new moon cut out in the gable is second to none in miracles.

Those of us who grew up familiar with outdoor toilets will never take for granted such an item as bathroom tissue. Not if your memory of the Sears or Wards catalogue remains with you. As soon as the new book arrived at the mailbox, the old issue was promptly taken to the toilet. It was hung across a wire or cord - handy to reach.

By this time all the pages left in the old book were the smooth glossy ones, so we girls, anticipating the fact that the new book would soon be in like condition, would tear out some of the very thin pages and fold them into tiny squares and secret them in under the shingles, or in a glass jar and hide them out under the shrubbery or under the floor for later use. All that yack about corn cobs? Well, newly-shelled corn cobs are soft and feathery and sanitary and better by far than a glossy page of a catalogue with colored dye to consider.

Not all things about the old building was bad. If you sat quietly you could hear the wren's babies cheep in their nesting box fastened on the outside wall, and with a little luck the breeze blew from the right direction to overwhelm the room with odors of lilac and honeysuckle.

At any rate, thinking about all this makes me smile! I hope you'll join me!

Della Bledsoe
Oceanside, California


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.