From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 4 - 9/21/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Nellie Steele
Old Magazines

There are two kinds of people: those who are addicted to saving old magazines and those who are not. The nonsavers are often among those who might be considered as candidates for Housekeeper of the Year. With no visible sign of emotion, they gather up the month's meager accumulation and haul them off to the recycling center or the dump. They return to their tidy homes in the warm glow of a job well done.

Not so with the savers. Their homes look like the motherload of newsprint. Closets, attics, garages and tabletops hold the history of our nation since the last time the occupants of the house changed their abode. (Moving takes a dreadful toll on old magazines.)

But even to the most dedicated collector there comes a time when "something must be done." Boxes are collected to haul away the victims.

Then comes the fatal mistake: a glance inside the first relic to make sure there is nothing worth saving. The eye lights on an article about how Ike won the 1952 election. "Hey! I'll have to read this to find out who his Vice President was."

So a pile of must-reads is started. And so it goes. The heap for future reading grows but the boxes are not filling up. What to do?

Clip the interesting items that won't take up much space, but do take time. So the sorting process slows to a snail's pace. Then life catches up and it is suppertime. There is not much to show for the day's work except some good material for table conversation.

Those who like to browse in old magazines know that news is like a lot of good things such as cheese, wine and sauerkraut; it needs to mellow with age. They also find that the soothsayers are wrong in their predictions as often as they are right. The most careful calculations by a knowledgeable person so often missed their mark, done in by unforeseeable events. This is often just as well as their forecasts tend to be on the gloomy side. The world is such a messy place that, seen at any given moment, the chances do not look too good.

Going through popular publications of the 1930s is a revelation. A big problem was what to do with the empty classrooms due to the drastic birth rate during the Depression. When the baby boomers toddled off to school that problem was solved and a new one created. What was missed in the calculations was a war so huge it turned the world upside down.

Looking back, how could we have missed it? The mainstream writing of the 1930s showed little concern that those were dangerous times. In about 1939 Hitler's vaunted blitzkrieg type of attack was laughingly called the "sitzkrieg" as it stalled before the "impregnable Maginot line, biding its time.

Finally, the dusty old magazines (most of them) are hauled away to be, hopefully, converted to new ones. Reading them, future savers will likely conclude that we are not too bright.

See The Archives for past articles.

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